Make a Connection in Real Life with Postcards

How Onward Reserve stays true to their brand and meets their audience where they are.

TJ Callaway and Virginia Johnston of Onward Reserve stand beside each other in their Buckhead store. They are smiling at the camera.

TJ Callaway launched Onward Reserve in 2012 with a mission—to outfit men with clothing and gear to "live authentically." The brand grew quickly as an online store, followed by its first brick-and-mortar shop in Athens, Georgia opening in the same year. Now there are 12 locations, a successful catalog, and a continued focus on e-commerce.

To stay true to their brand identity, TJ and Creative Director Virginia Johnson knew that their marketing strategy had to match their spirit. After seeing multichannel success online with emails and digital ads created in Mailchimp, they sought another channel to reach their audience in a real and tangible way—and they found postcards.

In the years since Onward Reserve got started, the e-commerce world has grown exponentially, and so has digital marketing. While this has been good for their online shop, it's also meant that customers often feel inundated online. "For a while we could send emails effortlessly, and we'd have a huge open rate because people's inboxes had fewer promotions and they paid more attention," says Virginia. "But now we've actually gone back to print. We have a 60-page print catalog that we mail out twice a year, and we send postcards with Mailchimp. We've seen that be very, very successful."

The goal: Grow the brand in an authentic way

"It's always been important for our brand to be perceived as something real," TJ says. "We try to have the most authentic connection with our customers possible, and it's really hard to do that in a digital space." Since their products are made for the outdoors, Onward Reserve wanted to reach customers who were too busy fishing, hiking, camping, or golfing to check their email or spot ads online. As they considered adding a channel, it made sense to bring in 1 with a physical presence.

The tool: Postcards that match the mission

Their print catalog was already a big hit, so Onward Reserve knew that direct mail marketing resonated with their customers. Plus, Mailchimp made it easy to use impactful brand elements on postcards. "Putting out the most authentic content we can with people really living life in our clothing, making it look natural, fun, and attainable—a lot of that is happening through postcards right now," says Virginia. "We use Mailchimp postcards for customer re-engagement, to reach our best customers, and for event follow-up."

The result: A return on investment 5 times what they spent

"The primary benefit of postcards is for our customers to have something tangible delivered right to their mailbox," says Virginia. But beyond the tactile win, they've seen a high return on investment, which means an impact to their bottom line. "We’ve seen a five times ROI from Mailchimp postcards."