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The winner of the Award for Excellence and Innovation in Marketing (with budgets in excess of $10,000) had some interesting challenges.

They were introducing a sequel to a book that had already been deemed a holiday classic. The original title was introduced 18 years ago and had so far achieved book sales of 1.3 million. The publishers wondered if their customers would even want a sequel. But the author, Tom Hegg, convinced them that another generation had arrived and the book would definitely be salable.

This follow-up title was introduced at BEA in Los Angeles last year. Their first sale was recorded on July 29, 1999, and their print run was 48,737. The gross sales as of December 29, 1999 were 47,855.

Their goal was to reach the existing base of potential customers (those who had bought their previous book) and to expand into new markets too. They did this in many traditional ways, but as our award states, we look for innovation. Their innovation was the development of an alliance with The Good Samaritan Society and The Lifeplace Stores to co-sponsor the first annual “Remember Me Day.” This gave the publisher extensive national publicity in new markets. On Saturday, December 4, 1999, Remember Me Day was launched to honor the memories and traditions of seniors during the holiday season.

The Good Samaritan Society is the largest nonprofit provider of long-term care in the country. LifePlace is a retail and online merchant of assistive products and caring gifts targeted to seniors and their caregivers. On December 4, a total of 240 long-term care facilities held Christmas Tea Open Houses across the country, inviting families and community members to visit residents and celebrate seniors. Also on that first day, Waldman House Press did a simulcast to all facilities with a book reading by the author, Tom Hegg, featuring both his original book, A Cup of Christmas Tea, as well as the new sequel, A Memory of Christmas Tea. A total stroke of genius, in my opinion.

This year we honored a wonderful and innovative independent publishing house from Minneapolis, Minnesota—Waldman House Press, its publishers—Ned Waldman and Brett Waldman, its marketing director—Dorothy Molstad, and of course, its author—Tom Hegg, for keeping the spirit of independent publishing and Christmas alive in all of us.

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