Joy Gendusa is the Founder and CEO of PostcardMania. She grew her business from a small startup into an industry leader with only a phone, a computer and her own marketing savvy — NO capital injections or angel investors. Today, PostcardMania employs 200+ people and generates over $45 million annually.
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- Backlinko – Joy’s small business resource
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- Postcard Marketing in An Online World: Success Simplified – Joy’s Book
- Postcard Mania – Joy’s website
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3 Key Points:
- Direct mail is certainly not being replaced by digital mail; rather, it’s being enhanced.
- You simply can’t do the work on your own—have the RIGHT people in the RIGHT places.
- Find your edge – your business should STAND OUT from your competitors.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:06] – Postcard Mania does lead generation for small to medium sized businesses
- [01:18] – Joy has 2 sons who are both working for her now
- [01:30] – She has a dog and loves cooking
- [01:44] – Her area of expertise is lead generation with direct mail
- [02:03] – They have 72K+ customers on their list and 12K who are current
- [02:41] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: Direct mail is still going strong and is not being replaced with digital mail. Mailing out consistently to the same list and making sure they see your message is important.
- [04:13] – Joy shares some details about the clients they serve
- [05:48] – “Timing is everything”
- [06:30] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Joy funded her manufacturing equipment with an IRB. They went with Bank of America and in 2008 the banking and real estate industry went down. Banks were looking at how to get money fast. Joy got a phone call from Bank of America and was told that her loans would be due in 30 days.
- [08:32] – Bank of America basically wanted $6.8M in 30 days or they would get all of her property
- [08:52] – It lasted from September 2009 to October 2011
- [09:26] – When Joy refinanced with another bank, her business was still growing
- [09:55] – Joy realized she needed a CFO
- [10:37] – Have the right people in the right places
- [11:18] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Joy realized small businesses were throwing away money for marketing, so she hired a results manager who goes through all their campaigns, compiles details and results per industry, and then shares the data with potential customers
- [14:07] – None of Joy’s competitors copied that method
- [14:14] – Figure out how your business can be different from all the others
- [15:04] – Entrepreneurs must figure out how to describe their businesses in a concise way
- [15:54] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “I’m fired up about direct mail 2.0”
- [16:26] – Direct mail from Postcard Mania has mail tracking codes, a call tracking phone number, and cookies
- [18:43] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Really nothing”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “I should pay myself first”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Staying positive – smiling a lot”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Backlinko
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Don’t Make Me Think – “it’s about websites – the way they look and the user experience”
- [21:10] – Most small business owners have a misconception around how much communication it takes to get the influx of leads they want and need
- [21:38] – Joy is offering a copy of her book, Postcard Marketing in An Online World: Success Simplified.
- [22:07] – Connect with Joy at Postcard Mania
Joy: I am prepared.
JLD: Yes. Joy is the founder and CEO of Postcard Mania. She grew her business from a small startup into an industry leader with only a phone, a computer, and her own marketing savvy – no capital injections or angel investors required. Today, PostcardMania employs over 200 people and generates $45 million a year annually. Joy, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Joy: Ah, my personal life. Well, let me fill in the gaps first – just that what we do is we are lead generation company for small to medium size businesses so that's what PostcardMania does. And I guess, my personal life, I've got two boys – they're 23 and 25. They both work for me right now – we'll see how long that lasts. I'm married, I have three dogs, I love to cook. How's that?
JLD: Wow. That's great for the personal life and we're going to get more into the entrepreneurial life/journey in a minute here but, before we do, let's talk about what you consider your area of expertise? Break that down for us.
Joy: We know how to generate leads for small businesses using, primarily, direct mail and any other auxiliary services that we offer are to sort of back that up and help turn those leads into customers – like we nurture programs and that kind of thing. So that's really… We have 72,000 plus small business customers in the US – about 12,000 of them are current so that's across about 300 industries but there's probably 30 or 40 industries that are consistently doing what we tell them to do so we have really good empirical data across many, many industries about what works and what doesn't work in terms of direct mail.
JLD: Well, let's talk about that data for a second, let's talk about direct mail. What don't we know – myself, Fire Nation, the listeners today – about direct mail that we should know?
Joy: Well, that it's still going strong and it's not being replaced by digital. It's definitely being enhanced by digital channels like PaperClick or email marketing but it is definitely not being replaced. And I feel like that's just a misnomer that people say, "Oh, who's doing direct mail anymore?" but it's very effective.
JLD: Let's go deeper than that – what is something that's working in direct mail right now? Give us a tip, a tool, a tactic that you're like, "Wow. People need to know about this.
Joy: Okay. I'll talk about Dr. Ahmit Khanna. He's a dentist in Maryland.
Joy: He bought a practice in 2009 and he thought that it would just go on as usual and it was just he couldn't get the numbers up and he didn't really understand what was going on. That's when he became our client. He started mailing consistently out just 6,000 postcards every single month and, when you look at his graph, you can see that that consistency… he immediately started getting new patients but the consistency – hitting the same list over and over again – you could see that the number of new patients every single month was increasing.
In 2011, he doubled the number of cards per month to 12,000 and you could just see the instant increase in the number of new patients that he was getting from the postcards. And then he incorporated a very specific tactic called Direct Mail 2.0 where we marry display ads and remarketing with direct mail and you can just see, even with the same number of postcards – 12,000 pieces per month – a huge leap in the number of new patients. So now, today, he's got several doctors working for him, he's making just buckets of money, and it all started with a simple postcard campaign.
JLD: Well, I like buckets of money and I'm sure you do, too, Fire Nation. And just realize this: timing is everything. Just because you don't get a response on the first thing that you send somebody or let people know about, it could just be timing. It may not be that time that I need to go in and get my teeth cleaned but maybe, two months later, I'm eating some of my ice cream and I have a little pain in my back molar and I'm like, "I need to see a doctor or dentist," and then, guess what, the next day in my mailbox, there's a mailer at the right time, right place. Boom, making it happen. So, Joy, I do want to go back now in your journey as an entrepreneur. You've had the ups, you've had the downs – take us to the lowest of the low. Take us to your worst entrepreneurial moment ever and tell us that story.
Joy: Okay. It's just so funny. I'm generally extremely upbeat so this is really hard for me to come up with but we did have a crazy thing happen in 2009, I guess is when it started. Just to briefly give you a little bit of background, I funded my equipment – my manufacturing equipment and my real estate – with something called an IRB which is an Industrial Revenue Bond. And that's just money that's backed by the government but you have to have a bank kind of take the lead on it and we went through Bank of America. And I was like the golden child – they couldn't stop throwing money at me from the time I started my company.
We were just growing hugely every single year. And then, in 2008, if you recall, the mortgage industry, and the real estate industry, and the banking industry kind of went to hell in a handbasket. Everybody was defaulting on their mortgages and the banks were losing so much money, they went looking for, "How could we get a bunch of money really fast?" That's the only way I could think with it right now. But I got a phone call from Bank of America – a woman in their Special Assets Department – and she just was telling me that they were calling my loans and they were going to be due in 30 days. And, if you looked at all of my – and this was not just on my building and equipment, this was on all the real estate my husband and I bought over the years we –
JLD: Was she calling from Nigeria?
Joy: No, she wasn't. She was calling from North Carolina.
Joy: And she basically – I didn't understand it – but she was telling me that we had broken one of our covenant agreements and I was like, "What covenant agreement? We pay every month. I don't understand." And it took a while to kind of duplicate and understand what they were going for and why they were doing this – it was all kind of hitting us from all over. But they wanted $6.8 million in 30 days that I obviously didn't have or they were just going to take all my properties and… When you look at covenant agreements and this type of a loan, it's literally like a 200-page hardcover book so, anyway, that was definitely my very, very… It lasted from September of 2009 until October of 2011 so this was pretty much two years of hell until I completely had them off my back.
JLD: Well, looking back in hindsight, I'm just kind of curious – what exactly happened? Did they ever come back and explain themselves? How can we understand this as listeners right now what went down?
Joy: What went down is, honestly, it just had to do with what was going on in banking at that time and there really wasn't anything logical about it. In the end of the story when we were finally refinanced by another bank, we were still growing and they were now trying to actually trying to win our business back and we did wind up… The whole thing was a nightmare – and I know that this is a short interview and I don't really know how to explain it quickly to you so that the listeners would understand exactly what happened – but I think, probably… We didn't even have a CFO back then. We didn't even… anything I did, the banks were throwing money at me so it was kind of like, suddenly, I realized, "I need a CFO. I have to have audited financials.
I have to be able to show things and do things in the proper way that nobody cared about before." They loved my financials when they approved the loan for the equipment and the building. So the takeaway from… I grew up really fast. I'm an entrepreneur that has no formal education, no college degree in Business or any of this stuff so it was like I was kind of like a goofy girl who was doing really well and everything I touched turned to gold and, the next thing you know, there's this huge behemoth bank trying to take it all away from me.
JLD: Fire Nation, you need to have the right people in the right place as your business is growing – you have to invest in your business because, these type of things, you can't control that are outside of your periphery like what happened in 2008 and 2009 and beyond. You have to be prepared for these types of experiences so that you can live to fight another day. Now, Joy, I'm going to kind of pull back from that story because you did a great job in a very short time sharing what happened and the struggles you went through but let's talk about another story – this one being one of your greatest ideas to date. Maybe that's for PostcardMania, maybe… It's your call because you know our listeners – we are entrepreneurs – what's that a-ha moment? Tell us that story.
Joy: This is actually really good and I feel like your listeners can get a lot out of this, especially if they're in an industry where they have a lot of competition. So, when I started PostcardMania, we were the only company selling these inexpensive, full-color, super glossy postcard marketing campaigns directly to small businesses – I had no competitors. And then, before you knew it, they were popping up all over the internet and my product became a commodity. So nobody wants to be the cheapest at what they do. Nobody wants to sell their product for the cheapest and keep having these price wars with competitors. So I had to take a look at what was I going to do to differentiate myself and I went down a path of really figuring this out.
And what I looked at was what's the most painful thing my prospective client would feel or what would they hate the most about buying my product – whether it's the process, the cost, or whatever it is – what thing would they like the least? And what we realized is that small businesses have thrown away money on marketing over and over again where they spent money on marketing and didn't get the result that they were promised or that they had hoped for. So how could I take that pain and sort of alleviate it for the customer and move myself out of being someone just offering the same commodity of printed postcards that get mailed?
And so what we did is we hired a results manager – somebody whose job, 40 plus hours a week, was to go through every campaign and get all the details of every campaign – what worked, what didn't work – by industry and catalog all those results by industry. And, that way, we could share that information with our prospects before they become our customers and that would make us an opinion leader in their field so that they could have more trust and not feel like, "Oh, am I going to throw this money away? Is this going to work?" rather than just crossing their fingers and making a prayer.
And that really was an amazing idea and I really thought that all these other companies were going to jump onboard and copy us because so many companies copied us from… as the internet grew, so did this industry and we just got copied all over the place. But you have to actually hire someone and pay them a salary and they have to be smart – and it's not a small salary to do this job – so none of my competitors actually went after this. And the takeaway for your listeners is to figure out how you can be different and not have an atmosphere, or a product, or a service, or a portion of that that disenfranchises your customers. Take that away.
JLD: Fire Nation, there's a lot that you can be taking away. Just what Joy said is a great point but, also, the differentiating point. We, as entrepreneurs, we have to differentiate ourselves; we have to bring forth that unique thing to market, so always be thinking about that. What is going to set you apart from the noise, from the competition? Now, Joy, I really wanted to make that point with what you were going through but that story had so many great takeaways so what is just the one thing that you really want to make sure our listeners get from you’re a-ha moment?
Joy: Just what you just said: that they have to differentiate themselves. And figure out how to say it in a way very concisely so that, if somebody says, "What do you do?" you don't just say, "Oh, I have an HVAC company," or, "I'm a dentist," or… You say, "I'm the only HVAC company in town that offers blah, blah, blah that has a guarantee," or this kind of thing. So you have to figure out what can you do…? You might have to change your entire business process to be able to have something that's different but it really paves the way for a lot of success and just beating out your competitors when you do that.
JLD: So let's kind of move to today because you do have a lot of really cool things going on and I think that Fire Nation would love to know what are you most fired up about right now?
Joy: Oh, I'm fired up about Direct Mail 2.0. That's easy. Direct Mail 2.0, just to put in a nutshell, is when you take three additional components and add them to a traditional direct mail piece. When any business owner mails out direct mail, the first thing that they think is, "I wonder when is this piece going to hit?" And a lot of times, they don't even know if what's bringing in the calls is that direct mail piece. So let me go over the three components really quickly. First, we add a mail tracking code and, that way, the business owner can log into a portal and they can see exactly when those postcards are going to hit mailboxes and they can also see the predicted delivery date and the actual delivery date.
We also put on a phone number that's not your phone number – we call it a "call tracking phone number" – it goes through the cloud so it basically rings in your business but it's picked up in the cloud first where it's recorded. So you can log in, you can see exactly how many phone calls came off of that specific direct mail piece, and you can also listen to the calls so you can quality control check your sales people and your receptionists, and also call people back that call at night, and hang up, and don't leave a message because those leads are very valuable and you're spending money on them. The most exciting part, though, is that, every person that gets that card, if they're interested in what you have, they're going to go to your website first.
That's what everybody does first before they pick up the phone and call a business. They do their own due diligence and 96 percent of the people that go to a website take no action when they get there. So what happens, when somebody gets your postcard and they are interested, and they go to your website, we cookie them. That just means that we follow them around the internet so that, when they leave that website and do nothing – which is the most likely thing – they'll see ads that look like that postcard all over the internet, all over the Google network, thousands of times so you get that repeat message over and over and over again with that one mailing. So that really fires me up because we've watched our clients that take advantage of Direct Mail 2.0 get way, way, way better results.
JLD: Fire, Nation, this is just something that we have to understand here in 2017 and beyond – we are going to have to be in front of our potential clients and customers multiple, multiple times to build the know, like, and trust it is going to take for them to take action and make a purchase to invest in us – critical stuff. So, Fire Nation, invest your time in the upcoming lightning rounds after we thank our sponsors.
[Audio pauses and resumes]
Joy, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Joy: I hope so. You're scaring me.
JLD: Muahaha. What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Joy: Really, nothing. I am an entrepreneur so I really didn't have anything specific holding me back. I wasn't at a job where I was making a lot of money so it was like, "Well, let me see if I can do this and, if I can't, I'll just get another crappy job."
JLD: What's the best advice you've ever received?
Joy: About three years into my owning my business, a friend of mine that I used to work for told me that I should pay myself first. And this was completely contrary to everything that I'd ever heard but he said, "If you pay yourself first and you pay yourself well, you will have the necessity to make enough money to pay all those other things. But, if you put yourself last, you'll always be last," kind of thing. And I was like, "Wow," and I just gave myself a big old raise and it's just been going great ever since.
JLD: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Joy: Staying positive, smiling a lot.
JLD: If you could recommend just one resource, Joy, what would it be and why?
Joy: I would recommend backlinko.com. That's Brian Dean and he's an SEO expert – that's search engine optimization. And, if you don't know anything about search engine optimization, I would probably say it's too advanced but I am in love with his blog and everything that he teaches.
JLD: Backlinko. And, Joy, if you could recommend just one book, what would it be and why?
Joy: I would recommend a book by a guy called Steve Krug. It's called Don't Make Me Think and, basically, it's about websites, the way they look, and the user experience. It's a very easy read. Any business owner that has a website needs to read this book.
JLD: Joy, I want to end it today on fire with a parting piece of guidance from you, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Joy: Okay, great. So my parting piece of guidance would be this: what I have found with working with over 72,000 small businesses –
Joy: – is that most small business owners have a misconception of how much communication it takes to get the influx of leads and business that they want. They're always struggling with, "I need more, I need more," but they don't realize that they have to 10X in their mind whatever they think the proper amount of outflow is. Does that make sense?
JLD: Yeah, it makes total sense.
Joy: Okay, good. And what I'd like to do is offer a copy of my book to any of your listeners. It's called Postcard Marketing in an Online World: Success Simplified and I break down how to do direct mail correctly and how to incorporate it into all the different online tactics as well. And you can download it for free at postcardmania.com/firenation.
JLD: Love it. And is there any other place you want Fire Nation to learn more about you or your company?
Joy: Just go to postcardmania.com. We have about 5,000 readable pages on our website with tons of free information on marketing so make yourself at home there.
JLD: Love it. And, Fire Nation, you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with and you've been hanging out with JG and JLD today. So keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type "Joy" in the search bar. Her show notes page will pop up with everything that we've been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz – timestamps, links galore of everything that we've been talking about. And, of course, Joy offered, so generously, her book, Postcard Marketing in an Online World. Head over to postcardmania.com/firenation to snag that. And, of course, learn more about PostcardMania and just go over to postcardmania.com. And, Joy, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we'll catch you on the flip side.
Joy: My pleasure.
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