ABM Playbook

Direct mail reinvented

In this episode of Let's Talk ABM, we talk to Alex Olley, Co-founder of Reachdesk, on how Reachdesk is revolutionising direct mail in ABM.

Date published: Date modified: 2021-02-04 strategicabm 550 60

Alex Olley
Co-founder, Reachdesk

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Alex is a Co-founder of Reachdesk. He specialises in SaaS technology and using innovative ways to break through to prospects. He believes in treating customers like humans (rather than leads or opportunities) using ABM strategies, Direct Mail, Personalised Gifting and a human element across every touchpoint.

Declan heads up marketing at strategicabm. After some 20 years working as a CMO in the Professional Services, SaaS and EdTech sectors, Declan is now Agency-side building the Strategic IC brand and sharing our clients’ ABM success stories.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • How Reachdesk is revolutionising direct mail
  • The role of Reachdesk in your ABM tech stack 
  • How Reachdesk delivers hyper-personalisation 
  • How Reachdesk clients have adapted to the new “normal”
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Direct mail reinvented

The full transcript

Declan (Strategic IC) - So Alex, thanks for joining me today, I'm delighted to have you here. Reachdesk, interesting company, Obviously you've been around now for how long?


Alex (Reachdesk) - Well, so we were founded in 2018, we started building the product early that year and then we released it, fully in 2019.


Declan (Strategic IC) - So this set of circumstances we're going through, at the moment obviously are unique and unprecedented. What are you learning actually and when talking to your clients, what are you learning about business, and over the last few weeks?


Alex (Reachdesk) -  I mean, like this, yeah, you're right. They're unprecedented times, we never lived through this before, what that does, is it causes a lot of panic straight away. I think almost every business out there has felt that, even the ones that are doing well. So I think our customers certainly, and I speak to a lot of CEOs and CMOs and other founders, it was just that big question mark as to how long is this going to last for and how do we start making preparations? Because we don't know how long it lasts for, that's just put a lot of panic into the world, and a lot of businesses just closed up their doors, straight away putting a lot of people on furlough and just thought that's the best approach. We don't want to have to weather this storm. The flip side of it was actually, let's really make a conscious effort to like try and focus on what happens in three to six months' time, and keep building for the future.


Declan (Strategic IC) - And obviously, we've been talking a lot about this over the last couple of weeks, a lot of us on LinkedIn and other platforms, people are talking about whether or not it's the right time to have a sales message and, you know, marketing message out there, and whether or not we should be pulling back a little bit in our commercial approach. What's your take on that?


Alex (Reachdesk) - It's quite simple really, it's definitely still a time to sell. All right, now, the way that you do that is very different, a lot of businesses previously have kind of practised this whole approach of, let's just have a sales process and try and close people as quickly as possible, but there's a different way of selling.


I think we've got beyond the empathy stage, everyone knows that you've got to be empathetic and you've got to understand your prospect, but actually I think sales leaders right now should be training their reps to be able to have quite brave conversations with their prospects, existing customers in their pipeline, even the net new leads that are coming in. And just say look, this is what we can help you with right now, this is what we'd be able to help you with in three to six months' time.


Does it make sense for us to be doing business together right now? Or should we just be getting to know one another and educating you on the things that might help you when this is all over. So there are really good ways to nurture that pipeline, but equally I think that if you can offer something of value to those prospects right now, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be doing business, and therefore you should continue to sell. Now the way that ties into marketing, I haven't seen too many drastic changes from that point of view because positioning and everything, will still remain the same, it's actually more how do you reach your audience is changing, the methods and the different channels.


I heard a stat yesterday there's been a 3000% increase in webinars and online events in the past two weeks, now that's really good for now, but in a month's time, I think that's going to be exhausted. So it's about how the marketing teams think ahead of the game, what do we do next? Because everyone's going to have been on every single webinar and looking for something a bit different.

Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, and touching on that point, with your clients obviously who spend a lot of money perhaps on events and in-person conferences, et cetera, are they having conversations with you about that now, saying, "Hey, we need to find some innovative ways of reaching our clients, talking to our prospects?"


Alex (Reachdesk) - Yeah, 100%, so, for us it was interesting, we saw a lot of deals accelerated, for businesses that were going to be using us as part of their event strategy. Some who weren't going to be using us at all for that, it was more demand gen and Account-based marketing and using us within their SDR function. So we saw a lot of people coming to us really, really fast, saying, hey what are your ideas?


They just wanted our ideas, and we were saying here are three things that you can be doing right now, and they would hop onto it straight away because they're kind of thinking, well, whilst we're going to be doing all this online stuff, we still need to be planning for that next phase. So I think a lot of businesses need a lot of inspiration at the beginning, and we weren't afraid to say this is what we think is going to work.


We don't know if it's going to work, but these are things we think are going to work. And we've already been seeing huge, huge results for our customers, because they're still landing physical mail and using e-gift carding and charitable donations, which helps them position themselves accurately, but also allows them to actually reach the audience they want to reach.


Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, and so obviously, you're at home, I'm at home, everyone's at home, right? How has that impacted your clients because obviously, a lot of stuff maybe, people might think would be, sent to people's offices, arrive on their desks, I've seen pictures of previously, people publishing on LinkedIn - images of what arrives on their desk, a nice package from a client or a prospect, et cetera. But how is that changing now, with people now being at home?


Alex (Reachdesk) - Yeah, first things first, we saw like a huge drop because everyone just assumed, that you couldn't reach people in their homes. And then about a week later, everyone started saying, well hang on a second, can we still send mail and gifts to people in their homes? The answer is very simple, if you've got their permission to do so, then of course you can.


So I've seen some of the most creative marketing campaigns in the past two weeks than I've ever witnessed in my times at Reachdesk, because usually you would have like a target audience with your customer, and you would just do it as like a large campaign or you might do one to one gifting.


And actually what our customers are starting to do is awesome things like, so we bought all these, this stuff for that massive event we were going to host, and it just sat in a big container somewhere, we want to get it into your warehouse and we want to send like a landing page to someone, who would have attended that event saying, it's a real shame that we missed you, now we want to send something to you in your home, enter this code and type in your home address.


We're not going to put you in a marketing flow or anything, but we just want to do something for you, because we know that you're stuck at home, and here's something for you to enjoy. And as a result, they are generating huge demand for demos and bookings because they're doing this very altruistic marketing method, where they're just giving without actually expecting too much in return, and it's paid off hugely for them.


Declan (Strategic IC) - And so you're seeing, huge numbers of people actually saying hey, I'll accept that I'll be delighted to accept something in my home, et cetera.


Alex (Reachdesk) - Yeah, yeah, massive opt-in rates, think about it, we're all sitting at home. I've bought a fold-up desk because I don't usually work from home, it's pretty bad. And someone sent me something the other day saying, I just like to send you a little plant for your desk, and now that's sitting on my desk, and it just makes my day a bit better.


Every time that I can look at that, it reminds me of that brand and that individual who did something for me and I took a demo with them and I was like, actually, this is something that could add value to me right now. So there's this sort of reminder, and because of that, I think people want to be sent stuff. We're sending our customers packages with colouring books and stuff for their kids, or you can have an option where if you're a fitness nut, you can do the Joe Wick's home workout and we'll send you workout gear. So we're doing things a bit differently, we wouldn't have sent that stuff before. We would never have sent things to our customers or our prospects, to take home, but now we are because that's the environment that they live in.


Declan (Strategic IC) - No, it's fascinating, and also the point we were talking about before, you know as you said, you weren't used to working from home, and so, what set up do you have there. Maybe people could grab their laptop on the last day and bring it home, but did they have the right desk, the right chair, as you said, the mouse, all the other, you know, paraphernalia that they're used to having in the office, now these are opportunities as well to engage, right?


Alex (Reachdesk) - Yeah, well the first part we saw for us was actually HR teams using us. So we started saying, we'll actually, we never had customers using us for HR purposes, it was always marketing or sales or customer success before that. When we had businesses coming to us saying, well, we want to be able to do, the team drinks that we do every week.


But we can't send anyone beers or anything, how do we do that? So they're using our e-gift carding methods, so they'll send like their employees, £30 worth of Uber Eats to buy themselves a takeaway and order some beers to their home. For employee morale, that's huge. I even say, this one thing that your employer's doing to make my life a little bit different.


So from an HR play, we're sending a lot of e-gift cards for HR purposes, if going back to what you're saying before, like building a desk for example. So, we have lots of, you know, we've got about a thousand different types, but a lot of them, our customers started sending PC World vouchers, order yourself that second screen or your mouse, or whatever you need, a desk chair. And it's made such a massive difference to productivity and efficiency. It's also made their employees really happy because they've gotten kitted out with something they're comfortable with.


Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, it's fascinating, and tell me with regards to Reachdesk, how has your marketing strategy changed or your approach to engaging prospects. How has that changed over the last two weeks in light of the circumstances that we're living in?


Alex (Reachdesk) - So we're focusing a lot more on social, so the digital channel engagements and things is, really important right now, but we're using individuals in our organisation to spread the message that we want to spread, rather than the company page. The company page isn't as important now, because people want to create engagement with another individual, they're not as bothered with the company I don't think, so, I've looked into a lot of data and the businesses that are just putting stuff out through their company pages, aren't getting as much attraction, whereas if they can enable their CEO, for example, to be spreading the message, then it resonates a lot more with the audience.


So we're doing a lot more of that, so I think I've become more active, we are doing more webinars, we're doing more podcasts, we've been invited to a lot more, but we're still sending physical gifts, but we're still sending e-gift cards, we're still using our product to sell, we're just doing it in a different way. Yep, but a lot more digital obviously, but we've got a couple of things that we're thinking of in a couple of weeks time that we'll start leveraging as well, but we'll keep that one up our sleeve for now.


Declan (Strategic IC) - And what's one of the most interesting requests that a client's probably come to you about?


Alex (Reachdesk) Well, recently?


Declan (Strategic IC) - Maybe, yeah. Give us an example of something interesting.


Alex (Reachdesk) - I mean, so I gave you that brief example earlier where one of our clients had the annual summit, and they just said that we just need to be able to, we have 2,000 Easter eggs, just sitting somewhere and we need to get this to 26 different countries around Europe, in different languages, and we have to do that from our bedrooms.


That's a logistical nightmare in itself anyway, but we, we've executed on it because everything was sent to our fulfillment centre here, and we've obviously got some in the US as well. But you know, it's, they're sort of creating competitions around this. So kind of gamifying the whole bedroom experience to win Easter eggs, because they're missing out on what would have happened at the event because they knew that, at that event, you're not just going to just hear from that keynote speaker, you're going to meet people. They're kind of creating engagement, amongst the recipients, to kind of share things and then post and tag things in their bedrooms, which is really cool, and it kind of brings that community together and they're still thinking about the purpose of that event, but they're doing it through Easter eggs, sending to people's home offices and bedrooms.


Declan (Strategic IC) - It's crazy, isn't it?


Alex (Reachdesk) - It's a bit mad, but they seem to be enjoying it themselves. It's like a really good project for them, and I think one thing I've noticed recently, if you're in events marketing right, no events are happening. So these guys are usually very, very creative, like events or like the best events that we go to, the ones that you learn something new but also makes you feel differently about how you engage with that brand. So events marketing is a really creative and engaging, strand of marketing. And what I've seen is these guys sort of using the physical channel to leverage a lot of their ideas, but kind of having like a bedroom play on it, and I'm seeing a lot of amazing things come out of that.


Declan (Strategic IC) - And so talking about the market and obviously people watching this webinar afterward, what advice would you give to people looking to, you know, engage, build relationships talk to their customers and their prospects over the coming weeks and months?


Alex (Reachdesk) - Just first things first, right? Just be really honest with people, I think I said before, we all know we have to be empathetic. We all know that we have to be conscious of people's environments changing. I don't feel people are being honest enough with one another, I think they're still trying to sort of slide their way in a little bit, and sort of test the waters and hope that there's something happening.


I think people just need to get used to just being very frank, if you work in sales, say, look, this is what we have to offer, I'd like to understand a bit more about your situation because timing is often key in sales.


Can we have an honest conversation about whether or not this is going to be a good fit for both of us? Cause sales is about service, and your buyer will give you something in return for the value that you create for them. So just appreciate that, and have a really honest conversation with someone, because there's no point in trying to force it. You're just going to get to that point where the CFO is going to say, no, we've got no budget for this. So just be really honest with people in the conversations that you have, don't try and be surreptitious about it. I've had people try and sell me stuff over the past couple of days, and it was, it just felt really uneasy and I wished someone had just said, this is what I can do for you, this is the value I can create for you. Is this a conversation we should be having, or should we just be putting this on ice and talking in three months?


Declan (Strategic IC) - Yeah, that's very good advice, and finally, Alex, you're sitting there at home now, what's the one thing that you're taking from that experience?


Alex (Reachdesk) - I found about 10 new methods of management, I wish I'd sort of implemented before. So we do like a number of different stand-ups, and every morning I jump on a call with our customer success, project management team that makes everything tick along in the background, and I found new ways of actually getting stuff done really, really quickly, by having a different type of structure, whereas before it was very much just like, let's all have a catch-up and see what's going on and now it's like, let's hold ourselves accountable a little bit more, because if we don't, and we don't track this every day, with a really objectives focused scheme, then stuff's not going to get done.


So I found really good ways that I'm going to put in place, when we are back in the office, 'cause we're going to do that every day anyway. So for me, it's actually been really good to learn new methods that I think we should be doing anyway. I feel like I've learned a hell of a lot more about other businesses that I kind of wish I'd done. One thing I think I'm going to be doing after this, is I will be talking to other founders a lot more, other like-minded professionals, guys like yourself as well, and just being able to give my time and hopefully for them to be able to give theirs back to me, to kind of say, look, how about we learn from one another?


Even some of our, I'd say, we don't really have many competitors, but even some of the businesses that might vie for the same budget as we do, I've learned a lot from and realised that actually the business community, is way more open than I realised previously, and actually there's a hell of a lot I can learn, from a lot of those guys. So the two things I've really done over the past couple of weeks is, there are better ways to get stuff done through better management, and actually listening to your employees a lot better. But also, not everyone's your competitor actually you can learn a lot from people, and perhaps help each other out a lot.


Declan (Strategic IC) - Listen Alex, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Reachdesk.


Alex (Reachdesk) - Awesome thanks a lot Declan, it's been great being here. So, yeah, let's keep in touch and good luck with everything on your end.


Declan (Strategic IC) - Thank you very much, thanks.


Alex (Reachdesk) - Cheers, bye.