Chair, David Wilke, Leader Paper Products
by Tom Otto, Guest Contributor, Exclusive Bordering Company
Are You Involved? It’s A Process!
Over the years we have lost some members because they say “I don’t get any business from GCA members.” Or “What’s in it for me?” I am amazed at the amount of products and services our Associate Members offer. But just paying dues does not guarantee sales. It is a process and you need to get involved.
“Becoming well known (at least among your prospects & connections) is the most valuable element in the connection process.”
― Jeffrey Gitomer
Are you involved? The GCA has many opportunities for us to meet prospects, get involved and create relationships. Yes, it is a process but it starts with You getting involved.
How, you ask? Start by attending GCA events and joining a committee.
My company is celebrating over 75 years of family ownership. We have always served the greeting card and stationery industry but it wasn’t until about 20 years ago when a fellow GCA member/customer suggested we join. My first question was the same as most new members. Why? What’s in it for me? How much to join? Then I thought, why not join. Let’s give it a try.
“The process begins.”
Like many, I thought now that my name is out there I’ll start getting phone calls. It didn’t take long to figure out that “becoming known” takes involvement. After attending my first convention (1997?) I decided that if I was paying to belong I’m going to get my money’s worth!
“I have to get involved.”
I began attending board meetings and, always being one to enjoy the “social” aspect of most anything, I soon joined the convention committee. It didn’t take long to make friends and develop relationships. My involvement with the Supply Side at the GCA Village really turned things around and put me closer to my fellow Associate Members.
“The process continues.”
Next thing I knew my business was growing. Huh? ! Before I knew it, I was Chair of the Associates Committee and humbled to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mark Vando, Rich Lund, Nicole Mercer and Sue Charlier. I am proud of the accomplishments of our recent leaders, Brad Cannaday, and Phil St. Germain and looking forward to David Wilke’s enthusiasm and leadership. I mention these people intentionally because they have all become good friends, good customers and all started the “Process” by first “Getting Involved”.
People still ask if it’s worth it. I answer “I don’t know but I DO know that since joining GCA and being involved my business is better than it ever was and I have developed life-long friends and relationships. If you want to get more involved, look into some of these opportunities and support them (both in-kind and financially, if you can):
Postal Affairs Committee
Communications & PR Committee
(and the Associates Committee!)
And attend GCA Events:
Atlanta Reception Jan. 11, 2019
*Noted: The Greeting Card Expo: May 18 – 20, 2019
LOUIE Awards: May 19, 2019
Annual Convention (Naples, FL Sept. 18-21, 2019)
Our newest networking opportunity:
“Happy Hour!” A casual happy hour to talk greeting cards, industry trends or whatever is on your mind! No strings attached! Locally hosted by fellow members at convenient locations near you. Invite customers, prospective members, vendors, etc. Coming Soon, Happy Hour in the Chicago-Milwaukee area. To be Hosted by Exclusive Bordering Company and Leader Paper. Watch for more details.
by Fern Gimbelman, Designer Greetings
Chair, LOUIE Awards
We are keeping busy planning for the upcoming LOUIE Awards and are very excited about all of the submissions coming through the door. If you have already submitted, don’t forget that your card samples are due by January 18, 2019.
Have you been following the LOUIEs on social media? We have been featuring all of our LOUIE Awards 2017 and 2018 category winners, which means all of your beautiful work! If you have won a LOUIE in 2017 or 2018, be sure to follow and share our posts, you can find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
As we move forward into the New Year we are becoming more and more eager to surprise you with the plans we have our annual “live” LOUIE Awards event in New York! In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the celebration, how to submit a card for the LOUIEs, or becoming a LOUIE Awards volunteer during this 30th anniversary year – email Amanda and she will be happy to help.
Counting his blessings on the first day of Chanukah 2018, Alan Friedman of Great Arrow remembers their very first LOUIE award. “It was way back when – 1990, the second or third LOUIE celebration ever. Our Chanukah finalist, an Andy Warhol inspired silkscreen print, won for best card in the Jewish Holidays category. The LOUIEs back then were celebrity hosted and we were thrilled to accept our award in person from Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller.”
Today Great Arrow still produces hand silk-screened greeting cards in our studios in Buffalo, NY. “We’ve been honored at the LOUIEs a number of times since. Not one member of our current print staff was born when we won this one. Donna and I remember the experience of getting our first one like it was yesterday.” In May 2019, the Greeting Card Association will host the thirtieth LOUIE awards gala. Lots of companies will win for the first time. Will your company be a winner this year?
by Alan Friedman, Great Arrow Graphics
Another busy period for the Membership Committee! You guys are keeping us on our toes! We are excited about new membership initiatives, member renewals and upcoming events and hope you are too.
Member renewals have started. For those companies that are set to renew in 2019, by now you should have seen emails requesting contact details and recent sales figures. Look for more information regarding renewals from our membership team. Not sure if it is your time to renew? Email Amanda and she will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
As mentioned above, we are very excited about some of our newest projects. Special thanks to our committee members for their time and efforts. The committee is taking on new member calls to personally welcome all new members to the GCA. Did you recently become a GCA member? Well, be on the lookout for a call from one of our committee members!
Recently, Up with Paper hosted a GCA Happy Hour in Cincinnati, OH. Too much fun was had to take photos, but we heard they had a great time! Are you interested in hosting a GCA Happy Hour in your area? Let us know! We will share how the program works.
Don’t forget that the GCA will welcome 2019 with the annual Atlanta Networking Reception. We hope to kick off the year with you on January 11, 2019 at the reception during the January Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. Register today!
Other upcoming events that are coming up fast are the GCA Village at the National Stationery ShowTMand *Noted: The Greeting Card ExpoTM! Space is available for both now – but not for long. Reach out to GCA staff if you have any questions.
If you know of anyone who is considering becoming a GCA member, or if you have questions about how to get the most out of your existing membership, contact Amanda.
We look forward to hearing from you!
*Noted: The Greeting Card Expo
George White, Up With Paper and UWP Luxe and
John Smyth, Amy Smyth Made It
Excitement continues to build around the GCA’s *Noted: The Greeting Card Expo, which will debut at the Brooklyn Expo Center, May 18-20. 2019. Designed by the greeting card community, for the greeting card community, the event promises to provide a collaborative and celebratory atmosphere for all involved in the greeting card industry. With “all in/no surprises” exhibitor pricing, including electric, complimentary exhibitor, lunch, water, and a floor plan that will generate lots of interaction between publishers and buyers, Noted is poised to be the “can’t miss” greeting card event of the year. At the Card Talk publication time, nearly 50% of the space has been filled, by participants ranging from emerging publishers like Paper Epiphanies, Offensive & Delightful, and Tay Ham, to well-established and seasoned veterans like Avanti, Papyrus, Hallmark, and Up With Paper. Don’t miss this “can’t miss” event. Exhibitors signing up for space will also receive one free ticket to annual LOUIE Awards “bash”. Register today.
Postal Affairs Committee Update
by Sarah Moe Meyers
Fiscal Challenges Produce Conflicted USPS Agenda for Greeting Card Consumers
Ongoing fiscal challenges for the United States Postal Service (USPS) have resulted in conflicting policies for greeting card mailers and support for our industry.
On one hand, under the leadership of Postmaster General Megan Brennan, we have experienced an enormously positive working relationship with the United States Postal Service marketing team. To this point, the Postal Service is promoting greeting cards in its advertising in a meaningful way. Further, this September, the USPS participated in the GCA’s first “Thinking of You Week” by creating a special cancellation for all first-class, stamped mail mailed during the month. This was the latest of many cooperative efforts between the GCA and the Postal Service and marks the first time the Postal Service has participated and generated more than 150 million impressions on envelopes during the month of September.
On the other hand, in October, the Postal Service increased postage rates and that the price of a Forever Stamp will jump 10% to 55 cents as of January 27, 2019 and indicated that further increases would come in nickel increments. This is an exceptionally large increase and is far greater than the 1% increase the Postal Service applied to presort First Class Mail typically used by businesses sending large mailings. We are very concerned that these increases will change the behavior of household mailers and affect greeting card demand. (We are reviewing all options available to challenge this rate increase.)
These contradictory approaches reflect a disconnect between the Postal Service’s marketing and pricing teams in response to the financial challenges the USPS is weathering as a result of the 2006 postal reform law. The Postal Service posted a $3.9 billion loss for FY 2018 and is projecting a $6.6 billion loss for FY2019.
There is an alternative to dramatic rate increases. Passing postal stabilization legislation is a viable option and will continue to be pursued. This alternative will be hard work, however, especially considering the reality of a divided Congress in 2019.
The GCA’s legislative advocacy, representation before the Postal Regulatory Commission and work directly with the Postal Service is important to our industry and greeting card consumers. In the area of postage pricing, we will vigorously defend stamp users and advocate that price increases must be applied fairly to all postal customers. We remain a valuable partner for Postal Service management and mailing industry stakeholders to pass legislation to relieve the Postal Service’s financial pressures that threaten higher prices and reduce the quality of the mail service.
Until this legislation is passed, our engagement with the United States Postal Service will continue to be multi-faceted, allowing us to meet each challenge, champion the positive initiatives, and perhaps most importantly, push back against negative policies.
Thinking of You Week
Nicky Burton, Calypso and Dave Phipps, Avanti Press
Thinking of You Week may seem far away but there are two highly active campaigns in place to build awareness leading up to next September.
We have launched an art and design contest to source next year’s creative, with prizes valued at over $500 from BLICK Art Materials and GCA member publishers. Submissions for the 2019 event will be judged by the LOUIE Award judges. In addition to discovering a new and dynamic look and feel for next year’s event, we hope to strengthen overall awareness by opening the project up to a wider creative community. The deadline to enter is January 19, 2019 and entries should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the details about the contest.
In an effort to keep the Thinking of You Week concept alive all year round, we are sharing content via the Instagram account (788 followers) every Tuesday for #Thinkingofyoutuesday. All GCA members are invited to contribute content. It could be specially designed or simply your existing Thinking of You card artwork– you can dm @thinkingofyouweek or email Mallory.email@example.com.
If you are interested in joining a committee, contact GCA Executive Director Peter Doherty.