To hear some marketing gurus tell it, social media is the only game in town. While they may not want to hear it, every channel has its place.
When it comes to reminding, thanking, inviting and acknowledging customers, the simple paper post card continues to be connective and effective.
No one knows that better than Joy Gendusa, Founder and CEO of PostcardMania.
Starting her business at her kitchen table 15 years ago, Joy now oversees 200 employees at PostcardMania’s production and fulfillment facility in Clearwater, Fla. The self-proclaimed artist, designer, foodie and entrepreneur built the company on the simple premise that business owners need to be informed marketers.
Joy has generated an impressive quantity of content about direct mail and marketing, eagerly and regularly helping her customers become smarter, years before the term “helpful” became part of the modern marketing lexicon.
What did PostcardMania intentionally set out to do – or do differently – using social media?
I didn't put a lot of attention on social until it had a lot of attention from just regular people. We just kept concentrating on adding content and driving traffic to our website. I wrote most of the content until I started hiring copywriters and getting people to help me with content probably five or six years ago.
I would try something to market my own company and either fall on my face or have success, and I would try something else. I just felt it was my duty to educate my clients and prospects about it so they wouldn't make the same mistakes I made.
How did you arrive at your content strategy?
I was creating content for PostcardMania's website when there was no content,“online”. I was literally winging it for years. I wanted to educate people on what I was learning. I simply started writing article after article.
What kinds of useful or helpful information do you deliver to your customers?
We supply a real basic how-to approach with case study data. When we explain something, like I did in a series on PPC in my newsletter, I get a lot of real good feedback from people.
I present things simply; this is my story, this is how we do it, this is what this means. We really give good information, usable information, and we don't throw in a lot of terminology. Those kinds of articles get the best responses and the most downloads.
How does PostcardMania target its social outreach?
We have over 60,500 customers, and we only have a few thousand people following us on Facebook. A lot of them follow me personally, but not even a lot of them if you look at the numbers. Of course we did all the normal things like putting our "connect to me" buttons all over the blog and the website and the bottom of email, etcetera.
Now we're on a campaign to actually reach out specifically with email and phone calls to get those people connected with us, so that we can use social media to build trust and get them to like us.
We can make our customers into much better customers, just by being interested in them, and staying in communication with them on social media. That's kind of what gave me the idea to reach out and actively grow that list with our customers, and reach our prospects.
Any traction in closing business through those efforts?
A couple of Valentine's Days ago we did a little project where we took our top 500 customers, and we sent them wax mustaches and wax lips. We said if they'd take a picture and post it on our wall, we'll give them some kind of discount. I think it cost us about $3,000, all said and done.
In the end, we only had a handful of people actually post pictures, and I think we gained maybe 20 likes on our Facebook page, but we wound up selling to 68 of those 500 customers. Those 68 customers, that week, I'm talking about Valentine's Day week, spent $120,000 with us.
What’s your primary channel that connects PostcardMania with prospects?
Our primary channel is direct mail and secondary is PPC. Our newsletter has over 100,000 subscribers and each week we email it out and it routes prospects and customers to our blog. There I can kind of get in their face and say, "Okay. Buy this now; this is a good tool you could use, and this is what it costs; get a deal if you click today," or that kind of thing. But mainly it’s helpful data and not ads at all.
"We can make our customers into much better customers, just by being interested in them, and staying in communication with them on social media."
What do you regularly measure to see what is working?
We are measurement FREAKS… we measure everything and primarily it’s calls we receive via our marketing efforts because, in my particular business, a call indicates a hot prospect – the hottest. We also track downloads, through the information we would offer directly, and via Google through sponsored ads. Of course we measure all the usual things too – email open rates, unique visitors to the site, but conversion is where it’s at in the end.
On the social sites, where people aren't expecting to be sold to, and where it annoys them, we're just trying to make them like us enough to go back to our website where we can get serious.
How have your social media activities influenced PostcardMania’s bottom line?
We don't really use social as a revenue generator, except for that one little thing that we did with the wax lips. While it was effective, it’s not yet a business driver. I don't have a big enough list in social to affect my bottom line. We send out 140,000 postcards every single week to generate PostcardMania's revenue, and we spend between $15,000 and $20,000 on PPC a week. That's really how we affect the bottom line.
In the age of social media, is it a bit ironic that you’re promoting items that rely on regular mail?
People are somewhat surprised that our business is still growing as much as it's growing, because it is snail mail and there's so much bad PR about the post office and the expense of postage. But direct mail is still the very best way to target and enlighten. There's a whole group of people searching for what you have, and another large group that have no idea they need what you have, so they're not searching for it. THOSE people need direct mail.
We have integrated digital into our offerings with our Direct Mail 2.0 product, a post card with a call tracking number, a mail tracking number, and a re-targeting campaign all in one.
People don't just call a phone number on a post card anymore. They go to the website, get cookied and see the ad on all the different sites of the Google Network. The repeated message is great and it’s taken DM to a completely new level. Users are getting ridiculous ROI. It’s been a great boost to our company.
What online tools do you rely on everyday?
We use Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. I personally don't do a lot of social except on my own personal Facebook page. I have a social media manager, and she's on LinkedIn everyday, joining groups, trying to get involved in the conversation, answering questions.
What aspects of social haven’t worked for you?
So many things have not worked for me over all, not just social. I don't tend to keep my attention on those. We will throw the spaghetti at the wall a thousand times until it sticks. At this point, 15 years into this, we pretty much know how long it needs to boil for it to stick. We're so metric-orientated; we only do what already works.
What's the one thing people would never know about marketing a direct mail and printing company?
They don’t realize how much technology is used. It seems so brick-and-mortar, and it is, because we're a manufacturer, but full on web developers and programmers working full time on various projects are all part of the future. We've really evolved into a technology company in so many ways.
What is one thing your social followers don’t know about you?
They probably don't know that I CrossFit, because I'm so new at it that I don't post a lot of about it. I'm addicted.
What three blogs would you recommend?
I’m also a HUGE Flint McLaughlin groupie.
How can people connect with you?
I answer all my email firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm not super speedy, because I do get a lot of communication, but I do really enjoy helping people, regardless of whether or not they ever buy from PostcardMania, or want to buy from PostcardMania. I really, really just enjoy helping small business owners. People can also reach via Facebook. I get private messages all the time.
Do you know of other B2B marketers who are effectively integrating and using social media to fuel their businesses? I want to talk to them and share their story Drop me a note at email@example.com or via Twitter @RAReed.