Reprinted from Strategies newsletter, 2nd Quarter � May 2002 by First Marketing, 3300 Gateway Drive, Pompano Beach, FL 33069.

Leading Retailer + First Marketing = Growth

  • increased card usage �
  • enhanced customer loyalty �
  • a boost to the bottom line �
Here�s how one company accomplished all these essential business goals in two short years.

In 2000, a chain of more than 400 upscale children�s clothing stores identified a need to communicate with its 750,000 proprietary credit cardholders (now 1.2 million). The Children�s Place asked First Marketing to produce a bimonthly newsletter that would be distributed in credit card billing statements. Since then, this national retailer has been using Place Style to communicate new clothing lines, promotional offers and value-added feature articles relevant to its customers.

�Our stores love the newsletter program,� says Mike Hardesty, Senior Director, Marketing and Consumer Services. �Customers actually bring the newsletter in to stores and ask to see particular products that are featured.�

The next step: Integration

In 2001, The Children�s Place integrated its communications program by asking First Marketing to rebrand and begin producing its billing inserts, which up until then had focused only on product and price.

�We redesigned and renamed the inserts to match their brand image,� says Jennifer Mellin, First Marketing�s Account Manager for The Children�s Place team. �And we included more value-added information.� Example: One insert carried a message about the availability of making in-store card payments. The bill inserts go out in the months without a newsletter. So, each month, every customer with card activity receives valuable, customer-focused information.

Deeper integration

To educate customers on the benefits of the card and encourage repeat usage, First Marketing suggested a welcome edition of Place Style. A savings sticker was incorporated into the welcome issue. New customers peel off the sticker, affix it to their credit cards and bring it in to stores for an 18 percent discount.

�The program has been very successful,� Hardesty says. �It has increased ongoing use of the PLACE Card. And, compared to the welcome piece we were producing ourselves, we realized significant savings in cost.� Customers who made that all-important second purchase stayed longer on the active list to receive newsletters and bill inserts � driving them back in to the store again.

Exceptional results

�The Place Style program is the key to communicating our brand positioning and promoting loyalty among our best customers,� Hardesty says. The Children�s Place now has more than 540 stores and has plans to open many more in 2002. For specific PLACE card statistics, such as increases in active accounts and average balances, as well as case studies of other First Marketing partners, contact us and ask.

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