How using tactile marketing automation gets big marketing results during COVID-19 (Inbound Success, Ep. 176)
When COVID-19 hit, PFL was forced to shift its approach to marketing. Here’s how the changes they made were a big marketing win.
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, PFL Chief Evangelist Marne Reed explains how the company shifted its approach to marketing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and why the changes they made have fueled impressive growth during this challenging time.
PFL has productized its solution for programmatic direct mail into a tactile marketing automation solution and now any company can use its software to integrate direct and dimensional mail into its overall marketing strategy.
In this episode, Marne talks about many of the use cases for programmatic direct mail, from account-based marketing to event promotions.
Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, for details.
Resources from this episode:
- Contact Marne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Marne and Kathleen recording this episode
Kathleen (00:01): Welcome back to the inbound success podcast. I’m your host, Kathleen Booth. And this week, my guest is Marne Reed, who is the chief evangelist at PFL welcome to the podcast Marne.
Marne (00:27): Thank you, Kathleen. I’m excited to be here today.
Kathleen (00:30): Yeah, I have to confess. I’m so interested in interviewing you because you have one of the most interesting career paths of anybody I’ve ever spoken to. You’re a currently chief evangelist at PFL, but in your 18 year history with the company, which also we are going to talk about. Cause that’s amazing. You have held leadership roles in HR, accounting software slash product. I mean you name it, you’ve done it. I think it’s just so interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody. Who’s done software and accounting and HR before, but you’re my hero. I think. So maybe start out by having you talk a little bit about your background and who you are and how you came to be doing what you are today, as well as what PFL does.
Marne (01:20): Yeah, absolutely. There’s times that I feel a little insecure about my background. When you look at my resume, I think could Lord, if I ever needed to find another job, what in the world would I actually apply for? Because it has been all over the place. I actually started my career in human resources. And so starting off as a recruiter for a couple of different companies and then moved over here to PFL. I love working with people. I think if they ended the day, it’s kind of what drives me. It’s what motivates me is, is trying to understand people and their stories and what makes them successful. My other thing that I absolutely am driven by is just helping my employees be successful in their roles. And so that’s kind of where it’s driven me into all of these different departments that I’ve run and I love building machines.
Marne (02:09): And so, you know, when I started off in human resources, it’s like, I’m a very competitive person. So I love making something that’s going to be sustainable and that will grow. And at the end of the day, I also need stimulation. And so oftentimes I would go into my CEO and say, okay, you know, I’ve got this department humming, I need a new challenge. And I can remember the day that I walked into his office and I said, I’m looking for a new challenge. And I was thinking maybe like adding training and development potentially to my resume. And he said, how about you go run the software development team
Kathleen (02:44): Because that’s a natural, right? No, I don’t think so.
Marne (02:49): Oh no, no, that’s not good. I don’t know anything about it. He goes, no, you’re going to go run the software developers. And it was a four year stint that I wouldn’t at all, but it also helps me open my eyes to the level of technical detail that is required to run developers. And there were so many times where they’d say, Hey, Marne, you know, Hey, look at this code. You know, I want you to take a look at the software architecture of this code. And I thought, Oh Lord, this is not good. And love the people I loved helping them grow in their careers, but it was definitely, it stretched, stretched me to the point where I said, this is not the, the direction I want to take my, my career. And at that point, Andrew just said, we’ll find your replacement.
Marne (03:35): And so I hired very gratefully my CTO now Casey Bartz who actually came over from Oracle is now running our software developer team. And I’m just, I like every day I just check in with him. How do you feel about your job? Is there anything I can do to help you remove your barriers? Because if he left, I would be crying crying many times, but after, you know, it was kind of a leap of faith for me because I thought, well, what am I going to do if I do hire my replacement? And Andrew just said, we’ll figure something out. And at that time is when we actually started creating our new category, which is called tactile marketing automation. Historically all of our software development had been very internally focused to help with efficiencies and scale. We had come across this opportunity in our own marketing, where we were really struggling with getting our marketing dollars to be effective.
Marne (04:27): And we were trying to figure out how do we leverage all of our marketing channels using, you know, all of the data that we have acquired. And we have collected and have it be kind of a seamless flow. And so that’s where we came up with this category of tactile marketing, where it was making sure that both your digital marketing channels and your offline channels, like your direct mail are actually working in harmony with each other. And that’s the birth of that category that we created. And so at that point, Andrew said, well, we need someone to really help evangelize this because it’s so different. It’s not something that is out there currently. And that’s where the chief evangelist role came in. And then there was other departments that kind of fell underneath me across different points of time.
Marne (05:16): And it was just something that I love leading teams. And, and so, you know, as an opportunity would present itself, Andrew would just kind of drop that department in underneath me. And I think the beauty of it is it has opened my eyes to so many different facets of the business, you know? So when I’m having conversations with our customers or our partners out there, I’m able to speak to so many different views of what’s going on in someone’s business. And it’s been like a crash course of just learning every component of a business. So it’s been fun.
Kathleen (05:52): I was just going to say, I, it listening to you talk about it. It really does make clear why having somebody who’s had their hand in so many different facets of the business is perfect for a role like the one you’re in now, because you really can kind of cover it from every angle. The other thing that resonated with me is it sounds like Andrew is just a great CEO to work for.
Marne (06:13): The challenges you, I tell you that he’s, he’s been I’ve learned more at my time at PFL than any college or any other role that I’ve ever been in, just because it’s he definitely, he pushes you. He pushes you to learn and, and really be excellent in everything that you do. So it’s sometimes exhausting,
Kathleen (06:35): But it must be good because you’ve been there for 18 years and it’s so rare these days to find somebody who stays in one company for that long. And so I think it really speaks to the place that that has been built up there
Marne (06:48): It is. It’s I absolutely believe in what we’re doing. And I think, you know, what keeps all of our employees just, you know, moving forward is just watching what our customers are doing, watching what our partners are doing, seeing the success that we’re helping them generate is a huge motivator for us. I think that makes, you know, any long days or obstacles that you come across in your role worth it is when you see customers that are just knocking it out of the ballpark. So it’s, it’s pretty motivating.
Kathleen (07:17): That’s awesome. Well, one of the reasons I was really looking forward to speaking with you is that, and, and we didn’t talk about this when we first spoke, but I owned an agency for 11 years. I sold it in 2017 and part of that business we had, we were digital agency, but we also sold promotional products. And, and we did some what we called at the time dimensional mailing and it was very manual, you know, we would, if we needed it. And it was the thing that kind of bridged the gap between the two sides of our business. So if we had a digital campaign on the one hand and we wanted to engage some of the leads that a client had gotten, we would put together really great custom boxes with promotional products, with messaging that tied in with the product and, you know, create a box with a custom wrap on it and send it out with a die cut, kind of foam insert for things to sit in.
Kathleen (08:09): And it was really cool and, and they always got amazing results. And in fact, some some of our best case studies came out of doing that because the response rates were so high to people receiving like packages in the mail as opposed to flat mail. And for that reason, I I’m so intrigued by the way, it’s evolved since I got out of the game. And, and I love hearing you talk about tactile marketing automation and that now it has become this more automated process. So let’s just start by having you explain what tactile marketing automation is.
Marne (08:42): Absolutely. And you described it really well which is, it’s just the ability to have direct mail, be a channel, just like all of your other digital channels within your marketing campaigns. I remember when we first started this category, I would walk into, you know, one of our partners is Marqueto now owned by Adobe. And they, I walked into their marketing department and what I saw was just, it, it just made you want to cry a little bit, because what you saw was these brilliant marketers opening up a closet, pulling out swag, and then actually doing all of the packaging and the shipping of those items versus what they should be doing, which is marketing. And so the ability to have a direct mail piece just as an action step within your campaign makes all of that go away so that marketers can focus on being marketers.
Marne (09:35): And so very simply it’s apps that we have created in many of them, different marketing automation platforms, where as you’re building out your campaign flow, you can drag and drop an action to send a direct mail piece. And it makes the communication just seamless out to your prospects because you’re sending an email you’re sending in any kind of digital outreach. And if they’re not engaging, maybe that’s the time to send them a direct mail piece and it’s all automated, and it’s all leveraging the beautiful data that you’re collecting within your marketing automation platform to influence what the messaging is, the personalization of that. And then even down to the imagery that you’re having, so that you’re really connecting with that end prospect with that physical piece, because you’re right, it’s, it’s something that creates a lot of engagement, but it’s also going to be the most expensive piece of your marketing campaign. So you want to make sure that it’s going to knock it out of the ballpark and actually get the response rates that you’re looking for.
Kathleen (10:28): I just, I have to laugh when I hear you talk about marketers packing things up, because true, true story, true story around the holidays, we did a lot of holiday gifting for our clients, and this was my, this is when my company was pretty small. And just about every Christmas, there would be at least one, if not, you know, four or five nights leading up to Christmas where we would have boxes piled to the ceiling in our house and our dining room table covered in cardboard, where we would turn it into essentially a fulfillment center. And, you know, we would have like boxes of crinkle and, and, you know, packing tape and all of it, like, and that’s what we did because we were a small business and it had to get done and we would stand around and my husband and I would be cursing at each other over a bottle of wine. Like, why do we do this every year?
Marne (11:21): Yeah. So now, I mean, the, the, the application that we’ve built, it’s very simple, you know, you’re just creating a audience list within your marketing automation platform. So these are all your top tier accounts that you want to send out your holiday gifts to, and then you just trigger this end. All of those orders come into our fulfillment center. So we are the ones that are doing the work.
Marne (11:45): There’s glitter everywhere. And like you said, crinkle, but yeah, so we’re taking that burden off of marketers laps in order to automate that and really make it, you know, make it seamless and make it flow. And then the, I think the other cool part about it is it really gives you some great metrics and analytics on what’s performing, and what’s not performing in the past. If you did a direct mail campaign, like a batch and blast, you really don’t know if it’s successful or not, because it’s really hard to track it. Where if you actually have it integrated into your marketing automation campaigns, then you have the ability to actually see what’s creating a lift and what’s not creating a lift.
Kathleen (12:19): Yeah. Now the key word, I think in what you’ve been talking about is automation and the ability to just like drag it into your workflows and hit, you know, hit a button and off it goes. So you mentioned that you have a partnership with Marqueto. Are there any other marketing automation platforms that you integrate with?
Marne (12:36): Yes. so right now we are partnered up with Salesforce CRM Salesforce marketing cloud and then Marqueto, and then Oracle Eloqua or the marketing automation platforms that we are integrated with.
Kathleen (12:50): That’s great. And so if somebody is not using one of those platforms, can they still like take advantage of this as a standalone product? Does it have its own interface or app?
Marne (13:02): We do. So there’s a couple of different ways that we’re helping serve our customers. You know, I would say the vast majority of our customers at least have Salesforce CRM and say, you can trigger campaigns within the Salesforce CRM, but you also have the sales enablement component where you can enable your Salesforce to actually easily trigger this end of a one-off package. But we have many customers who are not using our technology and they’re just using us as the print and fulfillment center. And so we certainly have many customers like LinkedIn and Oracle who are not leveraging the technology, but we’re still being able to, you know, able to do those campaigns for them. I would say we also have some standalone solutions that people can use. You know, I always encourage people to use all of the data that they currently have. And so if you’re using a standalone, you’re not really leveraging all of the really great data that you’re collecting.
Kathleen (13:49): Yeah, absolutely. Now what, talk me through just a few of the use cases for this. So how do you see marketers or sales teams using this kind of triggered automation of direct mail?
Marne (14:03): Well, right now it’s super critical. I, I don’t know if last time we talked, if I had mentioned that I had read a recent report and actually they just published a new one where the numbers are even worse. So HubSpot pushed out a report recently that said since the pandemic has hit the sales and marketing emails have actually increased the original report, which was back in June by 67% off of the baseline, which the baseline, you know, it was already horrific. And I think it jumped up to like 123% was their most recent one. And so what marketers are doing right now is they’re just activating more email campaigns, just like, man, I’m not getting the numbers I want. So I’m just going to keep pushing this activation button. And I’m just going to hit Kathleen up with more emails to see if I might be able to get her attention.
Marne (14:47): And so, you know, I think marketers need to put, pause on what they’re doing and really look at what’s going to drive the engagement that they’re looking for for their prospects. And so all of our customers are looking at it from every stage of the funnel and saying, okay, where do I need people to engage? And how do I get that engagement with them? I would say one of the use cases that really resonates with a lot of marketers is like an ABM strategy. And I know you recently interviewed Peter from Demandbase. Demandbase is one of our awesome customers and partners and they just, they’ve got it down. They are so good at understanding how do they engage with their audience in a way that is really going to help them drive their success metrics. And so taking a look at an APM approach, understanding who is your target accounts that you’re going after, what are their personas within those target accounts?
Marne (15:37): And then making sure that you’re sending a relevant message to those personas. And so if I’m talking to make maybe a marketing ops person, I might be focusing a little bit more on how do we help make their job easier. Versus if I’m talking at the C level, I might be speaking a little bit more to, how do I actually help you hit your revenue targets? And so being able to really understand who it is that you’re marketing to, and then sending a piece to them that is going to resonate with them. And, you know, we always talk about, it’s not about the church and the box. Everyone loves to get something that’s branded. I get it. I think it’s great too. You need to make sure that all of the messaging that you’re putting within that package is actually helping provide some type of value to the individual that you’re marketing to because you know, our customers are not going to get bribed into spending $60,000 on a software just because you said yes, exactly. In fact, I had a situation happen before, you know, when we were actually in the office where someone sent me this awesome Yeti mug absolutely loved it. It was not branded, there was no messaging around it. And it was just a wasted, it was a wasted expense on that person’s part because they didn’t hit, they didn’t hit me up with any problem that I might be currently experiencing in order for me to want to have a conversation with them. So I think that messaging is super critical to really get that nailed down.
Kathleen (17:00): Yeah. And I love what you said earlier about needing to build off of data. Because when I think about this approach, it’s, it’s different than direct flat mail for a variety of reasons. One of which is that it is more expensive, right? If to me, if you’re going to take this approach, you should invest in like really quality stuff to put in the box, like the cha-cha and the box, as you said you know, not just that the box itself, like there’s, it’s an investment that you’re making. And the, the, there is somewhat of a correlation between putting, putting in a good amount of spend and getting a nice result. And, and so to me, like, there’s that aspect of, of being picky and choosy about who you’re going to send this to, because you know that this is your opportunity to the scales.
Kathleen (17:50): And because you’re sending it to fewer people, you can invest more and really like knock their socks off with what you send, not just as you say, because you’re sending a really cool product, but I’ve always found like the most effective campaigns to be the ones where there’s a really strong tie in between the messaging and the actual items. So I’ll share a cute story about one that did really well for us. My, and my husband, who at the time was my business partner, was the person who did all the creative behind the, so I give him full credit. And we were, we were working with one of the largest valet parking companies in the country, and they were trying to get meetings with the the, I guess it would be like the general managers of top, top hotels, like the four seasons, think of it, very hard person to get in front of.
Kathleen (18:39): And so we did a, it was like a four-part mailing to the, the small list of people. And one of them was where it was the kind of step in the campaign where we were sharing a social proof. And the thing that we sent was a, it was a plastic pitcher, like a drink, a drink where pitcher with the client’s logo on it, or the, yeah, the client’s logo and packets of Kool-Aid mix, which seems really cheap. But the messaging was, you know, here are all of our other clients that are already drinking the Kool-Aid for this company. And then it listed like all their success stories and the testimonials and this and that. And it was just clever. And we got such a great response to it, you know? And there were three other steps in the campaign, but I guess that’s just an example of what I mean by like, it’s, it’s quality products, it’s tying the messaging in, as you say, it’s adding value and having something there to say, that’s going to convince people. And to me, that all comes back to, like you said, that, that point of the data and knowing your audience really well and getting the right thing to the right person, which I guess is marketing one Oh one, but it’s amazing how often people don’t do it.
Marne (19:47): It is. It’s true. I think people get really caught up in the, you know, I’ve got a task list that I need to check off, and sometimes you forget to actually look at it from the perspective of, is this actually going to drive the results that I’m looking at? And you know, most recently we did a, we partnered with demand gen report. They had their B2B SMX event recently, and we had such a blast partnering with them because one of the challenges that I think a lot of people are facing right now is because everything has gone virtual, we’re all competing for that same slot, you know, that our webinar or that, that virtual event now. And so how do we actually engage with the people who have registered, but they’re, you know, frankly, a lot of our customers, and we’ve even seen it a little bit ourselves where, you know, you have a lot of registrants, actually a higher number of registered, but you have a lower number of attendees because people will register for more things, but they find they get distracted in their day.
Marne (20:41): They’re getting overwhelmed with their emails. And so, or they might think, well, I’ll just catch the on-demand version. And so one of the things that we did with demand gen report is we actually created a kit to send out prior to the event. And it was really about, it was kind of like a booth in the box or event in the box. And it helped create that engagement of having people actually attend the event. Because one of the things that we did is we put in there and, and like you said, sometimes it can be a little cheesy, but it’s fun. So it was a it was a coloring book. They actually had the agenda on there, but it also had notes section. So if you’re a doodler, you know, you can be attending these sessions and doodle and then take a couple of notes on there. But in addition to that, we actually had almost like a treasure hunt form for them where they could attend these different sessions, find out what the key word is. And if they collected enough of these key words in the different sessions and attending some of the sponsors virtual booths they got nominated into win prizes. And so again, just kind of thinking of ways of how do you keep these, everybody who’s virtual now, how do you keep them engaged during the event itself?
Kathleen (21:51): Well, fun fact, I got one of those. Did you need? Yeah, I got one of those boxes and it was great. And I remember because I have been in the business, I was opening it in my kitchen and my husband was there and I was like, I need to take a picture of this before we take it apart. Cause I love saving examples of really great mailings like that. And I did, I think it was really nice. You guys did a great job on
Marne (22:11): That. Thank you. It was fun. It was great.
Kathleen (22:13): So when you, I mean, you’ve obviously as a company, you drink your own champagne, you know, you do that sort of mailing all the time, but when you and I were talking, I thought it was interesting to hear how you needed to really pivot a little bit when COVID hit. Can you talk about that?
Marne (22:31): Absolutely. Yeah. We and I, I haven’t talked to a single marketer that didn’t have the same, like, Oh my gosh, everything just fell apart. Everything that I had planned this year is gone. You know, even our marketing team, we, we made t-shirts for our team members that had the list of all of the different in-person events that we were going to sponsor that year and, you know, March hit. And it was like, Holy crap. Now what? And even for us, it’s like, you know, I think it was middle of March, everybody just scattered from the office and took their computers and went home. And the shock for us is if you think about it, where do I send a direct mail piece to at this point in time, I used to know that you were in your office, but now I don’t know where you are.
Marne (23:18): And so we had about a two week period where it was just stop all of our direct mail campaigns. You know, we took out that step within our campaigns and we just froze basically. And one of the things that we found is, is, you know, our, all of our numbers just like went right in the toilet. Our email response rate dropped to a 9.7%. Our meeting booked rate went to a 0.9%. I mean, that’s not sustainable for any business. And after a few weeks it was like, you know, we have to take a leap of faith and just, and just assume that we can make this work. And so one of the things that we did and eventually we productize this for our customers is we would actually put in our BDR outbound sequences, Hey, you know, this is what’s going on.
Marne (24:07): And I know early on everybody mentioned the pandemic in coven. We kind of stripped that out because I think people were getting fatigued of hearing that. But we said, Hey, Kathleen, we’d love to still engage with you. It looks like you’ve been checking out some of these pieces of content. We’d love to send some more information to you. Is this your preferred mailing address? And so we would actually, I mean, to be able to get people’s residential addresses, it’s actually very easy. And so we would proactively say, is this a, is this an acceptable address for us to send you some information? After we did that, our email response rates actually jumped up to, it was a 21% reply rate on our emails. And then we had a over 10% meeting book tray. So, I mean, that’s a pretty big leap up and for the people that actually confirmed their addresses, it jumped to a 22% meeting book trade.
Marne (24:57): And so it just showed that in the early phases, I think people were a little like uncertain. Do I really want to mix my personal life and my business life at this point in time though, Kathleen people like this is this personal life is your business is, you know, my, I have a desk in my bedroom. And so it’s one of those things that at a certain point in my day, it’s like, okay, this is office Marni and I was not bedroom Marne. And so you just keep going with it. And so it’s something that we have actually launched a new product called preferred address capture, where we can help our customers actually collect those addresses. And I think, you know, you’re, you’re smart about the language that you use on the landing page that you’re collecting the address, which is what is your preferred address versus what’s your home address?
Marne (25:43): I think makes people feel comfortable. And then the other thing that we have coached our customers too, is, you know, once you’ve used that address, you can say, we’ll only use this once and then we won’t store it. And so we actually run scripts in our own CRM system that we’ll delete that address out once we have collected it and used it that one time. So this is kind of business as usual at this point in time, you know, our customers are seeing great response rates with it. They can continue to engage and, and really like I said, hit those metrics that they’re, they need to hit because our goals haven’t changed. You know, everything else has changed in the world, but we still have our business goals that we have to hit.
Kathleen (26:20): So you’re you say you have a product to help companies capture these addresses? What exactly does it do?
Marne (26:25): It’s? so there’s a couple ways that we coach our customers to do this one is they can create a simple web form within their campaign that will actually collect that address. And the other way is as if our customers do not feel comfortable actually collecting that address, then we actually are the one who are hosting the web forms so that they can still put it into their campaign or their outbound sequences. We collect the address, it comes into PFL secure database, and we are the ones who are actually running a script to delete that once we have done the mailing.
Kathleen (26:55): Got it. Okay. So, so you made the shift and it really had some great results for you. How do you see your clients taking a new approach in response to COVID? Has it, is it just about asking for addresses in a different way or the types of use cases evolving as well?
Marne (27:17): I think I don’t know that the use cases are evolving too much other than the fact of, like I said, you’re no longer doing in-person events and say you don’t have a booth with a bunch of chops sitting there. A lot of our customers have repurposed what they were going to be using at their in-person events to actually package those up and put those out in their sequences. I think the booth in the box that I had mentioned earlier is a key component for people. You have to figure out how to keep your audience engaged in your virtual events. Demandbase, I know, like I said, you interviewed them earlier, they’re just, they’ve done this virtual wine tasting that we are actually the ones who are fulfilling all of those bottles of wine and the branded glasses and stuff.
Marne (27:59): You know, I think it gives people an opportunity to just be a little bit more empathetic in your marketing and realize that people are tired, you know, and how do you still have the engagement that you’re looking for, but also have that empathetic approach where it’s like, let’s just take a breather and have a glass of wine together. Some of the things that we’re seeing our customers do is they’re, they’re segmenting their office audience a little bit to be smaller and more hyper-targeted and a little bit more of a VIP experience versus I’m going to reach out to 3000 people in this campaign and see if I can engage with them. So even at PFL, we’re doing the same thing. We’ve been hosting a CMO book club where it’s, let’s learn from each other. So a little bit more round table sessions, VIP experiences. I think we’ll see a shift to customers. And PFL in addition to that, doing more workshops where it’s, hands-on smaller audiences again. But it’s not just listening to, you know, listening to a webinar. I think that’s people are getting a little worn out from that.
Kathleen (29:00): So if somebody came to you and said that they were interested in doing something like this, whether it’s a booth in a box or, you know, a targeted mailer to a segment of their database talk me through how you all kind of guide and advise your customers on putting together a phenomenal experience in a box, because that’s really what it is. It’s not just, we’re sticking a mug in a box and shipping it off. It’s truly like a, a curated experience. So how do you approach that?
Marne (29:34): I think the first step that we take with our customers is just understanding what are the metrics that they’re trying to shift, because that can really influence even the piece that you’re sending. So if you’re sitting at the top of the funnel, you’re not going to be sending the 60 to $80 package to an individual, but you can still send really engaging, like you said, flat mailers, but they still, we do these things called infinity folds or even a reveal where it’s still something that someone would engage with, but it’s got a really nice amount of real estate on there to be able to put information that your prospect can read. But again, first step for us is to just understanding what are your KPIs and then how do we actually create something that’s going to give you the return on the investment of the spend. And so at that point, once we have identified where in the funnel are you trying to influence what is a good ROI look like for you? And then at that point we engage, we have a, an entire consulting team that works with our customers to understand what are the different physical pieces that we can actually create for you. That’s going to be on brand on message. And cost-effective, and get the return that you’re looking for.
Kathleen (30:42): And does your team also work with clients on, on designing, like wraps for boxes and, and ’cause the thing that I always find sort of challenging is, you know, I can pick out great products. I can even create messaging that ties in with that product, but it’s the whole, like putting it together. And how does it fit within the box in a way that looks really great. And how do you incorporate flat pieces within the box and the packing materials and the wrap and like just that whole branded coming together, I think is the tricky part where I, I would think that a team like yours that has done it a lot, it would be super helpful.
Marne (31:20): Absolutely. And so we have an entire product team. That’s exactly what they do. We have both software products, but we also have, you know, the physical products that we need to look at for our customers. And so, you know, you had mentioned earlier the die cut foam insert that has the tray where, you know, you have the mug sitting in there and it’s not going to move around. You know, we, we have done some of the most interesting R and D with just on her own where we wanted to figure out are these things gonna ship in a way that they’re not going to get banged up? You know? So if you’re spending a lot of money on a Yeti mug, you don’t want it to get scuffed because it’s not really from in the package. And so we have, in my opinion, some of the most brilliant people on our team that they’re just, they’re kind of like print geeks and print and packaging geeks, where they will actually sit there and do we’ll ship packages to our other team members, just to see what it looks like on the other end. So we have fun with that. That’s something that we have a great deal of experience with. So yes, we do a lot of consulting on that one.
Kathleen (32:19): I’m just picturing in my head, like you guys have a team of people in some room somewhere where they’re packing things up in boxes and then throwing the box at the wall or dropping it off of the way for like, you know, when you had to do the, keep your egg alive in school, that is sort of what I’m imagining.
Marne (32:35): It’s. I would say it’s pretty darn close if, and you know, we’re human, we’ve our own failures one year. This is, this was when we first started. So keep that in mind, we’ve gotten better, but we decided to send a holiday package to our customers and partners, and it was Montana honey with a little honey jar and, you know, it had messaging around it. And there was a couple instances where unfortunately, the honey did not make it intact. And so you would end up with a package that was stuck to someone’s desk because, Oh, no
Kathleen (33:07): Tarred and feathered or something,
Marne (33:09): The point where we’re like, okay, we need to really get good at this because we can’t have our customers go through the same thing that we just went through where it’s like, kind of embarrassed. Where are you going to go?
Kathleen (33:19): Yeah. Now, I don’t know if you can share this, but are there any particular examples of things that you’ve seen that either PFL has sent out or that some of your customers have sent out that you thought are really cool and then have gotten a great response?
Marne (33:34): Oh, wow. There is so many
Kathleen (33:37): Other than the honey, of course the honey,
Marne (33:40): It was a fail on our part, but we learned from it. Salesforce does a really great job. They’re a customer of ours and actually there’s so many, I can’t even, I don’t even know if I could pick one out. One of the things I love about what Salesforce is doing is they’re really into educating their customers and their prospects. And so, you know, it’s educating, but it’s also like they create evangelists out of their own ecosystem, you know? So they have a thing called trailblazers where they’re really encouraging their audience to engage with their learning center, where they can take and get badges and certificates, but then they also send them, you know, like the Salesforce branded hoodie, but then they also send like badges of things that they like, the sort of certifications in the badges that they have gotten. And it’s like, people just are a walking advertisement for them. But then their industry, like industry specific newspapers or not newspapers, but industry specific catalogs that they have are really great because it really resonates again with their audience. So Demandbase always does such a great job.
Kathleen (34:51): Do you all, now, you said you work with Salesforce, do you know offhand? They have a book. And, and a few years ago we got a mailing with their book and it had a belly band around it and had a bookmark in it was that you guys that did that, I’m pretty sure that was us. Yeah, it was so good. I took pictures of that too.
Marne (35:10): And it’s simple, you know, it’s, it’s simple stuff like the belly band that you’ve talked about. That’s just such a great way to make someone feel special because you’re having to slide it off. Like again, that engagement factory unwrapping a present. It is, it is. Yeah. And one loves opening packages. I mean, I buy stuff from Amazon all the time and I know I’ve bought it and then it shows
Kathleen (35:31): You’re like myself.
Marne (35:33): I know. So it just, I think it goes just to show that really, you know, it does make you feel special to open something and if something’s even in an envelope but I’ve gotten mail to my house, I still open it and look at it and it really creates kind of a, a good brand experience.
Kathleen (35:50): Yeah, that’s so true. So last question, and then we’ll shift gears for a minute which is really, if somebody is listening and they’re like, this sounds great. I want to incorporate this into my marketing. Are there volumes below? Which it doesn’t make sense? Like if somebody, if someone’s going to come to you and say, I want to work with PFL, what’s the minimum quantity of things that they would be sending out.
Marne (36:14): Yeah. I, and I do think there’s a minimum. I don’t really have a specific number in mind, but if someone says, I want to enable my sales team and we’re probably going to send, you know, five to 10 pieces a month, I would say it doesn’t make sense to, to purchase a software at that point. You know, you want it to be something that’s really going to be ingrained both in your marketing and your sales culture where you will be sending out, you know, at least, you know, maybe a couple of hundred pieces a month. It would be some of the threshold I’d look at, but again, like Salesforce sent out, they sent out four packages and these packages were $800 packages to these very strategic C-level people in one organization in order to get a really big like brand boom. But in that case, that was just kind of like a one off scent that they did versus something that’s really systematic within their marketing campaigns. And so that would be a couple of things that we had talked to our customers about is again, what’s how do we develop that ROI? And if we can develop the ROI by doing, you know, 20 cents a month, that’s great. But more than likely, you’re probably looking, we have customers they’re sending like hundreds and thousands of pieces a year. Oh yeah.
Kathleen (37:28): That’s so fascinating. I mean, I think it would be just so much fun to be a fly on the wall in your production room, just watching all this stuff get put together. But that’s the nerd in me from my former fulfillment days.
Marne (37:39): It’s good. Well, and we even have, so one of our, our companies that we’re working with is a very large medical supply organization. And we do all of their supply, their medical supply fulfillment. And so a great example, and this is the first division that we worked with. And so here’s one that we’ll kind of make your eyes pop a little bit. So they have a very large incontinence program. And so, you know, their objective for a medical supply company is it’s, whoever gets a sample out to an individual or to a medical facility first they’ve done studies that have shown that they’re going to be the one that the, the company selects. And so with their incontinence program, we have roughly about 7,000 square feet of adult diapers in our facility that we have shrink, wrapped into a two pack with a little note card that says, you know, dear Marne, this is the you’ve gone and selected the, you know, the size and the here’s the PR you know, the, the perks of the product and stuff like that. So, I mean, just the, the use cases as you had mentioned were they’re all over the place. It’s really interesting.
Kathleen (38:45): That’s so fascinating. Well, I would love to dig into that more because I’m sure there’s literally thousands of those great stories sitting in your facility somewhere. But we’re going to run out of time. So I want to change over and ask you the two questions. I always ask all my guests. The first one is we always talk a lot about inbound marketing on this podcast because it’s the inbound success podcast. So is there a particular company or individual that you think is really nailing it when it comes to inbound marketing these days?
Marne (39:16): I’ll mention, I’ll mention one person that has just actually, there’s two people that I’ll mentioned, and these are two young ladies that I’m so proud of in their marketing, you know, they’re up and comers. I, they have no ceiling ahead of them, which is very exciting. Delaney Coatesville from Demandbase she’s phenomenal. She is someone that I absolutely love getting on the phone with and listening to the marketing strategy, the execution that she does, she’s just she’s. She is like on fire. The other person I would mentioned is Katie Kelly. She actually was formerly with blinking where she was formerly with she’s with you, to me right now, and dynamic signals who she was West. She’s another one that I just I’m so impressed by these young ladies who just, you never see a boundary, you never see an obstacle. They just, they, they own it. They’re super talented. And then I love watching my partners. I mean, Marquetto Oracle, I mean, Oracle had kind of I didn’t see them do a huge marketing push, but it seems like, like just in the last year, they’ve really been more focused on their marketing and their messaging and being more personable. And then Salesforce just always blows it out of the park.
Kathleen (40:37): I love that. A couple of examples that everybody’s heard of, and a couple of examples that probably a lot of people haven’t, so something new to check out there. The second question is digital marketing is always changing so quickly. This year is the greatest example of, you know, just how lightening fast the change can be. How do you personally educate yourself and stay up to date on that whole landscape?
Marne (41:00): I think the best way to stay up to bait up-to-date is just listening to our customers. We have, our customers are all marketers. And so, you know, to have all of these at our fingertips to listen what their challenges are and what they’re doing to solve those challenges. To me, that’s, that’s more than reading you know, a website out there that’s educating, it’s listening to the people who are like feet on the street, the people who are actually to their elbows in it and had hearing what’s going on in their world. So we have such amazing customers that are willing to share all of that information with us and share what’s working and what’s not working. And then we are able to then take that information and educate our other customers and educate ourselves on that.
Kathleen (41:51): Great. All right. Well, if somebody is listening and wants some more information about what you’ve talked about, or they have a question and want to connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Marne (42:03): Oh, I would love for them just to reach out on email and just have a conversation. You know, I love to hear where people stuck points are and see if PFL could potentially help unstick those stuck points. You know, it’s we can learn so much from each other and I love things I love when we have the opportunity just to be an open book and share information with each other. So certainly happily I’ll share my email address and just reach out and have a conversation.
Kathleen (42:30): Awesome. All right. What’s the email, I’ll put it in the show notes.
Marne (42:33): Awesome. It’s Marne, M a R N email@example.com.
Kathleen (42:38): I love it. And of course had to pfl.com. You can learn more about the company and the software, and I’m sure see some examples of things. Cause you guys have so many cool ones. And if you’re listening and you enjoyed this episode or you learn something new, I would love it. If you would head to Apple podcasts and leave the podcast a review, that’s how other people discover us. And of course, if you know somebody else who’s doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork because I would love to make them my next guest. That’s it for this week. Thank you so much, Marne. This was a lot of fun.
Marne (43:12): Thanks, Kathleen. I definitely enjoyed it today.
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