The importance of being human

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In 1910, J.C. Hall arrived in Kansas City, Mo., with just an entrepreneurial spirit and a pioneer’s charisma. Since then, Hallmark has built a legacy of authentically celebrating human connections and helping people connect and enrich each other’s lives.

During the Student Program’s closing keynote on Friday, Lindsey Roy, chief marketing officer of Hallmark Greetings, took the stage for a session on “Leveraging the Human Connection.”

Throughout her 18 years at Hallmark in various positions, Roy has developed a keen sense of what it means to be a great leader and how to bring a sense of emotion and humanity to a product and brand. This is a hot topic in retail now: How do we create the human experience in a thoughtful and authentic way for consumers?

Roy talked about a turning point in her life in 2013, when her leg had to be amputated after a boating accident. Although it left her dependent on others and out of work for a few months, the cards and messages she received from peers gave her hope. Roy wove her story of triumph into an explanation of what makes the human connection so important in retail; leveraging that human connection to propel innovations and business opportunities can help bring a brand to life.

Hallmark doesn’t underestimate the power of words. One initiative Roy highlighted, Free Card Fridays, is a loyalty program campaign designed to get people into the store and give them a card to send to others — no strings attached. The simple campaign informed Hallmark about their consumers while sparking a movement online, in stores and in customers’ lives.

Roy ended with advice for students in the room. “Your competitive advantage is you,” she said. Knowing your own unique traits helps build your personal brand. Overall, the customer wants to be uniquely known and values a brand’s authenticity, especially in today’s climate. Homing in on what the consumer seeks on a personal level, not just a material level, is key to leveraging the human connection.

STORES’ Student Correspondent Charlotte Sandness is a fashion marketing major at LIM College in New York City. This is her fourth year attending the NRF Student Program.

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