Don't Discount Direct Mail: Oriental Trading Made My Day (and my son's par-tee)

Back when email was a novelty, each new ding of an email in my inbox used to be exciting. Will it be from a friend, a cousin, a professional contact I haven’t connected with in awhile? Or maybe an amazing % off at Bloomingdales, or at Golf Galaxy for my husband?

It’s funny how the times have shifted. Now because I get so many emails each day, I no longer get overly excited at the sound of a new email; there are just SO many. However, I do get extremely giddy when a piece of tangible mail that my mailman placed in my mailbox is exactly what I need.

A couple of days I ago, I picked up the mail: bill, catalogue, bill, dentist reminder, catalogue, bill… you get the picture. One catalogue stood out because it clearly stated “1st Birthday.” Below that title it showed a celebratory picture of a family enjoying cupcakes with two 1 year olds. The copy next to the picture read, “Bring their first festivities to life for less with bright birthday buys!”

As a marketer, I just smiled! Brilliant! It’s like they read my mind. Amongst all of the responsibilities I have, one that I hadn’t had the chance to act upon, but was definitely up there in importance was my son’s impending 1st birthday. I knew that making it special for him included party supplies, a theme, and of course balloons, but I hadn’t had a chance to investigate where or when I was going to purchase those items.

The fact that the Oriental Trading catalogue came to me at around the exact time I started thinking about planning the party could not have made it more convenient or valuable to me. I don’t know how they got my name or how they knew I have a 10 month old, but frankly I didn’t care what list they received that information from. It was perfect; I needed this stuff.

Some people think Direct Mail is a thing of the past, but it really isn’t. If you can get the correct message into the hands of the people who would benefit from that message, it will ultimately lead to sales. $150 later, I am a happy and satisfied customer because my son will have a cute party, and my husband gets to enjoy the theme that my child will clearly not remember (a Golf themed party for a one year old!?).

Although I was thrilled to see their catalogue, Oriental Trading would have benefitting from also doing the following:

o   Purchasing my email address as well as my home address so I received the message in multiple mediums. In case my husband beat me to the mailbox and decided we didn’t need the catalogue, or if I was so busy that I forgot we had it, it would have been beneficial to re-enforce the message multiple times that Oriental Trading was there to help me plan the party.

o   Including a percentage off or free shipping with no price limit. They do a nice job of including a promo code for free shipping if you purchase at least $39 worth of merchandise. Clearly they want people to use this promo code because it helps them determine if their marketing is giving them a return on their marketing investment. I’m an example of a nice return on their investment because the cost of the catalogue was definitely nowhere near $150.

 Free Shipping is a nice perk, and you might think it’s not necessary to give a percentage off (I purchased anyway), but if they really want first-time buyers to purchase from a new company, they should include free shipping without a minimum, or they should clearly state a percentage off on their back and front covers to help convert new consumers.

If Oriental Trading has a good CRM, I will anticipate a birthday catalogue for years to come each end of February, so I can continue to plan that (Golf?) themed birthday party for my son.