Doll Marketer's Site Makes Marketing Magic

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The first of two Magic Cabin Dolls holiday books is expected to reach homes early this week.

The arts and crafts cataloger plans to reach 1 million homes during the holiday season.

The initial holiday drop falls on the heels of the launch of the Magic Cabin Dolls Web site last month. The site,, has generated "a little bit shy of $10,000 in sales" since its launch, said Sandy Sheppard, director of marketing at The Children's Group, Magic Cabin Dolls' parent.

The Children's Group, Rohnert Park, CA, is a division of multititle marketer Foster & Gallagher Inc., Peoria, IL.

Six months ago, Magic Cabin Dolls created a makeshift site, which wasn't yet e-commerce-enabled, under the URL where the company collected more than 5,000 e-mail addresses from visitors who asked to be informed of the site's launch for business.

"We were stunned at how many [e-mail addresses] we actually had [collected]," said Sheppard.

Magic Cabin Dolls sent its first e-mail -- a sneak peek of the merchandise to be offered in the holiday book, replete with direct links to the corresponding Web page -- on Sept. 29 to those e-mail addresses.

"That's one of the things that's great about the Web," said Sheppard. "You can put your holiday merchandise up as soon as you've got it in stock."

The Children's Group also plans to send a "grand opening" e-mail announcing the Magic Cabin Dolls site to its HearthSong e-mail file "because there's a lot of synergy between those two catalogs and the type of customer [they reach]," she said.

The Web site also will be promoted on every catalog spread along with the company's toll-free phone number.

The merchant mails a combined 2 million catalogs in five drops per year, including the spring, summer and fall as well as two holiday mailings.

D-J Associates, Ridgefield, CT, handles list brokerage for the cataloger.

Spencer Press Inc., Wells, ME, prints the Magic Cabin Dolls book. Fulfillment is handled inhouse.

The Children's Group acquired the Magic Cabin Dolls title from founder Sara McDonald four years ago. McDonald, who began mailing the book in 1990 in Viroqua, WI, currently oversees a staff of 17 women there who design the book and handle its product merchandising.

Magic Cabin Dolls targets mostly mothers with children between the ages of 2 and 6, as well as women without children who are interested in crafts.

Its product mix ranges from dolls and collectibles to games and coloring books. Forty percent of its products are Magic Cabin originals while the rest are made by artists in the United States and Europe.

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