Last year’s Thinking of You Week saw an unprecedented amount of activity and engagement from publishers, retailers, the education sector, Royal Mail, charites and the general public.
In this article, originally published in PG magazine in 2016, participants talk about the thought processes behind how and why this initiative really caught on.
Dedicated Website, Downloadable Toolkit and PR/Marketing
Sharon Little, ceo of the GCA:
Above: GCA’s Sharon Little in front of the enormous Thinking of You Week banner at the Harrogate Home & Gift show in July.
“I’m delighted with the way in which our industry has embraced Thinking of You Week this year! In just three years, this event has really snowballed. We now have this lovely new website, built free of charge by GCA Council member Raj Avora of Davora; the event has gone viral on all the main social media platforms (thanks to videos from UKG, Hallmark and thortful as well as other activities) and retailers of all sizes (from Clintons and Paperchase to indies too) helped to promote it with beautiful window displays and offers. Having the support of Teacher’s Post, Royal Mail’s education magazine and the offer of free cards for schools (provided by GCA members and sent to the schools by Royal Mail) is the perfect way to promote card sending to the next generation.
With so much happening this year, I’m so looking forward to building on all of this for 2017!”
All Stores Windows, Social Media, Promotions
Tim Fairs, vp of marketing and ecommerce of Clintons:
“This year we made Thinking of You Week a priority and supported it with window displays in all of our 400 stores, online, as well as through social media platforms. Our campaign kicked off on the Thursday before in order to create pre-awareness ahead of the ToY Week activities the following week, which were supported on social media and online.
Above: Clintons developed eye-catching window displays for all of its 400 stores, introduced a promotion and amplified the message online and via social media.
“We introduced a Buy One Get One Free promotion on the 4’ or 2’ special card displays instore too.
This is a fantastic industrywide initiative that is right at the heart of what greeting cards are about and therefore is true to what Clintons is about. We decided to use the existing ToY Week branding as I feel that for it to get real traction with consumers it needs to have continuity.
Anything which encourages people to get back in touch or reinforce their relationships is good for the individual, as well as society as a whole, and Thinking of You Week is playing a part in this.
It has been proven that if your life is rich in relationships you will live longer and happier. Thinking of You Week is a sincere catalyst to promote relationship building and so in this is helping to prolong lives. Pretty powerful I’d say.”
Katy Shipley of Supersales said, “I put the window together on the Saturday, and had lots of customers and passers-by stopping to have a look and read the posters we printed from the tool kit on the ToYW website. We had quite a few customers stop and look and then come into the store asking for the specific cards displayed in the window. Having the stand of cards with the banner above, and a poster of explanation right at the front of the shop definitely caught the eye of customers.”
GCA publisher member, Wraptious, built on its support for the Week by driving around Manchester explaining about the initiative and donating packs of its best selling animal cards (and a display case) to several RSPCA charity shops, giving them the option to give the cards away for free with a purchase, or sell them to raise extra funds as part of Thinking of You Week.
Window Display And Card Writing Instalation
Lucy Sticka and Heidi Richardson, co-owners of Little Paperie, Ashbourne:
“Thinking of You Week is such an amazing idea which is why we went all out to create an effective window display as well as install a bureau in the shop to encourage people to write and send their Thinking of You cards there and then.
We are all so busy these days, time is very precious and modern technology has taken over in a lot of ways that most people just don’t take the time to actually write a card or a letter much anymore. We both love receiving pretty post and to know that by sending a card you can put a smile on someone’s face and let them know that you are thinking about them is such an lovely thought.
Above: The Thinking of You Week window at Little Paperie.
Thinking of You Week makes us (and others) think of our elderly relatives, that may live too far away to visit often and who really appreciate receiving something they didn’t expect in the post. It might be the only contact they have with the outside world that day, and it’s a nice thought to think you could really make their day! With so many gorgeous cards it’s the perfect opportunity to get our customers involved and spread the word and see if we can get a few more people to think about sending a card and spreading a bit of love and happiness!
We think Thinking of You Week hit such a chord this year as people are finally starting to think about looking after themselves more and are taking the time to live well, eat well and are generally more concerned about living a healthy happy fulfilled life. Thinking of You Week is almost an extension of that, by passing on your own well being to other people. In this fast paced technological world we now live in it’s the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves how important it is to keep writing and sending cards, not just for occasions but just to let people know you are thinking of them.”
Dedicated Videos and Staff Card Writing Activity
Ceri Stirland, director of marketing of UK Greetings:
“Thinking of You Week is at the core of what greeting card sending is about.
ToY Week makes us stop and think about all those friends and family who we may not see as often as we’d like, providing an opportunity to say ‘Hello, how are you? Remember the fun we’ve had?!’
We have supported ToY Week from the start and our retailers know they can rely on us to help them make the most of the event and encourage customers to get involved. We’ve also had a great response from our colleagues across our business, including in our head office where we have set up card writing areas offering to post the cards free of charge.
Our sister company John Sands (in Australia) recognised a great way to spread the message of Thinking of You Week was by going viral! They recorded a video of John Sands’ staff sending and receiving cards to show what joy a little card can bring and how easy it is to reach out to people.
Above: The John Sands-adapted video, part of UK Greeting’s promoting Thinking of You Week.
We thought the video captured the message of Thinking of You Week perfectly so we rebranded the video to use in the UK, uploading it to view (and share) on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – to inspire others to spread happiness by sending cards.
We also created a video for Boofle which echoes the themes of Thinking of You Week which we also promoted on his social platforms.
With the use of social media tools, we’ve managed to get the message out to a wider audience, and all this combined has helped generate a real buzz.”
Promoting To Teachers, Free Cards For Schools
Barry Wiles, education manager of Royal Mail Group:
“Teacher’s Post is the education magazine for Royal Mail, linking teachers, students and the business which tries to celebrate all that’s best in our schools by developing resources and programmes for classroom use.
We dedicated the first two pages of the August edition of Teacher’s Post to Thinking of You Week, telling teachers all about the initiative and also, thanks to the support of GCA member publishers who donated cards, we were able to send free packs of 30 cards out to schools so that they could use them in their lessons.
Above: Royal Mail’s Teacher’s Post gets the message out into schools.
Having ‘the real thing’ in a lesson brings the subject to life and the selection of cards we have received has made this possible.
One of the reasons I believe education is supporting Thinking of You Week is possibly the fact that teachers are becoming very concerned about the huge rise in texting, Facebook and other electronic media by our young people, while handwriting and letter-writing are being ignored! The art of written communication is an essential skill necessary throughout life and every opportunity to help teachers help children acquire this skill must be applauded.
Thinking of You Week is another example of the great synergy between Royal Mail and the GCA – how otherwise can your greeting cards be delivered over night to any address in UK?”