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Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Brave new world for selling envelopes and print?

Posted by Jerry Velona on Apr 18, 2012 3:07:00 PM

Has the digital world made traditional sales techniques passé?  Last week’s post dealt with personal cold calls and whether they are the best use of a sales rep’s time.  For the most part, I think not.

My post drew a lot of comments but not nearly as many as a recent blog post by a company called HubSpot. They specialize in inbound marketing; i.e. getting the customers to come to you rather than finding them by more conventional and tedious methods like cold calling. Now, I am a Hubspot fan. They have taught me some very useful techniques to get more visibility for Elite Envelope. In fact, they host this blog and provide some great tools for tracking its effectiveness.

But they lost some credibility with me and many others when they posted a blog entitled: "Dear US Postal Service: Please Stop Encouraging Direct Mail". (!)  They’ve already gotten enough free publicity in the blogosphere among irate direct mailers and their supporters (I’m guessing that was part of if not the entire point) so I’m not going to delve too deeply into the post. The main point was that direct mail was dead and web-based marketing was vastly superior; period, end of story.

The tone of the blog had a certain fervor and arrogant certitude which unfortunately can characterize true-believers in any endeavor. HubSpot is a very successful company and what they do, they do very well.  But direct mail remains an effective tool to win business.  Inbound marketing and direct mail along with advertising, direct selling, telemarketing and many other techniques can all be used effectively and are not mutually exclusive.

The message of this blog reminded me of those who said 10 years ago that e mail had effectively rendered regular mail useless.  There is a tendency in human nature to become infatuated with the latest thing. It’s more a foible of youth but plenty of us regardless of age tend fall into the trap as well.

When I think of how I sold in the pre-digital age; with hand-written or type-written notes, maps in my car for directions, a roll of dimes for the payphone, the “beeper” on my belt going off because someone called the office looking for me, I am nothing but grateful for my smart phone, GPS and contact management software that does in minutes what used to take hours.

gadget burn out picture


As the saying goes, there’s nothing new under the sun. Things change; sometimes for the better sometimes not. While we have to be open to change we also need to have the wisdom to incorporate it for our benefit not simply for its own sake.   For those of us in envelope and print sales, I think the best approach is to use new technology to make us more productive while never forgetting that there is no substitute for developing a strong personal connection with prospects and customers based on friendly service, competence, product knowledge and value. Some things are timeless for good reason.

Topics: direct mail, elite envelope, e mail and direct mail, e mail, envelope sales, printing sales

Direct Mail Can Set You Apart

Posted by Jerry Velona on Feb 27, 2012 10:37:00 AM

One of the interesting aspects of change in American culture is how things generally go from one extreme to the other relatively fast and then slowly but surely settle back more toward the middle. It’s known as “social equilibrium” in sociology circles (not a place where I spend much time admittedly so my apologies to any social scientists out there if I’m misinterpreting this. Then again, if you’re a social scientist and reading this I’m quite flattered!).

As anyone who’s been breathing in the past 20 years is aware, e mail has become ubiquitous. Twenty years ago virtually every company with 10 employees or more had someone answering the phone on a full time basis. These days when I’m on the road making calls, I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer companies with even 20 or 30 employees have someone “out front”.  At Elite Envelope, where we have 20 staff, we now have someone answering the phones and doing billing and some customer service on a part time basis. When she’s not in, the phones are picked up by whoever is in the office at that time.

Some companies just have a voice mail system which picks up. I happen to think that it’s still important and says something positive about your company when a real person answers the phone. The point here however is that while it’s always going to be necessary to conduct certain business over the phone, more and more of the routine stuff is done via e mail. Part of the reason there are fewer receptionists is that there are fewer phone calls.

The “e mail mentality” has affected direct response marketing as well. No big surprise there; that’s been going on for a long time.  The ease and convenience of setting up an e mail template along with a mailing list and sending it out to hundreds if not thousands at the click of a button can’t be denied. I do it often as part of Elite’s marketing.

However, because of the high-volume of e mail that virtually everyone in business receives on a daily basis, the impact from a single one is reduced.  It’s much easier to send one; hence its popularity, but it’s also easy to delete one and we do that constantly all day long.  For years, people complained about the sheer volume of “junk mail”. Now, there’s less of that and, as a result, each mail piece carries a certain weight and importance which just isn’t transmitted electronically in the same way.  There’s a sense that these days, if someone takes the time and effort to send you something through the mail, it must be important and therefore worth your time to open.

Elite Envelope, benefits of direct mail

I try to send out at least one mailing per quarter to various groups of potential customers. I’ve found that when following up, most people tend to remember receiving the information and have kept it somewhere in their files for further reference. Getting that initial bit of recognition can go a long way toward establishing a lasting professional connection.  At some point, that person may go on an e mail list which allows me to stay in touch. So the two can work in harmony -  or equilibrium as the case may be.

Topics: direct mail, elite envelope, elite envelope, write a letter, e mail and direct mail, e mail, envelopes

Direct Mail and E Mail – The Odd Couple

Posted by Jerry Velona on Oct 17, 2011 12:11:00 PM

The untimely death of Steve Jobs brought forth much in the press and the blogosphere about his life and many accomplishments as well as his early failures.  Jobs had a strong, some might say stubborn vision of the type of products he thought would serve as vehicles for communication, entertainment, work and pretty much anything one can imagine.  He believed in the power of design as well as function and this help create the Apple “brand” which has made the company a colossus.   

Jobs proved that as much as people want the speed and convenience of the digital world, they are at the same time drawn to aesthetics. Given the choice between the dry and functional and the interesting and functional, the latter will win more often than not.

Therein lies a lesson for direct marketers.  Obviously, there is no longer a contest between the digital world and the world of paper and ink. Digital is here to stay and those of us in the envelope and print world need to adjust.   Most of us already have by using our websites to promote our companies and sell our products and services.  We also use e mail to communicate with our prospects and customers and to transmit files and proofs.  There’s no question that these methods increase our productivity and our reach the same as for any other business.

Yet when we turn on our computers each day and try to negotiate through the barrage of messages we receive in our in boxes, we realize that the speed and immediacy of e mail can be an annoyance and hence a detriment to a proper sales pitch.  That isn’t to say that e mail marketing has no place.  Properly used, it can be an important part of a marketing program. I find it most useful in keeping in touch with people that you’ve already contacted and have some interest in your products.

 Elite Envelope makes direct mail work

But for developing prospects, nothing beats a direct mail piece that someone can actually hold and read. It makes an impression that goes beyond just another e mail to delete. Yes, I understand that “junk mail” can be an annoyance to some folks. However, these days’ people get far less regular mail than e mail so there’s probably a greater chance of it being opened than in the past.   Also, Elite Envelope produces some really beautifully designed and printed envelopes that our customers send us which can’t help but get at least a passing glance.

So, channel your inner Steve Jobs; use your creativity and design an arresting direct mail package that comes in a colorfully printed envelope. When you send that follow up e mail, I bet your prospect will remember!

Topics: direct mail, elite envelope, e mail and direct mail, e mail, printing and envelopes, printed envelopes

Yet Another Blog Post

From Jerry Velona - co-owner,

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Jerry offers pertinent, often useful information on envelope converting and printing, web printing, direct mail, the post office, songs that have to do with mail and letters, digital overload and much more!

(Non-spam) Comments always appreciated.  Spread it around!


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