DMA Gets Competition for Shop-At-Home Program

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A former employee of the Direct Marketing Association has launched a business competing with its Shop-At-Home program, DM News has learned.


Amy Blankenship, who was in charge of Shop-At-Home, left the DMA at the end of 2005. She started Shop With Style on Jan. 1 and hit the morning television circuit shortly afterward on behalf of her clients.


Blankenship declined to say how many clients she has signed, nor would she discuss the cost of her service. She said she is handling some clients that she worked with while at the DMA as well as new clients. Blankenship already has done five TV appearances, and she has 50 more booked. Clients she has featured in segments include Allen Brothers, Gevalia, Godiva Chocolatier, Norm Thompson, Omaha Steaks, RedEnvelope, The Lighter Side and Yourmusic.com.


"I have a lot of relationships that I've developed over the years, and it's also exciting to be able to work with new companies and develop new relationships with people I had not worked with before, both in terms of television shows and companies out there," she said.


Blankenship currently has a staff of one and is focusing on national and local TV segments and her Web site at www.shopwithstyle.net. She is working with marketers with types of products such as apparel, food, gifts and home decor, she said.


"At this point I am focusing on what I feel is my real strength, and that is my ability to go out there and do a wide variety of segments to maximize exposure," she said. "Like any business, it may evolve but at this point doing those segments and expanding the Web site with a lot of content for reporters and consumers are the two things that I will be focusing on."


Both Blankenship and the DMA program aim to promote catalog and Internet shopping to consumers by featuring marketers' products on television. The DMA's Shop-At-Home program began in 1987 as a seasonal mailing sent to several hundred feature writers and then expanded to include year-round outreach to newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online news media.


As for competing with the DMA, Blankenship said she is not looking to replicate its Shop-At-Home program, nor has she heard any feedback about her company from DMA officials.


The DMA had 60 Shop-At-Home participants last year and is on track to renewing those members for this year, said Laura Colona, director of media relations at the DMA. The DMA charges $3,995 for a minimum of 12 TV placements and $2,995 for six.


Colona said the DMA is working on getting engagements set up for this year. Consultant Connie LaMotta, who is former senior vice president of public relations/communications at the DMA, will be the new on-air personality, though Colona and the DMA staff will handle the program.


Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.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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