A Marketing Phenomenon



1.  an official mark or stamp indicating a standard of purity, used in marking gold and silver articles assayed by the Goldsmiths' Company of London; plate mark.
2.  any mark or special indication of genuineness, good quality, etc.
3.  any distinguishing feature or characteristic: Accuracy is a hallmark of good scholarship.
What do you think of when you see this word?  If you're like me, you think of greeting cards. 
They come in all shapes, sizes, colours, styles and price ranges.  You can buy them at Shoppers Drug Mart, WalMart, the grocery store, the dollar store, a convenience store.  But, my all time favourite place to find them, the Hallmark store.  At a glance, when you're 40-something and overdue for your eye exam, Hallmark and WalMart look similar, and even though WalMart carries Hallmark, there is no comparison in my mind to the two stores.  As much as all men were created equal and many years later the guys figured out that women were created equal, too, and not just to each other but to them.  Cards are very much different in that they are SOOOOO not created equal.  Bad cards are and should be discriminated against, at least by a card snob like me. 
There are some things that I refuse to cheap out on.  Coffee and greeting cards.  Maybe that's why Hallmark and Starbucks often find themselves near one another in the same shopping plaza.  Their customers probably have the same demographic.  I've already blogged about coffee and my love of it, but, I don't believe I've ever shared from my heart about my love of good greeting cards.  I wouldn't dream of marking a special occasion with an unspecial (I know that's not a word, but I couldn't think of anything else that fit) dollar store card.  If I wanted to save a few bucks (which sometimes I do), I'd rather make a card myself because that at least makes me look creative (which most of the time I am).  But, then I'd have to give up the whole process of picking out a card, and it is just too rich an experience to miss.
I'm one of those people who laughs out loud when she's all alone looking at cards, and sometimes I cry when I run across something sentimental.  I'm also an emotional wreck watching Hallmark commercials.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, and these people know how to tug on that sleeve.  The idea of sending or receiving a musical card excites me beyond measure.  So, it's $7.  Who cares...it made someone's day, and that's priceless!
But, think about the alternative.  Cheap, ugly, tacky cards.  Who wants to buy a Father's Day card that has a picture of a trout on the front?  There's more to being a dad than fishing.  How about a Valentine's Day card covered with red roses?  Oh yeah, red stands for love.  That's hardly original.  What about a Wedding card with bells or champagne flutes with bubbles floating from them?  It seems kind of 80's to me, but they keep right on printing them and sending them off to Dollarama and people with poor taste keep buying them.  But, not me.  I'm sorry.  I just can't tolerate cheap cards!!! 
Not only do I want to buy cards that have the perfect sentiment, I also plan it out so the card complements the colour scheme and/or theme of the gift and wrapping paper.  And as much as I don't want to admit it, I am one of those people who checks the back of the card after I open it, and I'm always extra pleased to see a gold crown.  Hallmark had me at hello.  I am a die hard fan.  It might cost a little more, but I do care enough to send the very best.  I have bought into their good marketing and their priceless brand.
So, I'm sure you've gathered that I'm a little crazy about a few things...greeting cards...coffee...music...life in general.  And, of course real estate.  Something I love, love, love about what I do in this business is marketing my client's properties for sale and marketing myself as an agent, which involves building my personal brand.  Just like a greeting card, conveying the right message is key. 
All of this was started with a simple trip to the store the other day, when I realized that the first section of cards wasn't dedicated to Birthdays, Weddings or to those who have experienced a loss.  But, I was experiencing a loss...a loss for words...which rarely happens to me.  I had to take a double take.  At first, I mistook Just Arrived for cards welcoming babies into the world.  But, no, I was wrong.  It was all about the Bieber, and I wasn't even in Stratford.  He doesn't just have a corner in the row of Hallmark cards; he has the FIRST section. 
I love Hallmark.  I really do.  Always have and always will.  But, something kind of seemed wrong about this.  I'm sure someone in their marketing department sees a bigger picture, and I just need new glasses.  Either that, or they've fired an adult and let a 14-year-old take over.  Should we be worried about the direction of one of my favourite brands?  You tell me.  I'd love to hear your take on this phenomenon.  You don't need to buy me a card; a simple email or call will do.

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Julie D. Martin

Julie D. Martin

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Heritage House Ltd., Brokerage*
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