Q&A: Stephen Thomas, VP of marketing, Edible Arrangements

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Edible Arrangements' VP of marketing explains how the fruit franchiser targeted men for the first time last year

Q: What will your marketing strategy entail in 2011?

A: Our charge is to continue to grow our business for our franchisees through all channels. We will continue to promote all three of our sales channels — Web, call center and in-store — but will focus more on brick and mortar because it is underleveraged. A lot of people are not aware that we even have storefronts. We just recently remodeled the look of our stores designed to convey a warm, emotional experience.

Q: How do you compete when customers are so inundated with marketing messages?

A: Fresh fruit arrangements are very uncluttered — we pretty much own that category. We advertise around the six major holidays and that's part of our customer acquisition prong. Our other prong happens between holidays when we send the “Pass It On” message designed to present everyday occasions for purchasing. These messages are for those people who are already familiar with us. So we're growing the customer base with one prong and using “Pass It On” to increase frequency. 

Q: What role did direct marketing play in last year's Valentine's Day campaign, an important upcoming holiday for your brand?

A: We have direct elements in everything we do. For all three sales channels, our messages always have a call to action. All of our national campaigns include television, online banner ads and SEO, lead-back advertising and print, and local direct mailings for regional marketing groups and franchisees. For the Valentine's Day campaign, we targeted men on ESPN and ESPN2, ESPN magazine and Espn.com, and we added national radio into the media mix. We needed to reach men when they were mobile. 

Q: What are you doing in terms of social media?

A: Facebook has been the most effective social medium for us. We have 213,000 fans we've cultivated. We ran a promotion in October 2009 that generated 100,000 fans through an offering of six free chocolate covered strawberries to the first 100,000 fans. We expected it to take two or three weeks, but we hit the numbers in three days. 

We recently gave away $25 worth of chocolate dipped fruit for $10 in honor of national dipped fruit week. This special ran on Facebook two weeks before it went national. We're also active on Twitter. We use it to measure real-time results of promotional activities. 

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