The Crunch: For nearly 50 years, Valpak has been helping local retailers connect to consumers in their communities with cooperative direct mail pieces that drive transactions. Its community-based, independent franchises in more than 160 markets nationwide enable Valpak to form unique relationships with its merchant partners. These partnerships help foster local economies by marketing directly to the audiences, large or small, that businesses want to reach. Merchants partnering with Valpak do so with confidence, as all of their marketing solutions have built-in capabilities to measure ROI. Direct mail campaigns, comprehensive digital marketing solutions, like website creation and social media management, and community-oriented franchises able to provide local perspectives position Valpak to maintain its success in print marketing and lead the way into the digital future.
After a long day at work, going back and forth with my family trying to decide where to go for dinner is the last thing I want to do. Everyone’s hungry and patience is wearing thin.
That’s when I remember the mailer that arrived earlier with all of the restaurant coupons inside, and our decision just got a lot easier.
Local retailers and restaurateurs that include their deals in direct mail pieces know that just because they’ve been on the same corner in the same town for years, they may not be top of mind for consumers. People are exposed to new options every day, so companies need to constantly market their brands to get in front of consumers any way they can.
For nearly 50 years, Valpak has been helping merchants do just that. “Our founder Terry Loebel invented the concept of local cooperative direct mail,” Michael Vivio, Valpak’s CEO said. “He looked at an envelope and said ‘If I put a piece of paper in there, it only costs me one stamp. If I put two or three pieces of paper in there, it still only costs one stamp.’ He realized that this would make a great advertising vehicle for businesses, and the rest is history.”
Efficiencies are intrinsic to Valpak’s direct mail campaigns, as they allow merchants to share advertising spaces and are, therefore, quite economical. However, local merchants who partner with Valpak are also reaching the right customers. Valpak campaigns target customers in a merchant’s local trade area, which provides a second layer of efficiency since money is not wasted directing advertising dollars toward the wrong people.
While Valpak is a national organization, much of its success revolves around its local franchises that operate in over 160 markets around the country. This vast web of franchises enables Valpak to form unique relationships with its merchant partners to build stronger communities and local economies. Essentially, Valpak is a network of small businesses helping other small businesses using the backing of a larger entity.
Today, Valpak is still in the direct-mail game, but they have evolved to offer a host of other marketing solutions, such as website creation and analytics that measure ROI, so local businesses can get in front of the customers they want to reach and receive direct feedback on the efficacy of their advertising campaigns.
Valpak Provides Valuable Resources to Help Merchants Grow Brands
If there’s anything a business must know to succeed and have longevity, it’s that evolution alongside changing market conditions and technology is imperative. When Valpak got into the direct mail game nearly 50 years ago, the world was a much different place. The effectiveness of advertising and marketing campaigns was measured by what was in the cash register at the end of the day. Print advertising was king, and the birth of digital marketing was decades away.
Valpak recognized the necessity to evolve and acted accordingly to bring business solutions to the modern market.
“One of the things that we talk to our merchants about all the time is that consumers have more choices than ever and more ways than ever to interact with your brand,” Michael said. “So, doing only one thing, doing only digital, doing only print, relying on a website isn’t enough today. You need to find a way to be in front of consumers wherever and whenever they need your service.”
Michael likes to think of Valpak as a 50-year-old startup. They take everything that has always been in their DNA, all of their marketing expertise and experience, and constantly evolve so they can enter contemporary markets prepared to put merchants’ content in front of 21st century consumers.
Valpak’s Marketing Solutions: More than Direct Mail
Valpak knows that the prospect of building and running successful marketing campaigns can be daunting for small business owners. Michael told us that small merchants are called upon up to 21 times per month to make decisions on various marketing actions, decisions they are sometimes not necessarily qualified to make.
“That results in a tremendous amount of confusion for merchants who ultimately got into business, say, just to make pizza, not to be a marketing expert,” Michael said.
This is where Valpak’s marketing solutions can be an invaluable resource. Because Valpak’s franchisees are so embedded in their communities, they are in a great position to notice marketing deficiencies in their merchant partners’ marketing efforts.
If a Valpak franchisee notices that a merchant is unusually absent on social media, Valpak is able to offer a social media management service for that business. If merchants need websites built, Valpak will create the sites for them. Valpak also offers reputation management services for retail partners whose presence across digital environments is not optimal.
“Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you have the luxury to be less sophisticated,” Michael said. “If you have an independent pizza shop, you still have to compete with Papa John’s. We provide the tools to do that.”
ROI-Focused Analytics Tell Businesses What’s Effective
ROI has been one of the most important concepts for Valpak since its founding. Providing value and having the ability to prove this value to retailers is what has made Valpak so strong over the years.
“Coupons drive transactions, so, by definition, there is ROI attached to that,” Michael said, “and ROI for merchants is the number one criteria on which to judge success. We would not have the staying power as a company if we were not providing the ROI.”
But how does a company go about demonstrating the value and success of print marketing campaigns in the digital age? The answer is simple. It’s all about substantiating that an upward tick in sales or traffic can be directly attributed to Valpak’s efforts.
“If a print piece drops on Tuesday, we’ll take a look at Google Analytics on Thursday to see the website lift,” Michael said. “People receive the print piece and have your brand name in their head, so they go online and research you.”
Merchants partnering with Valpak do so with confidence, as all of their marketing solutions have built-in capabilities to ROI. The tools benefit the merchants, and the analytics enable Valpak to tell the story about how successful they’ve been.
Valpak offers Performance Tracking and Call Tracking for its customers who wish to track what actions people are taking in response to print campaigns. Both of the options can be combined or used individually to determine where your customers are originating and interacting with your brand. This allows for more targeted advertising campaigns retailers can use to attract new business and stay in the minds of loyal customers.
Bianco Diamond Plumbing took advantage of Valpak’s tracking tools to measure the effect of mailing to additional zones in its existing direct mail campaign. Fliers were sent to 100,000 households per month for two consecutive months, an increase of 50,000 fliers. The only difference between the offers in the new campaign was that a unique telephone number was included to track performance. The results were impressive. The business yielded a 109% gross return on investment, one out of two leads converted to a sale, and the gross ROI grew each month — 89% in month one and 129% in month two.
Local Franchises Help Small Businesses Market to the Community
Valpak is unique in that it has all of the resources of a large, national corporation but also has the intimate, community-oriented feel of a small business. This is because the independent franchisees who buy the right to operate the Valpak business are part of the community and are able to connect merchants with the neighborhoods they know so well.
“Because of that phenomenon, we’re able to reach a level of client that is unmatched in the local advertising industry,” Michael said. “Our franchisees are sponsoring little league; they’re going to the rotary club. That’s why we’re able to find more community-based merchants on a national scale than anyone else.”
160+ Local Markets Nationwide Benefit from Valpak’s Network
Valpak serves over 160 markets across the country and has an on-the-ground sales force of roughly 800 people working for local franchises. These franchisees form a network across markets to put businesses, big or small, in front of targeted audiences.
Michael told us that a good way to think about it is from the perspectives of a small business and a chain of small business franchises.
“If you are a nail salon that trades in one town, you might only need to buy a somewhat small local trade area,” he said. “But if you are a chain of salons across the country, you can buy just one neighborhood or the entire country, only buying what you need. Valpak has a network that allows advertisers to reach 10,000 homes or 10 million homes. But all of that volume is targeted around the individual locations.”
Valpak franchisees use the latest technology the 21st century has to offer to find leads; however, because they are so embedded in their communities, as Michael put it, they’re also using old-fashioned shoe leather.
“When a new sign goes up, our franchisees know,” Michael said, “and they’ll be able to help the business find its niche in the local economy and market to the customers that are the best fit.”
Shopping Local Isn’t Just a Trend — It’s a Necessity
According to a study by the Main Center for Economic Policy, spending at local businesses generates as much as a 76% greater return to the local economy. This is why more and more people are investing in small businesses and why economies are thriving in communities that shop local.
Valpak franchisees, small, local businesses themselves, help foster this local economic growth by connecting other small businesses with local shoppers. It’s really a three-pronged relationship where Valpak helps consumers save with coupons and gives marketing and reach capabilities to retailers.
“Shopping local and being part of the community is not just a trend,” Michael said. “It is the right thing to do to help your community thrive.”
Nearly 50 Years Later, Valpak Continues to Strengthen Local Economies Through Partnerships
Valpak’s mailer of restaurant coupons saved my family from arguing about dinner options, and it also saved us a few bucks on the burgers we ended up getting. I suppose that’s why Valpak’s been at it for so long. Everyone wins: the consumer, the retailer, and the local Valpak franchisee.
The future is bright for Valpak, as it has announced a partnership with American Express’s Shop Small campaign to bring together 400,000 merchants from around the country on Small Business Saturday to publicize the benefits of shopping local.
“As a national brand, we are thrilled to be able to partner with American Express on this venture,” Michael said. “We’re able to bring this to the smallest of merchants and do it on a national scale.”
Valpak and its franchisees also regularly give back to their communities by volunteering their time and money for worthy causes. In October 2015, Valpak volunteers built a playground in Tarpon Springs, Florida, through the project “Valpak Saves” to create a healthy learning environment for children.
“Valpak Saves is an opportunity for us to stay connected with the communities we serve,” Michael said. “We want our neighbors to know us on a deeper level, to know that we value every community as our own.”
Valpak has surely come a long way since its founder figured out that cooperative direct mail pieces were an efficient and effective means of connecting communities with their local retailers and restaurateurs. Though Valpak is known for and continues to produce successful direct mail campaigns for its partners, its leading digital marketing and ROI tracking solutions for local businesses make Valpak a big player in the modern digital marketing industry.
The next time I’m hungry, I know I won’t forget to check the mailbox first. Valpak may have provided a small business a marketing solution that just may become my dinner solution.