The GCA is the trade association for the greeting card industry, a great community of card publishers, retailers and specialist suppliers. Gift Shop Hub spoke to Sharon Little who is the CEO for the Greeting Card Association.
Hi Sharon, let’s start with finding out about the GCA…
The Greeting Card Association is a not for profit membership organisation, we are the voice of the card trade, representing our sector in the press, radio and TV. All our TV and radio the coverage is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/GCAClips
We run events and campaigns promoting greeting card sending, such as Thinking of You Week and Festive Friday, as well as developing schools’ resources to inspire the next generation to send cards.
The GCA help our membership directly, providing specialist help, advice and support, money-saving benefits of membership and popular events.
We have wide ranging free resources for new entrants to the market here: http://www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk/resources
Finally, we also keep our membership fees affordable – retailer memberships are still just £10+VAT annual subscription. The cost for new publishers is just £95+VAT.
Tell us about the GCA early days…
The GCA was started in 1919 and has a venerable history of campaigning on behalf of the industry.
I’ve been running the Greeting Card Association since 1998, since then it has grown from a purely publisher organisation of 60 members to an inclusive association of 460 businesses, all with an interest in greeting cards.
Thinking of You Week, 25 Sept – 1 Oct 2017
We launched our first consumer card-sending event, Thinking of You Week, four years ago which takes place in the last week of September.
It’s been scientifically shown that receiving a greeting card creates a far greater emotional impact and makes people feel much more special and cared about than any form of digital communication. It also creates a positive boost to send them!
We thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could create a huge wave of love, caring and happiness through card sending during a special week? Thinking of You Week was born!
We have created a dedicated website for the event. This houses our great free toolkit for retailers and publishers with downloadable posters, flyers and social media banners, as well as articles, ideas, inspiration and case studies for taking part in the week: http://www.thinkingofyouweek.cards/
Here’s a link to an article about the science behind the benefits of card sending: http://www.thinkingofyouweek.cards/create-a-wave-of-love-caring-and-happiness/
Who are your partners?
The event is promoted through our publisher and retailer members, consumer magazine titles such as Crafts Beautiful, the trade magazines such as Progressive Greetings and Greetings Today; Royal Mail (who gives us a special postmark for the week); The Post Office and anyone else who would like to join in!
Our members organise Thinking of You Week events, tie ups with charities, card designing competitions with schools and lovely shop window and instore displays across the country, using the lovely toolkit imagery. The event has also spread to Australia!
Do you run workshops/events?
We organise lots of popular member events!
GCA AGM and Conference
One of the highlights of the greeting card year is the GCA AGM and Conference, a great gathering of the industry. Over 150 publishers, retailers and specialist suppliers come together to network and be inspired by top industry speakers and take part in workshops with key people in the industry.
We always have a spectacular venue and a delicious lunch. This year the date is set for Tuesday 24 October 2017 and the event will be held at The Birmingham Council House, the grand old Town Hall in Birmingham city centre.
Our speakers in 2016 were James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, Dr Lynda Shaw, the eminent neuroscientist and business psychologist and Giles Andreae, of Purple Ronnie, Edward Monkton and Happy Jackson fame. Watch their presentations here:
Speed-dating with Dragons – Meet the Buyer Event
Our groundbreaking Speed-dating with Dragons event in Feburary saw 60 publishers take part in 10 minute one to one pitching sessions with 18 retailer ‘Dragons’. Publishers each met three retail buyers: an independent, a small chain and a multiple.
Our fantastic line up of buyers included Clintons, Cardzone, Scribbler, House of Cards, Frosts Garden Centres and a host of independents. The event sold out in six hours and was a great success – we will definitely be holding a similar event again!
See the video of the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xteGuUUIAKI
What are your plans for the future?
To continue to grow the association membership and promote card sending as the best way to communicate love and friendship.
Here are just a few of the ways we’re doing this:
The GCA Tagline Challenge
We’ve put a call out to the industry to help us to come up with a catchy phrase or hashtag to help promote greeting card sending. Ideas are coming in thick and fast, the best will be displayed and voted on at PG Live and a final decision taken by the GCA Council in July. Email your ideas to me by 19 May! firstname.lastname@example.org
As well as Thinking of You Week we also organise Festive Friday, 1 December 2017. This is the day when everyone working in the greeting card industry sends their personal Christmas cards to get the nation into the festive card-sending mood! We encourage member companies to give the time, the cards and the postage to their staff on this day.
GCA Spring Seasons PoS Toolkit
This has lots of lovely free downloadable banners and posters for promoting the different Springs Seasons events. There’s still time to use the 2016 Toolkit for Father’s Day. We’re already working developing fresh new imagery for the 2018 Spring Seasons events.
The 2017 Spring Seasons Toolkit is here:
Do you have a Facebook page, Twitter profile or another social media platform where businesses can connect with you?
How can people sign up and get involved?
Retailer Memberships – just £10+VAT a year
Retailer and Associates joining form:
Publisher Memberships – from just £95+VAT a year
Publisher joining form:
What are the dates for our diary?
Thinking of You Week: 25 Sept – 1 Oct 2017
GCA AGM: 24 October 2017
Quick Fire Questions:
Favourite Song: I’m Every Woman, Chaka Khan
TV Show: Anything on BBC4