If you’re like me, the amount of daily physical mail bothers you, as much of it feels like a waste of time and resources. That’s doubly true for mass marketing material that has nothing to do with my interests or spending habits, all of which end up directly in the recycle bin.
So I was a bit skeptical talking to Andrew Field, founder and CEO of Printing for Less (PFL), a Montana-based company that works in the print marketing arena. To Andrew’s credit, his company’s model aims to be less wasteful in both its targeting and use of recycled materials and sustainable energy. Perhaps most interesting was learning how your company has navigated the digital age as a print marketing company and succeeded at a time when most assumed print was dead.
Mary Juetten: When did you start?
Andrew Field: I co-founded the company in 1996. The idea for PFL came to me while fly-fishing in the Yellowstone River with a friend. Initially, we were a six-person print shop dedicated to small businesses that needed access to affordable printing without compromising on quality.
As the Internet and e-commerce reached the ubiquity we know today, I realized that more companies were turning to the Internet for products and services. So in 1999, we launched the first US e-commerce site for full-line commercial printing. For much of the 2000s, the business focused on printing for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across the country.
With the rise of SaaS, I saw the opportunity to make direct mail a part of marketing automation, as easy as creating an email as part of the customer journey. So in 2014, we created another category, Touch Marketing Automation.
Juetten: What problem are you solving?
Countryside: Businesses need a way to eliminate digital clutter and generate lasting impressions with leads and prospects. Direct mail does this in a way that digital marketing simply cannot. Our 2020 Multichannel Marketing Report (along with the demand metric) found that multichannel campaigns, including direct mail, report an 18 percent higher ROI than those without direct mail, and 84 percent of respondents indicate that direct mail improves the performance of multichannel campaigns.
We created a smarter way for organizations to incorporate direct mail as an intentional part of the customer journey versus batching and blasting. Our solution works with existing CRM and marketing automation platforms such as Salesforce, Oracle or Marketo and enables marketers to send personalized, targeted and trackable collateral to create a memorable and engaging customer experience.
Juetten: Who are your customers and how do you find them?
Countryside: Our ideal customer cares about brand, security, scalability, and ROI. We have a wide range of clients, from enterprise SaaS to higher education, financial services, healthcare, and retail. We practice account-based marketing and use our own solution, Tactile Marketing Automation, to build relationships with our ideal clients. We delight our customers with relevant brand experiences and then show them how they can do the same to get their audience’s attention. Also, as a creator and category leader, many customers find us through word of mouth.
Juetten: Did you raise money?
Countryside: Yes. In 2018, we raised $ 25 million in growth capital from Goldman Sachs Growth Equity. The funds support R&D, product development and sales team growth for our TMA platform.
Juetten: Direct mail can be perceived as wasteful for some. What is your response to this?
Countryside: The way we enable direct mail is not just batch processing and mass mailing. It is directed, and in fact reduce waste.
For example, let’s say Company A is hosting a webinar and Client X attended webinars in the past and signed up to attend the next webinar. Company A could send content related to Client X and a snack to enjoy while watching the webinar.
Here’s another example in the nonprofit world. If a previous donor opens an email or visits the home page of a nonprofit website and has not donated in the past year, TMA may activate a direct mail to encourage the individual to donate.
In this way, organizations harness the power of direct mail, but in a more intentional and less wasteful way.
Speaking of the environment, our facilities and manufacturing processes are green. PFL runs on wind power and we use soy-based inks and minimal VOCs.
Juetten: Who is on your team?
Countryside: I am proud to work with a first class team. It includes a senior team with a lot of experience, the usual roles in a SaaS company like sales, marketing, software development, etc. Unlike other SaaS companies, our team also includes a large contingent of people in manufacturing and fulfillment, working 24×7.
Juetten: Any advice to add for founders or early stage CEOs in growth mode?
Countryside: Solve processes before rapidly increasing headcount in a given area. Then hit the gas!
What is the long-term vision of your company?
Countryside: Help millions of marketers around the world to market more effectively and ultimately go public
Thanks to Andrew for providing us with information on how his business works. Ironically, we received a direct mail announcement from a family-owned moving company when we listed a property for sale and are now hiring it. There’s something to be said for differentiating yourself in a world of overwhelming marketing emails being put in the digital recycle bin (unsubscribe), and PFL’s success speaks for itself. #go ahead.