Sunday, December 11, 2011
Holiday Snail Mail, Hallmark, and You.
Imagine my surprise when I received not one, not two, but THREE Christmas cards in one day! Another one arrived the next day; more excitement ensued. Next day, nada. Now, nothing, for the last three days.
Is this the decline of popularity for those real, touchable, hang-upable, personal expressions with hand written seasonal greetings and signatures, otherwise known as holiday cards?
Made me think about that whopper of a card company, Hallmark; can they make up for the perceived lack of interest for paper greetings by hawking $20 Keepsake ornaments? A quick evaluation of the Hallmark brand reveals that:
• Their stores are called Hallmark Gold Crown; the word card isn’t there.
• Hallmark was the first greeting card company to advertise nationally (1928). Now that’s cutting edge!
• They’ve been a global company since the mid-sixties.
• Hallmark’s cable channel includes original productions aimed at those who love weepy movies. Especially enjoyed the flick with Michael Imperioli and applaud him for showing his sensitive side. Oops…that was an Oprah production shown on ABC!
• Hallmark owns several recognizable brand names, each appealing to different target audiences. Surely you’ve heard of Shoebox, hoops&yoyo, and Maxine?
They’re still a private company and boast over 13,000 employees. Who would have thought that the largest greeting company wasn’t publicly traded?
• They own Crayola LLC. Who hasn’t colored with a Binney & Smith Crayola periwinkle crayon?
• The Hallmark Hall of Fame program on NBC has been on air over 50 years, winning 80 Emmy awards.
• Surprise! Hallmark Channel USA’s Facebook page has more fans than the Hallmark page: 660,000 vs. 400,000. And Maxine’s page is closing in, boasting 355,000 fans.
And there’s more: Hallmark owns the world’s largest Christian greeting card company, a rewards/incentive/recognition programs company, a children’s doll franchise, and even a department store.
In short, Hallmark has kept with the times. They’ve wisely expanded their brand through their own creations while also quietly buying up smaller companies with established niche markets, remaining true to their core greeting card empire in the process. Brand image is strong, with instant recognition of Hallmark and an association with greeting cards, diversity of products has not eroded that imagery.
Oh, the card market does live on with an overwhelming array of choices; going far beyond prose, design and style. Greeting cards with the ability to play a song for you and others you can put your own recording on are great for vocalizing your feelings to that special someone. And here’s some good news: According to a recent study, the card industry declined 0.3% from 2006 to 2011*. For now, cards are still popular.
Despite all the positive initiatives coming from Hallmark, there’s room for improvement, namely in the area of social media:
The Hallmark blog hasn’t seen a fresh entry since January! Here’s where the brand can be stretched further, with recipes, holiday decorating ideas (recycle those old cards), traditions, and historical information.
Twitter followings on three accounts are surprisingly low: @hallmarkPR, @hallmarkchannel, and @hallmarkbiz. Is it necessary to have separate accounts for public relations and business? And where are Maxine and hoops&yoyo? Just imagine the sassiness of Maxine on Twitter!
No presence on Google+. Sigh.
Hallmark, you’ve taught us how to use one way communication effectively; we know you're the ones to come to when we care about sending the very best, however, it’s time for you to engage more with us!
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* IBISWorld’s Greeting Cards & Other Publishing market research report