KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ambassador Cards here has named and packaged its marketing philosophy under the MAP acronym.
MAP stands for Marketing Action Plan. It consists of various marketing components involving research, merchandising, promotions and advertising all designed to drive greeting card sales for Ambassador's retail partners.
Elements of MAP have been tested since 1993 and will be heavily marketed this year, said company executives.
The concept is offered to all of Ambassador's retailers. Food chains, such as Smith's Food and Drug, Salt Lake City; The Stop & Shop Cos., Quincy, Mass.; Randalls Food Markets in Houston and Krogers' Altanta Division, have already actively incorporated it into their greeting card programs, according to Mindi Ellis, company spokesperson.
Fred Copping, Ambassador's national account executive, cited that Smith's has used MAP to tie in Ambassador cards with other vendors. For Valentine's Day, for example, Smith's offered a "Hugs and Kisses and Valentine's Wishes" promotion, in which free Hershey's Hugs and Kisses candy was offered with the purchase of several Ambassador cards. For Easter, the chain featured "One Hop Shopping," a promotional program with signage throughout the store as well as displays of cards and related Easter products placed in bakery, floral, video and in the seasonal aisle. One of the benefits of MAP is that it's custom designed for each retailer. Ambassador uses its market analysis program to define each store's trade area and consumer demographics. It evaluates the location of the card department, as well as its size and mix.
It then links the retailers strategic plan with Ambassador's category knowledge. For example, Ambassador's new Pocahontas line can be marketed throughout the store to capture incremental sales and drive traffic to the main department. The company has suggested that Pocahontas party decorations be placed with cake mixes, stickers with candy and cereal, a floorstand with floral and a card checkstand at the checkout. "You can take Pocahontas and you can market it at other parts of the store," said Ellis.
Once MAP is established and launched, Ambassador analyzes the results. Jim McDowell, marketing director for Ambassador said, "The key to a successful year-round marketing plan is to design a plan that is strategically linked to a store's image and drive periods."
Richard White, Ambassador's integrated marketing manager, said the goal of MAP is "to capture more consumers. The key is to strategically place the product where you can get customers to see it." According to Ambassador, about 65% of shoppers entering a food, drug or discount store have a need for a greeting card or related product. Of these customers who come in contact with the greeting card department, about 65% will make a purchase. The problem is that only 20% of the store's shoppers ever make it to the greeting card department. That's where MAP comes into play. The year-round program helps retailers develop a strategy linked to their store's image.