Hallmark Greets BTB Sales With New Web Site, Catalog

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For businesses comfortable with showing their softer side, Hallmark Business Expressions has offered customizable greeting cards with a minimum order of 25,000 for 11 years. But next month, the Hallmark Cards subsidiary launches a Web site, hbecards.com, that lowers the minimum order to 100 cards that can be personalized. A catalog supporting the site follows in September.


Hallmark Business Expressions targets businesses that give greeting cards to their employees or customers. The selection includes cards for anniversaries, welcomes, thank yous, birthdays and blank cards. Until now, the entire message inside each 25,000-card order of a single design was customized by the purchasing business. Hallmark Business Expressions thinks this high entry point may have turned away some sales.


"Companies have multiple opportunities to send greeting cards, but any one opportunity might not exceed the 25,000-card minimum," said Cindy Mahoney, Hallmark Business Expressions general manager. On the other hand, some of the division's customers order millions of cards at a time, she said.


This is why the company plans a Web site where companies can place a minimum order of 100 cards. Orders from 100 to 10,000 of a single card design will have a standard message. Customers can pay additional fees to have the cards hand personalized and mailed directly from Hallmark Business Expressions' fulfillment center in Duluth, MN.


Not only will the Web site let smaller companies work with Hallmark Business Expressions, it will give large companies a chance to test using a Hallmark greeting card with a smaller quantity, Mahoney said.


Hbecards.com users will be able to upload their databases of names to the site. That information will be transmitted to the fulfillment center, which will use it to personalize and fulfill orders.


For orders exceeding 10,000, Hallmark Business Expressions will work directly with customers.


To complement the site, Hallmark Business Expressions will mail its first catalog in September to 100,000 names. A few of the catalogs will go to the division's house file. However, the goal "is to build on our house list," Mahoney said.


The company looks to diversify in terms of whom it targets as it tries to determine where the highest response rates come from. Therefore, the catalog will mail to various individuals, including human resources and administrative personnel in large companies as well as principals in legal, veterinary, real estate and financial services firms. The umbrella strategy for the mailing is to target "professionals who rely on personal communication for their business needs," Mahoney said.


The catalog aims to drive recipients to the Web site, though it will feature an 800 number as well. The premiere issue will have 28 pages and feature images of everyday as well as holiday cards. It will show representations of various sentiments that can be printed on a card and of the personalization service. Additional issues will go quarterly to about 100,000 names per mailing.


The cards are priced at $1.25 apiece for orders from 100 to 10,000 and between 80 cents and $1.25 for orders over 10,000. Personalization for smaller orders costs another $1 per card.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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