Style.com's Plan: Spend Money to Make Money

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While most Internet companies have cut advertising spending to the bone, Style.com is preparing a direct mail campaign next month as the final part of an $11 million marketing effort that also involved print and e-mail.


"We spent the past year getting the site to a point where we could sustain a major campaign," said Goli Sheikholeslami, managing director of Style.com. "We didn't want to do a campaign of this size when we launched, and we wanted to wait until we were comfortable enough with the site that spending $11 million against it wouldn't be a problem."


Launched less than a year ago, Style.com, New York, is a fashion site as well as the online home of Vogue and W. The theme of the campaign, which Sheikholeslami said also will be the centerpiece of the site's marketing for the fall and holiday season, is "Runways Are Everywhere."


The idea behind the theme is to present fashion as a fundamental part of women's lives that can be found in everyday situations. To portray this message, Style.com will use women modeling clothes in a laundromat, while walking to work and getting a bite to eat.


For the direct mail effort, Style.com will mail its first catalog the second week of September. The book will go out to 260,000 names from its own database as well as subscriber lists of Vogue and W. The catalog is not yet completed, but will feature products that can be purchased at the site.


The book is still under construction but Style.com said it will be 32 pages and will look more like a magazine then a catalog because it will be shot in an editorial context.


Style.com began the e-mail portion of the campaign this month when it sent 500,000 to 700,000 HTML messages to names from Style.com and CondeNet databases.


Sheikholeslami said the e-mail campaigns will run every two weeks with each mailing highlighting different products that can be purchased at the site. Style.com features products from 44 designers including Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta and D&G by Dolce & Gabbana.


Four print advertisements began appearing early this month in national and regional magazines, including Vogue, W, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Allure, Time Out New York, Hamptons Magazine, Chicago Social and Ocean Drive. The ads will continue to run through the rest of the year.


Sheikholeslami said that such a broad campaign was important not only to increase traffic and sales, but to help increase revenue that Style.com received from advertising on its site.


"It is important for us to draw a critical audience to our site for the benefit of our advertisers," she said. "In order to bring that audience in and increase the amount of traffic at the site we have to reach out to a large group of people."


Style.com would not discuss the breakdown of how the $11 million is being spent but said the print portion made up the largest amount, followed by online, direct and then the outdoor component.


Style.com worked with Badger Kry on developing the collateral for the campaign.


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