Bride-Direct Points DM Arrows at Engaged Couples

Retail Trade Services Inc. (RTS), Fort Lee, NJ, a Paradigm Direct Co., has debuted a direct marketing program that helps companies reach newly engaged couples at the time they are about to purchase specific products and services.

The program, called Bride-Direct, includes sweepstakes, direct mail and telemarketing. Here's how it works: The future bride or bridegroom notices one of a series of promotion-related ads in Bridal Guide magazine, for example, or on a postcard in a “take-one” dispenser in 2,000 bridal stores and jewelry stores across the country. If they're online, they can click on a sweepstakes offer mentioned on banner ads on travel and bridal product-related Web sites.

The ads may offer a chance to win cash or a Hawaiian holiday at the Maui Marriott — one of Bride-Direct's sponsors — or entice couples to join the Bride-Direct Club, which offers discounts and coupons on products and services. To be eligible, the bride-to-be must call a toll-free number, listen to a series of ads and answer a 10-question survey from an integrated voice-response system provided by Paradigm, an outbound telemarketing firm. The bride then is mailed a 44-question survey with more detailed questions, including what items the couple has purchased through the mail during the last three to six months.

After answering the questionnaires, RTS models and profiles the information then speaks to Fortune 1000 brands, letting them know “we have a core group of customers that we believe matches your demographic and has an interest in your product or service,” said Franklin Kisberg, president and CEO of RTS. “Then we can form a strategic marketing partnership with them to sell [their] goods and services.”

A variety of manufacturers and retailers — including automotive companies, insurance companies and long-distance cellular service vendors — send the couples monthly direct mail pieces with 10 to 16 coupons. The coupon packets are based on how the survey was filled out and are highly targeted.

“If the bride told us that she plans to purchase a car in the next year, there will be an offer in there about a new car,” Kisberg said. “The information will also be based upon the bride's time line relative to her wedding date.”

In fact, the key to Bride-Direct is the time line.

“Based upon this, we can put a targeted promotion in front of [the bride] at the exact moment that she is most predisposed to purchase their products. What would be the point of a company promoting the sale of a wedding dress to someone one month before her wedding?”

The time line differentiates Bride-Direct from other DM vehicles, such as lists from wedding registries that “provide little or no information on the consumer's affinity to that product,” Kisberg said.

Bride-Direct is signing up 50,000 newly engaged couples a month. Companies that have agreed to work with Bride-Direct include AT&T and Prudential Insurance. Cost for companies to take part in the services vary, but “you can get in the game for somewhere around $7,500,” Kisberg said. Customers can buy a question on its survey for anywhere from $500 to $2,000.

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