“2008 Best Practice - Sales & Marketing”

The New York Enterprise Report

Backstory

Bronx-based American Christmas provides custom manufacturing, design, installation, removal, storage and refurbishment of holiday décor. They specialize in interior and exterior décor for malls, banks, hospitals, restaurants, department stores, hotels, multi-store national retail chains and consumers. Their clients include Radio City Music Hall, Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, and Banana Republic. The company has 105 employees and was founded in 1988, when CEO and founder Fred L. Schwam reclaimed inventory from his father’s holiday-related business. While the business has a great reputation, the sales and marketing programs did not reflect the brand accurately.

Best Practice

Since taking over 20 years ago, Schwam has been tweaking and honing American Christmas’ sales and marketing. “I don’t look at any aspect of my business and think it’s perfect,” says Schwam. “I’m constantly looking for ways to improve.” Recently, the company took significant steps to take its sales and marketing efforts to the next level in order to continue to reliably fulfill growing customer demand. These steps include providing extensive sales training and upgrading the company’s marketing and branding efforts. New hires are put through an immersive training program that provides them with a deep understanding of the American Christmas brand and core culture. New sales people spend time in the warehouse with the production and creative departments to acquire first-hand knowledge of the materials, labor, detail and design involved in making a holiday program. Trainees also shadow seasoned sales personnel in order to experience the American Christmas approach to selling and reinforce their knowledge and skills. One of the awards’ judges said he was “impressed by how the sales team spends significant time in the warehouse to get a thorough understanding of the production process.”

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In 2005, the company underwent a significant image makeover. Simultaneously, they redesigned their logo, tagline and website. “We’ve been around since 1968 and while we have great name recognition, our look needed updating,” says Schwam. The company’s “public face” had to keep up with the upscale direction the company was going. By redesigning the website, updating the Santa logo and introducing a tag line – “We make the magic” – the marketing materials began to reflect the sophisticated image that American Christmas strives to achieve. The revised website not only portrays the upscale image of the company, it serves as an easily accessible and compelling resource for people who may be interested in American Christmas services. The site provides a countdown to Christmas and includes the company’s portfolio, magazine, client list and news articles. As another judge said, “American Christmas has successfully executed great ideas to expand their brand and enter new channels.” All of these elements combine to tell a story and bring American Christmas services to life. All of the marketing updates resonated with existing and new clients alike.

Results

Since 2005, 40 year-old American Christmas realized a 40% increase in revenue and added eight new full-time employees.