It’s go time for Lindsey Roy. The holidays are peak season for the CMO of Hallmark Greetings Marketing.
Founded in 1910, Hallmark kicked off holiday 2017 with an activation in New York after Thanksgiving that projects messages on the sides of buildings. It also has a Facebook Live Q&A scheduled this week with singer Gwen Stefani, whose music is featured in the company’s holiday advertising.
Roy has had a lifelong love of cards and communicating with people at emotional times. She has delivered a Ted Talk on happiness and recovery from trauma, based on her experience recovering after a severe boating accident, and continues to lecture as a motivational speaker. She spoke to CMO.com about the value of emotion in marketing in a connected age, how personalization, technology, and storytelling can all sell holiday cards, and plans to go retro for Valentine’s Day.
CMO.com: How do you face the challenge of a legacy industry being disrupted by evites and birthday memes?
Roy: Our greeting cards’ benefits continue to be timeless. Today there are so many connections, and they’re fleeting or surface-level. We hear people say: “Giving a greeting card is giving a piece of your heart.” Consumers, especially Millennials, love paper, they love tactile experiences, because they are rare and more special. Greeting cards break through the clutter for Millennials.
The greeting card category is stable and vibrant. There are still 6.5 billion cards purchased a year in the U.S.—almost 18 million cards a day. It’s been fun to see how the new generation understands the benefits of our category once they get to experience it.
CMO.com: With the increased personalization needed today, how have you changed your media strategy?
Roy: We have been [ahead of the game in] pivoting from more traditional marketing to more personalized marketing. This year alone we will have dedicated over 50% of our marketing spend to personalized efforts, which was just 10% a couple of years ago.
The way we’re doing that is by having an amazing asset in a personalized database where we have millions of consumers that we have relationships with. We are leveraging these capabilities to be more helpful and more relevant. If you have a birthday coming up for your best friend or someone in your life, what a great time for us to remind you of that.
CMO.com: You’re making a big commitment to programmatic buying. Why?
Roy: Our vision is to create a more emotionally connected world in every life every day. If we know about you or something that might be helpful to you, programmatic buying is one of the ways that we can reach your phone or desktop. We’ll continue to evolve the toolkit, but today that is one of the tools in our personal marketing toolboxes.
CMO.com: You mentioned phones. Aren’t social and mobile channels a challenge to greeting card sales?
Roy: We embrace mobile and social and all forms of connecting. Mobile is a way to have a more personal relationship with the consumer when it comes to our marketing. Additionally, we have such a dynamic creative community here at Hallmark. Social is a fun way to create content for people to share with one another. It helps us learn more about messages people want to see in greeting cards. It allows us to connect with one another.
Hallmark teamed with Improv Everywhere to give random New Yorkers the chance to instantly deliver a card and light up someone’s holiday. Messages appeared on a huge LCD screen on the side of a building in the person’s handwriting.
We use mobile and social in a lot of ways to have more direct conversations and to learn more about what people are wanting from us.
CMO.com: How does your loyalty program fit in with those efforts?
Roy: Today our loyalty program is a part of our Hallmark stores. It’s a unique benefit to shopping in our Hallmark stores, and it’s a mechanism to help us get to know consumers at a really detailed level and have an ongoing relationship, reward their behavior, etc. It’s a key part of our toolbox for personalized marketing conversations.
CMO.com: What can we expect from Hallmark for the holidays?
Roy: We will have a TV spot airing soon that reflects our premium line of signature cards. It shows the reflection that goes on this time of year. The true insight is how happy people are when they receive a card.
It will showcase these benefits that are unique to greeting cards but, at the same time, have some fun, contemporary elements. For example, the music featured will be from Gwen Stefani’s holiday album; she’s singing a new, really cool version of “Jingle Bells.” We’re also doing a Facebook Live Q&A with her Dec. 7 where she will talk about her holiday traditions.
We’ll also have our drumbeat of personalized marketing. Over 50% of our holiday efforts will be personalization, digital, and social.
CMO.com: Beyond the holidays, what is coming for Valentine’s Day?
Roy: Some of our marketing decisions are set closer to market so we can have the best sense of what’s going on. We’re in the thick of planning marketing for Valentine’s Day right now.
The positioning is showing how a Valentine’s Day card is a way to capture that year, that day, that part of your story. We all know that relationships are a compilation of stories, and what an amazing way to say: This is the story I get to keep for this particular Valentine’s Day.
We also have new innovations launching. One of the innovations we’re very excited about is the re-emergence of vinyl records. We’re launching a new line of vinyl greeting cards that will have an actual vinyl record that plays music.
That’s something we’re always committed to, just continuing to create new, dynamic ways for people to connect in our category. We have cards that have complete virtual reality inside; we have lots of different ways we want to bring the experience to life.