How to Engage Customers and Prospects with Tactile Marketing

Rhoan Morgan, CEO of DemandLab

This month’s guest helped create a new category of marketing – Tactile Marketing Automation (TMA) – and is helping marketers learn how to leverage this marketing tactic to engage with customers and prospects on a personalized level while overcoming digital clutter. Join us as Rhoan Morgan talks with Marne Reed, Chief Evangelist, VP Strategic Alliances at PFL.com about direct mail, personas, and more.

About Our Guest

Marne Reed is the Chief Evangelist and a 17-year veteran at PFL. She is an authentic business leader tasked with guiding PFL’s expansion into enterprise software solutions, which includes the creation of a new category called Tactile Marketing Automation (TMA). Not afraid of a good business or personal challenge including raising her 4 boys without the loss of any major body parts. She is passionate about a fine glass of wine and relaxing with her chickens.


Unable to listen? Read the full interview transcript below:

Rhoan Morgan: Hey listeners, we are back with another episode of Revenue Rebels, and I'm your host Rhoan Morgan. On today's show, we're going to talk about how to overcome digital clutter by leveraging tangible and personalized marketing tactics to drive engagements, and to drive results. And who better to talk about this than Chief Evangelist and VP of Strategic Alliances from PFL.com, one of the companies leading the charge in direct mail and tactile marketing automation, Marne Reed. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Marne Reed: Absolutely Rhoan, excited to be here.

Rhoan Morgan: I am really excited to have this conversation with you today, and just in case a few of our listeners might be unfamiliar with PFL, I have to tell everybody out there that I first worked with Marne and the PFL team years ago when we deployed a really successful direct mail campaign and program with a client of ours. I think they're still working with you guys even, and that was before they developed, before PFL developed the technology that enables sales and marketing directly within the platforms that we use every day.

So today, in addition to printing, mailing and fulfillment services, PFL provides technology-supported sales enablement and marketing automation solutions. And, for me, it's been really exciting to see the growth and expansion of the services that you guys have been offering over the years. So, I'm really happy to be able to share some of these cool insights that I know you're going to bring to the conversation today.

Marne Reed: Absolutely.

Rhoan Morgan: So let's just jump right in. So Marne, I know part of the bio that I read and I couldn't believe it. It's really impressive. You've been with PFL for over 17 years now. Hence the chief evangelist title. So it's really safe to say that you know the ins and outs of the business.

Marne Reed: I know the ins and outs. I always say I know, I know more than the... there's times where I go home and think, okay, I racy, racy, so all this stuff.

Rhoan Morgan: So, based on that experience, I would love for you to share with us, just to get the conversation rolling, how you see direct mail enhancing marketing strategies today in maybe a different way.

Marne Reed: Yeah, very interesting to just watch the evolution of direct mail. And it used to be in times past, they did the batch and blast, right? You get a list, and you send the same message and the same physical piece to that entire list. But what we've seen over the course of the last several years, when you have people who are getting inundated with the digital marketing component, and I think that the number is now, people see 10,000 brand messages a day.

The fact of the matter is people can't consume that much information coming at them. One of the things that we were experiencing internally and then we realized that our customers were also experiencing is, they're pumping out all of this great content, but the fact of the matter is, it's not being consumed just because people are really ignoring it.

They can't, they don't have the time to consume it. And frankly, there's a lot of systems out there that block that information. And so what we're experiencing is being able to send a physical piece alongside all of your digital messaging really enhances the messaging. There was a study that showed that neuroscience shows that when you actually are interacting with a physical piece, it actually creates a lasting memory. It's just one more touchpoint that where you can get your value across and your messaging across to your audience.

Rhoan Morgan: In fact, I've had a couple of cases where I'll receive something, a physical piece, and I'll think, “Oh, what was that email?” Or “what was that, that I saw online” and I'll go back and search and it can trigger something. I think that was what it really sort of took to provide those connecting points.

Marne Reed: Exactly.

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah that's, I think, something really important from the marketing perspective. But then also certainly from the sales perspective as well and getting in front of people that are your decision-makers. With that in mind, I would love it if you could tell us a little bit about some of the outcomes that companies are looking to achieve when they launch a tactile marketing campaign.

Marne Reed: I think when you look at the metrics, and that's what we really focus on with our customers, is what are the metrics that you are trying to influence? And if marketers don't understand those metrics, it really doesn't make sense for them to include a direct mail piece because that is typically the most expensive component of your marketing. So getting really clear on what those metrics are, and frankly, when I look at a lot of our customers, they're hitting every stage of the marketing funnel and including that direct mail touch in there.

So the top of the funnel, being able to get people to engage with them, it's something that...take a demo of our solution and we'll give you, do this, get this kind of campaign that they're looking at. But I think even with those meeting makers or the demos, it's something that you still have to be really analyzing what is the messaging that you're putting in there and making sure that you have something that you're providing value to your audience.

Our customers are not seeing success with gimmicky marketing. It used to be that you can send these cutesy little pieces or the latest technology gadget. You have to do more. Our audience is expecting more out of us and frankly, someone's not going to buy your software solution if you're just sending their favorite football team socks or something like that. You need to be actually saying, here's the problem that I think you have and here's how I can help solve that problem. So really getting that engagement and really just increasing the digital marketing effectiveness is what they're seeing.

Gimmicky marketing won’t bring success. You have to do more to fulfill audience expectations.

Rhoan Morgan: Well, so in terms of the value, and I think that's something that we talk a lot about, right in marketing now is, you know, every piece of content, every single engagement, everything that we do, it's about providing value for clients. Or for the prospect. What are some of the pieces that you are, I guess if you could provide some examples of the pieces that have, that you think are bringing the most value to the table for a prospect?

Marne Reed: Well and that goes to, do you really understand who you're selling to? We have one of our customers, Jellyvision, that does it, so absolutely phenomenal. They're understanding that they're selling to human resources professionals, which HR a lot of time doesn't get a whole lot of love from an organization. Knowing that and then kind of playing on that with the messaging that they have.

When you look at the fact that we're integrated with the marketing automation and the CRM platforms, customers are really collecting a lot of behavioral data. And so being able to take that data, and then actually influence the physical piece that you're sending. And not only the piece itself, but the actual content of that piece. So if you're selling to a human resources professional, what are the things that they're struggling with?

Also, is there a way that you can do it, looking at the emotions that you're pulling on with that, is it something that you want to show them some love because no one else does? Or is that something that you want to say, here's the pain points that I know you have as an HR professional and here's how we help solve those. So, it's really taking all of this data that you're collecting and having it infused into the printed piece.

And the printed piece frankly doesn't have to be that expensive. Jellyvision's first touchpoint is a printed map where it's taking the HR professional on a journey, but it's adding also their personality. So the sales rep that belongs to that account, it's really saying this is who your sales rep is, but this is what he likes. He likes a nice piece of steak and a glass of wine. So it just kind of infuses that personality a little bit.

Rhoan Morgan: Oh, that's really interesting. So you are able to differentiate even that first touch based on the sender?

Marne Reed: Correct.

Rhoan Morgan: Sort of a way of introduction.

Marne Reed: Yeah.

Rhoan Morgan: Very interesting. So then how does that happen? I know that you guys have some technology in play now that must be through the CRM side and they're requesting it. Is there an automation component?

Marne Reed: There is, yeah. So if you think about your marketing automation and you're setting up a campaign, you're really taking a look at what is the journey that you want people to go on. And so the first touch might be an email that you're sending out, and then you could actually look to see, did this person actually click on the email, or did they not click on the email? Based off of that, you can drop a direct mail piece into that campaign, where it will look for, did they engage? If they didn't engage, you might want to send them the physical piece.
We have other customers where they say, I want the first touch to be a direct mail piece where I know that this piece has been delivered to Rhoan Morgan and as soon as we get the delivery notification that the package has landed on your desk. Then, I as the salesperson, I'm going to get a task in Salesforce that says, "follow up with Rhoan right now because she has the package on her desk." So it's all data-driven. Much like it would be with an email.

So we don't batch and blast our emails. We want to know what email am I sending to Rhoan versus what am I going to send to Hannah based off of their title, based off of their engagement with us. Are they a decision-maker or are they an influencer or a champion? And those are all pieces of data that we can say, if Rhoan is the decision-maker, I'm going to send her this piece, at this point in time.

Rhoan Morgan: Mm-hmm. I also believe just looking at what our clients are doing, that tech telemarketing and direct mail is becoming more and more popular for used. And as you said earlier, breaking through sort of the digital wall. You do have just a ton of cases where you're not able to even get into an inbox. I mean, unfortunately. I would love it if you could share a couple of examples of how companies are differentiating themselves from others. What's that sort of creative process that they go through?

Marne Reed: Sure. We just published a report, a multichannel marketing report recently with Demand Metric, we surveyed 575 different participants. I thought what was very interesting about that is how many were infusing direct mail into their process. The other piece that I thought was quite alarming is out of those participants, there was about 29% were only using three marketing channels. So when you talk about differentiation it certainly is more difficult to set up a complex campaign where you have multiple channels that you're orchestrating all of the same time. But I think that is what we're seeing where our customers are standing out, is when they're taking the time to not just check off their list, another campaign, another email campaign, but they're saying, no, I want to basically document that entire customer journey.
And that's something that we're doing with our customers is figuring out what are all of the different touches and where does it make sense to put a direct mail piece in there? And, what is the flow of the messaging that you're using? For our customers, we go through kind of a consultation process with them to again, understand what are the metrics, what are the personas that you're marketing to? Then, what is the physical piece that makes sense for you to be sending?

If you're a company who has a lower price point on your sales, I wouldn't recommend doing a very fancy package. I would say let's start with something that's a flat piece mail. So we have some customers that are doing very expensive, beautiful packages where it's got their branding on the outside, their branding on the inside. They typically have a piece of branded swag in there, but that's really not the most important piece. It's what is the catalog that they have in there or the little tri-fold brochure that's really explaining the value that they can bring.

Rhoan Morgan: I'm really looking forward to moving into a conversation around metrics, around the data that's needed. We do have to take a quick break now and when we get back, we will continue our conversation with Marne. We'll dive into some of today's central marketing topics that I think we're all sort of top of mind, which is data and personalization. So stay tuned.
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All right, we're back. So let's get right back into it. Marne, I would love for us to be able to talk about data. You've mentioned this a number of times already and I've just been sort of holding my tongue waiting to get to this question. One of the things that I think some people may not really think about when they're thinking about tangible or tactical marketing is the data side of it, and I think you guys were really one of the first movers. I don't know if you were the first mover, but it was so early that you guys saw the opportunity to connect into marketing automation platforms, and CRM data plays a huge role in today's marketing successes, right from a digital perspective.

How does it support today's campaigns or the direct mail campaigns that marketers are doing? What do they need to do to be prepared to come to you guys to develop something?

Marne Reed: Yeah, it was interesting when we first started our integrations, I think it was almost probably five or six years ago. A little piece of information that was kind of missing when we did our launch is, if you think about your marketing automation platform or your CRM platform, you don't necessarily think about where am I going to mail something? Because, at that point, it was a hundred percent digital, right? So, all I need to know is what your email address is, what sites you're going on. We first kicked it off and it was like, oh wow. No one has physical mailing addresses in their marketing automation platform. Then the other piece of data that I thought it was kind of interesting is if you are selling into the B2B side of things, how do I know that Rhoan is in this office if there's multiple offices for her company?

So those are the pieces of data that we help our customers really figure out is, first of all, do they know who they're selling to? So, you have to know who your ICP is. And then, within that, you have to know who your personas are. Do you have the correct information to actually identify those in your marketing automation platform, based off of title, based off of geographic region?

So starting with that, and then getting into, once we know that, then we need to do some data enhancement on where do they actually live? Are they working out of their home office? Are they working out of some regional office? And so those are the data components that we have to pump the brakes a little bit first and say, "do you have this within your platform?" And if not, let's make sure that we get that before we actually start a direct mail campaign. Because, there's nothing more disappointing than kicking off a direct mail campaign and having 30% of the packages that you deliver get returned, not to your recipient.

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah. You know what, we have clients all over the world and we have several companies, especially in today's work environment, where they are working from home. And maybe, you know, 90% of the time. I had a case where we sent some chocolates to somebody, and we sent it to her office, it turns out she goes in once a month. So, somebody else enjoyed those chocolates. I emailed her, and I was like, why haven't I heard about or heard from her. It was somebody that we knew. And so I think that it's a really, that's a tough one. So having everything up to date and really understanding can be a bit of a manual process at the beginning, I suppose.

Marne Reed: Correct.

Rhoan Morgan: At the end of the day, really worthwhile, because the results are sort of the proof is in the results that the people are getting.

Marne Reed: Correct.

Rhoan Morgan: Do you have any metrics that you can share in terms of the return on investment or the return on what the marketers or what even your sales partners can... I know that you work with sales teams as much as you work with marketing teams. What are they seeing?

Marne Reed: Yeah. So probably one of my favorite stories is with a company called Invoca. So they've been a longterm customer of ours. They were also a company that they were doing a, "Hey, take a demo and we'll give you a $50 Amazon gift card." They were doing that all via email and they were seeing about a 1% response rate. They came to us and said, "We need to increase our response rates. This is just not acceptable and this is not going to grow our business. What can we do?"

So we took essentially the very campaign that they had via email and we turned it into adding a physical component to it. And what it was, was a really nice white box that had Invoca branding on the outside. On the inside, there was a tray that held a not very expensive calculator, branded calculator and branded pen.

But off to the left-hand side, there was actually a little bit of an attribution worksheet that said... And I love the messaging around it, because it infused an emotional response. So it said, “how much revenue from paid search are you missing out on?” It kind of has that fear of loss language there, which I think is definitely very compelling. It gives them the calculator and the pen to actually do this attribution calculation. But tipped on to the inside of the box was a $50 Amazon gift card, and the whole purpose was, take a demo and we'll give you the gift card.

So, automatically someone says, "Oh, I don't want to miss out on revenue, but I just got a $50 Amazon gift card." So they peel the gift card off and on the back of it says, "take a demo and we'll actually give you the $50 gift card." So I kind of feel like I gained something and lost something quite quickly. So, with the sense that they did, they actually saw a jump from 1% response rate to 22% response rate. So, huge lift for them. It was about a $300,000 worth of net new revenue that they gained from that.

Rhoan Morgan: That's really exciting. I must say, I think that we get a lot of those demo requests, emails, daily. You get at least half a dozen. And so this is an important way of differentiating, and it doesn't sound like that has to be a really costly investment.

Marne Reed: It doesn't. If you look at that, someone's probably not going to keep the pen or the calculator cause it's not like they were these fancy pieces. But, I think what it was, it was just an opportunity to get your foot in the door. The other component that I didn't mention there is one of the things that really drove that significant response rates is the fact that we knew since we FedEx those, we knew within 15 minutes when those packages actually arrived on someone's desk. It would trigger a notification to their sales rep to actually do that followup call, which is...you can imagine if you're sitting here with an Invoca branded box and all of a sudden you get a call from Invoca. It's kind of the whole idea around reciprocity, where I'm going to respond to you.

Rhoan Morgan: Well so that's one of the things that I've been thinking a lot about lately, and I think we talked about this during one of our earlier calls is personalization. There's certainly this way of being able to... we can put our logos on things and we can brand things with our own colors and we can send a lot of swag out.

I'm wondering if there are ways that you've seen clients take personalization to the next level?

Marne Reed: Yeah, that's actually where we're seeing a lot of our customers go is even on the package itself. So if you had a package that arrived that said Rhoan and then something, but the actual box itself had your name on it, that is one area that we've seen a lot of success where it just has such an impact where you're thinking how did they, you know, how do you do this at scale? How do you have someone's first name actually on the package? The other piece that we've been talking about and we've seen some customers do really well, which is, if you are going to send swag, can you actually put that person's name on the swag?

So it might have your branding or maybe even has the customer's branding on there so it has their logo versus your logo. You have to think about the staying power is what is actually going to stick in their memory and inspire them to actually reach back out to you. So, there's so many opportunities for us to be able to have something that's co-branded where it's not just my logo, but it's also your logo and really telling that compelling story of how do we partner together?

Rhoan Morgan: You know, it's funny because we market as Demand Lab to marketers. I mean, and I am a marketer, so I know that we are the toughest people to market to. We're doing it every day! And one of the things, it's actually, we did this with you guys and this was the box that we put together for Change Agents. When we sent that out, we also use first names and personalization.

One of the things that was really exciting for me is that we went to visit the SVP of Marketing for an enormous company and client of ours, and I saw the box still sitting on her desk. To me, that was fantastic because it meant, one, that it was keepable, it was something that was like, this is interesting. Then also as a marketer, and these are people that you're also selling to, it's a great compliment.

Marne Reed: Exactly. If you're helping them become a better marketer through your own marketing and they say, "Hey, how do I do this?" One of the things that we see here at PFL is people just replicating our own campaigns, and to a “T” where a customer comes in and says, "Hey, you just did this. I saw this experience, I want to do the exact same thing." You're thinking, well differentiate yourself a little bit. But, it's also like it's a sign of flattery that they're trying to just copy everything that you're doing.

Rhoan Morgan: Yes. All right, so we're going to come to a close. I have one quick question just around the end of the year. This is the time when a lot of people start sending out a lot of direct pieces and sending out holiday packages and that sort of thing. What are some of the things that you're seeing companies do this year in terms of personalization or tactile marketing?

Marne Reed: I think if you think about the holidays, it's all about previous, in previous campaigns I say, "Hey, don't get too cutesy." It's really not about the gifting. It's really about the value. But I think this is the time of year where people kind of expect something that's a little nicer. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it's really more of a, "I'm thinking of you, you actually add value. Our partnership means something, our relationship means something."

I would say, what I'm seeing is customers are moving away from doing their own branded swag this time of year, and really thinking about things that will have more of an emotional response. And so, here at PFL we love to send things that are Montana-based because that's where our headquarters is. It's something that showcases our personality and who we are, but it's also something that's kind of a nice, "thank you for working with us. Thank you for being with us."

And I always tell people, stay away from some of the food products that are...everyone gets chocolates...so can you do something that is not going to make you blend in with everybody else, but it's unique and really tells a little bit more about who you are.

Rhoan Morgan: All right. One final question, as our time comes to a close. What are a few best practice tips that you'd like to share with companies that are looking to implement direct mail campaign?

Marne Reed: Absolutely. And I think before getting even into direct mail, you have to look at what is your relationship between marketing and sales. So often I see marketing teams that will launch campaigns in a silo and not bringing their sales org alongside of them. What happens is marketing things that they're doing a great job by getting these campaigns out the door and activated, and then all of a sudden sales feels like they didn't participate in the conversation. They're just going to basically dig their heels in and not participate.

Before you can implement an effective direct mail campaign, you have to look at the relationship between marketing and sales.

So, I would say the more you can bring your sales org into the conversation and actually get ideas from them because they're, at the end of the day, they're the ones who are actually talking to the prospects and talking to the customers. And so, they have ideas. They may not be marketers, but they have ideas on what can work. Do some beta tests with them because that level of engagement from them just will make your campaigns so much more successful. I think if you start off with that, and then looking to see what are the physical pieces that you can infuse. Like I said, looking at where it is in the funnel and understanding that it doesn't have to be this super glamorous piece. Sometimes, getting some of these, the highest, expensive tech gadget that's out there doesn't really...it's not going to move the needle enough. You have to be looking at what your content is, and what your message is, and the value that you're providing to your audience.

Rhoan Morgan: Those are three really great starting points. Connect with sales, ensure that you're really working together. At the end of the day, your intention is to send them over to the salesperson. So, to me that only makes sense. Where are you infusing this into the funnel, into the customer journey, the customer experience? Certainly there you can have very different pieces, very early stage, mid and later on. And then how are you driving value and how does it align with what you're sending out?

And I think something that you said earlier is really important to also, mapping out that journey and that experience so that it makes sense, right? Sort of, at what point should you be sending something? What is the investment level that that should be, sort of at early stage versus late-stage consideration.

Marne Reed: And being clear on what does success look like, “how are you going to make this ROI?” Is the other piece...how are you going to measure this?

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah. Great stuff. I think that you and I could probably spend a lot more time talking about this, and we might have to do a followup conversation at some point in the new year. But, thank you so much for joining today. I really appreciate the time. Can you share with the listeners the best way for anybody who might be interested to reach out to you?

Marne Reed: Absolutely, and I love people just even though I do get a lot of emails, email is still the best way to reach out to me. My email address is Marne, M A R N E at pfl.com.

Rhoan Morgan: Wonderful. And a big thank you to our listeners for tuning into Revenue Rebels today. I am your host Rhoan Morgan, and you can find me on LinkedIn by looking up DemandLab or visiting our website at demandlab.com. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter and check out our other resources, including podcasts like this, as well as tips and tricks, and how-to guides. Now back over to you, Paul.

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