Even Amazon Knows Direct Mail Delivers for Holiday Marketing

Amazon’s Wish Book shows once again that the e-commerce giants know mail is a breakthrough brand touchpoint for the holiday season.

If you’re the biggest online retailer in the world, you’d expect your holiday marketing to be all-digital, right? Why would Amazon, a brand that has mastered the digital realm so thoroughly that its name is synonymous with online shopping, bother sending a holiday catalog? Surely they can make more impact with search, online ads, email, smartphone notifications and whatever else they have their hooks in, right?

But Amazon is sending a catalog! And this isn’t a one-time test — the Amazon Wish Book has been coming out pretty much since Sears stopped printing a version of their own.

Amazon knows that great marketing makes an impression. Nothing makes a Holiday impression like holding that catalog in your hands and shopping for presents. If the biggest online business in the world is using direct mail to boost holiday sales, shouldn’t you consider it, too?

If you’d written Christmas cards out of the marketing budget, let alone your own catalog, consider this your opportunity to get off the marketing naughty list. 

Here’s how Amazon is doing it, and tips for how you can capture that old Sears Wish Book magic for yourself.

Amazon Wish Book Kicks Off the Holiday Season

Christmas arrived in homes across the U.S. when Amazon Wish Books started arriving in mailboxes before Halloween had even delivered its scares.

Amazon Wish BookWhile e-commerce may have pushed Sears to the brink, the Amazon Wish Book is a blast of catalog nostalgia — a return to the days when the Sears catalog kicked off the holiday shopping season.

For those who may not remember, for decades — from 1934 to 1993 — just about every American home received a giant catalog called the Sears Wish Book, and it continued in smaller sizes well into the new millennium. We would get this massive, full-color catalog filled with toys and everything else you might get or give as a gift. In our family, it was a tradition to flip through the Wish Book and mark the things you wanted for Christmas, so “Santa” would know what to get you.

Time moves on, and, of course, Amazon has a wish list anyone can fill out and share right on its website. Yet the Christmas Wish Book tradition is back because getting that big, physical, impactful brand touch is a great way to win over holiday shoppers. It makes an impression on your audience that brings your store or website to mind first when they look to do Christmas shopping.

Frankly, as a marketing tactic, I love it. Not only is the Amazon Wish Book a really effective blast of nostalgia marketing and brand positioning. For some families, marking up the Wish Book could easily become a new tradition. That family-tradition effect kept Sears in Santa Cash for many, many years.

3 Tips for Holiday Marketing That Goes Beyond Digital

Look, 2020 has been the year of virtual living. We’ve all been locked at home doing most of our interaction through digital screens. Halloween for most of the country was limited to immediate neighbors and sharing costume pics on social media. Thanksgiving for some families was Pizza and Zoom.

From the 4th of July to New Year’s Eve, 2020 has forced people to adapt their traditions to the digital space. And it’s been a hardship. Digital holidays mean no touch, no smell, no tangible sense of celebration.

A good holiday mailpiece can cut through those feelings of loss and make your brand a part of their holiday joy.

That’s why it’s so important this year to make a connection with customers in a channel that doesn’t run through their computers.

The Amazon Wish Book is a great example of how to do that. Yes, it’s still marketing, but it’s marketing people can feel. And that, this year, can make all the difference.

There are three things the Wish Book does well that you should try to emulate in your own holiday marketing:

  1. The Wish Book is physical: Try to find a way to put a piece of your holiday marketing in your target audience’s hands.
  2. It’s nice and has a holiday feel: Although the Amazon Wish Book is still a catalog, it has a warm feel and presentation that reminds you of Christmas past. Its design unabashedly hits nostalgia in ways you can only do for the holidays.
  3. Amazon reminds people what the holidays are all about: The Wish Book does more to spark thoughts of gift-giving than buying for yourself, and that’s a big part of its holiday magic. Plan your holiday marketing not just around sparking interest in your products, but in sparking holiday altruism in your target audience.

We hope this holiday season will be the happiest time of your year, both personally and professionally. If you want to talk about how your company could put together something like the Amazon Wish Book, or about any other aspect of your holiday marketing, please reach out. We’d love to talk shop and help bring your ideas to life. This is the time of year when smart omni-channel strategies can really pay off, and we know how to make that happen for brands like yours.