Irene Cherkassky

Irene Cherkassky
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, 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

HCI Direct’s Karen Arbegast on Retention and Redefinition

Putting the focus on the customer is not a new concept. However, a strong customer relationship management strategy is even more vital if you’re running a continuity program, where customer retention is key. Target Marketing spoke with Karen Arbegast, vice president, marketing and customer service for HCI Direct Inc., and discussed the company’s approach to customer retention, current initiatives and how HCI is redefining itself going forward. Target Marketing: How has HCI reshaped its approach to customer retention over the past few years? Karen Arbegast: The biggest opportunity we saw was to focus on the customer and the customer’s needs—particularly in the continuity environment, where so

A Mini Gift Guide With Lots of Impact

Ever run short of great gift ideas? Things Remembered, the Cleveland-based personalized gift retailer, sure doesn’t. The company’s direct mail pieces range from postcards showcasing two or three items to catalogs that feature page after page of gifts for all occasions. During this past graduation season, the company mailed a piece that offered both the convenience of small scale with the product selection of a mini catalog. Mailed in June, the six-page, 8-3⁄4˝ x 5-1⁄4˝ 2006 Grad Gift Guide is slim, but features dozens of items, from clocks and desk accessories to jewelry and photo frames (Archive code #910-175003-0606A). The package, with images of

The New Vanguard

Every industry has its luminaries—pioneers whose names become synonymous with the techniques or products they developed. Ed Burnett, Ralph Lane Polk II, Richard Benson, John Caples, Leon L. Bean, Lillian Vernon, Jeff Bezos and, of course, Lester Wunderman come to mind. But not every trailblazer operates in the white-hot spotlight. Many conduct brilliant work day after day for their companies in relative anonymity. That is, until Target Marketing decided to nose around and find those professionals who are setting new standards for direct marketing performance. With the help of our Editorial Advisory Board and other key industry figures, we’ve selected eight exceptional direct marketers who

Insert Media Buying Guide: Committed to Its Roots

While it may not have the star quality of more in-vogue direct marketing channels, for Southampton, Pa.-based garden tool marketer Mantis, insert media is something to get excited about. “It’s still a very important part of our media mix,” says Steve LePera, Mantis’ director of sales and marketing for mail order. Although LePera admits DRTV has become the company’s largest lead generation source, “there still has to be a base of what I call direct mail prospects driven by more traditional methods like package inserts … to our overall program,” he explains. The company participates in a wide range of programs, from Valpak to’s Geoff Atkinson on CertifiedEmail Delivery

For most e-mail marketers, getting campaigns delivered to their intended recipients has become more difficult as ISPs have stepped up their efforts to filter out spam. Increasingly, these efforts include disabling links and images as a security precaution against phishing and other e-mail-based fraud. To ensure its messages reach its customers intact,, an online closeout retailer based in Salt Lake City, signed up to be the first marketer to test Goodmail’s CertifiedEmail service. This service enables accredited senders such as to imprint their e-mail marketing messages with a secure token recognized by participating ISPs and mailbox providers such as AOL and Yahoo!

Tips for Testing Call Center Scripts

When running a DRTV campaign, it is important to test your call center scripts to make sure your reps have the information they need to answer questions prompted by the content of your spot and to better convert leads to sales. “When you’re broadcasting, you’re going to get a lot of questions,” says Steve LePera, director of sales and marketing for mail order at Mantis, a Southampton, Pa.-based marketer of landscape and gardening equipment. To this end, LePera suggests the following tips for testing call center scripts. * Test a number of scripts for each campaign. Depending on your call center’s capabilities, your DRTV spots

Help for Undeliverable E-mail Addresses

Are your e-mail marketing efforts hampered by high undeliverable rates? If so, you may want to consider running your e-mail file against an E-mail Change of Address (ECOA) service, suggests Tricia Robinson, chief marketing officer for Atlanta-based e-mail communications services provider Accucast. To determine if the benefits of this service outweigh its costs, you need to assess the value of an e-mail address. “What it comes down to is if the value of the e-mail address to the organization is greater than the charge of the ECOA on the address,” notes Robinson. “Depending on the value of what you’re marketing, if … your average

Keep E-mail Unsubscribe Rates Low

For any e-mail marketer, having recipients unsubscribe from your program is a fact of life. While a certain amount of churn is normal, a relatively high or climbing unsubscribe rate may be cause to take a closer look at who you’re reaching out to, the content of your messaging and the frequency with which you send messages. To begin, the methods you use to grow your lists may affect your unsubscribe rates, points out Elaine O’Gorman, vice president of strategy for Atlanta-based e-mail marketing solutions provider Silverpop. In a recent Silverpop study of both B-to-B and B-to-C mailers with lists ranging from 10,000 to as

Mantis Garden Tools’ LePera on DRTV

Mantis, a Southampton, Pa.-based marketer of landscaping and gardening products and a division of gardening tools manufacturer Schiller-Pfeiffer Inc., added DRTV to its marketing mix some 10 years ago. Not only did the move prove effective in generating leads, but it also has had a positive branding effect that’s boosted the company’s efforts on both the dealer and retailer side of the business. The company’s DRTV formats range from 30 seconds to half-hour programs—with its 60-second spots acting as the foundation of the program. Steve LePera, media director for Mantis, spoke with Target Marketing about the marketer’s current DRTV strategy and the challenges facing

Market Focus: Dentists

Check Up on These Medical Professionals For some, a trip to the dentist is fraught with anxiety. In contrast, however, marketers of many stripes should look forward to reaching out to these medical professionals. Entrepreneurial and business savvy, dentists are open not only to the more obvious profession-related offers, but also to a slew of services and products that help them run their hectic business practices and personal lives. Meet the Doctors According to Fred Peterson, media relations for Chicago-based American Dental Association (ADA), there are more than 173,000 professionally active dentists in the United States. Nearly 80 percent of these doctors are general practitioners, while another

1-800-FLOWERS.COM’s Jill Eastman Vidal on Insert Media

Opening up your packages to third-party advertising offers can be a valuable source of added revenue. But in doing so, you want to make sure your program is making—not costing—you money. To find out how marketers can get the best return on their insert media program investment, Target Marketing spoke with Jill Eastman Vidal, director of specialized media marketing for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM. Target Marketing: What are some points to consider when you want to improve your insert media program ROI? Jill Eastman Vidal: Shoring up your operations is really an important component to ensure you’re making as much money as you can. [For example] making sure the

How Good Is Your Customer Service?

What’s the state of customer service in America? Given all the attention this topic generates in a consumer-driven marketplace, you probably don’t need to read the following statistics—but to make a point, we’re going to tell you anyway. Consider that: • A March 2006 study released by JupiterResearch reported that more than half of online consumers are taking their business to other merchants or service providers because of poor online service. Ouch! • The Customer Care Call Center Survey, research conducted over the course of 2005 by Ernan Roman Direct Marketing and based on the feedback of a few hundred direct marketing

Market Focus: Homemakers

Selling to the Home Front The typical image of today’s woman often revolves around a go-getter trying to balance career and home, or a professional climbing the corporate ladder. However, there are as many as 5.6 million women in the United States who have opted to make the home, and homemaking, their priority, according to Diane Sparks, president of Weaverville, N.C.-based list management and direct marketing database company The DM Shop, which manages the Domestic Diva list. Events such as Sept. 11 and the growing focus on the domestic arts, which gained prominence and popularity with the rise of people like Martha Stewart, also have

Expedite Customer Service Inquiries

Your customers need to be able to communicate with you—whether they have product-related questions, shipping questions or installation issues. Providing them with an easy-to-find e-mail link on your Web site is a good start. However, giving customers the means to send free-form customer service e-mails may actually slow down your ability to respond to their needs quickly and efficiently. “Free-form e-mails are very difficult to handle,” says Greg Gianforte, CEO of Bozeman, Mont.-based customer experience management solutions provider RightNow Technologies. “You don’t know how to route them; you don’t have any classification information, and there’s no opportunity to provide additional assistance before e-mails [are] submitted.” Instead,