Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Have your cake and eat it

As consumers we’re getting increasingly used to emails triggered by special events such as birthdays or anniversaries. But as far as I am aware, few catalogues are using triggers to mail out their main books. Sure, you’ll get a barbecue special if the weather hots up, or perhaps a themed mailer around Valentine’s or Father’s Day, but will you get a full catalogue based on a trigger? The answer is invariably, no.

Then comes along gourmet food catalogue Forman & Field. It sent the Catablogue e-business office its annual 2009-2010 catalogue in May. The person it was addressed to has a birthday in June, a fact the covering letter was well aware of: “It may not be for a few weeks yet, but I thought you may be planning a special soiree and what better way is there to celebrate with friends, family and the finest food available.”

To further encourage the birthday girl to buy something from its catalogue, Forman & Field offered 50 percent off any cake or dessert, because no birthday would be complete without cake.

This simple idea is brilliant on a number of levels. First, it refreshes the annual catalogue, which may have been in circulation for more than six months already. Second, it shows how relatively simple data segmentation—it could be as basic as everyone on the list with a birthday in June—can form the basis of a trigger and a legitimate marketing opportunity. Third, the goodwill the offer creates by showing that Forman & Field cares about its customers and “remembers” their birthdays is invaluable for fostering customer loyalty.

A lot of companies pay lip service to trigger marketing—so it’s refreshing to see a cataloguer putting the concept to good use.—MT

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