How does a company that produces postcards head on to become one of the most wealthy and powerful companies on the planet? How does a company start by one man soon become a goliath in the holiday industry, essentially creating and controlling the industry of cards and postcards?
You will undoubtedly have heard the name of this company. Hallmark. Look on the back of your Christmas cards or check what company made that Christmas movie you are watching. I would bet my last dollar that it was Hallmark or one of their subsidiaries.
We aren’t going to be looking at the history of Hallmark, because we don’t think that is as important as the business lessons we can learn from them. Instead, we are going to look at the mindset employed, the tactics used, and the steps taken by Hallmark that led to them becoming one of the most powerful companies on the planet.
Master Of Their Trade
Hallmark started off doing one thing and one thing only. Making postcards. This was back in 1907, so there people couldn’t email or phone people up with ease. Communication was done mainly by post. So postcards were huge.
Hallmark figured out early on that a key to success is minimizing your products but mastering them. And they did it. They soon dominated the postcard market with such a wide variety of options that people soon found themselves buying Hallmark products without realizing it.
They spent time creating a quality product and selling it at reasonable prices. They made a loss for a significant number of years just so they could build up a stronger presence on the market. Most people attribute the over-commercialization of the holiday season to Hallmark. Their constant imagery of gift-giving, bordering on propaganda, has said to have directly influenced our western tradition of Christmas.
The next step they took was to expand their repertoire. And this is where they came into their own. Postcards are fine, but they knew if they were to succeed in the long term they needed something that was immortal. And so they decided to start producing Christmas cards. A simple idea.
And that ideal spiraled and snowballed. Soon they were producing Christmas decorations and Christmas presents. They knew that, no matter how obsolete their products became, as long as they had solidified themselves as THE Christmas company, they could stay in business forever.
And they didn’t stop at Christmas either. They saw an opportunity to dominate the holiday market. By this point, there was very little competition. No company could get a foot on the ladder competition against Hallmark, so they were virtually unopposed when they began making Easter products.
Hallmark also began pushing more traditions onto the public. By presenting wedding anniversary gift recommendations for each year in their shops, they created a new tradition and solidified more customers. Tactics like this make them unstoppable.
Did you know that the Hallmark company owns Crayola? Yes, the crayon company that is used across the entire western world. Owned by Hallmark. And did you know that nearly 70% of all classic Christmas movies were also produced by the Hallmark company?
This was their greatest movie of all. Hallmark began creating or buying subsidiary companies to expand their product line. You might have noticed that there is a Hallmark channel on TV that plays exclusively Hallmark movies.
Subsidiaries are a fantastic business tactic. Instead of banking the current company on a new product or idea, they set up a new company to handle it. That way, in the unlikely, event that the product fails, the main company isn’t taking a hit at all. Makes it a lot easier to cut their losses and bail out on a failed attempt.
Lessons To Learn
So what can we learn from all of this? There are a few key points I would like to focus on.
Firstly, the dedication to a singular product or idea is paramount for a business to succeed. Hallmark has such a wide range of products now because at the start they were focused and determined to make sure they did this one thing right. So, in your own business endeavors make sure you are keeping to this idea.
Secondly, Hallmark put a massive emphasis on marketing. Everything they do is essentially one massive marketing campaign. And the product they are selling isn’t their own stuff. It’s the holidays. It just so happen they are the store that sells the holidays.
The lesson here is you need to focus on your marketing. If you can get it right, everything else will easily fall into place with little effort.