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CMO and SVP, Hallmark Focusing on the Bedrock of Brand Promise with Lindsey Roy, CMO and SVP, Hallmark

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As the methods of communicating messages of love, sympathy, celebration, or holiday cheer have evolved in the last 100 years, the 20 billion-dollar greeting card industry continues to adapt to serve multiple generations of ‘caring-connectors’. This term ‘caring-connector’, used by Hallmark CMO and SVP, Lindsey Roy, to describe Hallmark customers of all ages and demographics, is an illustration of the relational way they think about their consumers at this legacy brand. For more than a century, Hallmark has been giving consumers the tools to make holiday moments of gift-giving and connection unforgettable. Lindsey Roy, CMO and SVP, Hallmark, brings two decades of experience as she helps people connect with each other in meaningful ways.

“If I was going to narrow it down to the biggest source of change, it’s consumers wanting flexibility. You think about 10, 15, 20 years ago, you played the game as the manufacturer, or retailer. [But now ] ‘I want it how I want it, when I want it, where I want it.’ Whether it’s grocery shopping, or buying your presents for Christmas, whatever it is, people are completely demanding flexibility. That’s a huge insight into how we’re thinking about where we reach people. We always try to have authentic conversations in our marketing.” 

Giving your customer that flexibility they demand for when, where and how they want you, whether that be via the tap of an app or at a retail location, shows that you’re truly listening to and serving them. In this episode Lindsey and I dive into the role that data plays in every aspect of Hallmark’s strategy including innovating; the ways and thought processes behind Hallmark’s testing and uses for A.I.; how Hallmark’s data strategy is redefining and its rewards program, and a bit about Lindsey’s leadership style. Excited for you to enjoy this conversation I had with Lindsey on this episode of Marketing Trends. Here we go!

Main Takeaways

  • Hiring Smart People with Agility over People who Only Check the Right Boxes: Sometimes when it’s time to hire, your team might already have a great need to be filled, but don’t be tempted just to hire the candidates who look good on their resume. Get to know your new hires and focus on finding people who are flexible and open-minded team players. You can always teach people how to use new tools and software, but you can’t teach passion and dedication to the mission.
  • Allow for Your Vision to Iterate and Morph in Practice: When you spend so much time and effort building a particular marketing strategy, it can be easy to over-commit to certain elements or aspects of that original plan. Don’t get too caught up in the details, though. You need to stay agile and be willing to iterate and try new tactics as the data informs, so that you can react to data about the way that your message is being received by the audience. The quicker you can course-adjust to a more connected message, the sooner you can fill the needs of your audience.
  • Addressing Consumer Needs Across Multiple Generations: When you’re a brand that serves everyone, looking across generational needs is important when thinking about where and how you’re going to reach your customers. The new modes and methods for connecting with Gen Z are going to be quite different from those you’ve traditionally used for the Baby Boomers, for example. New social media apps drawing the attention of younger audiences, compared to older generations that may be more prone to read a longer email, for example.

Key Quotes

“We care about getting people with diverse perspectives. We try to have people with short tenure, long tenure, people who’ve been in the agency world, have been in the brand world, everybody from the college intern, to somebody who has 25 years of amazing experience, different backgrounds, et cetera. We are very purposeful about that. I’m a believer in hiring good, smart people with learning agility. Sometimes that’s more important than ‘check these three boxes. Have you done X on Salesforce? Have you done Y on Adobe analytics?’ I think [when you hire] good smart people that want to learn, and can learn, you can’t go wrong.”

“From my vantage point, if I was going to narrow it down to the biggest source of change, it’s that consumers want flexibility. About 10, 15, 20 years ago you played the game as the manufacturer or the retailer. Now [it’s about the consumer] ‘I want how I want it when I want it, where I want it.’ People are completely demanding flexibility and that’s a huge insight into how we’re thinking about where we reach people. We always try to have authentic conversations in our marketing.”

“[When you ask] what are your perceptions of cards? You learn a lot of amazing things. There are what we would call the ‘caring connector’ archetype: that person who believes that the world is inherently good, that person that believes that relationships are the glue and they’re willing to put in the time and effort. These people exist at 12 [years old] and they exist at 92. To figure out what they need and how to tap into what would make sense for them, that’s the key to relevance in my mind. Be open, ask the hard questions and make sure that you’re investing in innovation to answer those questions.”

“We look for what we call ‘when’, W-H-E-N data. And that means, if you are a 28 year-old mom of two, who’s a caring connector who shops in these places. It’s also important for us to try to have a conversation where we maybe learn when your birthday is, or when your significant other’s birthday is, things like that. That kind of part of the data genome around those people who are most close to you, those people who you might want to activate, and we can do that. I’ll give you a really basic example. If you buy a card for your sister on August 12th and you have some relationship with us, we can then maybe tell you next July 30th, ‘Hey, you might have a birthday need coming up.’ And people find that helpful if they’re like, oh yeah, ‘I’ve got to get that.’ in their mind.” 

“We always believe that the more personalized is super important. We’re doing a lot of experimentation [with A.I.] The biggest live-use case we have with A.I. right now is in our chat bots that come to life in our digital experiences. Consumer care is also part of my world. I get to work with an awesome guy who leads that part of our business and we’ve launched this year, a couple of chatbots because it’s easier for people to interact oftentimes with the chat bot and we have some great A.I. that feels very Hallmark and very helpful, and it can hopefully get people to accomplish their task in a fraction of the time.”

Bio

  • Lindsey Roy is the SVP, and CMO at Hallmark. She oversees Hallmark Global which includes gift wrap, greeting cards, stores, etc. A tragic boating accident while on vacation almost claimed Lindsey¹s life and left her with an amputated left leg, severely injured right leg and injured right arm. Through a challenging recovery process, Lindsey learned impactful lessons on how to harness disruption and find clarity in the chaos. A fresh voice on the speaking circuit, Lindsey has been heralded for her authentic style and universal message. Lindsey has spent over eighteen years in the corporate environment, leading teams in innovation, digital development and product merchandising. She was named Vice-President at Hallmark Cards at just thirty-two years old, one of the youngest VPs ever in a company with over a 100-year history and in the top 1% of brands worldwide. Lindsey combines her unique life experience, corporate background and emotional intelligence to truly connect with audiences.

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Episode 274