By Laura Artibello

Lettershop. I’ve always liked this industry term. It has a clean and classic ring to it. For those not familiar with it, it describes what we know as a “mailing house”.

Outdated? I admit, we don’t reference the word much. New and younger customers appreciate “Communication Service Bureau” when discussing advertising and marketing with direct mail.

So here is what is new with the lettershop industry. It is being driven by two main factors: research (data) and campaign programs which utilize data.

How to evolve lettershops

All industries evolve. The quicker we adapt to constant modernization the more successful we become.

So how do you evolve a traditional lettershop? One way is to keep producing what you do each day then you start by reversing the operation by night.

Allow me to explain the process: from start to finish.

Promotional flyers are digitally printed, folded and information documentation are automatically inserted into the envelopes. Addressing machines then imprint recipients’ names and addresses, the envelopes are sealed and stamped and ready to be delivered by Canada Post.

When I began working at Data Direct Group (DDG) we introduced the company to offering information gathering for initial research. We designed and formatted surveys so the clients could ask their customers what they liked or didn’t like about products and service.

The print and mail survey process used same equipment but in reverse. Open envelopes, remove information documentation and scan to databases. Same skill set in each department. On-line surveys used the same process without the paper.

With surveys someone must ask the questions. We’re happy to write them and manage the projects, including verification, classification and index to database reporting for actionable outcomes. We provided one-page executive reports as first reads then performed business analytics and prescriptive analytics.

Most firms today immediately inquire after purchases and/or conference events. Sometimes just by viewing a site we are asked: “what did you think”? But learning that so many companies simply used, for example a “free” software program then doing little to action the data just doesn’t make sense to us.

E.g. We are familiar with the phrase, the cost of attracting new customers far outweigh the cost of keeping current ones. So why then did a retail organization go through the exercise of survey collection through a free software to do nothing with the results? Because, nothing is free. Downloading the data is charged, indexing is additional. Then, what to do with these results? Analytics requires no less then classification and modelling for strategic objective of survey content. Companies who wish to explore their customers buying behaviours best practice to, educate internally. Responsiveness and product alignment point to separate divisions, yet they must respectfully communicate their clients concerns.

Smart data improves operations. Canada grows when businesses grow. Charitable organizations improve revenue streams when they ask their caregivers “how can we help you help us? “Loyalty is learned behavior appreciated. DDG is constantly asking questions and growing.

Lettershop-supporting research

Canada Post has invested heavily in outside research, utilizing third party data to determine each level of consumer interest and it has tapped behavioural and neurological studies to understand how people read and respond to mail, with comparisons to digital, mobile, billboards, radio and TV.

Turns out we do read. Even better, we enjoy it more on paper. It’s a screen break for many and we’re not talking about any one generational group here. Naturally white papers and magazines are openly shared to Canadian consumers to read.

It doesn’t end there. In aggregation with Environics Canada and other Canadian companies Canada Post remains at the forefront of efficiently and effectively delivering mail. It focuses on advertising tailored by numerous clusters of interest: people with the same-like buying patterns of your own customers. The organic growth concepts. We recommend all clients looking to attract new business to use Canada Post’s research data first.

Yes, but the world is on-line! We agree, people do buy direct. We don’t attack Amazon; e-commerce and fulfillment of goods are major areas of growth in Canada. Canada Post remains the number one parcel delivery service. Whether it be Amazon or local retailers, the massive infrastructure is built. Use it, Canada.

Apply Big Data

Gathered for eons predominantly for global corporations and for medical breakthroughs Big Data is becoming available for more businesses. The internet opened every opportunity to gather intel that allows us to find what is important to our businesses. Whether for problem solving, or value driven we use effective data for efficient growth. Data analysts dissect, construct narratives and even draw pictures. In short: Marketing Intelligence.

Seek technology and human balance

Invest for success but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Offer or look for suppliers that are technology-driven, with offset and digital printing, e-commerce platforms that manage warehouse inventory and precision pick/pack and ship, but which apply the human touch. Seek or have automated data cleaning yet still eye level reviewed. Recommendations drawn from data conveys objective holistic views that are written to be read. White glove packing for classes not masses is an art and skill of hand-assembly workmanship.

Look for inspiring partners

Marketers have choices in print collateral suppliers. Representing DDG I can say that our diversity of people, range of equipment and array of services are most impressive. Our president, Debbie Major values trust and happiness above all else. She is an authour, speaker, company leader, expert partner of Canada Post and promoter of “how can we help you?” We have known each other for near 30 years. I learn from her every day.

Laura Artibello is advisor, marketing analysis channel at Data Direct Group Inc. She is responsible for emerging and directing data to customers for successful database-driven marketing results including brand awareness, increased engagement, geodemographic segmentation and ROI. 

Laura Artibello describes herself as spirited, and diversity reflects her career. Beginning at CIBC as Mortgage Collection Officer in 1981-82 she became a parts data entry clerk and then vice president sales and marketing for Address-all. Laura opened her own direct mail fulfillment company, Mailennium in 2000. Closed after 17 years she left building a legacy of quality output, diverse offerings, community social activism armed to elevate and expand the power of data intelligence at Data Direct Group.

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Lloydmedia, Inc is based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and is a multi-platform media company which delivers a total audience of more than 100,000 readers across four national magazines, three industry directories, and a range of events and online marketing.

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