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Oct 03, 2006
How To

How Sephora Coordinates Marketing Across Web, Print Catalog and 127 Retail Stores -- 4 Practical Tactics

SUMMARY: OK, you're about to launch your big new marketing offer. How can you make sure everyone from legal to commerce techies to offline media buyers to retail store clerks all know what's happening, and they're cool with it?

Welcome to the world of Sephora. It's not easy being relentlessly multichannel. Here are four useful tactics the US marketing team relies on to smooth out internal, cross-departmental campaign kinks:
Talk about a multichannel nightmare waiting to happen.

When Sephora, Europe's largest beauty retailer, launched in the US in 1998, they rolled out across three channels -- a chain of 127 retail outlets, a high circulation print catalog and, of course, an ecommerce Web site.

All of which are naturally supported by ads across multiple media -- print ads, PR online ads, in-store signage, local events, email newsletter ads, search marketing, DM, etc.

How do you make sure every customer-facing bit of your brand -- including thousands of store employees -- all know (and agree about) what's going on with marketing offers?

Connie Young, Director Marketing & Business Development, told us her team uses three key tactics:

#1. Pick a project "owner" for every campaign.

"There's one project manager to manage the process to be sure everything is turned in on time, that the timeline is put together," she explains. That manager's duties include getting samples to stores, routing copy through legal, and holding conference calls to coordinate with all parties involved.

Key: Each campaign's owner isn't chosen based on whether they are in the offline or offline divisions, because most campaigns touch all mediums. That person is chosen based on either past experience, current evangelism or demonstrated understanding of the tactic at hand.

#2. Multiple cross-channel meetings.

Every new campaign starts with a kick-off call for all parties involved. Then, along with regular coordination, about once a month senior marketing managers get together in person. This face-to-face is deemed important enough for execs to routinely fly across the country. (Online Sephora marketers are in San Francisco, while the offline marketers are in New York.)

For really big initiatives, key store managers are also invited to the kick-off conference call. Young notes online-focused marketers can be prone to forgetting this step, "because you don't have staff you have to train."

#3. Centralize -- and limit -- marketing alerts to stores.

Store managers could easily be inundated by too much communication from corporate. Consider that marketing, merchandising, warehouseing, etc. all have announcements they want to share.

So, Sephora has a strict policy that all communication with stores *must* go through the store operations center, which in turn prioritizes and sends them along to store managers.

In turn, the operations center has placed a strict limit on the number of communications the stores can be sent in any given day -- fewer than 10.

#4. Track results across channels

Online and catalog results are relatively easy to track, as are coupons, samples and sales offers at stores. However, Sephora's marketers also realize that the unique glory of offline is the fact that there you are, face to face with the customer.

So, after every major campaign, they send a survey out to store managers asking for customer reaction. The response is just as valuable, in its own way, as anything you'd learn from Web analytics or catalog response codes.

Which helps when you have to beg store operations to give your post-campaign survey a high priority to get it through

Useful links related to this article:

Sephora is a member of, a forum for retailing online executives to share information, lessons-learned, new perspectives, insights and intelligence. More info at


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