1-800-FLOWERS.COM’s Jill Eastman Vidal on Managing PIPs
Both package insert program (PIP) owners and mailers stand to gain if a program is successful. Carle Place, N.Y.-based gift retailer 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Inc. sends out approximately 2.5 million package insert envelopes per year across its collection of brands, which includes flagship 1-800-FLOWERS.COM as well as Plough & Hearth, HearthSong, Magic Cabin Dolls, The Popcorn Factory, GreatFood.com and Cheryl & Co. Jill Eastman Vidal, director of third party marketing for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Inc., spoke with Target Marketing about how program owners and mailers can optimize their mutual goals for maximum ROI.
Target Marketing: How can a program owner offer more value to mailers participating in its programs?
Jill Eastman Vidal: I think it’s really important to consider using endorsements. If you [as the program owner] really believe in your partnership and you’re extending an offer that you feel really good about, then you shouldn’t hesitate to put your name on it. That alone can increase response to a particular piece by 20 percent. Sampling [also] is a great idea, and has gained a little bit of steam over the past year or two.
Some people are using the outside of their envelope for special offers from a particular company, which help [the mailer] subsidize the cost of the envelope. The company that’s participating in the outer envelope offer gets more visibility than the pieces inside.
Many times, we barter our space as part of a larger arrangement. Just like a list exchange, we do a package insert exchange. Sometimes people even get the list involved, whereby if you don’t have a program on the market and you want to participate in somebody’s program, maybe you can offer your names in exchange. Typically, it’s two inserts for every one name that you would exchange.
TM: How can program owners help mailers better target their customers?
JEV: If you really want to reach somebody, if your system will allow it, you can do something on a product-category basis. Say you wanted to put a sample in the box of everybody who bought HearthSong products—that’s doable. There is additional targeting available even on product categories, but it’s more involved than the generic “Throw one of these into every package.” So I think just [start with] a good demographic match; start small. Make sure you have the appropriate test sample sizes to get a real read, and the sky’s the limit if you’re willing to invest in a partnership.
Irene Cherkassky is the former senior editor of Target Marketing. This interview originally appeared in the September 2006 issue.