What if you had a secret weapon that busts through the clutter and ensures your prospects and customers never forget about you? “Small Business Stacey” interviews Travis Lee of 3-D Mail Results to learn the secret strategies that accomplish that. #ASmallBizLife #WhereMarketingMeetTechnology
Hey everybody, Small Business Stacey here. Welcome to another episode of the Small Biz Marketing Success Show. Now, what if you had a secret weapon that busts through all the clutter and ensures that your prospects and your customers never leave? Well, that’s what we’re talking about today.
Stacey: I am so honored to have Travis Lee of 3-D Mail Results with us today. Welcome to the show, Travis.
Travis: Hey Stacey. Thanks for having me. Great to be with you and your listeners today.
Stacey: You got it. Now, we’re talking about this thing called direct mail. I know it as the secret weapon that can really get you in front of those eyeballs that seem to be so hard to do today. Tell me a little bit about you and your background, because I just can’t imagine that you grew up loving envelopes and direct mail. There’s gotta be a sexier story to this. So tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into this.
Travis: Yeah, I’ll give you kind of the quick version. So it all started with the guy that you and I both know very well, Dan Kennedy. And so, my father owned a business at the time — he since sold it, sold it about five years ago now — but he stumbled upon this guy named Dan Kennedy, who was this big proponent. So this is like 1992 – there’s no Facebook, there is no social media. Email and the internet are just barely at the cusp of commercial use. And, he was adamant, as you know, about the use direct mail — use it, use it, use it. So my dad, Keith, who I started this business with, (we’ll circle back to him) said, “Alright, we’re going to use direct mail, we’re going to find a way to use it and we’re going to use direct mail.”
And, so I spent my junior high and high school years folding and stuffing envelopes, you know, for 10 or 15 cents per piece — for spending money. If there was a camp I wanted to go to, if there was a trip I wanted to make, that’s how that was. Like our very first venture into direct mail is eat. Dan said, you got to make it work. So Keith was going to make it work. Right? And, so that was my introduction to it. Well, almost 30 years ago now, I guess. Holy cow, right? Fast forward a few years, more like a decade or so to 2005, 2006, I had graduated college with a marketing degree from a public university. You’d graduate high school, you go get a marketing degree.
And it was funny — so, my dad, he said to me at the time, “You know, hey, I know you’re thinking about coming to work for the family company. That’s great. I’m sure you learned a lot of things with your marketing degree.” But, he gave me a stack of Dan Kennedy books and newsletters and said, “Here’s what really makes us money. So if you read this and you like it, then we should have a conversation if you want to come work in the family business.” And so, true story — this is 2004-ish, right about the year before I graduated, he sent me Magnetic Marketing on cassette tapes. It’s 2004, he sends me cassette tapes. So, I call up my mom and say, “Dad just sent me cassette tapes. I don’t have a cassette player.” So she sent me a one of those old Sony cassette players; and I’m walking to and from class listening to Dan’s Magnetic Marketing. I’m thinking, yeah, this is kind of cool. It’s kind of fun stuff. So anyway, let’s fast forward now.
Another couple of years, we had been using all kinds of fun, creative, direct mail stuff to grow that other business. And then we were actually in another Mastermind group with Bill Glazer, Dan’s former business partner. And we said, you know, “We send all this fun stuff.” We sent Magic Eight Balls, we’ve sent real dollar bills, we’ve sent fake dollar bills. I think we were sending these little worry dolls at the time. I’m sure we’re going to talk about more of this. And he said, “Bill, what do you think? Should we start a business selling this stuff? Because it’s, you know, it’s different. It’s unique.” And, we get sick of telling people, well, go to your Dollar Store, right? We can buy stuff. You know, the other business was a distribution business.
So, we bought stuff in bulk and then broke it down and sold it into smaller units. So it made sense, right? And so, this was 2006 or seven now. And, the Mastermind group said, “Yes, when are you going to start this new direct mail business? Here’s some credit cards. Let us buy some stuff.” About six months later, we had started what we now call 3-D Mail Results, which is different, unique, what we call clutter-busting direct mail. So it’s not your traditional stuffing an envelope, although we do some of that.
It’s mainly stuff that looks and feels different than everything else your average consumer, your average business owner is going to get in the mail. That’s the Reader’s Digest version of it. So, I kind of got hooked on it when I was young and we progressed and progressed and now here we are: 2020, a stand-alone business serving thousands of customers every single year and doing some fun, unique direct mail. And, I’m sure we’ll get into some of that specific stuff as we go on, but that’s how we got involved with it.
Stacey: Okay, great. Well, it’s always great to learn the background of how people get into what they’re doing today, and I really commend you for being on what I call Planet Dan. I’ve learned so much from Dan Kennedy, and the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is when people zig, you zag. Always do the opposite. And, what’s interesting about what you’ve done, as you kind of painted the history of going through the eighties the nineties the two thousands right? And all these gurus were out there preaching online. Everybody’s got to be on online. Let’s send 300,000 emails, right, and blast people. And, it doesn’t work.
So, here’s the thing that we just finished up the holiday season, and this is an absolute true story. I got one holiday card. I called it an un-merry holiday and un-merry Christmas. You know how you used to go to the mailbox and be so excited to see the family pictures and you’d put them around your foyer or the tree or the kitchen and everybody looked at it. And this year I got one. Wow. Travis, talk about how this thing called a mailbox that is an untapped opportunity for small business owners.
Travis: Well, I mean, you said it exactly right: when you zig, others zag. Most of us probably know the horror stories about email.
You know, junk mail, open rates are lower, engagement rates are lower. Everything that we do online is becoming saturated and saturated and saturated. So while everyone’s moving there, there’s probably a great way for you to move over here, right? I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but the numbers are staggering when it comes to how many people open their mail the same day that it arrives. It’s, you know, 77% open it, get it and open it and store it at the same day it arrives. 60% enjoy checking their mailbox. I don’t know 60% of anybody who enjoys checking their inbox. Right? So and even millennials — that’s the new catchphrase, Millennial Marketing — they say that they trust companies more that send them something in the mail versus only engagement online or in social media.
Right. And so there’s all these studies, all these statistics out there that say, “Wow, we may not be using mail as much.” So, for example, direct mail, the amount of direct mail that we send is down, but it’s because of the things you just talked about, right? It’s, we’re not sending personal mail anymore. You’re not sending Christmas cards. If you’re organizing a party, you’re doing it on Facebook, right? But commercial mail, there’s never been more commercial mail sent through the USPS than ever before, right? So there is still a giant opportunity there to be had with less competition, if you will, but in a way that you still have to be heard seen or read, right? And so, I like to tell people that in any kind of marketing that you do, the number one objective is to, whether it’s on TV, you have got to be seen; whether it’s on the radio, you’ve got to be heard; whether it’s in the mailbox, you’ve got to be read.
And, that’s the number one thing — we have to get attention with any marketing that we do, right? And so, that’s why we do crazy things. Just one example, we have these fake express envelopes that we send out. Maybe 150,000 a year of these go out our doors. But, if the whole idea is to get it open and read, because if this shows up in your mailbox, who’s not going to open this, right? It has the look and appeal of priority mail or FedEx even, but it goes out for just a regular postage stamp. So, that’s the kind of stuff we’re talking about. So, if you can get seen, heard, or read and especially do something different than what everyone else is doing, Get off of Facebook. I’m not telling you not to use that stuff. I send out a ton of emails.
We use everything at our disposal, but that’s the point. We use everything, and I’ve seen it. And, I see more and more — especially small businesses get captured by the online shiny object and they forget about direct mail and there’s all kinds of ways it can work. New customers, existing customers, past customers. I’m sure we’ll talk about that. But, if you’re not at least looking at it, and especially for your own customer base, that’s where it’s the easiest to start. You’re missing out on a communication method that many people still like and enjoy and are receptive to.
Stacey: I love it. And, so many new clients will come to me and none of them are doing direct mail. Their idea, their concept of direct mail is maybe a postcard or a boring sales letter. But, that’s not really what we’re talking about today. There’s this term called lumpy mail. So Travis, what is lumpy mail and how does that work?
Travis: 99% of companies could use this, and we call it a lost client campaign — and you’ve seen them and you’ve probably experienced them. You know, people do it via email. But you know, for most businesses you have a group of customers that have bought from you, and then for whatever reason didn’t buy from you again. So, with some businesses it’s built in. Your dentist, it’s every six months. Your auto mechanic, it’s every four months or 5,000 miles — it used to be three months, 3000 miles, they’ve kind of stretched it out a little bit with the newer cars. But, there’s some that haven’t built it in. You’ve got to kind of figure it out. Again, some of them have a built in. I’ve got to go to the car mechanic, get my oil changed two to three times a year. Well, what if you’re an HVHC contractor? What if you’re a jeweler? What if you’re a diner restaurant? When does that person last? So you’ve got to do a little thinking of when that should come back. But, we’d send things out like these boomerangs. So, that’s just a regular old plastic boomerang. They come in all kinds of different colors.; and then what we do is we find a list of our inactive clients or patients. We pull that list out, and then we mail them a boomerang.
Why a boomerang? Because we want them back. So, we put in the headline, you know, “Dear Stacey, we miss you. We want you back.” Or, “Dear Stacey, it’s Dr. Tom over here at the ABC Dental Office. And man, we were looking at our our patient base, and we haven’t seen you in nine months.” What’s going on, right? So in order to keep a happy smile, many go into their sales pitch. But, the whole idea is to send something different that gets attention, that gets opened and gets read. Because if it doesn’t get opened and if it doesn’t get read, we can’t make a sale. Right? So, that’s the goal. And, what I like to tell people is the reason Super Bowl ads are so expensive is because you’re guaranteed eyeballs.
It’s not because the Super Bowl is any great thing. It’s fun. I’m a huge football fan, so for me it’s great, but it has nothing to do with the actual event; and, the fact that there are umpteen million people watching it live. So, that’s why it’s so expensive. Well, if you can have that kind of impact without having to spend four or $5 million for an ad, that’s what we’re looking to do. I’ve got some other, examples. Let’s say you’re a B-to-B type of company. Let’s say I sell phone services and hardware to companies with sales staffs over 20 — just making it up kind of as we go. But, what if you sent them a real vinyl bank bag. It’s got a zipper, so with this guy, we actually put that we’re going to save these guys 22% every year, year over year on their phone systems. I’m sure all of us who have a sales staff can appreciate that. We actually put a letter right inside of there, right in the opening. And, then on this other side we put their address and their postage, and this thing shows up in their mailbox. So, as you can imagine, when these things show up.
Stacey: Who’s not opening that?
Travis: You’re exactly right, and that’s the point. We want to get them to open it, we want to get them to read it. And, that’s the whole goal, to overcome the biggest challenge we have with marketing — getting seen, heard, read, whatever it is.
Stacey: I love the boomerang campaign, and I actually use this with so many of my clients because when they come to me, it’s actually the lowest hanging fruit where we can get them the biggest wins; because they’re always so focused on more new, new, new. And, in my book, Small Business Marketing Made Easy, I have the action (A C T I O N) marketing system and the N stands for nurture. And, so many businesses just dropped the ball because they’re focused on more new. So, how easy is it to look in your database? And, like Travis said, figure out how many touch points should a person have with you. A dentist at least twice a a year. But, what if you could bring them back three times? What would that do to your bottom line? And, sending out something as simple as a boomerang — the person who gets it, they’re going to remember you because it’s not like just a boring piece of mail.
Travis: Yup. I mean the fact that you said what can we do to bring them back a little sooner is important. So, I work with an optometrist, but they’re on two-year cycles. So, most people, if you have any kind of insurance, you get a free eye exam every two years. Well, we don’t want them to wait till month 30 or month 32, we want them to come in exactly at month 24; and if we’re able to get all of our patients to come in at month 24 to 26 as opposed to month 34 to 36, we’ve just accelerated everybody by six months.
That’s a great point that you said — it’s not only the fact of reengaging them, getting them involved, but how can we maybe give them that little nudge to do it just that much sooner? So with him, we’re taking his patient files for between 24 and 26 months. We’re mailing them, and we’re not going to let them come in at month 36, we’re going to make sure they come in when they’re supposed to. And every business has that. I was challenged one time. A funeral parlor was the only one that I could think of that stumped me, that didn’t have lost clients. Once they’re down, they’re down. So, now having said that, what have they done? Well, they now sell pre-plots — you pre-pay. So now they all have appointment of sales; appointment of no shows; people who bought and then went and did other things. So, they’ve kind of switched that business. Now we’re going to get our money up front. So even they have what I would call appointment of no sales, not necessarily lost customers — it’s kind of hard to dig them up and sell them again.
Stacey: So you have, I call them chotchkies, all these different items. Can you do some show-and-tell and give some examples of how a small business owner might use these?
Travis: So, the bank bag, if you’re selling, if you’re a coach, or a consultant and you help people make money — or if you help people save money, this is a great one. I love it. We’ve gone over that one already. The boomerang, of course. I’ve got a couple more here. Let’s see, what’s a good one? Oh, here’s a fun one. I kind of showed this one. So this is a little worry doll, and I don’t know if you can see it — it’s about an inch high and a quarter of an inch thick. We use this for lost clients, as well. I’m worried about ya. Right? I’m worried we haven’t seen you in awhile. I also used it for other things. So we got a CPA and there are certain things in life in which you would need or want a CPA.
If you just got married, if you just had a child, if you just bought a new home, those are all kinds of life events, and we can talk about more how we actually select lists, if we have time. There’s other things for a CPA that, when life happens, you probably need my service. So we’ve sent this in the past for a CPA. “I’m worried about Jim, you just got married.” There’s all kinds of new things that are involved in doing your taxes and filing, and that kind of stuff. So that one’s fun. I love this one. This is a kind of another money saving one. This is a stretchy hundred dollars bill, and I’ll open it up. So bear with me here for a second. But, if you can stretch a buck or stretch their savings, it’s just fun to play with.
Stacey: Oh, I haven’t got that one yet!
Travis: But, the whole idea is to get them to open it, look at it, play with it. Dan tells a story when he talks about our stuff. He did an event a couple of years ago and you may remember it. He did it for financial planners, you know, CFPs, big wigs guys, guys already doing pretty well, and he wanted to fill a bootcamp – put them into another program. Just like Dan. And what he did was, it was a construction theme; he would send them hardhats and he would send them Tonka trucks. And, what ended up happening is these, these things lay around, they go to the kids or the grandkids. About half of them when showed up wearing the hard had that he had sent them months earlier.
These are guys making $1 million a year. These are guys already with successful businesses, guys and gals. They’re by and large financial planners and insurance salesman. Right? Is there a more boring group of people than that? I hope there’s no one listening and takes offense to that! But, I mean, they’re by-the-numbers people, by and large. And they’re coming to an event wearing hardhats and playing with Tonka trucks. Right. It’s only your imagination and the way to tie it into the thing. So again, we’ve got these fake envelopes. We do a ton of these. We do a lot of work with lawyers. And, what’s great about lawyers, especially if you’re a bankruptcy attorney, there are lists available of people who could possibly need your services.
So, if you’re being sued by Discover because you haven’t paid a credit card bill, or if you are having a foreclosure, all bad things, nothing we want to happen. But, if it’s something that we can help them with and heaven forbid you get sued by Discover, American Express, and you owe a credit card $50,000 — whatever it is, you’re going to end up getting a lot of mail from attorneys. Just a matter of, it’s just the way it is, right? That’s publicly available data. They’re going to take advantage of it. But, if something like this shows up versus what everybody else is sending and it, and Stacey, I’m sure you can imagine it. It’s a number 10 envelope. It’s got their logo in the upper left hand corner, you know, Smith and Smith and Johnson, PLLC, for example.
Now look at this. Which one are they going to open when they start out with 15 of them right now. Let’s be real here. A lot of them are going to throw them all away, but if we can just get 10 extra people to every week to open this, if we can get 50 extra people to open this than we otherwise would, we’re in a good spot. Last one I’ll show you because I love it, it always gets people a laugh. We send out silver platters,
Stacey: I’ve used that one!
Travis: So this is a real — I don’t want to say real silver, it’s made in China. It’s probably not real silver, but it looks like silver. Let’s say we’re going to do something and we’re going to deliver it to them on a silver platter. Another guy, another famous coach that we’ve worked with Perry Marshall, for years, he would send these out to existing coaching members, right? To sell them into an upper level coaching group. And, so I’m going to deliver you results on a silver platter. We’ve got like 35 of these things. So, it’s just a matter of what is my message, what problem do I solve? And, now how do I convey that in a visual manner that is cost-effective for me? So, when this may cost you $7 to send out, but Perry is selling a $35,000 coaching program, right? You Don’t need to have very many $35,000 coaching people to make a $7 thing work out, on the other end, right? You know, these stretchy bills, it might cost you a buck or two to send out the door, so it’s all relative. What’s affordable? To me, that gives me a good ROI that I can now use to get open her to read, gain attention, and then it all comes back to ROI.
If I spend a dollar and I make three dollars, do I spend a dollar and make $20; that’s all we’re really concerned about. So, that’s some of the stuff we do. We’ve got, like I said, about 30. Oh, I forgot this one here. We do pill bottles. So if you cure a headache or solve a problem, we’re going to send out a little pill bottles. You know, there are some considerations to take into account. Let’s say I’m a special specialist doctor, I’m a podiatrist. Let’s just pick something, and I want to get referrals from a general family doctor. I’m probably not going to send this, right? They’re used to seeing these things used the proper way. They’re going to wonder who’s not getting their pills. But, let’s say I’m now let’s say I’m now a lawyer, family law attorney, and I want to target CPAs or whatever to get referrals. Well, now that probably makes sense. We’re going to cure your client’s headaches. Again, it’s what message do we want to convey? What problem are we solving? And, how can we visually put it to you so that they get it right. That’s the whole idea.
Stacey: Okay. So the small business owner that now has seen these examples and case studies and is probably really excited. Where do they start? You talk a little bit about the list because you have to have somebody to mail to. So some people may have less, some people may not. Can you address both sides of that?
Travis: I mean the first place I would always start is within your own herd. Within your own group. Like you said, the lost client is low hanging fruit. It’s usually ignored. It’s usually not a place people think about. But, if you’re thinking, I want to kind of dip my toe into this, start there. The other place is say, your unconverted leads. So, if you’re doing any kind of lead generation marketing or again, let’s say you’re a dentist and you’re getting phone calls and they’re not showing up for appointments, how can we use a different media to get them to come into our shop, into our store, into our practice, whatever it is.
The other thing I love is what we kind of talked about. These life events that happen in the world in which we can help them solve a problem. So, an obvious one for many, like if you are a in the home services business — you’re a painter, a plumber, HVAC, if you’re in retail, especially furniture, housewares — you are leaving huge sums of money by not doing a monthly new mover list. So, what is that? People buy houses That’s a public data point. We were able to pull that information and let’s say you service a 20 mile radius around Cincinnati, Ohio, for a home painter.
It’s something crazy like 67% of people put new paint on the walls within six months of moving into a home. Well, let’s get a list of those 250. (These are all just fake numbers.) Let’s get a list of the 250 who move into a new home in Cincinnati with a value over $400,000. And let’s mail it, and tell him we can paint their house. If you have furniture, almost 100% of people buying any kind of home worth anything are buying new furniture. Window coverings. Like I said, HVAC, dentists, almost everybody changes a dentist if they move. We also have ways, now, for these new movers to figure out how far they’re moving. So, if they’re moving across the street and I’m a dentist, I may not want them — they’re going to keep their current dentist. if they’re moving from out of town, they’re going to want a new dentist.
They have to have me at some point. They have to have me. So, let’s proactively go get them. So a new mover is one of them. All kinds of life events, anniversaries, birthdays, for new movers. We already said anniversaries, we said new marriages, new child, a child nearing graduation. Your goal, out of all the people we could possibly mail, we want to narrow our universe as much as possible. Most people think, well, everybody’s my customer role. No, that’s not true. We want to narrow that universe, and we want to find the person that is more apt to need what we offer; and then send them a message that hits them square between the eyes. That’s the goal. So again, if I’m going to be doing this in order, it’s your lost or inactive patients or customers; it’s your unconverted leads — your suspects who are just kind of out there in the ether who have been on your list; and then I’m going to go and try and find a list of things, people, events that are more apt to need what I need. Like I said, I told you about the CPA, new marriages, new homes are all trademarks in that industry from needing and wanting some more financial help. So that’s what I’m looking for. That’s what I want to do.
Stacey: Alright, you have the solution for every industry, even as we mentioned, the funeral homes. I can’t think of one business that couldn’t take advantage of everything that 3-D Results has to offer. So how can people learn more about you and, and the solutions that you offer?
Travis: You bet! I offer a free book and catalog. It has the seven or eight items we talked about plus all 33 stock items that we have. What’s really cool is I included a swipe file. I don’t know how many people are familiar with that term, but a swipe file is basically we offer a digital swipe file. I’ve got a physical swipe file sitting here behind me. It’s your idea center. When I want to create something, I never want to start from scratch. So, you start with a swipe file. We give you a digital swipe file with over 50 different letters for pill bottles and bank bags and boomerangs. And so, it’s got a catalog. It’s got the swipe file. So you’re never starting with the blank page. That’s the last thing you want to do with anything.
Find what people are doing that’s successful and like mimic it, and use it over and over and over again. We give you some coupons when you want to buy from us. But, if you go to 3Dmailresults.com forward slash book. So that’s the number three, the letters D M A I L R E S U L T S.com forward slash book. It’s completely free. There’s no hidden costs. You don’t even put a credit card. And, I cover the postage. You just give us your mailing address, and you’ll get that. And, then you’ll also get some fun goodies from us. So, if you want to see 3-D mail in action, we practice what we preach. So, we’ll send you the catalog, but then we’re also going to send you some goodies behind that, right? So if you want to see this stuff in action, if you want to see how you react when the stuff hits your mailbox, go request it, and I think you’ll like it. I think you’ll enjoy it. So, 3DMAILRESULTS.com forward slash book — completely free, no cost. Go ahead. Grab it.
Stacey: Alright everybody, you heard it. Definitely take advantage. I use this in my business, I use it with all of my clients. And, Travis is so generous. He’s giving you this book absolutely free. He’s going to pay the shipping, and there is no doubt in my mind that you will not be able to find one campaign that you can just swipe and deploy as he says, and implement it and put it into action. Pun intended. Travis, any last words of advice for the small business owner who is now really excited to get their direct mail campaign going?
Travis: Yeah, last word. Test and measure, right? Very few people hit a home run with any marketing the very first time they do it, you know, so start small. Like I said, start with that in-house. Start with a little group of people you want to convert. Maybe you’re a B-to-B person and there’s a group of 10 CEOs you’d really love to meet. Start with them. put yourself in the best place for success, but start, test it, measure it, see where you’re at. You know, the first time somebody did a Facebook ad, they probably fell flat on their face. So stick with it. It’s like anything you’re going to get better at it. But, test it, test it, small, expand, expand, expand, and where it works, keep doing more. Where it doesn’t work, you now got another data point. There’s no failures, just data points. So give it a try. Try it in your herd, try it with your customer base right now, and expand it from there. That would be my, my advice for you.
Stacey: Definitely put it into action, pun intended, and no doubt you’ll be Travis’s next case study. Perfect. Alright everybody, thanks for tuning in today. This is Small Business. Stacey, your small biz marketing specialist here to help you get your marketing into action and help you become a small biz marketing Wiz. Bye bye.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small - and not so small - businesses one marketing plan at a time. She helps business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE profit. Stacey's in-demand "Small Biz Marketing Success Coaching and Mastermind Program" is transforming the businesses - and lives - of those who want wealth, freedom, and market domination. Her highly acclaimed book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" lays out the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of Cups To Gallons, the place where independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners go to learn how get into lucrative catering so they stop selling by the cup and start selling by the gallon. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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