Long Live Direct Mail. How to Use Direct Mail to Close Big Deals
Some say that direct mail is a dying channel. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. To validate the same, K.L, Chief Marketing Officer at Lessonly, was featured on our #Limitless webinar series on 18 October 2018.
Below are a few takeaways from this insightful webinar that was titled – Long Live Direct Mail. How to Use Direct Mail to Close Big Deals.
- Why it is important to remember the old school marketing tactics
- How to sync the old with the digital new
- Tips for building direct mail that gets a response
Continue reading further to know more about the takeaways or watch the complete webinar below.
Click Here to Watch the Webinar:
Nikhil Premanandan – N.P
Kyle Lacy – K.L
N.P : So already we are seeing attendees coming in. So hi, Marty, good morning. Where are you from? Marty, can you hear us? You can just type in the chat box you know towards your right and you can let us know where you’re joining in from. Carmel, Indiana. Wow, welcome.
K.L: Hey Marty.
N.P: Hi, Arvin. You can join in too, please let us know where you’re joining from. All right, now we can actually see more attendees joining. So we’ll go live in another couple of minutes. We’ll just wait for attendees to join and then we’ll throw it open. Hey John, where are you joining from?
K.L: I can tell you where he’s just joining from. He’s joining from Montreal. Hey John.
N.P: So we actually got quite a few registrants from the social post that you put on LinkedIn. When we reached out to them for the book, many of them actually told us that they already have your book so that was it.
K.L: So that’s good. That works pretty well.
N.P: So I guess I you know will reach out to them again and there are other sales influences who you know we have engaged with so probably we’ll you know send their books as well. But great to know that a lot of people have already engaged with Lessonly brand. They know it you know. They love the brand and they’ve already read the books that you know you guys have published. So great to know that.
K.L: Yeah, that’s good. Well I’ll talk about that that the webinar today.
N.P: Yeah, really excited about that I mean… Since we had the chat last time, I’ve been really intrigued by you know the way you created the entire you know branding, messaging and you know the concept of direct link. So really wanted to be a part of this. I’ve after Karthy for a long time to try and understand how you do things at Lessonly. So yeah I’m really excited to you know your presentation.
K.L: Yeah, I can’t wait to give it. It’s gonna be awesome.
N.P: So we will just wait for a couple more minutes for some more attendees to join and we’ll start from there.
N.P: So I guess Lewis is asking, have you guys thought of making a gift pack to make it easier for people to give the… Do better work, book as a gift.
K.L: Yeah, we actually haven’t. It’s a great idea. We allow our account executives to send the book as a gift pack which we could actually make that a little bit easier. I might steal that from you. I just got, well maybe we should just end the webinar. I mean that’s a perfect idea.
N.P: Awesome. Yeah, so we’ll kick start the webinar now and I’ll just share my screen. So good morning guys. Welcome to another limitless webinar presented by Hippo video. So right now we have a K.L, the CMO of Lessonly with us. Who will be you know taking us through his webinar on how to use great mails and how to use them to get you know to close big accounts. So I’ll set the agenda here you know for this particular webinar. I’ll give you a brief introduction about Hippo video. It will just be for you know the next you know four to five minutes, not more than that. It is just two slides. After that I’ll introduce Kyle to all the attendees and then it is all about you know Kyle and how he uses direct mail. So a little bit about me. I am currently the head of marketing at Hippo video. I contribute you know articles at Neal Schaffer. He is one of the top ten Forbes social media influencers, social media examiner and Jeff Bullas. So what exactly is Hippo video? And this is just for the next you know three to four minutes. Hippo video is a personalized video distribution platform as in if you have a video asset you know and you’re sending it to a list of, let us say you know, 100 or 200 people. You actually have to embed this particular video in your emails and send it across. What happens is everybody on your contact list gets the same video experience, but with hippo video you can actually add a merge field inside the video itself. So when you send it across to your entire contact list, everybody on the contact list gets you know unique video experience and this can be used across multiple functionalities in your business. So you can use it in marketing, you can use it in email campaigns, you can use it in training and collaboration, sales, success and support. You can distribute these videos via blogs, via you know landing pages, via email and you know collaboration systems as well.
Now I have a small video that I’d like to show you that will briefly capture what Hippo video does for its sales teams and then I’ll introduce the guest of honor, K.L. So yeah.
Every day sales reps send hundreds of mundane text, emails, hoping to get a response or a meeting. If you are one of them, we know your struggle. However the prospect is all these texts emails look the same. How can inside sales break through this noise to stand out? Simple, by humanizing your selling with personalized videos. Start by including videos in your sales outreach. Record a quick intro video, edit it online, personalize the thumbnail and send it via email. Video email humanizes your conversations, makes you look real, and get you those coveted responses. Add interactive calls to action in your videos to encourage your viewers to book more meetings. Account executives can also make the best use of Hippo video. Include personalized sales pages in your emails to move your prospects quickly through the sales funnel. Hippo video lets you personalize your entire sales page with the curated content that instantly connects with your prospects. You can pin quick video intros, product demos, customer testimonials, and contract PDFs on the same page and share it. Hippo video provides a real-time viewer analytics to help you see how your potential customers engage. Based on the analytics, you can easily plan your follow-ups and close deals effectively. Hippo video is integrated with popular sales platforms like Salesforce, Hubspot, Outreach, Marketo, outlook, Gmail, and MailChimp. You don’t have to juggle between tabs to set your video sales funnels in action. Using Hippo video, sales teams can seamlessly convert leads into customers by incorporating videos throughout their buyers’ journey. Isn’t that wow? Use videos to speed up your sales and sell your brand better.
N.P: So that is it about Hippo video guys. So let me just quickly move this. I’m sorry about that. Yeah. One second. If I can just quickly share my screen once again. Okay. All right, so we have K.L with us for this limitless webinar. Kyle is the CMO at Lessonly, and Lessonly is one of the biggest LMS providers in the world. He has spent the last seven years traveling the world speaking at various marketing and technology events. He’s a strategic marketing leader focused on high-growth venture-backed softwares. He is the author of three books including on social media marketing, CRM software, and personal branding. And the best of all. So he is recognized as one of Indiana’s 40 under 40 by Indianapolis Business Journal. So right here we have K.L, a marketing all-star, who will be taking us through to direct mail. So Kyle, over to you now.
K.L: Thank you so much. Okay, this is gonna be… You’re gonna hand it off to me, right?
N.P: Yeah yeah yeah. So you can start sharing your screen and take the audience through you know everything about direct mails.
K.L: Perfect. Okay, I think you have to give me the ability to do that or can I start share. Okay, got it. Sorry everybody this first time I’ve used zoom for a webinar and I love it. It’s probably why their IPO did so well because of webinars. Yeah, give me one second. All right, so I am super excited to do this for you. Can somebody let me know that they can see this and we’re all good?
N.P: Yeah, we can see it, yes.
K.L: All right, perfect, and my text messages that keep going up so hopefully they won’t say anything. All right, so long live direct mail. How to use direct mail to close big deal? So before I get into direct mail in general, I kind of want to give you a background of my career because I think that it kind of helps me define how I got here and how I believe that direct mail is one of the more important aspects of our strategy. So when I started my career in software, I started at Exact Target, which at the time this is 2012. I started an agency, a creative agency before that but Exact Target is where I started getting my software experience. We were an email marketing provider and it allowed us to… We were one of the largest in the world and I ran content marketing there. So that was basically trying to figure out how to get top of funnel content to, I think we were in seven countries at the time, and trying to learn how to build a story that people cared about, like they cared to listen. Then I went to Salesforce and through the Exact Target acquisition spent a year and a half at Salesforce. Basically doing the same thing which is understanding how Salesforce tells the story, they are a huge branding unit, right, we all know that.
After Salesforce, went to open view, which is a venture capital firm in Boston and started learning about how software like smaller software companies do what they do. In open view, it’s about a billion dollars under management, a little over a billion dollars under management across five funds and they only invest in like Series B software companies.
So you found product market fit and now you’re scaling. So I was on the other end of that and I got to see 30-plus portfolio companies do that. Which one of them was Lessonly. So Lessonly was looking for a marketing leader role and we were looking to move back to Indiana, it was the perfect scenario. So now I’m CMO at Lessonly and we do a lot of storytelling and it’s something that we do really well, in my opinion. So before we get into just direct mail, I want to tell a brief story about Lessonly training software. We train sales and customer service teams. We train a lot of growing teams at scale on how to learn and practice their job. A lot of that is based off of how we talk about direct mail and how we build it into our overall strategy. So first a story, a lot of this, a lot of our direct mail campaigns are built around a person or actually a llama.
I feel like he or she is a person, right. Ollie llama, this is actually the first Ollie llama for Lessonly. Lessonly was founded about seven years ago, and randomly I think it was a co-founder significant other drew it on the board, on the chalkboard and all he just kept like the llama just kind of started showing up constantly, right. This is Mitch Kazi. Mitch Kazi was the first director of marketing at Lessonly and he was a third employee and he said hey guys, we should make llama our mascot at Lessonly. You can imagine at the time like four or five people sitting in a room trying to figure out what to do and you know you’re trying to figure out how to grow a company and your director marketing says we should make a llama on mascot. And this is pretty much what the response was. What? Bad idea, llamas are terrible, what are you even talking about. And then Mitch just did this. He just waited, he waited, he waited and then it started catching on.
I think it was about a year into the company. I’ve been here about three years in February. A year into the founding they started doing this thing called golden llama. They would hand out golden llamas once a quarter to employees who exhibited our mission and values, right. So every quarter an employee got a golden llama. They would take a picture, they would share it on social and this was the golden llama. They held on to the golden llama for the entire quarter and then they would give it to somebody else after that. So the golden llama started to become a culture carrier for our company. People saw after it, right, they wanted to be. It was a way we could tell the story, the outside… We could tell outsiders the story of Lessonly using the golden llama. So this is Ben Battaglia, Ben Battalglia is our director of marketing right now at Lessonly, and he had a crazy idea. He said we should set golden llamas to our top prospects and customers. We were all kind of sitting there like you know what that’s not a terrible idea, it actually sounds great because Ollie had started to build momentum as a Lessonly mascot and somebody that exhibited the values of Lessonly which is pretty much the foundation of the company ever since the beginning.
So if you can’t tell by the hair or the eyebrows, this is me. We decided to do it. Initially we spray-painted a bunch of 3-inch goldlen llamas and sent them to our top prospects or customers. I probably am going to die at a very young age because I spray painted like 2,000 of these. However, it started working for us. This is an example of the packaging of the golden llama. The idea behind the golden llama direct mail was they’re… We are constantly, and this is this is just direct mail in general, this is why we do it. This is why storytelling is so important as well which I’ll get into a little bit later. But the idea behind the golden llama was how do we take our culture, the thing that we believe our culture, our story, the way we think about our product, the way we exhibit our product and live our values. How do we take that and make it a competitive advantage in the market? So the idea behind the golden llama was we would send these golden llama to our prospects, right.
We would tell the prospect you should give this golden llama to somebody in your company and share it. Share it online, social, but really that was the side benefit, right. The real value was you were recognizing somebody on your team that was doing good work and people loved it.
I think that we got some of this is that we got lucky that llamas are just become trendy. Like I think target released like 10,000 llamas, everything from calendars to lights to like plush llamas, everything right. But people start loving it and people started giving it to employees, employees started requesting llamas and it just started creating more of a cultural movement for us, that was a competitive advantage. Because of that, we have built this idea of Ollie into a lot of what we do and it’s the culture carrier of Lessonly. So as all of us are in high-growth, most of us are probably in software, most of us are in marketing. The reality is that we are in feature wars right now, like everybody can build the same feature. People are getting way better at rolling out product features quicker, right. You have got to differentiate past just the product features, right.
You have to figure out how the story behind the brand sells it. The community of people that love what you do and you love them. How do they help you sell it. And that’s where direct mail just started becoming more of a thing for us. I’ll get into some of these examples but we have a board game called llama lamb that is three editions of it. We have a sales edition, we have a customer service edition, and we have like a just a general edition.
Then we have our lego llama, which is Ollie, which is our senior director of brand developed and we gave out at our yellow shirt conference, which was a couple weeks ago and we send that in direct mail. It just started developing where we realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t the swag, it was the experience. It was the time we were taking to do these, design these things, that had value outside of just like a mug or a t-shirt or any other thing you could send. There’s freaking three million different things you could send people but it was genuine, it was real and it was tied into our culture. But the little llama was just the beginning overall.
The golden llama showed us that a unique idea in direct mail drove a lot of interest. I’ll talk about this at the end but I do want to be clear that I don’t look at direct mail as the direct source of a closed deal. I look at direct mail as a influence in the entire process of a sales cycle. Like prospect to expansion revenue, after they become a customer. We do not look at our direct mail budgets and say oh it didn’t lead to one dollar spent of three dollars returned. We say, did this create a good experience and are we getting feedback from the account executives, from our customers, and from our prospects that they care, that they like the direct mail because that is what matters.
If you keep looking at this idea of we have to generate return for everything we’re doing, you are going to pick the cheapest things and nobody is gonna care. Nobody is gonna care what you’re sending them because it’s the exact same damn thing that somebody else sent them a week ago, right. With software like Sendoso and PFL and Post E and Allison, and all these people, it’s becoming easier for people to do that. So you have to spend more time on the genuine stuff. So little llamas was just the beginning. Our mission statement which is the foundation of this company, we help people do better work so they can live better lives, started working itself into our direct mail as well. We just we found out that Max, our CEO, who created these values. It actually his ideas and the way that he talked about teamwork and leadership. That was actually becoming a competitive advantage to us as well, both from a hiring perspective as well as a deal like big deal perspective.
So we spent a lot of time forming this messaging around; do better work, do better work, do better work, do better work, it’s in our employee kickoffs, it’s everything. Do better work. The high level messaging is around do better work and you can plug any product feature into that. Whether it’s you need your sales people to practice their pitches within our products so that they can do better work. Because when they do better work they get more commission and they hit their quota and you’re happy and they’re happy and they go home and their families are happy and they just live better lives, right. We spent a lot of time writing do better work which is a book from Max. We designed it all in-house and it is basically the culture carrier now outside of the golden llama.
So if you think about a direct mail campaign, you might have a great first call and then you send the golden llama. They’re like oh this is cool like I see what their values are at. I’m gonna give this employee. And then you have another call and you learned that there’s your buyer and your champion and also some influencers. So you send a book or you send two or three books to them and say hey we talked about the product in the demo and we’ve talked about the product in the second call. But here’s what we believe the idea behind great teamwork and leadership and the relational skills that matter to great teams. This is what we believe.
The competitive advantage of that cannot be understated. You know we have Max go and do, our CEO go do events where he’s talking about do better work and it has nothing to do with the product, and people buy the product after it. Our user conference has nothing about the product in the user conference. It’s all thought leadership, how be a better leader, how to be a better person. Then you have like tactical breakouts where they can go to learn more about the product but ultimately it’s just about how do we rise above the idea that we just sell software. Because we sell training software which we can get deeper into that, but the book has been a huge component of our direct mail campaign. So I’m gonna give you some really simple examples that might be able to help you and then we can do Q&A. But for sure direct mail has the potential of connecting the entire buying committee. So you’re doing… I think it does depend on your go-to-market.
Like if you have a product led growth model where it’s all done through the website like a type form or a MailChimp, there’s a certain point where if you move up market, you might have to start incorporating some direct mail but when it’s about a volume play this might not work as well. However, if you’re in our world, at Lessonly we sell into large companies. So there’s buying committees, there’s influencers, there’s champions, there’s users, right. So this is an example of how we do some direct mail.
Lessonly account executives sends a golden llama to an influencer during the sales process. The influencers encourage to give the golden llama to the champion that we’re talking to. The influencer and champion have what we would assume is a conversation about the golden llama and potentially Lessonly and how Lessonly works within the environment. This works really well through like a lot of conversations about churn and productivity where we see a lot of our customers, that’s where they’re focused on, like how do we decrease churn, increase productivity. When you’re talking about how you recognize employees in the process, that’s also something that’s really really valuable. First, I think the golden llama costs us 7 bucks all-in even with postage, maybe let’s just say 7 to 10. You know a $10 Direct Mail is extremely extremely extremely valuable. So influencer to champion.
The other thing would be at Lessonly that we send Max’s book to the entire buying committee and we maybe even have Max come to the prospects to do a talk for free. It encourages the group to read the book together or maybe the account executive or CXP or customer success rep who also uses Direct Mail for expansion. Maybe they’ll write a note in there that says like hey, you should read chapter two and then the group will read chapter two. We don’t have any data that says that people actually do this other than when we get really positive feedback from a prospect saying, man I really love this book, I really love chapter three, thank you. What you’ve done is that, genuinely, you’ve created a connection outside of just slinging software which is very very very very very important and will continue to be even more important as a software model go to market model evolves in the future.
Our custom board game is also sent to a specific champion, and they encourage their team to do it to play together. It’s not necessarily about Lessonly, it’s about their job, but Lessonly is built within the entire experience. Because we have do better work as a philosophy and we have do better work as a relational book like how do you be a great leader, a great manager, build great teams, and then we’ve got the better work method that is actually our operational framework that we build within our customers. Now there’s six columns to it we talk about all the time. It is what we believe builds great training and enablement and that is part of the board game as well. So do better work, the board game, everything involves around this idea of relational excellence and operational excellence. Direct Mail also empowers the sales and customer success teams at the company. We use Sendosa to power a lot of this. Sendosa basically lives in Salesforce, integrate with Salesforce for lack of a better term.
Each AESDR or BDR & CX rep gets a monthly budget where they can go in Salesforce, click who they want to send this to… I’m butchering this but you guys can go check them out. I love Sendosa. They can pick to either send a gift card, an Amazon product, or a Direct Mail piece that we put out. Like we’ll have packages like send Max’s books, send the board games, send a golden Lamas, send a t-shirt, send a swag pack, send like they just raise money so send them champagne, whatever. You can choose one and it will automatically send. The brilliance of this is that it tracks everything that’s going on within the opportunity within the account.
So we can start pulling attribution modeling to say, alright, we touched this account five times in the sales process and Direct Mail attributed to this amount, right. I still don’t look at that as a gauge of success honestly. Because if you’re doing Direct Mail right, you should touch a 100%. Because the account executives and CX reps should be really really excited to use this stuff. We also fulfill about half of our stuff out of our office in Indianapolis. This is a picture of, if you look through those double doors on this picture that’s our Direct Mail closet. We’ve set up a marketing request form via type form.
We have an employee that can fill it out and the form will automatically add the request to the Salesforce record as well as add it to our project management tool which is Monday.com. Marketing team will review all the requests, approve Direct Mail that cannot be fulfilled in Sendosa.
So an example is that we have all these board games. I said board game as an example earlier for Sendosa but we actually fulfill the board game at our head office. Because it just didn’t make sense to ship 2000 board games to Sendosa’s distribution center so we decided to do it in-house. We review all the requests. Once approved, the individual who filled out the requests can actually go back through the back and pack their own Direct Mail. We do a lot of it but it allows us to keep track of what’s going out. Like if an SDR has a deal that’s coming in hot and they need to get something before the demo at DAE, we might send ten plush llamas out of the lesson the office instead of waiting like the couple of days that it takes Sendosa to do it.
Direct Mail spreads the mission. There is not a better tool that we had to explain what Lessonly about the Max’s book. We did it all in-house. It is very difficult to do. The most difficult things are the greatest experiences in my opinion. If we can get this book in front of people and they read it and they start implementing the ideas, it is so much easier for our account executives when they walk in the door because they’ve already bought into this idea. They’ve already bought into the framework. Now it’s just a matter of here’s our product, does it suit your needs for what you want to do? So the book has been just a great way for us to share the mission.
We’ve sent out thousands of these books. An attendee had an idea where you can refer the book to people and I love that. We’re probably gonna do that. Great idea, thank you. So it definitely helps us drive the mission. Also, an experience tells a better and consistent story. An experience from the golden llama to Max’s book to the board game to we had… We had a campaign where we sent a lockbox to one team. Like sometimes we do expansion deals where we sell sales team and then we’ll sell a customer service team.
We sent the lockbox to the sales leader and the key to the customer service leader in order for them to open it up and they had to get together to talk about Lessonly. In the lockbox, after they opened it up, it had Amazon gift cards for them to go buy a book that the account executive suggested. This was before Max had a book and we would just send them but you know we’d say like you know go by atomic habits or go by dare to lead and read it and let us know.
Again, it had nothing to do with the products. Like it had everything to do with us saying we are all human. We want to invest in you outside of just being a software company because we’re in the same long run, right. We want to invest in you. The relationship matters, that’s why as a company we overspend on post sales like customer support. Because it’s important that people are throughout this entire process.
So I gave you a lot of information. I do want to show you our tech stack because I think it’s very important. This slide is crazy and I’m sure that we can send this out after. But for Direct Mail, in particular, you know type forms used to take some of the requests, Sendosa was used to fulfill a lot of the requests through Salesforce, Monday.com was used for a project management.
A lot of our enablement, training and enablement around these campaigns, will be done in Lessonly . So if we have like a major Direct Mail campaign going out, like the board game, we’ll create at Lessonly and Lessonly can send it out to the company saying here’s what the board games about, here’s how you should talk about it, here’s when it will be available. I’m trying to think if there’s anything else at appeal that applies to. I mean you’ve got your account targeting contacts, all that stuff that helps us with like fulfilling in addresses and stuff like that. Ultimately this is a… I think it’s amazing that marketers talking about tech stacks and my team kind of makes fun of me for this because I just buy a lot of software but marketers buy a lot of software.
But all this stuff has a purpose, right. It helps us track, it helps us build attribution models, and it helps us send Direct Mail to make sure that it’s valuable in the process. A lot of times we get great feedback that it works. Then one final thought. I think that your ROI, I think the way… I kind of talked about this before but a lot of people come to me and say well you know what amount of revenue did you drive from Direct Mail? My comment to them is I don’t know. I’m sure that I could tell you and I’m sure that there’s some closed one, but for me, it is about continuing the process, continuing the conversation. It’s more than just an SDR calling on the phone setting a demo, the account executive meeting with them, sending a boring one sheet, you know having another call with them, sending a mug because probably everybody drinks coffee and they’ll like them with our logo on it. Most of the time people don’t want mugs with your logo on it, they want mugs with their logo on it, right, that are cool.
I think Dave Gearhart has a great example this where all the artwork that’s behind them on their podcast is sent to them by other company. And they had one company that sent pictures of their advertising. And they were like why would you send us your advertising? It feels very egotistical if you start sending stuff to people unless it’s really cool stuff and it’s not just a mug with your logo on it. So remember the experience, remember that Direct Mail is a component that not a lot of people do very well. So if you have the creative team or you have a great agency that can help you do that, Direct Mail will help you open doors.
I don’t think it’s a great source of net new like don’t… This is my last thought, do not buy a list out of nowhere and just send a bunch of Direct Mail to them. We’ve done it twice over the past three years and it does not work. I believe that Direct Mail is a great tool to nurture sales cycles and it’s a great way to spread the idea of what you do and how you do it at scale. It does cost money, and you know what, conferences cost money as well, trade shows cost money, paid advertising costs money. If you’re gonna do it make sure that you are invested in the idea that we’re gonna do something a little bit different, and that’s what I got so thank you. So I’m gonna stop sharing.
N.P: Thanks a lot, Kyle, that was really impressive.
So really good to see that you know it’s not just about selling a software but about taking your entire prospecting list through a journey, through an experience to actually experience the Lessonly brand, and not just you know have these experiences and have just one or two experiences, it is about the entire journey. So love the way that you actually use Direct Mail to you know connect with your prospects and also from prospect to expansion. That is something not a lot of marketers would have thought about. So we have a few questions coming in. So first of the questions from Jonathan. How did you school your prospects to structure who and when you know those prospects receive a golden llama?
K.L: This is a really easy answer because we don’t. Actually, I think there’s a lot that we can develop off of what we do now. I think getting a better idea of scoring within the sales cycle was important. But Jonathan, I mean if a deal is in the works and it’s a good one, we will support it as a marketing team.
N.P: Got it.
K.L: Now they’re… I’m sorry, sorry about that. Just to be fair, there is like a, there is a contract value number where we won’t do some things. If it’s a very low ARR deal like a revenue deal, we won’t send like a $20 Direct Mail.
N.P: Got it. So I guess that answers the next question from Mark. So what he’s asking is basically for smaller businesses. How do you propose to get started with Direct Mail? Because Direct Mail can be expensive for small businesses. So what would your ideas be around you know Direct Mail for small businesses?
How to Get Started with Direct Mail?
K.L: Well you gotta find what’s different, right, and that’s probably the fundamental issue we all face as most of us face as marketers and business owners it’s like what’s the differentiator. For us, we have a great product. Our differentiator is the story we tell and our culture and how we support people and the human element. So the golden llama actually was not expensive. I mean there’s some llama, there’s some manufacturer up in Michigan that we probably made their year because we ordered so many llamas like little 3-inch llamas from them. But you know it took a lot of my time spray-painting a bunch of things but you know we finally, once we knew… We started small and once we knew that it worked, we went and mass-manufactured them. So I think what do you think is differentiating. How can you deliver that in a way that is interesting in mail and… I’ve seen postcards that are interesting. You know it’s just a matter of making sure that you’re spending time and you’re not just going to a swag vendor, and we use like three or four swag vendors. I’m not dissing swag vendors but don’t go to them and say I need to send pencils, right, because nobody cares about your pencils. I mean you might but nobody cares about it.
N.P: Got it. Yes, exactly. This is a question from me, Kyle. So how important is it to build a brand to you know invest in Direct Mail? Now, let us say there are a lot of small companies out there, a lot of startups out there, so they might have a great product there but they’re not yet you know having an established brand. So in this particular case, how do you effectively use Direct Mail? Or is it that you have to have a brand invest in brand and then kick start a Direct Mail campaign?
How Effective Direct Mails Could Be?
K.L: I don’t think you… I think you need to have some idea what your brand is, right, and that’s a whole… I could spend two hours talking about that and I would probably just refer you to anything Andy Raskin writes. For me, it is do you have a unique story? It could be a customer story. Maybe you only have three customers and one of your customers are like we love you, we will never leave you, this is how you help us. And you talk to them and you start figuring out maybe it’s a cool little video piece that we send people or you know you can do like if you have a really large contract value like you’re selling six-figure deals. You could send cheap mobile phones with videos on it to people. So I think you need to understand what your differentiator is and then I think you got to spend some time with creative people saying how would you tell this differently. And most of the time, I don’t think it’s your product. I think most people that’s where they screw up. It’s either I really like this battery charger, let’s put our logo on it. Let’s send it because everybody needs battery chargers for some reason or iPhone chargers, and then they say let’s put a product one sheet in the box with it. It is so unappealing to me, it’s like [Exactly] some time to think about it. [Yes, exactly, yes] I’m being a little extreme but I have like 50 iPhone chargers and…
N.P: I do understand. So it has to be, the experience has to be tailored to the person who’s receiving the gift.
K.L: Hey, I’ll use an iPhone charger as an example. We did one for yellow ship and we designed it as Ollie llamas head, and that was the iPhone charger. So you can do normal things, just do them creatively.
N.P: So this question is from Gideon. So he’s asking you, now you have clearly mentioned that you used the golden llamas in different stages of your sales funnel. You are basically catering to an experience, you are not looking at you know the $1 turning into $3. What are the metrics that you know somebody who wants to implement you know Direct Mails in their company? So he’s working at an agency. So what are the metrics that he has to know so that you know he can convince their clients also to get started with Direct Mail?
K.L: Well I wouldn’t separate Direct Mail as a channel in the pitch. Direct Mail would just be an added cost within the entire campaign. I mean that’s how I think about it as if our sales cycles are short enough, if our customer acquisition cost is right as a company, if the entire campaign, whether somebody came in through a paid ad and then they read our blog and then they got a direct mail and then they talked to the AE for 60 days, we take all that into account. I think if I was pitching it, I would say, here’s the campaign. Like go blog like here’s the campaign, it’s amazing and here are the different channels and direct mail just happens to be one component and here’s how it fits in. Some customers might still cut it but that’s where you have an entire argument of whether you should work with people that would cut it anyway. But I know that that’s very easy thing for me to say because I do not work or run an agency.
N.P: Got it. So why you know how do you decide what kind of things would be good to send to leads? That is one of the questions from Grace. So you know what kind of research do you do on the account? So is at account level or is at on an individual level, and probably do you use any tools to get this done?
What Kind of Research You Need to Do Before that First Direct Mail?
K.L: Yeah, so we have an SDR team. Our sales development reps, business development reps some people call them or outbound calling, they live in the marketing team. So what happens is that they will source an account, they will build a contact list that is associated with that account. Like you’re selling into Lessonly, you’re finding out on the marketing leader that I have a director marketing that I [Right] senior director brand. We give them, and this is something that we’re changing as well internally, but we give them the opportunity to say, okay, well you’re using… We use Apollo for contact sourcing, we use Data Fox for account sourcing, we also use a research company called Kick Saw out of Toronto that does a lot of research for us as well. The SDR might use Sendoso because they see that the people they want to get in front of went to Notre Dame or they went to Duke University. And they send them a hat from Duke or they send them a jersey from Duke out of Sendosa. So there’s a lot of research that goes up front but most of the time our direct mail that comes out of my team that’s not automated through Sendosa so it’s usually all the same. Because we design it’s like… There is nobody on the face of the planet that doesn’t want a little Lego llama to put together, right. I mean let’s be honest. Unless you’re crazy, people love Legos. So when we’re brainstorming this stuff, that’s what we try to think about.
N.P: Got it. So when do you start using direct mail in the you know sales cycle? So is it used to open a few doors or you know is it… When does this first direct mail go? So that could be in a question that you know some of them would be having.
K.L: Yeah, sure, most of our 3d direct mail like the board game, the Lego llama, the golden llama, it all happens after the first meeting. The Sendoso stuff like sending personalized gift or a coffee or like we use donorschoose.org quite a bit. It’s a non-profit where you can buy somebody a gift card to buy like supplies for a school in their town or their area. We use that quite a bit as well. But most of the time it’s our inbound channels outside of direct mail that are opening doors and direct mail uses in the nurture, like to nurture the prospects across the sale cycle.
N.P: Got it. So I understand that you know Lessonly has been using direct mail for a lot of campaigns. Can you give us some more examples you know outside of Lessonly where you know you have seen some great direct mail campaigns you know delivering great results? And what would be you know your favorite direct mail campaign you know you can say that?
K.L: I mean my favorite direct mail campaign is what we do… I’m sorry. But like the golden llama works so well for us that that’s my favorite. However, anything where I believe that somebody… This is probably where I should have started the presentation. Great direct mail is when somebody believes that that it’s personalized, that’s it. Like if people know that I like craft breweries or they like I like bourbon, like that is where I think it’s valuable. If I’m getting a bourbon from somebody because I just got a promotion or they said hey I noticed that you’re part of revenue collective here’s something, right. Like when you spend the time to try to understand the contacts and you have to have the team to help you do that and the tech stack to help you do that, you know that is where it’s valuable. You know I got a mobile phone once which was cool, which I mentioned before it had one one one… It was like a cheap Samsung phone but it was touchscreen and it had like a video on it that you could watch and then I think they had a program to where the SDR could call that phone when they knew I had turned it on, which was kind of unique. But the product, you know I’m pretty sure… I think this was like two and a half years ago. I’m pretty sure the product wasn’t good so kind of ruined the whole experience, right.
N.P: Okay, okay. But you know excellent way to get in touch with a really personalized experience.
K.L: Yeah, oh yeah, it was great.
N.P: So this is a question from Mark. Now he’s asking for an example. So what would a wedding venue or corporate image venue use as a direct mail? Any examples or any ideas that…?
K.L: I would probably put together a photo book with quotes from people who have used the venue to give out when you have people walking through the venue. So having like a couple couples that got married like you can do the photo books on like there’s like 50 sites that do it now that are 20 bucks and you can get them sent to your office, that’s what I would do. You hand in a book says hey, you know you can pick a ton of wedding venues, understand that, here’s the actual quotes and examples and pictures of people who have done it here before and you can let them tell the story for you. Because I just have a venue and you can see it right now, that’s how I would do it.
N.P: Got it. Excellent. Now if a startup you know would like to kick start, and now we are talking about a startup itself. So they probably are at an MVP stage, all right. I’ve seen this particular you know campaign run by Drift you know when a person is researching on their website itself and they’re put to demo, they immediately send over a warm coffee you know so that you know when the prospect is… They are with your hot piping cup of coffee. All right, now does something like this work for a startup or have you seen any other campaigns like this? So what [No] did there is he actually brought the retail experience in [Oh yeah] you know and inside sales experience. So [Yeah] something like that like a cross-functional campaigns coming here.
K.L: Yeah, look a lot of us in the software game have cash on hand because we’ve raised money. So our ability to send hot coffees to people before a demo is doable because we have the cash to do it and it’s part of a customer acquisition cost model, right. I love that idea. I think it works extremely well for them and if I were to point to anyone that’s great at direct mail, Drift is also amazing at it. The way they tell their story is very very important. You’ve got to be realistic about what you can do, both from a cost perspective as well as if your product is even ready for it, right.
You know I think direct mail has a lot to do with like conferences. When should you do your first conference? When should you do events? When you found product market fit? When you know who your customer is, and people are buying your product, that’s when you start investing in things like direct mail like events like things that start building upon this idea that you’ve already… You’ve basically gotten past the MVP. Now, if you want to sit beta customers down and give them coffee, great, but don’t spend a ton of time and energy trying to scale something when you have an MVP because you still are trying to figure out what the hell you want to do, right. So you got to be realistic about what you can do based on what stage you are as a business and that’s you know Drift has capabilities outside of Lessonly, right, because it’s just a bigger company. So just be realistic about it and responsible.
N.P: So this is the last question coming in from Zach. How did you start with direct mail and how painful was it to scrape in golden llama? So probably you’ve painted thousand of that. So how difficult and how painful was that?
K.L: You know what, I mean it was not fun spray-painting a bunch of golden llamas. But it was, I wouldn’t say it was difficult because I am very blessed that I have a team that is ungodly good. There’s a reason why we do pretty much everything in-house; writing, creative, production, everything because our team is better than agencies. So I got very lucky that I had that team here and we’ve built upon that team. It’d probably be way more painful for me if I didn’t have the team in place that I do today. So my only recommendation is to make sure you spend the time, energy, and thoughtfulness around designing something that is going to get somebody to say this makes sense to me or just wow, I never, like I never thought of it in this way. And quit sending one sheets in direct mail. Nobody wants to unfold an eight-and-a-half by eleven piece of paper that talks about your product.
N.P: Yeah, I totally understand. Because you’re talking about an experience and not just another multi-piece for the product.
K.L: Yeah, and look, to be fair, I know we have some people on here that do not sell software. I think that goes for whatever you sell. If you’re an accounting firm, if you’re a wedding venue. If the thing you’re producing that you’re sending something is the exact same thing as your competitor, the logos just changed and maybe you were founded earlier, you are not marketing well, you’re just recreating the wheel. So it’s just spending some time and trying to be creative and taking risks. Like we’ve had, I’ll give you one great example of a failure then I’m done, then we can shut it off. But we had a one of our big integration partners is Zendesk.
We had, we created a little mini Zen garden that had like tools for you to move the sand around and all that stuff, it had Lessonly on it. And we are handing these out and mailing them to people to find your Zen with Lessonly. Cool idea, did not work. They were too heavy, people didn’t want to take them from the booth. They actually were too expensive to send a Sendoso. They were too expensive to send them out of the Lessonly office and now we have boxes and boxes and boxes of these heavy Zen gardens that just did not work. But we were okay with it because it was a cool idea and not all your ideas are gonna work. Just make sure that if it’s your company or you’re a marketing leader, be okay with failure because you have to be in order to create true creativity like a Lego Ollie llama or a board game.
N.P: Awesome. So before you go, there’s just one question that came in. So you mentioned about post cards that work. So can you elaborate on that? So you know what were the post cards about and you know for which industry and how did it look like? Can you shed a little more light on that?
K.L: Yeah, so I don’t have a specific example. If we were to do postcards, it would probably be bigger. It would be a bigger one and it would lead to a digital experience. Whether that’s enter in this code to get X. I think if you make it funny, it’s a little bit easier. I’ve seen cool cutouts. There’s also vendors that will do like 3d cards. if you open them up and it’s like a children’s book or it’s a 3d experience is pretty cool. But never, I mean one note on that, never underestimate the power of a handwritten note and that is the cheapest direct mail you can possibly do. We do a ton of handwritten notes because nobody does it and it’s genuine.
N.P: So a follow up question on that. So let’s say if you’re talking about handwritten notes. Let us say if your prospects or the receiver is you know across the border. So you’re a software platform, you will be selling internationally. So if it has to cross borders then in that case you know how would you do a hundred written note?
K.L: I mean we still do it. You know it costs a lot, right. If I’m sending to you or I’m sending to, even when I said to Canada. But I think that if you are starting to do more international type markets, you’ve got to rethink this entire model. Like most of our customers are North America but we do who have customers and prospects outside of North America and we spend the money. We sent a board game to China and that was expensive. But it was worth it because they’re a great customer and they really appreciated us reaching out to them because, again, you cannot underestimate the value of an experience. If your competitor is not gonna even think about sending a board game because it costs 80 bucks to a prospect, you might and if you get a contract that’s a hundred grand, that was well worth it. But you got to think outside the box and be okay with doing stuff like that.
N.P: I totally understand. So taking the risk is the name of the game. If you know it is you know it ends up in improving the quality of the experience the user has with the brand, obviously then you have to invest in that.
K.L: Yeah, you know what, as marketers, as business leaders, we talk a lot about scale and hacking and growth and the reality and I’m probably stealing this from Dave Gearhart at Drift and he probably stole it from somebody else. But great experiences don’t scale, they don’t. Our conference does not scale. However, when we get people there, it works, and it works better than if we were try to scale it. So sometimes you got to do things that can’t scale and they’re gonna work way better than you try to do a thousand coffee mugs because it’s cheaper and it’s quicker.
N.P: Excellent. So yeah that’s it from our side, Kyle, no more questions. So everybody who has attended the webinar. Thank you so much for attending this awesome limitless session with K.L, the CMO of Lessonly. We have many other influences lined up so join us next week on the Friday with the director of J Barrow sales, Morgan Ingram. So we have a lot of sense influencers lined up. Thank you once again for coming on this particular webinar with Kyle. Kyle, thank you so much for agreeing to do this with us. I know I was chasing you like crazy but thanks a lot for taking the time to do this for us.
K.L: Yeah, my pleasure.
N.P: And thanks a lot for everybody who has joined us. Have a great weekend. Bye bye.
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