Florida Business Forum Podcast

Florida Entrepreneur Brad Kugler Founder DirectMail2.0 Discusses Advances in Direct Mail and Ai

September 17, 2023 Sam Yates, Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing Season 1 Episode 39
Florida Entrepreneur Brad Kugler Founder DirectMail2.0 Discusses Advances in Direct Mail and Ai
Florida Business Forum Podcast
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Florida Business Forum Podcast
Florida Entrepreneur Brad Kugler Founder DirectMail2.0 Discusses Advances in Direct Mail and Ai
Sep 17, 2023 Season 1 Episode 39
Sam Yates, Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing

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The entire word of Direct Mail has been turned topsy turvy by entrepreneur and DirectMail2.0 Founder Brad Kugler.

Kugler took time from a busy schedule to chat with The Florida Business Forum Podcast Host Sam Yates to discuss where Direct Mail has been historically and where revolutionary changes and technologies, including artificial intelligence, are taking today's modern marketing and advertising team.

The dynamic duo also talked politics and how what you may see in your mailbox over the next fourteen months may be tied directly to an omnichannel campaign that begins online, circles your local voting precinct, and ends up in your traditional mailbox.


Support the Show.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is produced by Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing, and hosted by Emmy Award winning reporter and television anchor Sam Yates. If you or your business or not-for-profit organization would like to share your news with our Florida, national, and international audience please contact Sam Yates, Sam@YatesPRO.com.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is the only business forum of its kind dedicated to Florida news, business, and not-for-profit organizations. When Florida business minds need to know, they turn to The Florida Business Forum Podcast first!

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The Florida Business Forum Podcast is affiliated with the Pod National News Network USA providing business news podcasts to every State in the U.S.A. The Florida Business Forum Podcast is herd throughout Florida, the United States, and 32 countries and territories.

Direct Media Inquiries to Sam Yates, Sam@Yatespro.com.

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Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

The entire word of Direct Mail has been turned topsy turvy by entrepreneur and DirectMail2.0 Founder Brad Kugler.

Kugler took time from a busy schedule to chat with The Florida Business Forum Podcast Host Sam Yates to discuss where Direct Mail has been historically and where revolutionary changes and technologies, including artificial intelligence, are taking today's modern marketing and advertising team.

The dynamic duo also talked politics and how what you may see in your mailbox over the next fourteen months may be tied directly to an omnichannel campaign that begins online, circles your local voting precinct, and ends up in your traditional mailbox.


Support the Show.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is produced by Yates & Associates, Public Relations & Marketing, and hosted by Emmy Award winning reporter and television anchor Sam Yates. If you or your business or not-for-profit organization would like to share your news with our Florida, national, and international audience please contact Sam Yates, Sam@YatesPRO.com.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is the only business forum of its kind dedicated to Florida news, business, and not-for-profit organizations. When Florida business minds need to know, they turn to The Florida Business Forum Podcast first!

Program Sponsorships are available starting at $500/monthly with a minimum six-month sponsorship.

The Florida Business Forum Podcast is affiliated with the Pod National News Network USA providing business news podcasts to every State in the U.S.A. The Florida Business Forum Podcast is herd throughout Florida, the United States, and 32 countries and territories.

Direct Media Inquiries to Sam Yates, Sam@Yatespro.com.

Sam Yates:

Hello, everyone and welcome to another informative episode of the Florida Business Forum Podcast. Let's open the Florida Business Forum floodgates and let the information begin to flow. Here's your Florida Business Forum information guru and Anchorman Sam Yates. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Florida Business Forum Podcast. The information floodgates are open. And today, that information is flowing fast and furious. And I'm going to tease a little bit here at the very beginning and say it is piling up that we are going to have so much data that we won't know what to do with it. But our guest today has a solution that is absolutely amazing. Brad Kugler is the CEO, co founder of DirectMail2.0. And Brad, you're over on the west coast of Florida. I'm on the east coast of Florida, we have bridged the gap. Welcome to the program today.

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Thank you for having me, Sam, pleasure to be here. And I love talking about marketing and data and technology. so have at it. Well, you certainly

Sam Yates:

have the background and I always have our guests start with telling us a little bit about themselves. Tell us about yourself. I know a bit about your background, but you have a very interesting background with your your colleges and then starting business because you really just wanted to get out

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

well to short circuit that might my father had told me after two, three years of college, he said, You know what? I don't need to pay for you to chase girls and drink beer and do all this. You know, if you want to do something with your life. You can you can do it now or you can pay for your own school. And honestly, I was like listen, I he sort of right in one sense. I wanted to get out there and work. I was kind of tired after what 17 years of formal schooling to continue. And I was one of those guys that dropped out of college who was ready to hit the workaday world. And from there, I actually went to work for my dad, in a company he had purchased that was doing a lot of opening a video stores in the day remember blockbusters were in every corner. So the company was buying inventories from one video store and selling them to another and proliferating this new technology VHS in the day. So hence, fast forward a few years when business started to slow down. And the rise of the Internet came, I had an idea along with many other people. What if I can sell these VHS and at that point, DVDs and CDs online. And I started selling them online in 1980. I'm sorry, 1997, which was very early in the world. And I started selling on on Amazon on eBay, I got to meet Mr. Jeff Bezos a couple times being one of the top sellers of DVD. But to kind of bring us closer to present time, that industry evaporated, as we all know, into the world of streaming. And I made many attempts to try to get into streaming. But without a pocket book with at least eight, maybe nine figures. It wasn't a party I was able to come and play out it just I realized that I can't compete with the likes of Disney and the big studio. So I resorted to selling more things online, I learned how to market online. And this opportunity that I'm in now direct mail 2.0 was presented to me by a family friend and said, Hey, listen, you're a pretty tech savvy guy who knows how to market. We have this fledgling technology that assist people or printers doing direct mail, to get a higher response rate using digital marketing. I said, let's talk. We made a deal. I spun this company out into its own sort of going concern from a printing company, that that young lady who is my partner in this business, she afforded me the opportunity to take this technology and run in and basically in in a nutshell, before I turn it back over to you is that the value proposition here is if I could get you a 50% lift in the response rate on your direct mail for about five to 10 cents per piece. Does that sound like a viable option? And the answer is almost a no brainer. It's Yes. So we've we've put technology together that lifts direct mail, and we've gone well beyond that. So let me give it back to you to ask a few questions.

Sam Yates:

Your Honor, you know, I wanted to know also a little bit about your involvement there in the community, which fascinated me because being a Florida native, I know about the various film festivals and your name came up when I was talking to folks, and it's like, oh, yeah, he's with the film festival. They are in Sarasota. So how did you become involved in that?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

So I took a deep interest in photography for many years. And I was sort of establishing my acumen as being a semi professional photographer. I had gone to Haiti, when that large earthquake was in 2010, the Katrina earthquake, so I've done some documentarian stuff. And one of the local film festival guys had asked if I'd like to get involved, they'd seen my work. And they'd seen that I gone all over the world. And they asked me to be the one of the media directors of the film festival, which I participated in for about seven or eight years. In addition to that, I'm involved with the Pinellas Education Foundation. And I was asked to sort of lend some of my entrepreneurial skills and experience to helping the local public schools develop certification and career technology training programs within the high schools. So those are two things I've been involved with for well over a dozen years. And, you know, my personal thing is to, it's not what you can take, but it's what you can give back from your experiences. You know, again, I haven't become any billionaire where I can sit around and just dole out money, I give back through my time and my expertise, you know, I also judge the next generation on entrepreneur system for Pinellas County Schools. And again, in the end, I like to help others with the experience I've garnered over the decades now. Good for

Sam Yates:

you, you know, I, on a personal level, as a business owner, I think that if we can guide our businesses to some level of success, so that we can do just what you are doing, we do make the world a better place. And you know that, that's awesome. I really want to say thank you for doing that. And the next generation, you know, that is always the biggest challenge for any of us, I look at my own business ventures and how I have a lot of pride. When I look at some of my employees that were like little ducklings. They were there, they achieved that they went on, and I'm looking at them now going, wow, you know, I really, hopefully made a difference. And once in a while, you'll hear back from whatever. But it's like, Sam, thank you very much. I became a leader because of at least one little thing that you imparted upon me. So good for you. I appreciate that.

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Thank you, thank you,

Sam Yates:

when it comes to direct mail, everybody has that one. Vision in their head of opening the mailbox, and it's a lot of junk mail. That is not what direct mail is all about today. But it's incorporated. It's I certainly believe that direct mail that which we pick up and can feel and read is important. And I for a number of years, I saw direct mail, go from volumes in the mail box to not a lot. And it's beginning to come back now. And when I look at it, what I'm seeing is very effective in my mind, because it has other components to it. And I'm wondering now, how many of those components are directly linked to you, whether it be the QR code, and whether it be go here to see this online. And I know that, you know, my information when I go online, even anonymously is not anonymous, and I'm gonna get a bounce back of some sort. Is that part of what you're doing?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Absolutely. In fact, almost every one of the little features that have come to direct mail over the years, I'm not saying they've been invented by us, but we've kind of collected up anything that will enhance or improve the receptiveness or ROI of the direct mail into a marketing automation platform. But but, you know, let's discuss I mean, you and I have a little gray behind the ears. And we've been around for a while. And we remember the days of filled mailboxes with junk mail. And it was like, ah, you know, almost straight to the trash, you'd have to sift through to find the bills, but the advertisements you'd really throw away. Then the advent of e mail and digital technology, people's went to they flocked to that because it was cheaper. All right. But with the noise level, when I say noise level, it is it's been studied that the average person is being shown 10,000 digital ads a day, whether it's on TV, whether you're scrolling your email, or it's in electronic billboards. 10,000 a day. Now the average person now today only gets about four pieces of mail in their mailbox. So just from a purely statistical point, if you put something in someone's mailbox, you have a much higher chance they're going to see it than if you put it on a screen somewhere. And that's not to degrade the digital marketing, but you got to do both. And what we do is we combine the digital worlds with the offline or printed worlds, to get the best possible result, that that's what we do.

Sam Yates:

You know, one of the problems that I had, when I was doing direct mail, there were there were many problems it was direct mail was a nightmare to begin with. But it was really tough to find a good direct mail supplier, someone that that knew, I hate mailing lists, but they would have a mailing list, then guess what, they were usually outdated, but they would have a mailing list, they would have a fulfillment portion. But they all didn't talk the same language when it was a mailing list fulfillment, even at times when we would use USPS every Every Door Direct, you know, give them credit. What I ultimately ended up doing was using some of their statistics to better target where some of our digital ads were going, because I could look at the carrier's route, and see down into the demographics, oh, wait, this is a neighborhood of x number of 1000. Households with X number of people per household. That's where I want to go. I don't necessarily want to do Every Door Direct or even use the post office. But it gave me a little bit of insight information. When you bring all of those channels together, you're doing more than just one thing, how many different platforms are you touching on right now?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

That's a great question. So we have 14 different features available to us when someone is doing a direct mail. So And just to clarify, we don't print anything, and we don't mail anything, we provide the technology to enable traditional printers or or agencies, concentrating direct mail to do all of these features simultaneously. Last, you mentioned the QR code, you know, call or text this number, we have little snippets of code, we put on the website of the people doing the advertising, so that we can retarget them digitally. We can do geo fenced ads, specifically to the people receiving the mail. And then we can tell if they go into the property or the institution that is being advertised to, and actually show true attribution for that mail piece before, if someone got a piece of mail, and they went to the place or called up there was no way to really know if it was from the mail, unless the receptionist or the front door person asked. Well, now we don't need to ask, we can prove that electronically. And show attribution and one of the biggest beefs with direct mail is, it's expensive, it could cost upwards or more than $1 per piece. When you send emails, they're a penny. So people need to know they're getting ROI. And we can now prove that with this technology platform.

Sam Yates:

You know, I just have to take a big sigh of relief because you are the first person I think I've talked to this entire quarter that would even mention, much less understand geofencing trying to explain that to someone that is not familiar with it, you're going to do what you're going to select what demographics and we're gonna see what you know, it's across all of those different platforms that we get the multi spectrum of it. But if I were to select a word that I saw you use on your website, it was omni channel, not multichannel, Omni channel. Explain that a little bit.

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

So that's a great point. And a lot of people confuse the two, but they're different. So multi channel is pushing out a message. And it could be a different message. The key is what the message is on multiple channels at once. And what are those channels mail, maybe newspaper ads, radio ads, digital ads, email in an organization could tend to say different things on different channels. That's what is considered multi, whereas omni channel is you take that same message, and you put it out on each of the channels at a specific time to increase the likelihood of engagement, you know, so and I'll give you an example how we use it. So if a piece of mail is going to land in someone's mailbox in four days, we know that it's going to land in four days because of technology. So what we do is we soften them up for the days before by targeting digital ads into their devices specifically because we know there are devices that will they may not consciously know that this piece of mail is coming but when they've seen it for a couple days and then it comes in the mailbox. There's a familiar already, and then the next 30 days, we retarget them if they go to the website, or they call, and we send other ads to other devices. So you're building up this repetitive message that is the same message, which again, enhances or improves the likelihood of engagement. That's all we're doing here.

Sam Yates:

You have to tell them what you're going to send them, teach them that they're going to get it and then follow up after they get I mean, it's it's marketing 101, but with a new twist to it. And that's, that's just absolutely wonderful. I love that. And as simple

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

as it sounds, most companies don't have the resources unless you're McDonald's, or Nike or Coca Cola, to perform those steps and in time sequence to the same people. But, you know, that's where we come in, we add value, because we automate that whole process, and we do it for the advertiser.

Sam Yates:

Now, I'm going to get into AI in a moment, because one of the problems that I have seen in trying to do some of this myself, is getting that real time feedback. But it's all get into into AI in a moment, because I I'm Hope I'm not spoiling the surprise here. But I know you're getting into that. No, I love talking about it. Politics, you know, we are, what, 14 months away from a national presidential elections, it's going to be Hello, I mail. I'm a politician. So but you have a very interesting product for politics, whether it be candidates, or issues. Tell us about that.

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

So we've kind of packaged a political power up package, as we call it. And what it does is it uses district voting blocks to target digital ads, just as specifically as you could target mail. So you know, it was a smart thought of Google and Facebook and all of these companies, they're able to target the digital ads to the exact perimeters around those precincts as you call them. So we've packaged that with our mail product to specifically target the precincts they want to target. And we add extra features, we add some YouTube videos, we add some discovery ads from Google. So we've done things to actually further target those people with more ads at a concentrated period. Because, as we know, political campaigns changed by the latest soundbite or headline. So they want this message out and all possible channels, literally 72 hours later. So we've developed a product to help political advertisers and campaigns do that.

Sam Yates:

You you have in that process, something built in, that helps to judge or in some ways raise a red flag that Wait, this is not necessarily true information, fake news, or whatever we want to call it. I hate that term. But disinformation, disinformation in any type of outreach is is deadly. Do you have a way of keeping check on that? Or not yet?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

There's not us but you know, the the advertisers themselves, ie Google Facebook, and they've taken a lot of heat for it is, you know, are they stopping free speech? Or are they preventing the flow of bad information? i That's not something we're able to do here. We do not have the infrastructure. But it's a that's a political issue just in itself. Yes, you know, but unfortunately, I don't have an answer for that. We are, we are an independent organization. So we don't favor one political party or the other unfortunately, certain campaigns will only work with advertising agencies, or platforms that have declared themselves one party or the other. So that even gets difficult. It's a very closed community that does not accept independence very easily, you're better off declaring for one side or the other and getting in a club that way, I'll be honest with you,

Sam Yates:

switch. Well, before I switch. For anyone that is interested right now in exploring or becoming a partner with what you're doing. That is an opportunity, correct?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Absolutely. Our partners are mainly, as I said, agencies that that concentrate on direct mail or commercial printers that do a lot of direct mail business. We enable them with this technology. We we sell through our third party partners. So if anybody hears this and they're interested in this technology, they should ask their local printer for it or their local agency. They're more than welcome to contact us directly. And we'll probably refer them to one of these local resellers that we deal with.

Sam Yates:

Let's before I've So how can someone get in touch with you?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Honestly, the best way is to go to DM two zero.com or direct mail two.com context, everybody in the organization are there. We're pretty easy to find on Google direct mail two.com.

Sam Yates:

Alright, a i We started to touch on a just a few minutes ago. It right now, I think is boggling everyone's mind on what is the future of AI, but you have a use for it?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Yes, in fact, you know, I'm so eager to talk about it. Because A, I'm not worried about anyone taking this idea, because AI is dependent on the data set that you have to work with, we have obviously been gathering data on direct mail campaigns, for the better part of six years, we have all of the creative, we have where it was targeted, and who was targeted to the verticals, the time of year, everything. So the idea is you can put all this data together with all the results that that that we've gotten from these campaigns, and enable people to improve their direct mail targeting their creative their timing, to get better results.

Sam Yates:

The overall picture of AI and AI and I'm not asking how you are using it, does it give you pause for worry about AI in itself?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Absolutely. You know, it's, you know, we've all seen the movies, you know, we've all read the horror stories of what could be and what can be, but this technology is here, and it's like trying to put the toothpaste back in the proverbial bottle, I don't know that that's going to happen. And in the end, it comes down to personal responsibility, whether it's the engineers, whether it's the people selling it, or the lawmakers and the people in government that are trying who are entrusted to protect us. You know, so I do my part, I know that anyway, that we're going to use AI is only going to help people save money and get better results from marketing. So I don't have a concern about what I'm doing. But sure I have concerns about what other people are doing.

Sam Yates:

But you you are a responsible person, not too many people I run across these days take on that responsibility and say, Hey, this is what I'm doing. rather short interview today, I have to say, and I have a couple of additional questions. The most important one is can you come back for another episode in the future?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Anytime I love talking about business, technology marketing, it's, you know, it's kind of a passion for me. So I'd love to come back to Sam anytime.

Sam Yates:

It shows and it is inspiring. And I would venture to say any of the students that are getting any entrepreneurial guidance from you will go on and do things that you can one day, look at and go, Aha, you know, maybe I played a role in that. For today's program. Was there anything that we did not touch upon that you want to make sure that we take away as a golden nugget of knowledge?

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Gosh, I wouldn't know where to start. I like to talk. So I'll I'll leave it at that. Rather than drag this on for another 10 minutes. Lord, we

Sam Yates:

would be in trouble because I also love to talk and you get me started. And you know, it's like opening one of the proverbial cans of worms, except each of those worms is a little tidbit of knowledge that gets stored away and you're going oh, but what about this? But what about this, and then before you know it, a couple of hours have gone by. So I definitely want to thank you for being here with us today. And I look forward to keeping in touch with you. And certainly, you know, as much as I can refer and we can use this platform to say, here's a great product. I think a lot of our general public and our business owners need to take a look at new tools and new technology. And this is a new beginning. And I want to commend you for starting what you have. And let's see where it goes.

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

Absolutely, I'd say always be learning even as we get into our later stages, and it's more difficult for us, as I've already found out. You just got to keep plugging along and keep learning new things.

Sam Yates:

Well, you know, the gray that creeps out if we don't keep learning. It just gets bushier and bushy or what can I say? So yep, it does. Brad, thank you for being here. And I want to again, extend the invitation to have you back in the future. But it has been my pleasure on behalf of the Florida Business Forum to have you as my special guest today.

Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0:

My thanks to Florida Business Forum and yourself, Sam, thank you again.

Sam Yates:

And that's going to wrap up this edition of the Florida Business Forum Podcast. Stay tuned, everybody we're going to have more business news. We're going to have a lot of it. Stay tuned. The Florida Business Forum Podcast is dedicated to showcasing Florida businesses and CEOs of all sorts to promote their business or not for profit in the only business forum of its type in Florida. Thanks for tuning in. And remember, the Florida Business Forum is now accepting guest applications. Have a great day everyone and stay tuned for more business