Direct Mail Outlook -- Getting Personal
The power of its integrated direct mail solution is what fueled a successful year at The Instant Web Cos. (IWCO), of Chanhassen, MN. According to Jim Andersen, president and CEO, three years ago 25 percent of IWCO's revenues were generated from integrated, total-package customers. That figure has climbed to 60 percent.
The fully integrated value proposition was started in 2000 and is paying greater dividends with each passing year. "(Clients) see tangible value in our integrated direct mail platform," Andersen says. "Our mantra is making customers more successful. The blocking and tackling done in 2000—the heavy lifting, repositioning the company, re-articulating our value proposition, and re-arranging the building blocks from a structural, organizational and process enhancement side internally—allowed us to reposition the company and prepare for the integrated direct mail platform.
Insourcing Is Important
"We insource everything, so our customers are getting the benefit of cycle time reduction and transportation savings from component manufacturing. With today's enormous economic pressures on customers, if you can make one call to The Instant Web Cos. for an entire direct mail package, you're eliminating the redundancy in purchase orders and managing the supply chain. That helps them on their staffing levels."
IWCO enjoyed solid performances from industries of what Andersen termed "loyalty" programs—financial services and retail. He credits the integrated solution with showing growth in that area, as well as being an inhibitor to the erosion that certain markets are seeing.
The company spent $7 million on new equipment in 2002, which provided some refinement in improved technology and processes—primarily on the personalization and printing platforms. Its postal stream managing tool, IWCO P.O.S.T (Postal Optimization Strategy and Technologies), is a strategic and technological initiative that allows IWCO to optimize to the five-digit level in the mail stream.
"We're delivering about 75 percent of all the mail to the SCF level," Andersen says. "This is an expansion of what we built three years ago. If you're eliminating multiple handoffs and multiple stages, and you're not outsourcing, you can drive cost out of the equation through process and service enhancements. It's really resonating with our customers because of the enormous uptick in postage costs and the three postal increases we've seen in the last 18 months. IWCO P.O.S.T. has been a great enhancer, maturity/expansion of our logistics services related to the mail."