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Meet the Mailers: Elevating Brand with Direct Mail

In this episode, we talked with Southeastern Printing about how they provide direct mail that helps companies build their brand.

In this episode, I talked with Anneliese Gelber, Business Development Executive at Southeastern Printing. Based in Hialeah, FL, Southeastern provides in-house print capabilities and attention to quality in conventional digital and wide format printing, data-driven direct mail, promotional products, and more.

We talked about how her company provides direct mail that helps companies build their brand. To illustrate some of her answers, Anneliese showed many examples of Southeastern’s printing and fulfillment capabilities in creating successful mail campaigns.

As Anneliese explained:

You are creating trust and you do that by not only the consistent messaging, but consistency in the quality of the messaging pieces, be that digital print, direct mail, gifting, [or] promotional items. All of that weaves in and tells a story.

Anneliese GelberBusiness Development Executive
Southeastern Printing

Among the topics we covered:

  • Her print & marketing background and day-to-day role
  • The company’s services
  • How direct mail helps in brand-building
  • Best practices for travel marketing
  • Trends in direct mail

Here are some questions and answers from our conversation (edited for clarity and space):

  • How did you get involved with print and direct mail?

Well, that’s an interesting story. I was actually starting to study marketing, and my heritage is German. And in our small town in Germany, my family owned a newspaper printing press. And so they would publish the newspaper daily. And so this printing was in the blood. My father was in the business in the U.S. of selling large, newspaper-run print presses. He said to me, “Well, what are you going to do with that marketing degree?”

I did not have a quick enough answer. He said, “I think you should try to go to college, to RIT [Rochester Institute of Technology], and maybe explore their print program. It’s actually quite interesting.” So, I left the warm weather of Miami and ventured out to Rochester, and switched majors to print production management.

And it was incredibly exciting. It was a great way to understand the print business. Combined with my passion for [all] things marketing, it’s really led me down a path that was somewhat unexpected and quite exciting, 20+ years later.

  • Can you give us an overview of the solutions that Southeastern offers to marketers?

Absolutely. We have a really incredible offering. Our CEO Don Mader has expanded our business footprint, and it’s been an evolution of services continually being added on and expanded.

We offer brand management through our brandstash portal. And that’s a program that can manage all of a company’s brand assets, not only digitally, but print-related as well. We also offer all things print: small digital runs, midsize runs, and large digital web personalized print runs. We also do a tremendous amount of direct mail and data analytics. We have a fantastic team for that. Visual marketing and signage as well. So that’s anything for a point of sale and in different windows and outside as well. Fulfillment and influencer boxes.

We recently added a 65,000 square foot state-of-the-art fulfillment warehouse. And warehousing and logistics, which ties into the warehousing. Promotional and gifting also has been an expansion piece of the business, since it seems that clients are really tying that into their marketing budgets.

  • Let’s talk about elevating your brand, your company’s brand. Why is it so essential today for companies to do that?

Yeah, that’s a great question. We work with so many markets, right, Paul? We work with healthcare, financial, travel, energy, nonprofit, health and wellness, a myriad of type of clients, and it is really critical in your brand messaging to be consistent.

When you do this, you are creating trust in a marketplace, and you do that by not only the consistent messaging, but consistency in the quality of the messaging pieces, be that digital print, direct mail, gifting, promotional items. All of that weaves in and tells a story. And when you build this, and it’s consistent, you’re building the trust, the recognition, and the loyalty all at the same time.

And as a company creates this path and a journey, I think what happens is you start to now also understand your client more, and that’s critical, right? Understanding your consumer and your client. And so by weaving in the consistency and identifying and doing the project work, to continue to get the market feedback and be in tune with the responses to all of the different channels that you’re offering, to bring that back to marketing teams to evaluate, to be nimble enough then also to make maybe certain tweaks along the way to really tighten up the consistency in the offering…

We do assist in a lot of startups, but then we also have very large companies that not only have a very focused offering, but are expanding within their business units. And so we find that very exciting because when you are able to come to the table with a client at the inception of these types of initiatives, we are able – because we serve so many verticals throughout different industries – to bring some best practices and ideas to the table and what we’ve seen work through the different marketing channels. So we really try to do this strategically with clients and start to help develop a plan, always again within what the objective is – the reach to market and then the budgeting.

  • What role does direct mail play in all of that branding and building loyalty with customers?

I’ve seen the evolution of direct mail and what that looks like. It’s really interesting because in the last three to four years, the increase in direct mail has really grown in the B2C market. What we were finding was hard-to-reach people in this digital overload that we all experienced. The open rates in emails and what have you and some of the social measures weren’t working exclusively, and what we saw was sometimes clients were allocating larger budgets to that and less to direct mail. And now what we’re seeing is larger budgets funneling to the direct mail channel.

[O]ur largest path of success that we’re seeing right now is with our boombox technology that allows a list to have a social match appended to Facebook and Instagram. And so a week before the mailer hits the home, you’re starting to see the different banner ads and the ability to click through and convert digitally.

[W]hat’s happening with this as well is the USPS product of Informed Delivery, which also is definitely making its mark. With that visual again, consistency and messaging. What we’re finding with these multiple touch points before the mail piece gets in home, there is not only a recognition, but somewhat of a trust being built in that funnel process and the results of that by the time the piece hits home are increases of response of 24 to 38%.

  • What are some really good practices for travel marketing and direct mail?

Right now, we have a multitude of travel clients, a lot of cruise lines, timeshares, different resorts, and what we’re seeing is really driving towards loyalty programs, people that have visited, people that have been past passengers.

What we’ve seen in the past sometimes, Paul, is we have some incredible data analytics and data scientists and incredible marketers. What we’ve seen when we work and strategically partner with clients and start to unearth some of the data that they already have is that they sometimes think that… it’s just too much of a lift to incorporate it.

And so what we’re really encouraging is looking at these programs that they have for past visitors, past passengers, to utilizing the data of where they may have traveled to, what their likes are. They all have this data, but they’re not utilizing it in the print pieces to the level that could be.

We’re seeing in those marketplaces the driving towards personalization, but a higher level, not just using the name … So upping the offer in the excursions. Really starting to see the trends in those people and what they like to do and marketing towards it because it’s all there, and with our equipment and what’s happening in the industry … our digital web press can print every single piece individually.

So, we did something for Hyatt Regency, and this is a belly band wrap that we mailed around the tin with USPS. [I]t was an offering to encourage the travel agents that book events to come and book with them. And what that is, is we source the tins and we actually source the sand dollars, which we hand-tipped on in our fulfillment department. It’s a real sand dollar …The results for this were really quite amazing.

  • From your standpoint, what trends do you see unfolding in direct mail for the next couple of years?

The number one trend is really personalization. And I think we are seeing that everywhere, right? You go onto a website, you click into something, and they’re continuing to retarget you with what you’ve looked at, because you have an interest.

So, what it is is segmentation and personalization and digging deeper than we dug before, really taking all that’s out there for different data selects and modeling. A lot of our clients create their different models of client verticals. And what we’re doing is helping them create the target list …what is relevant with different selects. So, really, from a marketing perspective, we love to be involved in that list acquisition to help the development when they’ve done the different profiles.

That’s where we’re starting with our clients to be able to offer this level of personalization. And we continue to then tweak the model throughout the mail streams and the different initiatives. You know, with testing and then looking at the attribution and who’s converting and is that living to the model.

Continually referencing that data live stream is what we’re trying to do with our clients because that’s the best way to continue to use the marketing dollars wisely. So, personalization to that newer level, personalized QR codes, but really amping it up with the video. People are responding to snippets and visuals. So we know that that’s happening. So we’re trying to really zone into that. And it’s working.

Color envelopes, oversized envelopes, calls-to-action with gift incentives in various ways where you saw the magnet mailer. We’re constantly looking at ways to send something out in a foldover direct mail format that’s thin, that’s something that’s an incentive for a client that is a promotional item that stays, maybe a jar opener, maybe a lens cleaning cloth. That ties into that huge area of promotional and gifting that we have and the brand management because these items live on, especially utilitarian household ones, that appeal to all of us. We love the type of products to kind of unearth that maybe [clients] hadn’t considered in their direct mail funnel.

And then the other part is really boxes. Typically, we’ll look at a campaign. And we help define where this may work. Where in the funnel, where in the budget, and to what type of potential consumer. We are seeing, as much as everyone is into prospecting and new client growth, people are also as focused on retention, especially in the financial and healthcare sectors, retaining their, their clients or their patients. And how do we do that? So we’ve also launched client retention programs. That’s where we’re seeing these come in.

At USPS, there are a lot of different mail incentives with also flat rate one rate mailing. We’re constantly looking at these programs. What’s the best shipping method? How can we help you get this in the market effectively, at a good cost, from a postage standpoint? So we’ve got a fantastic team … it is on the cutting edge to understand where this is all going, what the deliverability is, what the tracking method is, etc., for these types of programs.

Here is our conversation (with all questions and answers). We’ve added timecodes for your convenience.

Thank you very much, Anneliese, for sharing your perspective and your expertise! To learn more about Southeastern, visit their website at

Your comments and ideas are very important to us in making your Who’s Mailing What! experience even better for you. Through these engaging talks, we hope you’ll take away practical tips, insights, and personal stories to inspire and build your own success.

If you have any feedback — or are interested in sharing your expertise and viewpoint with our wide and diverse audience on “Meet the Mailers” — please reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you!

Direct Mail Evangelist

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