Tell us about your role and journey into Marketing technology. What inspired you to start PFL?
My journey is not the typical Founder’s story.
I started PFL the old-fashioned way: a six person print shop in Livingston, Montana in 1996. At the time, I didn’t have any grand visions of e-commerce or tactile marketing. I launched the shop because there weren’t any in town, and it allowed me to create a job for a close friend of mine.
But, the story goes on.
In the late 90s, the internet was still in its infancy, and we recognized early that there was a market for online commercial printing—so we created it in 1999. We started the first-ever online commercial printing business. Fast forward to 2014. That’s when we launched our Tactile Marketing Automation® solution. We realized in our digital world, there’s still a very important place for physical marketing and direct mail. Touch—the basis of tactile marketing—matters. Physical packages have a deeper and longer-lasting effect than the onslaught of digital ads we see every 10 seconds.
What started out as an experiment in tactile marketing has grown into 4 robust product lines, deep integrations with the world’s leading CRM platforms, and 12,000 active clients across the globe. Over the last five years, we’ve gone from 150 employees to 350, and we’ve expanded from our base here in Livingston to offices in Indianapolis and other Montana cities–Billings, Bozeman and Whitefish.
Today, we’re at the cutting edge of marketing tech—but it all started from a six person print shop in Livingston.
What is PFL’s Tactile Marketing Automation? How does it work with modern CMO’s martech stack?
Simply put, our platform helps our clients better engage their customers.
Less simply, our Tactile Marketing Automation technology does that by combining the power and convenience of the modern martech stack with the psychological power and effectiveness of physical goods.
Digital marketing is essential, but it’s not enough. Our platform works with what our customers already have—Salesforce, Marketo, Oracle, etc. —and sends their customers highly targeted, personalized and trackable direct mail, gifts, tchotchkes and other marketing collateral.
Sending physical items in the mail gives the recipient something to feel, touch and experience. This stimulates multiple senses and emotions to make a memorable and engaging interaction. Our clients see the results: adding tactile marketing to digital marketing means boosting customer engagement and overall marketing ROI.
From the time you started PFL, how much has the Digital Marketing paradigm changed?
Dramatically. Back in 2000, when digital marketing was just starting to explode and Google wasn’t a public company, we could spend $84 on a Google and acquire a customer who spent $400. Those days are over, but the explosion of digital has only grown. The AMA estimates the average person sees 10,000 advertising messages per day – and our brains are tuning out. This is a big problem for marketers, but it’s given us a huge opportunity to help our clients rise above the digital noise and be heard.
The other biggest change I’ve seen in digital marketing is the shift from mass marketing to highly targeted and individualized communications. This is a positive trend, but also very difficult to execute. True personalization requires advanced technology to understand the customer and their goals, as well as the right mix of content, in the right channels, at precisely the right time.
Tell us about your SwagIQ platform. How does it work with Salesforce technology?
Sometimes traditional mail, no matter how well designed and targeted, isn’t enough to make enough of an impression, especially for those high lifetime value customers.
That’s where SwagIQ comes in. Natively integrated directly into your Salesforce instance, it helps you customize, send and track highly personalized attention-grabbing packages—like a box of healthy snacks or a bento box with branded chop sticks.
By leveraging the rich behavioral data captured in Salesforce, we ensure that our clients send gifts and packages at the precise time for the most impact. Once the item is received, an alert is created in Salesforce so the sales rep can respond and contact prospects immediately upon opening the package.
Which Marketing technologies are you excited about trying and working with, in 2019-2020?
We also have an extensive product roadmap and will be rolling out new features to our customers throughout the year.
How do you prepare your Martech Company for the complex Digital Marketing challenges?
We listen to our customers. The main complaint we hear is that launching a true multichannel marketing campaign is very complex and very time-consuming.
So, we take a very ‘hands on’ approach with our clients. We also work hard to ensure our software—which integrates with Salesforce and the major marketing automation platforms— is as easy-to-use and effective as possible.
What role does PFL play in sales acceleration processes and acquiring loyal customers?
We’ve found that an orchestrated marketing campaign that includes a personalized physical element delivers an average 5X greater return than digital marketing alone. Here’s a real example from a client of ours. Paycor, an HR and payroll software company, wanted to send 15,000 personalized postcards and branded gifts to prospective customers. Yes, they had an in-house marketing team, but direct mail wasn’t their core competency.
They couldn’t risk losing tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars of marketing budget, and sending that many postcards and packages requires verifying your prospects still live or work at the addresses on file. Our platform does that for you.
It saved Paycor $160,000 in fulfilment and printing costs and, more importantly, PFL’s TMA increased Paycor’s pipeline by 183% above their previous direct mail attempts. That was seven times higher than the goal the company had set for itself.
Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth, lessons learned through period of massive shift and transition in 2018.
We’ve learned to over-resource customer success. Our customers aren’t enthusiastic about our products because we’re charming. It’s because we’ve helped marketers not only achieve their objectives but exceed expectations.
Over the past five years, we’ve helped many people rise from sales associates and sales managers to directors or VP’s. I’m very proud of that.
What does your technology community look like? Who do you meet at events and conferences to discuss technology?
There is a growing tech community here in Montana, particularly Bozeman, which is now a tech hub. Our second largest office is in Indianapolis, which is the primary headquarters for the SF Marketing Cloud. So, we are co-headquartered in two vibrant tech corridors, and have access to a very talented tech workforce. We are also active, enthusiastic members of two nonpartisan, pro-growth groups–Montana High Tech Business Alliance and TechPoint in Indianapolis.
Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
For marketing automation and CRM, we use Marketo and Salesforce. We are also active users of our own technology to engage prospects and customers. Using our own products has been a huge advantage to the business – not only in acquiring new customers, but in learning what new features and functionality would be most beneficial to our customers.
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Marketing Technologies for 2019?
I believe we are going to see more and more marketers turn away from ‘batch and blast’ digital marketing and focus on personalized touches that are far more meaningful.
As marketers begin to realize that their digital efforts are causing people to tune out we’ll start to see strategic, multichannel marketing campaigns that include a custom physical component. This is not to say that marketing will ditch digital. But I predict that marketers will evolve to provide information worth knowing and moments worth having.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
I believe stories of how technology has changed someone’s life or business are the way to inspire people. Storytelling is a very, very powerful medium.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Snagit (screen-capture software) and Salesforce CRM
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Get your email inbox to zero at least once a week.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I listen to podcasts every day on my commute back and forth to work. I’m also an avid reader and am currently reading Selling to Big Companies by Jill Konrath.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Partners are for dancing.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you, Andrew! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Andrew founded Express Color Printing in 1996 to serve the Montana printing market. After discovering that Montana has more elk and bison than print buyers, Andrew and his small team launched PrintingForLess.com in 1999, building the first true e-commerce commercial printing company. Andrew was named Montana’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004 for his contributions to the local economy, and was recognized by Winning Workplaces and Fortune Small Business as a winner of the 2005 Best Bosses Award for innovative approaches that have created a high-performance workplace.
PFL is a marketing technology company that provides sales enablement and marketing automation solutions, as well as printing, mailing and fulfillment services. We directly connect B2B organizations to cutting-edge solutions that accelerate productivity and drive your business forward.
“PFL is a great combination of tech and consultative service. They have the tech to easily integrate into your marketing automation and CRM, as well as a team of consultants who help you design the perfect direct mailer for all your needs. I’ve used them at two companies now, and they always have good ideas on what will get peoples attention for your direct mail campaigns.”
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.