Innovative Mailing & Shipping Systems, Inc. (IMS) is a nationally recognized premier independent supplier of office automation solutions. The company services 4,000 customers throughout the greater Long Island region.
The IMS suite of solutions encompasses automated receiving, parcel manifest systems, addressing solutions, postage meters, mailing machine and forms handling systems. The company’s customer base includes small professional offices, school districts, municipal facilities and some of the largest Long Island-based companies. In terms of volume, this translates into a range of 20 to thousands of pieces mailed each month.
Over time, IMS has earned its place among the top five mailing system dealerships in the U.S.A., leveraging its reputation and track record for quality service and solutions-based approach. As long as business remained active, there was enough revenue coming in from existing channels to warrant no particular urgency to take up a new strategic marketing program. That was until new sales began to slow down.
Faced with a new reality, IMS management confronted an issue so many dealerships struggle with day to day; how to generate NEW business without spending a fortune in marketing and advertising. The answer became evident with what Prosperity Plus Management Consulting, Inc. provides every day.
“We really had an inconsistent marketing flow going out to prospective customers,” said Ellen Spoonley IMS Marketing Manager. “We didn’t have the frequency to really create an impact and sustain it.”
After evaluating the options available, including spot-buys in local/regional business media, logic directed IMS to choose the most cost-effective program available, the How to Get NEW Customers Program from Prosperity Plus. Designed to suit any size dealership, the How to Get NEW Customers Program is the dealer’s best way to augment field sales activities, particularly in a challenging economy. The program features a combination of services and support tailored to suit each dealership.
Certain dealers will accept the full gamut of services including database management, direct mail campaign, email campaign, training and tracking. IMS currently uses postcard direct mail as the primary vehicle for promotion, distributing two promo pieces out to target audiences four times a year. The total circulation or “number of touches” per flight equals 25,000 which is a number well beyond the reach of the company’s field sales force.
Spoonley also oversees the production and dissemination of an electronic newsletter which gets released to a database of 7,100 individual email addresses on a monthly basis. From a recognition or mind-share standpoint, the program is helping IMS gain ground.
“I know from speaking to our reps that they are having an easier time getting in with prospects who have said they remember seeing our postcards,” Spoonley said. “The messages in the campaign are timely, fresh and relevant to what we provide, and you can’t dispute the economical benefit. The way these postcards are priced, production and print costs are extremely affordable. We could not have gotten this value with other outside marketing resources.“Printed on a quality stock with four-color process on both sides, the postcards IMS uses feature eye-catching concepts on the “cover side” followed by a pay-off message on the second side, customized with IMS corporate signature.
The self-mailer format of each card allows immediate recognition and duplication of the message which helps save time and raise reader response time and time again. And what’s more, the program did not take months to conceive, review and implement; a major advantage for any dealer with a relatively lean staff on the payroll.
“My time is split 80-20 between sales and marketing,” Spoonley says of her standard routine. “And when I’m doing the marketing, I’ve got everything set up on a calendar and there’s a lot of hands-on work involved. However, the postcards are among the easier elements of our marketing because they’re all set up ahead of time, customized with our brand name and signature. It’s taken the hit-or miss out of the scene, and our company sales have doubled since we started the program.”
The remarkable success rate doesn’t come as a surprise to Jim Kahrs, President of Prosperity Plus, the New York-based consultancy that originated the program. “Any time you have a situation where you have a statistic that has been unchanging or declining over a period of time, one of the first steps you take as an organization is to promote,” Kahrs said. “Fortunately in IMS’ case we had already done the surveying necessary to determine what buttons their prospects would most likely respond to in a mailing program. This makes the entire program far more effective since it makes a point that resonates with new prospects with a creativity and production value above the norm. That plus frequency spurs expansion. So it’s no shock to see sales statistics rise too.”