Who Said Print is Dead? Amazon Brings Back the Holiday Wish Book

Who Said Print is Dead? Amazon Brings Back the Holiday Wish Book

The Sears Wish Book debuted in 1933.  It was a small catalog, but it kicked off something really big.  Since Sears was already the most popular name in ordering anything you could imagine, from a whole house to all the furniture and dishes you’d need to go inside of it, breaking out a specific issue for the holiday season was a signal to other retailers that they’d better step up the pace and get on board.

Officially, this catalog was always called the Christmas Book catalog, but anyone who grew up during the years it was in publication know it as the “Wish Book.’  After all, it was the book you were placing all your hopes on as a child.  Dog-eared version of this catalog not only hung around the house for months, they sometimes lasted for years.  Kids don’t let dreams die that easily.

In 1998, the last Wish Book went out to the public.  It totalled 605 glorious, full color, glossy pages.  After that, there was only wishbook.com.  Have you ever been to wishbook.com?

This could be part of the reason that Sears is on its last financial leg.  It got too far away from its roots.  It went all in on digital, without giving a lot of thought to the customers that would leave behind.  Even though something like 75 percent of adults are online today, that doesn’t mean they’re all comfortable buying online or calling a random person off of the Internet for in-home services.

Marketing in the 21st Century

Marketers are at a bit of a turning point right now, there are plenty of people who are still reading the local paper, checking out advertisements in their mail and expecting that you, as a business owner, will have something on paper to give them.  Not to stereotype, but these people tend to be older and less comfortable with computers in general.  It’s not their fault, they were raised and lived most of their lives in a whole different world from the one we’re in now.  However tech-independent, they still need your services and you can’t ignore them if you want to continue to thrive.

Experts estimate that there are 76.4 million Baby Boomers out there.  This generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are not digitally-native like the next biggest generation — the generation everybody loves to hate — The Millenials, with 73 million members born between 1981 and 1996   There’s no judgement here, but the reality is that these two very large populations are as different as night and day, which makes marketing to them both with the same techniques impossible.  Boomers still believe in paper, Millennials ask Google for things “near me.”  You couldn’t get two groups as far apart as they are in pretty much every way.

This is likely the very reason that Amazon has announced that it’s bringing back the Wish Book: Amazon edition.  Bloomberg reported on the news last month and although it mentions a few, significantly smaller and more niche companies that have catalog offerings, there’s literally no other online store that can hold a candle to the sway that Amazon has over the retail world.  In a somewhat ironic move, Amazon has become the modern Sears Catalog and with that comes the power to influence all other retailers that hope to survive in its wake.

What Does This Have to Do With Your Business?

Your business may be a small fish in a big sea online, but because so many retailers and service providers have gone all-in with digital in the last few years, breaking out a little bit of ad spend for physical marketing tools like fliers, mailers, posters, birthday cards and the like can give you an edge.  Print is not dead — far from it, it would seem.  If Amazon’s little gamble pays off this winter, as it likely will because of a combination of nostalgia and wider accessibility for those Boomers who aren’t willing to give their credit card to some website, you’re going to suddenly see a big uptick in paper assets.

It’s always better to be ahead of the wave and this one promises to be a behemoth.  As goes Amazon, goes the world — your business included, sooner or later.  You can certainly do your own paper marketing, but they’ve gotta be dressed to impress.  If you’re going to DIY it, make sure to arm your marketing team with tools that include:

Adobe’s Creative Cloud.  Adobe’s gone to The Cloud, giving you access to all of its popular tools, including InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop starting at right around $50 a month for one user.  You can also access their stock image library starting at about $20 per month.  If your people don’t know how to use these tools, you’ve got some time to teach them.  Even though Word can theoretically make fliers, it’s twitchy and unreliable.  Go for the pro tools for a pro look.

High quality paper and printers.  As important as what you use to design your paper assets is what you use to print them.  High quality paper will give a great first impression and a commercial-quality color laser printer will deliver the results you need once you get the settings dialed in.  You can also pay a print shop to do your printing, but make sure you know what you get for your money — they are often pretty cost-prohibitive for small runs.

Folding machines and tabbers.  If you’re going to do in-house mailing, save yourself and your team a lot of labor by investing in a paper folder and a tabber, or a folder/tabber combo machine.  These do exactly what it sounds like they would: they fold mailers and then apply a tab to keep them closed during mailing.  It’s a slow, grueling task to fold and tab by hand, especially if your mailing list has more than about 100 addresses on it.

Even if you’re not looking to produce a holiday catalog this year, print assets like Thank You cards, newsletters, brochures about up and coming offerings and other periodical assets can become a lot more visible if you’re sending them to a physical mailbox.  Your Millennials may prefer email, but their parents belong to a group that’s a bit torn on the issue.  And even though we all know that the customer isn’t always right, if you want to sell another service or high value product to this group, you have to meet the percentage that isn’t that into email in the middle.

And, hey, if you want mailers, but don’t have the time, staff or equipment to do the job, In The Cloud is more than happy to help.  Just give us a call at 817-769-9393 or shoot us an email for a free quote for custom mailers or a free digital marketing consultation.