Empty Kiwi letterboxes a haven from noisier channels

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Daniel McCarthy, the CEO at promotional print & mail giant Western Mailing, is an inspirational and successful leader who has consistently delivered growth and commercial results in NZ and internationally.

His experience spans Sales, Marketing, Revenue Management, Partnership Management, Business Development and Corporate Strategy over the past 20 years in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia Pacific, including Vector, Avis, and Procter & Gamble.

He is a Cambridge University graduate, and also holds strong views on digital and print advertising, and is an enthusiastic supporter of Movember.

Daniel McCarthy agreed to a Q+A session with M+AD:

As communications moves further and further into the digital era, tell us, what are the implications for print media?

Over the last decade, Western Mailing has moved assertively into the online space as we believe that digital capabilities are complementary to print, rather than a threat. Multichannel campaigns with rich personalisation, informed by robust data analytics, are the ultimate direct marketing.

Print in the digital world is evolving into a highly responsive medium, which can be tailored to target each customer perfectly. I’ve read some interesting stuff about the world we live in today – variously described as Digical or Digilogue – and the truth is that humans like the physical form and continue to yearn for unique interactions. As always with communication, the channel, message, timing and quality of the marketing piece will remain key.

Technology has changed the behaviours and expectations of society. How is Western Mailing adapting to changing technology, and what does this mean for your business?

Technology has always been evolving and changing how society works.  Western Mailing has embraced the full potential of technological change by developing advanced online, print and mobile capabilities over the last decade.  Today, a quarter of our staff are IT professionals and much of our work involves significant systems development to process data, develop the right content and formats, and digitise the output for printing or online and mobile delivery.  We are as much a software company as we are a print and mail company, and our clients now include CIOs and CTOs.

In your eyes what does the future of mailing, print and fulfilment look like?

The digital era requires speedy and streamlined responses. The future of mailing, print and fulfilment is about being increasingly responsive in a digitally-enabled world where we are closely integrated into our clients’ systems and processes.  As well as incorporating online invoicing, archiving and a multitude of self-service tools into our service offering, data sharing and file transfer systems mean that more than ever our sphere overlaps into the client’s business.

Just like outsourced billing and transactional mailing services became ‘part of the furniture’ for many companies some time ago, I see systems becoming more closely integrated so that direct marketing happens as a natural process for our client’s business.

Apart from the growth of digital, what is the most important trend you’re seeing in the New Zealand printing and fulfilment industry at the moment?

The Kiwi letterbox is empty. NZ Post say that they only deliver 50% of the time to a letterbox during any given week, which means three days out of six are ‘quiet’ days.  If only email was so uncluttered!

This trend is not new, but the opportunity it presents is becoming clearer as the online space – social, email, mobile – becomes so noisy that the quieter tangible ‘channel’ gets more cut-through.  The effectiveness of physical mail is growing and companies that recognise and take advantage of this trend, as part of their communication mix, will get heard.

Data is an important component of your business.  How do you use data to deliver communications more effectively?

Data is an important component of every business activity.  The question of how to use ‘big data’ effectively is the million dollar question.  We work with our clients’ data to deliver better communication, better targeting, and better outcomes.  To do this we spend the time to understand each client’s business and goals. We clean and process data to improve accuracy and postage rates, and to enable complex personalisation throughout all communications. We can programme a preset series of events based on customer activity to drive the ultimate response rates, and we can provide in depth reporting to inform future communications. Data is central to everything we do.

And where would you like to see Western Mailing in five years time?

Western Mailing in five years’ time will not be a revolution but an evolution from today.  In our 35th year, we will be a trusted advisor to our clients, delivering effective digital and physical communication to their customers.

Our products and services will have continually evolved to leverage the digital opportunities and rich data insights, and increasingly integrated with our clients’ systems.  Having said that, I’ve learnt from Nostradamus that the future is a tricky place, and I may look back and laugh at this last answer in five years’ time!

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