CEO of Valpak, a monster mailing company, interviewed with Tommy Mello for his podcast. In this interview, Mike opened up on tips on connecting digital and traditional marketing for maximum results for your company.
Mike explains that, at first, he had stumbled into the music business and not marketing. He visited a local record store locally often and began working there as a part-time job. While working there, he realized there was a big business behind this little store.
Over time he rose through the ranks in Universal, going from sales to marketing, finance, legal, and more. He knew that business from every angle which has helped him understand how to grow Valpak.
He later left Universal to join Alliance in the private equity world. Everything since then has been about private equity and investing in companies, finding ways to make them better, faster, and stronger.
The big jump to where he is today, and the connection between Universal and his current position, is a group called Platinum Equity. This group was behind Universal, and are also the owners of Valpak.
Valpak’s relation to where he was
Most companies, in his experience, are made of three things:
- Products and/or services
Valpak aligns with these three categories perfectly through their phenomenal technology, best in class distribution, facility, logistics, printing, every part of it. Add in their amazing people and customer relations and you begin to see why they are the top dog in their industry.
Most companies start with a brand you know, a clean simple message on what you offer, and a way to relay all of that to consumers who want what you have.
“My obligation with the marketing staff and the content creators here is to make Valpak interesting.”—Mike Davis
He does this so through ensuring every time their promotional mail is delivered to a consumer’s mailbox, there is a demand to open it because raising open rates trickles down to productivity and ROI for customers.
An out of the box idea
One of their out of the box ideas that they are very proud of happened with the partnering of Susan G. Komen. She is one of the leading cause-related organizations around breast cancer. The October envelope was dedicated to her, had a beautiful pink ribbon, and their clients could participate and donate to her cause.
“The Susan G. Komen success, the client awareness, the prospecting around it, and the client that came to us after it were phenomenal.”—Mike Davis
The importance of each role within a company
Mike considers every role within a company vital. He claims this because they all work as checks and balances against each other. When one goes astray, there are others to pick up the slack or put that one back in its rightful place. He explains that, when growing a company, you should always make sure to really develop that first service that you offer. Strengthen that core of your business, and once you feel it is at its strongest, then begin to add another service onto it. Keep repeating this process and your company will not fail.
“Our ‘why’ is to deliver value to our customers, giving them the opportunity to own, secure, and fix the products in their homes.”—Mike Davis
They love delivering value to their immediate client’s home service business through lead and call generation as well as awareness for their company.
To get both outcomes, both for the home service business owner as well as the homeowner, they offer the services and products of the client to the customers at a lower cost, coupons for the products and services, as well as run sales. A byproduct of this, in the end, is that the customers get a great value of services and products and the clients raise their sales and awareness. Valpak becomes more of the middle man in this scenario.
Handling the skeptics at Valpak
At Valpak, they have metrics around call tracking and website attribution. They have testimonials every day dating back the entire 50 years they have been in business.
“We have clients that have been with us for over 30 years. They do not stick with us ‘because we do not work’”.—Mike Davis
To create a statistic around their brand, they completed a readership survey. Through this survey, they found that 90% of people who answered know of Valpak and get their envelopes mailed to them at their homes. Out of that 90%, 80% of them read through the mail sent to them entirely. On average, 4 to 5 inserts are taken out and used.
Building a great ad the Valpak way
Valpak will not take money from a company unless they know the ad is going to deliver the results a company wants. Through over 50 years of experience, they are knowledgeable about what will or will not work with an ad.
Knowing the tips on color, art design, images, and the wording on the exact offer make the ad deliver the results you want. This is how Valpak has been so successful. They even have knowledge of the exact size of the ads by category that will deliver as well as the number of homes that you should send them to.
“It is about the right amount of homes, the right amount of time, and the right kind of offer.”—Mike Davis
What separates Valpak from other mailers?
The Valpak brand is well-known and has been around long enough to stand in its own category of mailers. Between the open rate and the amount of time customers spend seeing their products they know they drive results.
Behind simple awareness and age, is their household selection. They have a very sophisticated research group that helps their franchises and markets that they own to select the homes. They research not only the home, the location, and the type of town, but also the education in the home, the income, and the type of people within the home.
“Some of our owners have gone house by house on Google Maps just to help with the effectiveness of the company.”—Mike Davis
Connecting digital marketing with mailers
Valpak doesn’t just “do mailers”. They also have client business pages and an app. The app compliments the in-home envelope, while the websites give more about the client and their company.
Generally speaking, the app works best with dining and entertainment over the home service clients.
While the mailers “open the door” for awareness of the Valpak clients, the digital compliments of the mailers, such as the websites and apps, really drive the sales home. Mike has seen a direct correlation between consumers looking at the print to them going, then, to the computer to research the client the mailer is for.
Valpak delivering value
There are so many mailing companies that promise a rise in sales if they are chosen. Many times the clients will go to a meeting with them, get a lower price, and then not really get the results they wanted. Valpak has over 40,000 clients on average. If one of their clients come to them and wish to talk about the fact that another company offers the same results with a cheaper price, Valpak explains the reason.
In these price versus value conversations, they choose to sit down with the client and provide them with the value that truly comes with the name Valpak.
“Well, you know this competitor Y is cheaper than you?”
Ok, so what do you think your return will be with less investment? What end goal are you really looking for and do you think spending less with a lesser name is really going to get that for you?
Many business owners are looking for a cheaper way to get the results that Valpak offers. The reality is, with over 50 years in business and all that comes with age, there really is no comparison.
Your outcome is generally equal to or lesser than your investment. The investment you make today will limit the turnaround and quality of the results.
Old marketing is new again
Mike explained an interesting phenomena that is happening within the customers who receive their mailers. Coupons were more of a “baby boomer” interest in their experience. However, there is beginning to be a shift they had not expected. Generation “X”, the millennials, are using and loving the coupon mailers.
“Generation “X” and millennials like experiences. They like fine dining, great wine, and travel more than we had expected.”—Mike Davis
He says that they seem to shop below their “brand level” so they can save money to buy a Viking stove or take a trip to Italy.
While the “baby boomers” are the most entrenched in owning homes and spotting repair necessity, millennials are becoming more and more aware of the value within physical coupons.
Hold out for the long term clients
The term Mike throws around a lot within his interview is “time bankrupt”. People are always thinking of the right now, the “in the moment”, the “before investing”.
“Oh, that is too expensive for me” instead of “I can save for that”.
Your salesforce should be looking for long term clients. Give them an old ad, one you ran “in the beginning” and sit with it. Train them to sell whatever is on that old ad to you in such a way that it is new again.
What would they change?
What would they add?
Can they sell it to you?
Then, after your sales team is amazing, have them look for the clients who have “the vision” and can be translated into long-term clients.
“We are looking for clients that are going to stay with us.”—Mike Davis
Surprisingly, 7-8 times out of 10, once a client uses Valpak, they always remain with Valpak. This is how amazing they are at what they do.
“When you listen to our consultants and our sales reps, we will set you up for winning.”—Mike Davis
Final tips from Mike Davis:
- ABC- always be closing
- If you cannot measure it, you cannot fix it.
- We, at Valpak, have never missed a single mail date.
- Focus on the details and the core.
- Customers notice the attention to detail and appreciate the extra work.
They also have landing pages in every city:
Valpak Los Angeles
To find a local representative: firstname.lastname@example.org
Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?
Grow the Core: How to Focus on Your Core Business for Brand Success
To listen to the entire podcast interview: Episode 57