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Meet the Mailers: Serving SMBs with Direct Mail

We discussed how Taradel works with small- and medium-sized businesses to find the right channels, including Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) by USPS.

In this episode, I talked with Jim Fitzgerald, Founder & CEO of Taradel, LLC. Based in Glen Allen, VA, Taradel provides turnkey marketing solutions and is listed among Inc. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America.

We discussed how Taradel works with small- and medium-sized businesses to find the right channel or channels, including Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) by USPS.

As he explained,

[S]mall businesses all have very similar challenges. They’re cash-strapped and time-strapped … they don’t have a marketing team or a group of analysts.

Jim FitzgeraldFounder and CEO
Taradel, LLC

Among the many other topics we covered:

  • His background in printing and graphic arts
  • His role at the company
  • How Taradel uses EDDM
  • Best practices for real estate direct mail
  • How direct mail has embraced the digital world
  • Industry trends for the years ahead

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

  • What type of direct marketing services do you offer to marketers?

It’s a great question. So we lead with direct mail, and we do quite a bit of it.

Primarily, we offer a product called Every Door Direct Mail … it’s a service at the USPS launched about 10 years ago. And with Every Door Direct Mail, as long as you agree to mail to every address in a postal carrier route, there is no need to address the piece.

So there’s no data cost associated with it. Also, because a lot of these pieces aren’t really touching any USPS equipment, we literally ship the trays directly to the destination post office, and they’re thrown on the back of the jeep. There’s reduced postage, so we can offer a turnkey solution that’s a lot more competitive than traditional addressed mail.

And that’s really the genesis for a lot of our customer acquisition. In addition to that, we’ve created a platform that makes it very easy to do that because direct mail as much as we’d like can be a complicated, challenging solution, particularly for SMBs.

So, with our platform, they can design a piece, target exactly where they want it to go … [W]e take the Every Door Direct Mail concept and add value by giving the user the opportunity to select carrier routes that have the highest concentration of the demographics they’re looking for.

I’ll give you an example. So if you’re a landscaper, let’s say and, you know, maybe up until recently, you’d say, “Hey, I’m going to do a saturation mailing”, which is what Every Door Direct Mail is at the end of the day with a two-mile radius around my location. And what we say is, “you know, why don’t you do maybe a five-minute drive time around your location, but let’s focus on carrier routes that have a lot of the people you’re trying to reach. Who are the people you’re trying to reach?”

Well, people that can afford my services typically have a household income above $100,000, and they’re always homeowners. OK, let’s just take those two variables. Now we can heat map their trade area, and we can see the carry routes where bright red, let’s say, has a 90% chance of those folks meeting those demographic criteria and just a half a mile away, the carrier route there has 10%.

  • You’ve been working with companies of different sizes, including lots of small & medium businesses. What kinds of challenges do they typically face?

Yeah, it’s a great question. So, our customer base is really in two parts. We have strategic partners where we white-label our solution and offer a fully branded platform for them.

And we have our direct customers. In every case, our strategic partners’ customers are small businesses, and our direct customers are small businesses. And small businesses all have very similar challenges. They’re cash-strapped and time-strapped. So, they don’t have a marketing team or a group of analysts.

You know, the analogy I try to build when I make a presentation about this is you look at companies like Capital One and Progressive and American Express. And they’ve got an army of analysts and marketing folks and access to incredible data where they can segment and reach the right audience at the right time. And we try to democratize that.

And to your point, use a consultative approach to really do – the term I use a lot is 80-20. Do the 20% of the things that are going to make 80% of the difference. We’re not Madison Avenue. But we’re going to do plenty with that 20% that’s going to drive a significant difference in the outcome for that SMB.

  • Let’s talk about EDDM – Every Door Direct Mail. What is it? And how does it work to help businesses market themselves?

I think it’s a couple of things. One is if I’m presenting to a group of small businesses, let’s say there’s 100 folks, and I say “raise your hand if you understand how direct mail works.” Nearly every hand in the room will go up, and they may say, “well, you know, you get a list, and you need someone to design a postcard, and there’s postage, but you know, I understand how it works”, and then I say, “OK, keep your hand up if you can walk me through your digital retargeting strategy.”

80% of the hands will go down and that’s important and consistent, by the way, a number of times. So what we’re doing, we’re huge direct mail evangelists and we’re using the targeting methodology that folks kind of intuitively understand. I want to reach homeowners above 100,000, with the presence of children, whatever it is, and we simply repurpose that. And now this is where you think of it as EDDM plus we’re taking that same methodology, and now we’re reaching that same audience with digital media.

Because now it’s like they’re putting their trust in our hands, but we have the data and the technology and the team to make sure that happens. And we’ve seen pretty significant results with that. In fact, we provide a complete turnkey solution for Canada Post. They have a product called Snap AdMail in Canada.

It’s nearly identical to Every Door Direct Mail in the U.S. And Google approached them, and they said “we think direct mail and display advertising are like peas and carrots, you know, they would work really well together.” So Canada Post said, “great, if you want to work on that, let’s get Taradel in the room.”

And the three companies got together, and we put together a study where we took 10 SMBs (small businesses), and we split their audience in half. Half of their audience got direct mail, and the other half of the audience got direct mail and display advertising targeted to the same households.

On average, the homes that did both showed a 35% lift. This works. So that’s why we’re very much in favor of this whole multi-channel approach using Every Door Direct Mail as the bridge to digital and trying at the same time to understand, you know, the concerns, a lot of SMBs [have] like, “Hey, my brother-in-law did this EDDM thing, and he liked it. I want to do the same thing.” It’s like, great! We’re thrilled. But just hear us out and understand and try to understand why we want you to go multi-channel.

  • Are there specific tools or services you have to help those customers?

I’m glad you asked. That’s been a game-changer for us.

We launched that service about six months ago. Prior to that, we gave folks a lot of images and didn’t really want to call them templates, but ideas of what a postcard could look like. And then work with them to finish it. Well, folks really have come a long way in their understanding of how interfaces work.

Because we’ve tried this several times, but this latest iteration has been wonderful. … And I think the most important part of this is that the template they start with – let’s say if it’s a dental office, for instance – the template they start with is one that we know because we’ve probably done a thousand dental campaigns.

It’s going to Who’s Mailing What!

This is the stuff we do to help improve and add value to the service we provide. Getting back to that 80-20 thing, they’re starting with a set that’s going to make the difference, and then they simply populate it with their contact information, the specific offer they want to have, and off they go.

  • Talking more about digital channels then, what are some effective ways that direct mail can be integrated into a digital campaign? I’m thinking of Google, Facebook.

Great question. I think the one reason that we push direct mail as a part of this multichannel approach is, and this isn’t my study, this is just something I’ve observed over the years. And some people actually have a name for it. They call it the Baader-Meinhof Effect.

So you see, all right. Folks in direct mail should get this if they don’t. So, if you look at direct mail. What is it about direct mail? Well, the word I use very often – it’s invasive. Somebody in the household has to touch that piece. And when they do, something very powerful happens.

It’s an impression, and the advertising world is nothing but impressions right? Digital impressions. A direct mail impression is an expensive impression, but there’s nothing more powerful. And getting back to the Baader-Meinhof Effect, and for those who are listening and watching who haven’t heard about that, think about the last time you bought a new car.

As soon as you pull out of the driveway of the dealership, what do you see? You see your car. It’s really crazy how it works, but it does. So now that somebody’s received that direct mail piece, that Facebook ad that’s running or that display ad, when you’re going to ESPN to see what’s going on with your favorite sports team, is going to resonate at a much higher rate.

  • Why does direct mail still work?

It’s a powerful, invasive medium, but I think, more importantly, it’s grown up quite a bit, and it’s embraced the digital world.

So it’s just as – when presented properly – it’s just as trackable, sometimes even more so, I would argue. If you have a unique phone number on the piece, a QR code, and personalized URLs, there are so many ways to bring direct mail into that measurable arena.

And I do want to add, too, that it in our solution, whenever anybody does a multichannel campaign, we built a proprietary dashboard where they can see in one screen how many phone calls they got from that postcard, how many Facebook ads were delivered, how many impressions, how many click-throughs, how many emails were sent, how many emails were opened, all of that’s in one place.

And that’s a powerful way to bring direct mail into the same kind of digital consciousness. And I think getting back to your consultative point earlier, now our success managers can sit down consultatively and go over the results with the client because everyone’s …there’s a nuance between every one of them, and say, “Hey, …what did we learn from the last campaign? You know, it looks like, from a straight clickthrough standpoint maybe Facebook’s a better fit for you. So let’s double down on Facebook and lower the spend on display”, or conversely, it could be email outperforming.

Who knows? We don’t know until we do it, but every campaign should be the basis for a data collection process that can be leveraged for the next campaign.

  • So talking about the future, what trends do you see unfolding in direct mail?

With the incredible amount of data out there, even with some of the privacy laws and concerns that are coming down, the amount of data that can be collected is just going to make direct mail more targeted and more personal.

There’s an awful lot going on with intent data. There are a number of players out there, and we’re just starting to get into this with direct mail retargeting. So if somebody visits your website, there are some great providers out there that partner with folks like us who enable us to do that.

There’s intent-based marketing. So folks that are out there searching for products or services that you have that now you can reach with direct mail and/or email campaigns. Those things are really starting to heat up. The cooperative databases that are out there that are collecting and segmenting this data is, it’s pretty remarkable, the computing power and the investment behind these things. But again, there are more and more players out there, which is good news for the advertiser because it’s starting to become democratized a bit. And I think – it’s my personal belief that all the stuff is wonderful, but this goes back to your question about what I do all day, and it’s really, it’s just trying to understand what’s available, talking to the partners and the folks that are actually the feet on the ground, getting this done and then figuring out a way to bring it into our solution without complicating what’s already a pretty complicated process.

You know, Steve Jobs infamously said over and over again, it’s really hard to make something simple. And you know, our mantra is what can we do to deliver an experience where somebody is at least interested enough to navigate through the website. Which happens sometimes entirely on their own, but more often, probably 70% of the time, they want to talk to a human being, and when you look at, let’s say somebody with a top line of $7,800 thousand a year. And they’re about to literally open their wallet and spend $3,000 … $5,000, you know, a significant portion of their annual revenue – they want to make sure what they’re doing makes sense, and they want their hand held. And hopefully, hopefully we deliver on both counts.

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

Thank you, Jim, for sharing your perspective and your expertise! To learn more about Taradel, 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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