How You Can Copy Amazon’s Success

Sears printed its iconic holiday Wish Book from 1933 to 2011, and once again in 2017. During its 78-year run, Sears reported that “tens of millions” in sales were made. All from mailing a catalog. They were the Amazon of their day. And now, Amazon is taking a cue from them to use use one of the oldest and most reliable forms of marketing and you should be too.

Sears printed its iconic holiday Wish Book from 1933 to 2011, and once again in 2017.  During its 78-year run, Sears reported that “tens of millions” in sales were made.

The first Wish Book in 1933 sold products like dolls, a battery-powered toy car, a Mickey Mouse watch, fruitcakes, electric train sets, chocolates, and even live singing canaries. By the 1960s, the Wish Book had over 600 pages of gift ideas. The books sold Barbie dolls, toy cars, wine-making kits, washing machines, and everything in between.

Now, Amazon is following suit.  What magic sorcery are they using to continue to build their online empire?

Marketing Magic Sorcery.

Smart marketers know that direct mail is the secret weapon, since the return on investment is often much higher than any return you will get on your email or Social Media marketing. 

Aside from the occasional bill and the local realtor solicitations, there’s generally not much that arrives in your physical mailbox. When something out of the ordinary arrives, it catches your customer’s attention.  

Do You Fall Into This Trap?

To many Business Owners, direct mail seems antiquated next to the latest and greatest mobile, text, and electronic communications available. (Not to mention, people spend an average of 5 hours a day on their phone.)  Often, people perceive the cost of direct mail as a barrier.

Thinking Instead of Knowing.

So often, we make decisions about what we think we know, or perceived barriers.  For whatever reason, over the years direct mail has become victim to his dilemma. But as Sears and Amazon (and now Ebay too) have shown, it’s still a valuable practice if you want your marketing to make an impact.

Marketing Decisions Based On Facts, Not Feeling.

Before you dismiss the thought of direct mail, consider this:

  1. Direct mail allows you to create a personal connection with your customers. With direct mail, you can send customized messages that speak to the customer’s specific needs. This type of marketing creates an emotional response, which is more likely to lead to conversions.

  2. Direct Mail is easy to measure. Say you mail 200 pieces and 42 people bring their mail into your business to be redeemed. You know exactly who those 42 people are (their name is on the marketing piece after all!) and you can see how much each customer spent. Plus, you already know what it cost to print and mail, so calculating your return on investment is very easy to do.

Real Life Example from A Client

Mailed 500 postcards x $1.05 each (including postage). 29.6% of the people who received the campaign visited who Spent $6,682.74. That’s a return on investment of $13 to $1.
Even better, customers who redeemed the campaign spent $8 more than his average transaction size.


If a slot machine paid out $13 for every $1 you put in, how many times would you pull the lever?

As many as you could, right?

3. Direct mail has a higher ROI than any other form of marketing! Direct mail also allows businesses to target their audience more effectively. Businesses can use direct mail to reach customers in a specific geographic area or target customer segments based on previous spending habits.

Amazon has done this by only sending the catalog to Prime Members who they have targeted as toy buyers. The biggest backlash that people are posting about is NOT getting one in the mail.

4. Direct mail is tangible. Unlike an email or online ad, direct mail pieces are physical items that recipients can hold in their hands. It’s a physical reminder to visit your business. This tangibility gives direct mail a perceived value that other marketing channels lack.  Email and texts quickly disappear into the abyss and rely on the recipient remembering that they received it to redeem it. Direct mail gets put on the fridge, on the foyer table or into a purse as a reminder to be used.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, direct mail generates a response rate of 3.4%, compared to 0.12% for email campaigns. That’s a huge difference that can’t be ignored.

  • Small Business Trends reveals that 70% of consumers feel that direct mail is more personal than online interactions.
  • Direct mail response rates are five to nine times higher than any other advertising channel. Up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20-30% of emails. (Data Targeting Solutions)
  • Per USPS, 98% of people check their mail daily and Americans spend upwards of 30 minutes with their mail on a single occasion.

Whatever marketing platform you use, it needs to incorporate all of the media available – and direct mail should be a big part of it. Monthly birthday mailings, a campaign for special events of holidays, a sale or contest –  followed with related text, email, app notifications, and social media to maximize the results and ensure that all of your customers are getting your marketing messages.

Book a Consultation Call to hear how you can incorporate direct mail into your marketing to impact your sale and profits.

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