In this episode, I talked with Brianne Baggetta, the President and CEO of The Mailworks.
Based in Albany, NY, The Mailworks was founded by Bri’s mom in 1984 and has evolved into a 1-stop shop for marketers. We talked about how marketers can “plant seeds” with different types of mail:
Among the many topics we covered:
- Bri’s foundation in the industry
- The services the company offers
- How to do mail (and branding) well for local businesses
- The effect of postage and paper increases
- Trends in direct mail marketing
Here are some questions and answers (edited for clarity and space):
- What types of services does the company offer to marketers?
So The Mailworks is a one-stop shop. You know, essentially for anybody looking to do a direct mail campaign, we handle everything from the copywriting to the graphic design to then the actual overall execution of the production.
That’s not to say that every client works with us in that capacity. We do work with many marketing teams who provide their own data, who provide their own creative, and they’re looking for us to either partner and getting it produced. So we really look at what are the needs of our clients and how we can tailor our services to suit them.
They are looking to hit targeted in-home windows. So they have direct mail that maybe is promoting an event or an offer and they need to reliably have a system to say “I want it in homes on this day”.
So in homes on October 26th, for instance. We work backwards. From that point, from the in-home date and manage their deadline schedule so that we can get the mail into the mailboxes at that determined time. So, all the support that it takes to execute campaigns on that level is what we specialize in.
It’s also having that reliability and that predictability. You know, a lot of times when somebody’s using direct mail the urgency of the offer is gonna determine how successful it can be and making sure that you get it into that mailbox at the right time. Right? You don’t wanna get it in too early. You don’t wanna get it in late. You gotta get it in there when you scheduled it. And the system that we put in place really helps people reach that goal.
- Can you talk about some of the other aspects like pricing and customer service?
So when I first came into the company, The Mailworks was still a lettershop, right? We didn’t do any printing in-house. All of our printing came from commercial offset printers. And then we handled the variable data services, the addressing and the sorting, to get the postage discounts and get it in the mail.
It was in 2008 that we installed our first digital printing press. And we were now in the business of putting color on paper. But what was unique is that we had never done this before. So the traditional pricing model of offset price, of offset printing where, you know, the more you print, the lower cost per piece you get, that didn’t make sense to us.
We, as a lettershop, we’d always priced our service per piece because we didn’t have the startup cost of firing up an offset press. So when we got into printing, we approached it the same way. So what the result of that is, and what makes us different for our customers is that we offer a static price per piece.
It’s done for our clients as it’s allowed them to mail smarter. Because if they’re mailing, you know, they look at their overall direct mail program. And let’s say they have a high quantity, you know, let’s say they’re a large volume mailer. They’re used to traditionally having to lump all of that order into one product type so that they can get the lowest cost per piece.[Y]ou can break that up into multiple different product types, and it doesn’t change per piece cost. So it actually incentivizes you to mail smarter and to use different creatives and different messages.
- I want to talk about the four main industries that you serve: hearing health, real estate, dental & orthodontic, and automotive. What kinds of mail do you do for those different types of companies?
Well, I think if you look at those industries, what they all share in common is that they’re using direct mail in most cases to try to attract new clients. They’re trying to grow their business, and direct mail is a proven tactic in any industry, Well, depending on what your product type value is, but it tends to work well in those industries.
And what, you know, if you look at the different types of creatives that we support them with, there are always similarities. You’ve got an offer, you have an event, you’re trying to get somebody to raise their hand and come in to get more information.
- Let’s focus on one of these verticals, which is real estate.
I think, you know, real estate agents have a tremendous opportunity. If they commit to a direct mail strategy. In real estate, they use the term “farming” a lot. You’re gonna neighborhood pick an area, and you’re gonna farm it.
You’re gonna keep planting your seeds with your branding. Direct mail is a foundation for a program like that. And I think that the realtors that we see that are the most successful are the ones that see a plan through, you have to keep hitting people repetitively. It’s like a billboard, but it’s in somebody’s mailbox and in their hands.
Consistency I think is the most important thing, really, and looking at their footprint and the people that they wanna target and saying, Okay, I would rather see a realtor mail a smaller group of people and mail them more frequently than mail a larger group of people infrequently. So that would be my first suggestion for a realtor and otherwise with formats.
I think if you’re in that frequency of mailing them, don’t stick to the same piece every time. Don’t keep sending a postcard. Work in a self-mailer, work in a letter. Each opportunity, keeping the branding the same. However, each different format presents a different experience for the recipient.
- Are you finding that mailers are using larger postcards now compared to what they were using?
It seems like a lot of people are doing the, you know, the larger format to take advantage of Every Door Direct Mail. And I think that’s a great strategy depending on what you’re selling.
And are you selling something that works for saturating in a neighborhood or do you need to be not using Every Door Direct now? I find that postcards have probably the lower of response rates that we see. I would always suggest somebody go with a self-mailer over a postcard.
- So overall speaking, drawing on your years of experience with the company, what is the best value proposition for direct mail? Why does it still work today?
Well, I think now more than ever it’s more difficult to create a tangible, tactile interaction with a prospect, right?
People do most of their shopping online. There’s not as many opportunities for face-to-face contact. What I think is special about direct mail over other marketing formats is that it is that real-world, hold-it-in-my-hands experience. And we’re all getting how many emails a day, right? I think I’m averaging 350 right now. And then combine that with all of the ads that are getting served up, and it’s just a constant part of my day is just delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete. Right?
When you go home, and you get your mail, and you sit down, and you sort it …
It’s tactile processing. And even if you decide that, “Oh, this isn’t for me, I’m gonna throw it in the trash or recycling bin now” – you still have to take it, walk it, and dispose of it. It’s very different than click, click, click. So I think that when you look at the impact of that from a branding perspective, you know, as a marketer, you’re trying to see how many touchpoints can I get?
Well, it’s not just about how many – it’s all about the quality. And the quality of a direct mail touchpoint is higher in this digital world that we live in today.
Here is our conversation. We’ve added timecodes for your convenience.
Thanks very much, Bri, for sharing your story and the informative chat! To learn more about The Mailworks, visit their website at TheMailworks.com.
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