Michael Prosser of Directr.io has done everything in the direct mail business, from having owned a direct mail printing operation to acting as the product manager for an early direct mail automation tool and now as a consultant to small businesses that are hoping to grow their businesses in an efficient way.
That’s why we at Postalytics were so excited when Michael signed up his firm Directr.io for the Postalytics Agency Edition.
It’s not often that we run across folks as knowledgeable about direct mail AND automation as Michael.
So We Had To Interview Michael For Our New Video/Blog Series
As Michael got his clients up and running with Postalytics, we knew that we had to sign him up for our new Customer Success & Thought Leadership Interview series. He’s got great insights into how small businesses can leverage direct mail, and specifically through automation, to grow more quickly. This new interview series will highlight both Postalytics customers as well as direct mail & marketing tech industry thought leaders.
Watch Or Read The Interview To Learn From Michael!
Welcome, everybody, to the Postalytics thought leadership interview series. Today I’m joined by Michael Prosser from Directr.io. Michael, welcome from snowy Boston. How are you today?
Michael Prosser: Dennis, I’m doing great from sunny Atlanta, so thanks for having me.
Dennis Kelly: Well, we’re getting ourselves dug out from about 16 inches of snow yesterday, so it’s nice to talk to somebody who doesn’t have a sore back, like everybody around here does.
Michael Prosser: That’s right, yeah. We would be in a panic if we had to deal with your situation, that’s for sure.
Dennis Kelly: Well, thanks for joining me today. In the thought leadership series, what we like to do is talk to customers that are using Postalytics that are involved in direct mail marketing, and learn about what they do, how they found us, what they find value in Postalytics.
So just as a brief introduction, Michael’s firm Directr.io works with small businesses around the country and introduces direct mail marketing and other forms of lead generation activities to their businesses. Michael and I have been working together here for the last several months.
Dennis Kelly: Michael, first question. How did you find out about Postalytics?
Michael’s Background & History
Michael Prosser: Well, Dennis, actually, I went searching for you. Just a little bit about background about myself, I ran a printing company in Atlanta for about 15 years, and moved on from that about 10 years ago, and then went into corporate America. I worked for AT&T and the Yellow Pages, and I was lucky enough to work in a group where we developed a direct marketing, direct mail product for our small business customers, and had an opportunity to work with a development team in building out what we thought or what we had hoped would be an automated platform to allow our clients to go online and be able to plan, create, execute, and measure all of their direct marketing activities.
Michael Prosser: We got fairly far down the road, but as any corporate environment, things change, the company was bought out, and eventually the entire product was closed down. But what I saw was the great potential in using technology and automation, and helping small business clients reach their business and marketing goals, and so I knew that once I was out of that environment, I wanted to find a company and a platform that could fill that need and be able to work with me and help my clients be more effective with their direct mail and direct marketing.
Dennis Kelly: Great.
Why Did He Choose Postalytics?
Michael Prosser: So I went out and searched and searched and came across Postalytics. I think I saw one of your articles that you wrote, and that’s how I was originally introduced, and I did some discovery, and really was excited about what I found. When I looked into Postalytics, what I saw, first of all, was a very simple, elegant workflow that enabled someone to come online and quickly be able to set up and deploy a campaign. That met the first criteria, which is a simplified workflow that’s very intuitive and very easy to grasp, and as I dug deeper, I saw all of the capabilities and the functionality that you brought, especially around the dashboard, reporting and analytics, and from there, I was sold.
I saw, first of all, was a very simple, elegant workflow that enabled someone to come online and quickly be able to set up and deploy a campaign. “Michael Prosser, Directr.io
Why Direct Mail Today?
Dennis Kelly: That’s great Michael. You mentioned everything going on with marketing technology, with all the explosion that is out there in different marketing channels. Why the focus on direct mail?
Michael Prosser: Well, for me, it’s where my background is. In my days of owning my printing company, we created and executed a number of different programs for our clients, but back 10-15 years ago, everything was done one step at a time. It was very siloed as far as a workflow. A lot of painful steps taken, as far as emailing files and generating design proofs, approvals, managing production workflows, reporting. All of this was separated, and it was very difficult to manage efficiently and effectively. Again, as technology has evolved, it’s become much easier for someone to be able to step in and take advantage of what direct mail offers.
Michael Prosser: It’s also important to note, I’m not a proponent strictly of direct mail. I think it’s a tool that businesses can use, and in the right situation, it can be a very effective tool. In fact, just recently I saw the most current data put out by the Data Marketing Association, where they compare response rates from direct mail to other digital channels, and traditionally what they have shown is that direct mail drives a higher response than any other digital channel out there. That rate of difference is actually increasing. When we look into it, I think there’s a few reasons. Obviously, with digital marketing, there’s so many options, so many platforms that are now available, and as those platforms start to mature, they become much more competitive, and it’s much more difficult for a small business to step in and generate success, especially quickly.
Every day across America, there’s millions of people who go to their mailbox and check their mail, and they have a physical, visceral experience.”Michael Prosser – Directr.io
Michael Prosser: But direct mail, we always have what we call that mail moment. Every day across America, there’s millions of people who go to their mailbox and check their mail, and they have a physical, visceral experience. They go through their mail and if they see something that’s relevant to them, they’re going to stop and they’re going to look and they’re going to explore and have a moment where they’re engaged with that message and that often. I like to ask people, how often do you check your mail? Their answer is always – “well, every day.” How often do you use direct mail? Well, for many people, it’s quite frequently. I’ve got a drawer in our kitchen where we put all of our direct mail that we want to save and use at a future day.
Michael Prosser: So if I know that I’m going to have an oil change, or if we’re going to a restaurant, or if I’m going to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy some new cleats for my kid, I’m going to go find those offers that I’ve saved and be able to take advantage of that. That’s the opportunity that these small businesses have. They can reach out to their market and have that kind of tactile, emotional experience with their prospects and their customers.
Dennis Kelly: Yes, exactly. And we’re trying to really give them a way to do that that is as efficient and measurable as the digital channels that are all out there as well.
Customer Problem #1 – Finding New Customers
Dennis Kelly: Transitioning a little bit, tell us a about the market that you’re focused on. What is your target customer, and what problem are you trying to solve with that target customer?
Michael Prosser: I primarily work in the small to medium sized business space. A lot of my clients are local businesses. Some are regional. But at the end of the day, I think there’s two primary challenges that we’re trying to help them resolve. Number one is finding new customers and on the flip side of that coin, being able to maximize the potential with their current customers. So driving new business through the direct mail channel.
Customer Problem #2 – How To Acquire Customers Efficiently
Michael Prosser: The other problem we’re trying to help them solve is to be more efficient in doing that. We talked earlier about all the steps that we used to take to be able to get our message and offers into the market. Today, utilizing the Postalytics tools, I can literally go in and in a matter of a few minutes, set up and deploy a campaign that can be in my market within a few days. That’s something that was really unheard of not too long ago.
Michael Prosser: Those are the primary challenges – helping businesses grow and doing it efficiently and cost effectively. At the same time, one of the things that I’m excited about Postalytics is … the ability to start to determine quickly what’s working and what’s not. Direct mail has never had a response problem, but it’s had a big problem with determining what actually works and doesn’t. In our business, we try to attribute the results of our campaigns to specific campaigns. With Postalytics, we now have tools that can easily be deployed that help us determine who’s visiting our website, who’s coming into our store, who’s calling us. Those things are critical in helping a small business make sure that their investment is properly spent.
Dennis Kelly: Yes, I completely agree. We hear from small businesses every day. We’re a software company, and we are building tools that can be put to work by folks that have experience. One of the things that I think is really valuable in having a partner like Directr.io is that you’ve got background, depth and understanding in how to take our tool and then apply it to real world scenarios with small business customers in a way that is affordable and efficient. It doesn’t come down like a great big agency with big retainers and fees that just won’t work for small businesses. So it’s a really good fit in that regard.
Michael Prosser: Absolutely.
Directr.io Client Story #1
Dennis Kelly: On that topic, I was thinking maybe you could tell us a little bit about a client of yours, and tell the story about how they’re using Postalytics, and any of the problems that they solved using direct mail automation.
Michael Prosser: Sure. If we have time, I’ll give you two stories. One of my clients is a small agency. They serve the small business community in the same way I do, but they provide other services, design services and things like that. So they have a client who, without divulging any confidential information, they have a client who works in the pet space providing services at the home. So they have what we call installations that they generate or complete for their clients.
Michael Prosser: What they do is every time they have an installation at a new home, they create what they call a micro-target campaign. They want to let the residents and the neighbors in that area know that they’ve been in the neighborhood, that they’ve just provided this service for their neighbor, and it’s a great way to leverage that installation and to maximize visibility while they’re there. And they have found that it’s a very successful tactic. The problem is that if you think about a lot of home service businesses, they have a lot of installations, which could drive a lot of campaigns. So for this to work, you have to be able to set up a campaign that can be deployed very quickly and very easily.
Michael Prosser: If I’m only sending to the closest 50 residents or closest 100 residents, I can’t spend two hours setting up a campaign. I’ve gotta be able to do two minutes doing it. My agency has done this. They’ve got the creative already established with their templates, they know exactly how to execute the campaign. It literally takes them about 90 seconds to go in from start to finish to be able to setup and execute a campaign for an installation, and their clients are thrilled, because they’re able to, again, promote their services in a way that they want to very efficiently and very effectively.
Michael Prosser: If you think about that use case, where you want to be able to send what I call micro-campaigns very quickly and very efficiently, there’s a number of different ways to do this. The micro-targeting around home installations is one. The other is what we call a new mover campaign. Think about any kind of local business. There’s constantly people moving into their market, so you’re able to set up automated campaigns that go out on schedule to hit these new movers at the exact time when they may be looking for your service. Again, it’s a very highly motivated potential buyers, a highly profitable campaign that is almost a set it and forget it scenario.
Michael Prosser: Then, of course, we have situations where our clients like to send out birthday offers. If you’re a restaurant, you could actually send out a birthday offer to everyone that’s having a birthday coming up in March in your market. Again, you set it, it’s automated, it goes out, and you can sit back and start to collect the leads and see the new customers coming through your door. That’s one way for businesses to be able to leverage smaller but yet highly targeted, highly profitable programs.
Directr.io Client Story #2
Michael Prosser: Another client I have is a little bit bigger business, and they serve a national audience. But one of their criteria was that they had to be able to integrate into their Salesforce CRM tool, because what would happen is they would ingest new lead data into Salesforce, and they were already setting up automated campaigns for email, for their telesales channel, but they wanted to include d-mail because in the past, they’d seen such a powerful return on their investment.
Michael Prosser: So we went in and helped them facilitate an integration, and now they’re sending weekly campaigns nationwide to their prospect lists that are completely integrated with their direct mail and telesales channel, so they’re seeing a tremendous lift in their overall ROI, and they’re leveraging what they’re already using. They’re leveraging their data, they’re leveraging their Salesforce tools, and now adding another touchpoint has really allowed them to see … maximize the results for their program.
Michael Prosser: Those are just two of the ways that some of my clients are using the program, and obviously there’s many others that we hope to be able to implement soon.
Dennis Kelly: That makes a ton of sense, and I think it’s consistent with what we’re seeing throughout our customer base. With local businesses, there’s a lot of acquisition oriented mailing, and top of the funnel, get the name out, make the prospects aware of the company. The ability to quickly turn on those very small lists and schedule them out in advance and just set it and forget it is very important to that part of the audience.
Dennis Kelly: The other use case that you mentioned with the Salesforce integration with a larger company, we’re also seeing that now as a new trend in direct mail, how it can be layered with email, with telesales, with other channels, using the CRM as the backbone, because the CRM is really the primary investment that these companies will make into their marketing & sales infrastructure. To the extent that all of these channels can coordinate and work together, and through that primary investment, then that leverage makes a ton of sense for these companies. So it’s a great way in, I think, to be able to talk to these companies about the investment they’ve made, and how that big investment of time and money into the CRM can be leveraged in ways that will just continue to grow the return on that time and money.
Michael Prosser: Yes, absolutely. I’ve been amazed at the level of sophistication. When we set the program up, the notifications that go across from Postalytics to Salesforce literally triggers all of the other activities. The postcard deployment is the first touchpoint in their program, and they’ve been able to, again, create a flow that allows them to maximize their visibility with a prospect in a very short time period, and what they’ve found is because of that, they can engage in meaningful conversations much more quickly, and be able to close more business. The combination of these tools working together is extraordinarily powerful.
What’s Coming Down The Road?
Dennis Kelly: That’s great. Looking ahead, Michael, if you were to look out over the next 12-24 months, what are some of the trends that you’re seeing out in the market, and how do you see technology vendors that do direct mail and other types of marketing evolving to help solve some of the challenges and goals of customers that are looking out forward a little bit?
Michael Prosser: Yes, this comes from a small business perspective, so I know there’s a lot of work going on at the enterprise level, and my experience is they’ll innovative at the enterprise level, and then it will move downstream and start to become available for small businesses as the costs become more easily digestible.
Michael Prosser: But looking forward, when I talk to clients, their biggest challenges are always the same. They lack for time, they lack for resources. When we’re presenting solutions to them, especially technology solutions, we have to find a way to simplify these programs, because it’s difficult for them to go through the learning curves necessary to start to get quick wins and be able to really maximize the capabilities that these platforms enable. So I think moving forward; simplification, automation, and then being able to utilize data in a meaningful way. All of these things coming together. The data, the technology, and then the experience and knowledge of your business, your market, and your customers can really make the entire marketing program much more streamlined and much more effective.
Michael Prosser: But it’s our job, as the technology solution provider and as the marketing consultants, to be able to come in and say, okay. These are the tools that we use to solve your problems, and this is how we’re going to help you do it, and being able to help them implement it. I think that’s where the key is. You can give them a login, you can give them a password, you can give them a user guide. But at the end of the day, a lot of these clients really need someone to help them implement, get them started, starting to see success, and from there, once they buy in, then they can start to, again, become more comfortable and maximize their investment and how they use the tools.
One Key Takeaway From Michael
Dennis Kelly: That’s great. That makes a ton of sense, and I have one final question, Michael. Given your background and the work that you’re doing in the market, if you could give our audience one key takeaway to focus on as they’re evaluating direct mail automation solutions like Postalytics, what would that one key takeaway be?
Michael Prosser: I think first of all, it’s understanding how direct mail would fit into your business, and again, for most businesses, there’s a place for direct mail. But assuming that it does, I think when you’re looking at potential solutions, how easy is it to test and implement and start to get quick wins? Again, from my personal experience with Postalytics, what I found was that I don’t have to go through weeks of learning. I don’t have to go through bringing developers into the conversation or bringing design teams and data teams in. Everything I need to be successful is right there. There’s such a low barrier for entry that I say, give it a try, test it.
Michael Prosser: This is what I tell all my clients. Direct marketing, the history of direct marketing is all about test and improve and iterate until you know what works and what doesn’t. And with Postalytics, it gives you the ability to do that so much quicker. So get out there and commit to a test, and see what kind of results you get. That’s what I would recommend.
Dennis Kelly: I like that a lot, and I think we’ve tried to build our model in a way that enables companies to do that. They can sign up for a free account and send themselves mail, or send out small campaigns. If they sign up for a subscription, it’s month to month, they don’t have to lock in on any kind of contract to get started. Oftentimes it makes sense to do that once they decide it’s a channel they want to grow with, but we try to keep that barrier low, and I think your advice makes a ton of sense.
Michael Prosser: That’s right. You’re removing risk from the equation, and I know my small business clients, they’re risk averse. So you’ve done a good job in putting the options out there to quickly determine whether this is a good fit, and again, I say take advantage of that off, because a lot of solutions don’t give you the ability to quickly step in and determine if it’s a good long-term solution for you or not.
Dennis Kelly: Right! Well, this is great, Michael. Thank you so much for joining us here today. I think that your experiences in using Postalytics out in the small business market will be valuable for our audience to learn from, and I think that your service may be of great value to some of our audience members. I really appreciate you joining me here today, and I’ll look forward to speaking with you very soon.
Michael Prosser: Sounds great, Dennis. Thanks for having me.
Dennis Kelly: All right. Have a great day.