CEO Q&A: Jim McCann, 1-800-Flowers.com

1-800-Flowers.com's Jim McCann talks to Douglas Quenqua about being on Undercover Boss and the company's new, year-round marketing approach

1-800-Flowers.com's Jim McCann talks to Douglas Quenqua about being on Undercover Boss and the company's new, year-round marketing approach.

What did you learn from Undercover Boss?  

McCann: The value of communications done well. We had no editorial control, but to see people so good at helping us communicate our message internally and externally proved the value of effective communications.

Has your local marketing approach changed?

McCann: There is no longer a distinction between internal and external audiences. The overwhelming flow of dialogue from franchisees, their employees, family members, and the general public has been like trying to sip out of a fire hose. But the building blocks for a really effective dialogue produce a dynamic in-market promotion and marketing campaign, as well as extraordinary results.

This year, 1-800-Flowers' marketing is not pegged to a specific holiday. Are you seeing results?

McCann: The "warm and fuzzy" campaign is resonating. I was traveling with my son recently and people said, "You must be warm, because you're surely fuzzy," because my son is clean-shaven. In the non-holiday months, our business improved year on year for the past 13 or 14 months.

How do you keep your relationship with your PR agency, MWW Group, honest and productive?

McCann: Yanique [Woodall, VP of PR] works with them every day and Chris [McCann, president] and me get involved less regularly. We challenge them and say, "If you were pitching this business today, what would your pitch be?" We ask them to evaluate themselves and tell us what they are doing.

1-800-Flowers is still top of mind with consumers, despite a shift from retail to phone to internet. How would you advise other CEOs shifting platforms?

McCann: It's easy to see the technologies that will enable consumers to act in different ways. Retail was the first wave for us. Second was changing our name to 1-800-Flowers and embracing new technology, which was the 800 number and 24/7 service. Third was the internet. We were online in 1991, but it didn't matter much for us until 1997. Then it overwhelmed us.

Next up is mobile, video and social networking, which will help us become the new social commerce kind of company. If it makes the relationship with your customer better, you have no choice.

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