If you’ve been in the world of direct, digital or interactive marketing for a while, you’ve probably heard of Jerry Shereshewsky.
Shereshewsky was the senior vice president of marketing at Yoyodyne, founded by Seth Godin and considered to be the first Internet-based direct marketing firm. Shereshewsky is said to have made Yoyodyne so attractive to Yahoo! that it acquired it in 1998. While at Yahoo!, Shereshewsky was Ambassador Plen-ipotentiary to Madison Avenue, where he managed the business-to-business marketing efforts behind Yahoo!’s multibillion dollar media sales business.
Today, Shereshewsky is CEO of New York-based Grandparents.com, a social networking and media site for active grandparents that launched last fall. The site is designed to enhance the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren through online editorial and communications tools.
And there certainly are a lot of grandparents out there. According to Grandparents.com, there are more than 78 million grandparents in the U.S. — and every 20 seconds, someone new joins the club. In addition, more than half of all U.S. grandparents are baby boomers.
eM+C caught up with Shereshewsky recently for a chat. Here are the highlights:
eM+C: Tell me about Grandparents.com.
Jerry Shereshewsky: About 13 or 14 years ago, Warren Struhl [co-founder and co-chairman of Grandparents.com] registered the name and sat on it. [But] it became clear about two years ago that maybe the time was really right. The world of the baby boom was starting to really come together — [baby boomers] were getting to a certain age and starting to have serious numbers of grandchildren. The media marketplace was beginning to become sensitized to the fact that something interesting was maybe happening.
[Grandparents.com] began putting a plan together [about] the kind of content and tools that would be needed to attract an audience, and they began by doing it as a weekly e-newsletter. Each edition, if you will, had a single article, and what [Grandparents.com] was doing was creating a library — essentially an inventory of potentially evergreen stuff. When the library got big enough — and they had been working on Web strategy and site design and architecture — [Grandparents.com] started on a path to bring it to market.
eM+C: Are you still using e-mail marketing at Grandparents.com? What is your philosophy around e-mail?
JS: We still have an e-mail newsletter once a week, and we may move it [up] to twice a week. It is a very important component in our total mix. But now, instead of sending out entire articles, we are now using it to preview five new articles that are going up on the site.We now have more than 4,000 pieces of content on the site.
eM+C: How are you working with advertisers?
JS: We are going after [consumer-packaged goods], travel, financial services, automotive — all the people who need to be talking to this audience and have the ability to frame their story in the context of this life stage. For year one, we want to have a very limited number of advertisers so that we can really work with them as marketing partners.
eM+C: Can you talk circulation numbers?
JS: For year one, we are building our circulation. We broke 125,000 visitors in December, so we are testing advertising and all promotional strategies. And I am hoping that by the end of 2008, we will be over 1 million monthly uniques.
eM+C: What kinds of marketing testing are you doing?
JS: We are doing TV, search and online display. We are using ad networks and doing buys with the usual suspects. We are also doing e-mail marketing. We started testing [advertising] on Dec. 26, and we are still in test mode.
eM+C: Can you offer our readers any tips regarding how to reach grandparents online?
JS: Figuring out how to match your prospects in terms of what is happening in their lives is very important. I am a huge believer in life-stage marketing.