Somebody asked me the other day — what am I most grateful for because I do have a pretty idyllic scene at PostcardMania.
I honestly have a LOT to appreciate about my business and life, so this is actually a hard question and one I had to think about!
I have a loving family, good health, and a business that keeps growing.
But what I’m MOST proud of this year doesn’t have anything to do with good health or my company’s growth, but instead:
The ONE thing that I believe makes PostcardMania truly successful, and guess what:
It’s not marketing.
If you’ve been reading my newsletter for any length of time, you may have read that I started out with a very small team way back in 1998. If I’m going to tell you what I’m grateful for, I’m going to have to tell you my story so you can really understand it. I hope you enjoy!
In the beginning, I was changing my fledgling design firm into PostcardMania, and I had just 5 staff. I didn’t realize I would grow what we were doing into a $50 million company. We were just a small group operating out of a little cottage in Clearwater, FL with a mission to help small business owners grow their businesses with postcards at an affordable price.
That’s the first PostcardMania location!
The truth is…
I didn’t even mean to start a marketing company originally.
The idea of PostcardMania was actually spurred out of a bad vendor experience I had when I was running that graphic design firm, circa 1997. At that time, I brokered out the printing needs for both my clients and my own marketing. I wanted to mail some postcards to market my graphic design services to prospects, so I contacted this printer I knew about.
This printer was happy to help me, and when I got my proof back from them, I could see why.
They had added their 800-number to MY postcard design in 5-point type. Even though I had personally designed my own postcards, they went ahead and added their phone number to my design —
Needless to say, I was furious! The audacity of a printer to just slap their phone number on my postcards — marketing that would go out to MY small business prospects — was just crazy.
I called their manager and after a LOT of back-and-forth, I got them to remove their phone number from my design. When I got off the phone I said:
That’s IT. I’m starting my own postcard marketing company, we’re NOT going to put our phone numbers on peoples’ postcards, and I’m going to call it PostcardMania!
And that’s honestly how fast PostcardMania was formed!
Since I was a graphic artist, I knew how to design postcards to generate leads, and I committed to providing affordable full-color postcard marketing to small business owners, and I’d take care of all the design, printing, and mailing.
I wouldn’t pull any fast ones on my customers.
So I drove to Office Depot and bought a yellow pages CD that I used as my first mailing list (no internet yet in 1998!). We mailed 1,000 postcards to that list, advertising a special offer for 5,000 postcards at a quarter of the price postcards used to be back then.
The orders came in, and we worked our tails off, helping our clients’ businesses grow.
PostcardMania as a business was working because I offered something really needed and wanted, and I operated on one stable piece of information:
That if you want to grow your business, you need to market MORE than you think you should.
It became clear that I couldn’t grow PostcardMania more with the 5 staff I had — even as competent and hard-working as they were. As it was, I was a mother of 2 young boys, and I was personally working 80 hours a week and sometimes MORE.
I needed more help.
In 1999 I hired a young lady named Melissa. Just 19 years-old at the time, I put her on reception to answer phones. She demonstrated she was hard-working, so she quickly became my executive assistant — my right-hand woman. Even though she was young, I saw how smart and competent she was, so before she realized what was happening, I put her in charge of all operations at PostcardMania handling all of this:
- Managing orders
- Making sure printing was on time
- Mailing out postcards
- And, essentially, getting others to get stuff done!
With Melissa helping me run a huge chunk of PostcardMania, I focused on expanding the company.
I kept adding team members here and there, and before we knew it we had 11 staff… and then 25… and then 50 staff members on board —
Selling, printing, and mailing postcards like a bunch of Maniacs (which is what we call ourselves now)!
By the way, Melissa stayed with the company and is the President of PostcardMania — still my right hand woman after 19 years!
PostcardMania’s growth was both steady and fast because of the incredible help I had from my team.
At 50 Maniacs, we felt like one BIG family.
But I wanted PostcardMania to grow and help even more small business owners.
I remember speaking at one of our weekly staff meetings, telling everyone my intention to hire more staff and grow into a larger company.
But there was one caveat:
We had to maintain our light, fun, tight-as-a-family work environment no matter WHAT!
Since I was a small business owner myself, I worked alongside my staff members very closely, and it was obvious that for a group to function well together and actually produce on the job, there couldn’t be ANY negativity — or insidious office politics — allowed.
Office politics is shady. It’s basically the ugly part of social interaction and networking in the workplace, when people start to form cliques or even alliances. Really ugly stuff!
So I created a company policy, and I named it just that: “Office Politics.”
It addressed head-on that NO office politics, gossip, or general negative “weirdness” would be permitted at PostcardMania ever! This policy is issued even today to all staff upon hiring so that everyone is on the same page, and I am very firm with this policy.
In fact, EVERYONE is encouraged to report any instances of office politics or gossip to HR. It’s stated that no one can be or will be retaliated against for submitting an office politics report, and my whole intention behind this is to maintain a company culture where everyone feels safe and happy to come to work every day.
And you know what?
This policy WORKS.
Over 210 staff members later, PostcardMania is an incredible group of hard-working people who help our customers grow their businesses and who care about each other too.
We’re a tight group, and we work hard.
It’s actually kind of hard to get hired at PostcardMania because, as a group, our standards are SO high. We don’t allow slackers or negativity, and we demand everyone around us to show up on time and put their shoulder to the wheel.
And for those who show up every day and do work hard?
They get rewarded!
When staff hit high production targets, they get acknowledged at our weekly staff meeting, and we have Employee of the Month awards every single month.
A prestigious Employee of the Year Award is given every year at our holiday party, which includes:
- A beautiful award to put on display
- A plaque with the winner’s photo hung up in our awards hallway
- A 4-day vacation to New York City with hotel and airfare PAID
- 2 tickets to any show they choose
- A gift certificate to my favorite restaurant
- And $500 to spend on whatever else!
Not bad, right?
Here’s our 2017 Employee of the Year, Carly. She is one of our stellar marketing consultants:
PostcardMania isn’t just a company.
It’s a legitimate GROUP where discipline, hard work, and a high care factor for our clients are respected, demanded, and rewarded. It’s not a job but a place to belong to and a purpose to contribute toward.
So what am I grateful for this year??
Because without a team of people in place you can trust, without people who care enough about your business to perform well on their jobs and care for your customers…
What do you really have? Doing everything yourself? No life outside of work?
NO ONE wants that — even though we all pretty much start out that way.
With a team of people who are trained well and confident at their jobs, you can produce MORE in your business (and life), meaning:
- Market more
- Sell more
- Give more back to the local community
- And compensate and reward your team members who help make everything possible
In fact, over the years, PostcardMania has become a recognized pillar of social responsibility in the Tampa-Clearwater area, helping with food and clothing drives and other community efforts like these:
- Winter Wonderland (a winter-themed family park in December)
- Disaster relief efforts (like with Hurricane Irma & Maria)
- The Community Learning Center (which helps tutor kids)
- Homeless Emergency Project
- Fundraising for local schools
- Domestic violence awareness
- Anti-drug campaigns
- Human rights awareness
- And even cleaning up trash in the neighborhood!
This picture shows my team all wearing purple in support of the “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence” awareness campaign —
A cause which we’ve donated over 40,000 postcards to promote.
There’s virtually no way I alone could help with all those community improvements. But with an entire team in place, PostcardMania has been able to help our local community tremendously, and this spirit of help translates directly into our company culture.
Staff who work here feel like they’re a part of something bigger, a group that’s making a difference in the world.
Because the truth is:
And when you have a business that feels like family, it’s easy to create events that enhance group camaraderie and genuinely make work more fun.
Just last weekend we had our annual holiday party with all our staff.
Take a look at some of the fun they had:
What I want you to take away today is this:
No matter how big or small your business is right now, you’ll only be as efficient and contributive to the degree that you build a team — even if that team ends up being a total of 3 people.
I imagine you didn’t get into business for yourself just because you wanted to make money, but you actually wanted to help others with your products and services. And by providing jobs and a great work environment, you can help the people in your community.
You can do MORE of that when you have more people running and managing your business alongside you.
So that’s what I’m grateful for — the people who help make PostcardMania what it is.
They’re the ones who help you grow your business.
So if you’re working solo right now, or maybe there’s 1 other person with you (like a family member), here’s my challenge for you:
Appreciate your staff and GROW your business this year.
Reward who helps you make it all run, but in 2018 commit to growing your business enough to bring on more people and create more jobs.
And simply get LOTS of new customers in your door to help more people with your business.
Happy Holidays from ALL of Us at PostcardMania!
P.S. If you want to get a head start on your marketing in 2018, order a FREE sample pack of postcards to see what ours look and feel like!