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Mike Gunderson Interview With Ian Sephton

Key Takeaways:

  • What direct mail is and how it benefits an optichannel marketing strategy
  • The difference between direct mail and digital marketing
  • How to budget and plan a successful direct mail test
  • Better Every Day 2022 Challenge to support Special Forces Sports Foundation
  •  

Mike Gunderson was interviewed on the Questions About Everything With Ian Sephton Podcast

IS: Today we are joined by Mike Gunderson, who is the founder of Gunderson Direct. It’s a direct marketing agency that helps businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail, and we’re going to dig into that in more detail. Prior to starting Gunderson Direct, Mike served as the Senior Art Director at Providian Financial, where he has cut his teeth on rigorously targeted response-driven direct mail campaigns. In addition to that, he’s… Of his running his company, he’s been the president of EO, Silicon Valley and he has served on the board for over five years. I know Mike well, I know he likes family and friends, but I know he really likes riding motorcycles, collecting antiques, which we’re going to talk about too and talking in the third person. So, Mike, thanks for joining me on our third episode of our little podcast here.

MG: Thanks man. It’s an honor and happy Veterans Day to you Ian and thank you for your service man.

IS: Well, thank you for saying that. I got a lot more out of the Marine Corps than they got out of me, and that’s for sure.

[laughter]

IS: Let’s go right into the question that I think a lot of people have on their mind, specifically to, “What is direct mail?” What would be your elevator pitch to anyone looking for different channels to exploit or to try and find new customers, new leads, what would you say is direct marketing? Direct mail marketing?

MG: Well, I think the best thing is, is that it’s highly targeted. So just like Facebook Ads, some YouTube and some other types of channels, you can actually get to a specific person to sell your products or services. And it sounds easy to do, but really, I get a lot of jokes when I tell people what I do and they’re like, “Oh, you’re the junk mail guy, you’re the guy that puts all of that junk in my mailbox,” and what they don’t know is that we try, here at Gunderson Direct, to really not send you junk mail. We don’t typically do EDDM, which is Every Door Direct Mail, which is definitely a pretty inexpensive way to cast a wide net of mail to folks, but it’s a spray and pray method of trying to get response from those customers.

MG: What we like to do is really try to understand who our target is and how that benefits our customers, so that the mail that you do receive, although you may not respond to it, there’s a high likelihood that the mail that has been sent through Gunderson Direct does have some relevance to you and your family and your situation. We try really hard for our customers to not only find great customers that fit the demographics that they’re trying to get to respond and buy their products, but we also develop response models and other types of modeling, to ensure that they also respond to direct mail. When people say junk mail, I like to say, we are actually the opposite of junk mail where the marketing and the promotions that we are sending to you, hopefully have a high likelihood of something that you will want to respond to.

IS: So I know, because I’ve known your business for a while, that you have some pretty large customers that a lot of people would be surprised, probably, maybe a little bit surprised that they actually use this as a channel, and I don’t want to share any logos that you’re not comfortable with, but can you just walk us through maybe a couple of companies where they seem to be a digitally-focused brand, and that would be where they’re trying to get distribution, but they’re actually finding success using you as a different strategy?

MG: Yeah, look, some of the biggest brands in the world are using direct mail to drive a ton of sales, a ton of top of-funnel leads, and also using direct mail to help cross-sell and win back previous customers. We work with the biggest names in the industry, a lot of banking, of Fintech or Financial companies, a lot of healthcare companies, a lot of insurance companies, a lot of B2B SaaS type companies. It’s important that you utilize direct mail. I’ve never been the one to say, “Well, direct mail is better than any other channel.” It really isn’t, but when you add in or fold in direct mail as part of your marketing mix, there’s a lot of gold there to be mined. And I think too, that the different tactics, again, if you’re highly targeted, the ROI on direct mail is fairly high. You can really get a high consideration from customers right off the bat, because you’re actually informing them of what you’re selling prior to them going on a landing page or calling a phone number to order that product or go to the store and buy products. We really think that when you can combine the marketing mix in an omni-channel approach to your marketing and include direct mail as part of that mix, overall, all of the different marketing channels succeed, because there’s just more information, more awareness around those promotions and those sales that are going on that help drive in new customers.

IS: Peter Till is a guy that obviously a lot of entrepreneurs follow. He has famously said that distribution is almost as important as product, if not more important, and has said that if you can find one distribution channel, it’s good, if you can find two, you have a great business. What is a good pairing for direct mail? There’s PR, there iSearch Engine Marketing, there is social and display ads, there’s offline ads, there’s content marketing, email marketing. What is the combo that you find works really nicely with direct mail?

MG: Well, we do a lot of direct response channels. So TV, DRTV have traditionally worked really well with direct mail. Radio has traditionally worked really well with direct mail. Podcasts right now, a lot of our customers are pairing direct mail and podcasts as part of a major use of tactics in order to drive new business. And so that’s been really successful. We find that really any direct response channel works well, we do like the idea of an omni-channel approach where we’re using TV, radio and direct mail only because the awareness and the consistency of that message being shown over and over again, actually brings quite a bit of awareness to each of those channels, so if you got a direct mail piece or a postcard in the mail and you’re sitting down, you’re watching television, you see an ad that was for something that was in your mailbox, there’s higher recall to that brand when we’re doing an omnichannel experience, so that’s been really great.

MG: I will say that one thing about TV and radio, is it can get really expensive and it can also be fairly hard to read the results of those campaigns, and so one of the things we do love about direct mail is the attribution back to the channel, utilizing everything from vanity urls to vanity phone numbers. We here at Gunderson Direct use a matchback analysis in order to match the responses back to the direct mail program, and it’s been super successful, especially for the folks that have an omni-channel marketing program going on, because we can also create hold-outs within that direct mail program in order to measure the lift that direct mail has over that hold-out in order to see the actual response against an omnichannel experience.

IS: What is the craziest thing somebody’s asked you to mail?

MG: Well, here at Gunderson Direct, we get a lot of requests for doing some high impact direct mail, and I want to make sure I’m clear on this. I absolutely love high impact direct mail, in fact, one time I had a hockey stick mailed to me. I literally had a label on the hockey stick and the USPS delivered it as a piece of mail. That was probably the craziest thing I’ve seen in the mail. And although creatively, I think those types of campaigns are fantastic to really be able to build out an experience, at Gunderson Direct here, we’re more focused on higher volume, top-of-funnel direct mail campaigns. Those campaigns are to bring as many leads to top of funnel sales teams as possible so that those sales teams can get on the phone and start to convert and sell to those customers.

IS: That’s incredible that somebody would actually mail a hockey stick, ‘cause I can’t imagine what that would cost, but it can’t be cheap. I mean, what? 20 bucks? I mean that, it can’t be cheap. [chuckle]

MG: There’s some really cool mailers out there, there’s video mailers that you can send out now where you can actually have an interactive video when you open it up, and you can actually play different chapters and you can actually go through your entire product catalog in full video as if you’re going online to watch it. And people say, “Well, why don’t you just send a link?” But the impact of that is so strong. And people often say, “Well, gosh, that’s gotta be really expensive.” But look, if you’re only doing 300, 500, a 1000 of these things, and if a conversion to you for a new customer, especially in the B2B space, is worth maybe $20,000, $30,000, a million dollars in contract, spending $14 or $40, or $60, or $150 on one mailer, has an incredible ROI in order to get the attention of those prospects.

IS: That’s interesting. So if you were taking a group that was really trying to make a mark, but they had a smaller list to start with, you might try something that’s a little bit more impactful like that, but then I’m assuming that usually you need to have some sort of pattern or repeatability to the messaging, so would it be like a high-end video type thing, and then maybe you kinda slim it down to a post card and just to keep the general costs somewhat reasonable?

MG: Yeah, I think doing some sort of drip campaign is a good way to go, it can go even the opposite, so actually do smaller, less expensive efforts early and then get as many people to come in the door at those lower costs and then ramp up your ability to attract them with a more expensive piece. Essentially, you’re whittling down your list as responses are coming in. Often times, we’ll get startups who have very sexy brands and they want to get in market with a big splash, and so they want to do a dimensional piece, they want to mail a coffee cup or they want to mail a hoodie or they want to do something really cool that’ll stand out, and I always say to them, “Let’s start with a basic letter package and get a base line off of something that’s very inexpensive to see if we can drive in folks just based off of your value proposition and how your product or service can benefit them,” and I think they appreciate that because the idea is that, we want to go big, but really, if we could test and be able to drive response with a low cost mailer and do that maybe multiple times, so maybe do it three or four times, three or four touches, maybe different messages for each one of those different mailers, you can actually drive in customers with a lot less money than you think versus going in big and trying to do a big dimensional piece that’s going to end up costing you between $30 and $40 per piece.

IS: One tactic that I’ve been irritated with is when it looks like a letter from the government or someone important, and I open it up and it’s marketing materials. Is that a kind of a common industry tactic to try and get people to at least open it up? And do they find that effective? ‘Cause I find that I get more angry about it. I usually don’t even read very much, I just start tearing it in half. Is that one of the tactics that you’ve tried or that you’ve seen in the industry and how effective is that?

MG: Well look, I’m not going to say we don’t do certain things like that. Now, I will say that the tactic works very, very well for a multitude of different products and services. In fact, we had a piece recently that we were concepting on, where I saw the envelope and I saw the brand and I said, “You know the outside of this envelope just looks a little bit too misleading. It just feels like it’s going to feel cheap and it’s going to anger the customer,” much like what you just described. But I will say, and what we use is the term Stealth Envelope or Blind OE Outer Envelope, and what that means is not reveal exactly what’s inside that envelope when we mail it to somebody. The idea is that if we can get somebody to open up that envelope and not dismiss it right off the bat as something that is marketing mail, oftentimes, that headline or that commitment to open the mail will actually allow them to at least read the first paragraph of the letter or read that headline or the side bar and try to get the gist of what this offer is about, that then in turn leads to a higher response rate.

MG: We used to send, and we still do send a lot of what we call snap packs, and those are those government-looking pieces that you mentioned that have the little tear-offs on the left and the right of that mailer. And we had a couple of brands, strong brands that were like, “You know, we just don’t really want to trick our prospects and customers. We don’t want to leave that bad taste in their mouth.” so what we did was instead of making it look official like a government mailing, we actually branded the snap pack with the customer’s logo, the background, typically there’s some sort of security tent or background on that particular mailer. We had turned that into a more designed pattern, something that was on brand for that particular customer, and then everything inside was designed well as you would expect, and what we found was that the idea of the perf off sides, just the idea of that form factor and the snap pack form factor was enough to get people inside of this mailer and respond. We didn’t have to trick them, but the form factor itself appeared more credible for that particular prospect in order for them to open it up and read more about what the offer was.

IS: That’s interesting. Based on just kind of Marketing Statistics 101, most people say email marketing is still the most cost-effective, highest response in a way to connect with potential customers or your existing customers. And one thing that it seems like on the cover of things has an advantage over direct mail is that they can A/B test, but you can A/B test as well, right?

MG: Oh, absolutely. And look, I’ll be the first one to say that I think email is still a viable marketing channel, I think it works really well, and especially once you have an established customer relationship, email is an awesome tool. But I will say for prospecting, it’s a little bit more challenging. The issue with email and prospecting is that you’re buying these lists or you’re renting these lists, these email lists and you’re sending them out, and these ISPs or these email providers now have built-in tools, even Google not only gets rid of any spam, but it also, for any promotional emails, will put that in a bucket, and I don’t know about you, but I see people’s Gmail inbox and I see 3421 emails unread in their inbox, I can see that on their menu bar on the left. And it amazes me that there’s that many emails that are not getting read before you purge out all the stuff that you want to purge, typically once a year. So even the stuff that you think is going to be getting in and it is technically deliverable, it’s still being sorted and pushed into these different folders of which the customer may never even see those promotions.

MG: So for me, I think email is a good tool, especially for customer email, but maybe not so good for prospecting, whereas direct mail gets a guaranteed impression almost every time. Somebody has to go to their mailbox, they have to pick up the mail, they have to touch it. Even to throw it away, they have to touch it, they have to interact with that mail. And so it’s very effective when it comes to actually getting that impression. As for A/B testing, yeah, absolutely. We do multi-variant testing here at Gunderson Direct, where not only are we testing maybe the offer and the format, but we’re also testing list providers and data, different data providers in order to figure out who’s going to be the best responding data segment that we’re sending to. So yeah, multi-variant testing, we here at Gunderson Direct, we have a methodology called Leap and Repeat, where we can aggressively test within a three to four month period, be able to find some winners quickly and then be able to roll out that direct mail program efficiently and be able to do it with pretty high confidence that direct mail roll-out is going to be effective for our customers.

IS: Well, you mentioned earlier prospecting as not being as good in email marketing. As somebody that’s done some direct mail, but not a ton, if you’re a startup, especially in an industry that may be trying to blaze a trail, like having that peer list is really difficult and it’s hard to build even with doing your best outreach and marketing and trying to get people to follow and listen to things like this podcast. So then you go, “Well, there’s gotta be an easy way or a hack,” and the first thing you think is, “I’m going to just buy a list,” Can you give us some of the ins and outs of how that works and are those lists, most of them that you find, are they really that good? Or is it a lot harder than it seems?

MG: Well, just like with your format and your creative and your offer and your messaging, all of these different things you want to be able to test into to get the best response and the best performance, so yeah, oftentimes for us, direct mail lists are still very accurate, they’re kept up-to-date, there are a lot more credible players that are able to put together lists that are very responsive. And then we also do things that are very similar to Facebook, where we do look alike or cloning models based off of your current customer database, and then we will find attributes that match up with a broader prospect database. And why that’s great is that we can actually start to pinpoint multiple attributes that will make that particular customer more responsive and will be able to then procure a list that will be effective for our customers. So that’s called COOP list, or a transactional list, that will allow us to not only see demographics of that customer, say it’s a female, 30 to 45, owns a home, has a kid… but we can also see transactional level detail that says she recently purchased some hair color product, or she recently purchased a baby stroller, and so we can utilize these data points in order to target not only who that customer is, and know that that demographic is perfect for our customer.

MG: But that she’s also in the market for our customers products or services, by that transactional level of detail, so it’s a really, really great way to get pinpoint targeting and drive up response and conversions on those direct mail programs.

IS: Prior to starting Gunderson Direct, you were obviously working and doing this type of work. What did you see as the gap in the market that you were like, “I can do this better, faster, cheaper,” what was the thing that got you to take the leap into entrepreneurship?

MG: Well, it’s interesting, so when I started back at Providian Financial, I just wanted to get out of my current job. My current job was moving from San Francisco to San Ramon, which is in the East Bay here in the SF Bay Area, and it wasn’t something I wanted to do. I was still young and I wanted to work in the City. It was just awesome to be there every day, and so I ended up getting this job at Providian Financial where they told me I was going to be designing direct mail, I didn’t even know what they were talking about. And even now, there’s some challenge in bringing on talent to Gunderson Direct, because I’ll say direct mail and a lot of younger folks are like, “What do you mean? Are they still mailing?” And they know they are still mailing, they’re getting stuff in the mailbox every day, but nobody really thinks about it as being a marketing tactic.

MG: When I went through that, I realized what I loved about that job versus other jobs is I could actually change the design of an envelope, I could change the size of an offer, I could change the format, I could do a postcard versus a soft mail, I could do all these different things. And instead of it just going off into vaporware about four to six weeks later, we would get an analysis that said, “Wow, changing that offer to blue and 10 times the size really did affect response,” and we ended up getting X amount of new accounts based off of that design change. And so I fell in love with the idea of being able to create and actually get an analysis back, actually see the effectiveness of what I was creating, it gave me purpose in a sense. When I left Providian and started my own shop, I got lucky in the sense that there were quite a few other folks leaving that company at the same time, starting at other companies like Wells Fargo and a couple of startups, and I was able to tap into those colleagues and be able to start building out my own expertise in my own company.

MG: This is all right when internet and social and online marketing were taking off, and so there was a point in my career about four or five years into running Gunderson Direct, that I was like, “Gosh, do I run away from direct mail and really pursue all this online advertising and chase cheese with everybody else, or do I double down on direct mail and really make that our core competency and make that why we’re different?” Why would you come to us versus everybody else? And you know what, it ended up working out really well for myself and my company, and I think back to that moment because I know there were a few colleagues that said, “You’re crazy, man. Why would you just do direct mail, that doesn’t make any sense.” But now we’re the experts, and when people are looking for effective direct mail marketing programs, either to launch a program brand new, like a startup, or to improve a current program that’s been in market for 10 or 20 years, they come to us.

MG: It’s really neat that they come to us because they see the breadth of work that we’ve done, and they want to tap into our thought leadership in order to increase and improve the performance of their direct mail programs.

IS: How much did joining an association like EO, which is an entrepreneur association, Pure Lab with Forum and Feedback and all those things… How much did that help in growing and scaling your business?

MG: It was a game changer for me. I will always be in debt to EO. When I heard about EO, it was right about seven or eight years into my business, I was pretty much a consultancy, it was myself and a studio artist, and EO has a revenue requirement, so we were able to finally hit that revenue requirement of a million dollars. That was almost 11 years ago.

MG: And you know, look, I’m a graphic designer. Even when I was in art school, I barely paid attention. I wasn’t very interested in learning about how to run a business, how to build a business plan, the economics of everything, billing. I did learn all that stuff on my own just by doing. And I got pretty good at it, but I’m not a traditional business school kid, I don’t have a master’s degree in anything. And so, EO allowed me to really take my business to the next level. In fact, my very first presentation for EO and Forum was whether or not to hire a full-time employee, even the employee I had was a part-time employee. I was so scared for some reason in California, to hire an employee, ‘cause all I heard from everybody was like, “California is really hard to hire employees, you’re opening yourself to a bunch of liability, it’s so much more expensive to hire employees than it is to have contractors,” and they kind of pushed me through that and got me through the hiring process, and it was so funny, it was such a barrier to growing my business ‘cause I just didn’t want to take that leap.

MG: And of course, as you know, ‘cause you’ve run a couple of businesses, once you get past one or two of those hiring exercises, then it’s like, “Well, gosh, we can just hire whenever we need it.” So we’ve done a really great job of hiring wonderful people, interviewing. We can always be better, we’re always trying to improve, but now we’re about 25 employees, we’re super happy that we’ve got a tight knit team, a great culture, and all that has come through the learning and experience through EO. Not only as the entire organization, but also my form individually, those guys have just been fantastic. Yeah, I’d say that a lot of my success is due to EO and the organization.

IS: So you’ve gone through all the different ins and outs of direct mail and how to use it effectively in an omni-channel kind of strategy. We talked a little bit about attribution, but obviously there’s reporting that people request back from you that says how effective is this, and I know you can’t give me a direct answer or a number, but on average, with all of the different accounts – from your biggest that are very big to your medium size, how many mailings does a company have to activate till they start to see the good flow of responses, activations, qualified leads or however you’re measuring success?

MG: Well, I would say that there’s two different types of mailings. There’s customer mailings or what we call winback mailings, reactivation mailing, so either winning back dormant customers or upselling current customers, and a lot of this is done in the donation space as well, like if you have a donor, they’re really a customer, but if they’ve donated in the past, they have affinity to you, they know who you are. Those mailings can be super effective. I mean it could be 2x to 10x more effective than a prospect mailing. So starting from a customer, if you have an internal database of customers, right, that you have addresses for… And even if you don’t have the address, say you only have the email address for them, email them and give them a reason to give them your address, because this address can be super effective when winning back new customers. I’m talking two, three, maybe even, depending on the type of service or industry you’re in, it could be up to 10% response rates on those types of mailings. And especially when you couple those with an email mailing, I think direct mail is a really great thing for customer mailing. Now, we don’t do a lot of that here at Gunderson Direct, we mainly focus in on pure acquisition, new customer, top of funnel type of mailings.

MG: So with those, with great targeting, understanding your customer and a good product or good service – it can’t just be a boring, same as everybody else type of product. When we work with our customers, we want to make sure that we find that unique value proposition. What is driving customers to you versus your competitors? Whether that’s price, whether that’s service, whether that’s technology, whatever it might be, we want to pull that out and give a customer a reason to choose you over your competitor. For testing, we find that small mailings just don’t work very well, so a lot of our clients come to us and they want to say, “Hey, I want to do 5000 pieces of mail here, I don’t want to split it up on different tests, and I want to be able to get it out, and I want to see what the effectiveness is before I commit to a $300,000 budget on direct mail.” And we just don’t see that working.

MG: When we do that, it typically doesn’t work, and if it does work, we don’t really have enough data to read in order to effectively judge a campaign and figure out what our next steps are going to be, so we like to bring in companies with our Leap and Repeat strategy. This allows for about 450,000 pieces of mail, it’s about six months of mailings, this allows us to have enough mail in market to really understand the response, be able to understand the analysis and how it can affect future mailings, and then allow us enough information to make the decision of whether or not direct mail works, and if it does work, what should we scale to in order to make it the most effective to drive in sales for the organization? So that’s how we work with companies. A baseline response for a good direct mail piece with a good list or a good offer should be anywhere between, and this might sound low but it’s actually pretty good, ‘cause conversions are higher in direct mail… Should be anywhere between about a half a percent to one and a half percent for response rate, and then as I mentioned, typically your conversion rates are going to be higher because folks that come from direct mail are more informed, they understand what they’re actually responding to, and therefore they’re more apt to actually convert in funnel versus somebody clicking on a banner ad or a social media ad.

IS: Yeah, that makes total sense to me, because the friction would be higher if I’m looking at a postcard and I have to go to my computer to find you, ‘cause I’ve read this postcard and I’m like yeah, I definitely want it. Just having that additional friction and me still going there to do the action of the reach out would show that I’m probably a little bit more ready to buy, that makes sense. So new company, they’ve been saturating Facebook Ads, there’s new privacy, so they’re not converting, they’re getting desperate, they’re trying to figure out, “I gotta find another channel, I gotta find more business here.” They come to you. How do you walk them through the budgeting process so they understand your cost per ship or cost per envelope, however you’re measuring that metric, or your response rate will be that. Here’s your ROI. Can you walk me through a ROI calculation on Gunderson Direct and how you help businesses understand how that works?

MG: Yeah, we have a CPM model as well. I call it cost per piece, I like to break it down to the actual cost per impression, but it’s not unlike a Facebook or anything else, and differences are that there’s a manufacturing process involved and shipping involved, which is the USPS. So that inherently makes direct mail a little bit more expensive from an investment perspective; however, I will say this, as you scale a direct mail program, so as you go from 100,000 pieces to 500,000 pieces to a million pieces of mail, your cost per impression and your cost per piece actually go down as you scale. And I don’t know about you, but what I find that for most of our customers that are marketing in social media, is as they increase scale in social media, they actually increase competition, by increasing competition, they actually increase their cost per impression. So as you scale in social and digital, you’re actually spending more money per impression, and as you scale in direct mail, you’re actually spending less per impression. And as I mentioned, you’re usually coming out with a higher conversion rate with direct mail, which is really fantastic. So those are the two big differences, I would say from a budgeting perspective. And I always say this, if you have a product or service and you have competitors and those competitors aren’t doing direct mail, this is the perfect opportunity to get ahead of them.

MG: We do quite a bit of work for ZipRecruiter and they have been a fantastic customer. We’ve seen them grow. They have an outstanding platform, they’re fantastic, but they took the risk, they said, “You know what, I think we should be doing direct mail,” and we did exactly as I mentioned, the Leap and Repeat strategy, we scaled that business. And direct mail has been a winner for them, and they’ve been strong and aggressive in the channel for many, many years, and it continues to drive a lot of business for them. And now I’m seeing Indeed direct mail, I’m seeing LinkedIn direct mail, so there’s a lot of companies that are now following them in that strategy in order to gain more customers. So direct mail is a secret weapon. It’s old school, but it is kind of like if you’re there and your competitors aren’t, you have one up on them because now you’re getting to customers who care about your products and services. We’re actually targeting for that, we’re getting it to the decision maker and they’re seeing that message in addition to social media ads, radio, TV, podcasts.

MG: So that’s one extra channel, that’s one extra touch point that is a guaranteed impression, somebody is going to be touching that direct mail piece in order to make a consideration on a new product or service. We like direct mail for that, it’s a great omnichannel option, and it’s great if your competitors are not doing it, this is something that you should be doing. Now, if your competitors are doing direct mail, that’s even more incentive to get into the mailbox, because if they’re doing it, they’re winning because they have one additional tactic that they’re utilizing in their tool box that you are not using. And the other myth is, direct mail is super expensive. I don’t see it that way. I look at direct mail as if you’re not getting an ROI, it is expensive. If you are getting an ROI, it is not expensive; it is actually making you money. So that’s how we look at it, we try to bring on new companies and businesses that we know direct mail will work for, oftentimes financial sector, B2B, insurance all works well… Still works well for consumers responding, a lot of credibility there, and so we just say it’s only expensive if it doesn’t work, we’re proven to make it work, so let’s get a test out there, let’s see how we can get this done, and then let’s figure out how to scale your program long term.

IS: Okay, last direct mail question, I promise. This is just my gut, but I’m sure you have data on this, my gut tells me that you probably get a higher response the older the target, so 45 and above probably respond better than 16 to 21. Is there truth in that? Or does direct mail work for every age demo?

MG: There’s, I think a huge misconception that direct mail is really for the older generation, they still respond to direct mail 100%. The older generation is a fantastic demo for direct mail, but everybody likes going to their mailbox, everybody likes seeing what’s in there, they like catalogs, they like going through catalogs still, they like seeing what’s in the mailbox, and this again is an impression that is not part of the digital noise surrounding millennials today and younger folks today. Everything is online, so if you can do something creatively that’s compelling, that gets people to stop, to get people to read your headline or look at your new sweater or see the new product or service or the new D2C meal kit that’s available. If you can get customers to take a look at this, stop for two seconds and read the message…

MG: This is something that is effective for them, it’s something that stops them in their tracks, gets them to read more, that oftentimes a digital ad, a podcast ad, a social media ad will just simply get scrolled by and ignored. So direct mail in a sense is almost impossible to ignore, you have to go to your mailbox, the mailman is there every single day delivering your mail, you’re sorting it, whether you like it or not, of course, is up to you, but our hope is that with the right targeting, the right messaging and the right offer, you’re going to stop, you’re going to take a look and you’re going to respond to that piece of direct mail ‘cause it’s relevant to you and it’s going to make your life better at the end of the day.

IS: All right, well, let’s wrap with one thing about the reason we still talk for many reasons, but one of the reasons is we’re on the board of the Special Forces Sports Foundation, that’s something we’re both passionate about, and you’re thinking of kicking off a campaign, which I’ve agreed to join in on, but can you walk us through… For those that listen, what we’re going to try and do and the goal of this campaign.

MG: Yeah, so Special Forces is an awesome foundation that our buddy Matt put together, really helping underserved kids with disabilities participate in sports at a high school level, which is really fantastic. All of this while utilizing high school kids as mentors for these kids with disabilities. So love the foundation, love what we’re doing. What we’re going to be doing for early January of next year, we’re going to be developing a Better Every Day jump rope challenge, and we’re going to be putting together a nice kit for folks that they will receive in the mail. It will include a jump rope, and then we will be doing a one-week challenge where every single day we’re going to do incrementally, a few more jumps every day, and our goal is to get 100,000 jumps total for everybody who’s participating. And if we can reach that goal, which I think we will, Gunderson Direct will donate $10,000 to the foundation in order to help Matt expand the program and continue to make it a success.

IS: Well, the sponsor of our podcast is Funnel9, which is my new company, and we’ll also be doing the same thing, we will match and do the $10,000 donation as long as we are able to get people to jump rope. So are we planning to mail people a jump rope?

MG: Yeah, so look, if any of your listeners want to email me at Mike M-I-K-E @ Gundir G-U-N-D-I-R dot com, just email me their name and their address and we’ll send them over a jump rope and then they can help participate in that challenge in early January.

IS: Awesome Mike. Hey, I know we gotta let you go. I kept you a little longer than I told you I would, but thank you so much for walking us through direct marketing and direct mail. I think it’s very insightful. I know from my experience with the previous companies that I’ve accessed it from that it was successful for us, and I wish you the best of success as you close out 2021 and looking forward to seeing you in person, soon.

MG: Awesome. And hey, thanks too for having me. This was a lot of fun. And we’ll talk to you soon. Alright.

IS: Thank you, sir.

Interested in trying out direct mail and adding it to your marketing mix? Then drop us a line. We’re standing by to answer any questions you might have, and most importantly, to help you get your mail opened.

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Mike Gunderson

Mike Gunderson is the founder of Gunderson Direct, Inc., a direct marketing agency that helps businesses drive new leads and close more sales through traditional offline channels, especially direct mail.

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