Business

Two KC Business Powerhouses Team Up to Give Baby Clothes a Boost

Hallmark’s newest line, Hallmark Baby, is on the rise, and Kansas City marketing agency Emfluence is helping it gain success a little bit differently.

Story by Nicolette Martin

Hallmark Baby, a clothing line for newborns to children aged 8, was developed from the pursuit of capturing the natural affinity to the relationship between moms and young babies, says Julie Tozier, director of marketing and merchandising with Hallmark Baby.

“That emotional bond and emotional connectedness is something that Hallmark has spent 100 years learning about and offering solutions to the U.S. consumer with all kinds of different products,” Tozier says. “It seemed natural to bring some of our creativity into children and infants’ clothing.”

Hallmark Baby is not launching with mainstream mass media but is instead taking a different, 21st-Century-kind-of approach with the help of Emfluence, a full-service, interactive marketing agency based here in Kansas City.

Chad Anderson, the Hallmark Baby account manager at Emfluence, says digital marketing isn’t taking the place of traditional marketing. However, because digital marketing is less expensive and allows more ingenuity, Anderson says, many brands have taken a digital marketing approach as it makes sense for their business.

“We had a fairly honed strategy: to start out small so we weren’t spread all over the place and solely focus on where we knew our target consumers were on social media,” Anderson says. The most popular channels were Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Emfluence and Hallmark Baby’s next strategy was to identify who the core consumer would be—young, 20-something moms or a different demographic. The other important factor? Making sure there was actually a place in the industry for Hallmark Baby.

Mark Strickland, director of business strategy and operations for Hallmark Baby, says that because this was a new category for Hallmark to dive into, it was important to make sure consumers would accept Hallmark permission as a part of clothing industry and that they understood why Hallmark was taking this step.

“We started this business without really deciding on purely financial measures to gauge success,” Strickland explains. “It was mostly about recognition in the marketplace.”

Although not the main measure of success, the numbers do tell a story. In the first three months after launch – with the use of only email, social media and pay-per-click advertising – traffic to HallmarkBaby.com’s e-commerce site increased by 64 percent. Hallmark Baby’s email database now has more than 80,000 subscribers, and its Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter audience has grown past 85,000.

Hallmark Baby isn’t done, though. With the creation of social memes (a digital way of eliciting the same reaction as a traditional Hallmark card) and creating new blog content, Hallmark Baby continues to have a conversation with consumers and grow its brand voice.

More than 90 individual pieces have been created for the “Life’s Little Joys” and “The Best Part of Being a Mom/Dad” meme series, netting more than 1.8 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter. The creative series also won silver and bronze ADDYs from the American Advertising Federation and a gold AMBIT award from the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association.

For more information on Hallmark Baby and Emfluence, visit www.hallmarkbaby.com and www.emfluence.com.