Taradel Team Talks: Meet Jim Fitzgerald, CEO
In this Taradel Team Talk post, we’re interviewing our founder and CEO, Jim Fitzgerald, to discuss a few topics including:
- How we got started
- How Taradel has adapted in the digital age
- How small businesses can leverage direct mail + digital marketing
What began as a new way to distribute physical mail has evolved into a hybrid of traditional and digital marketing — and Jim has seen it all since the beginning.
Taradel: Taradel’s been around since 2004. What inspired you to create this company and what has success looked like over the last two decades?
Jim Fitzgerald: A long time ago, I worked for a company that figured out how to make it easier for small businesses to leverage direct mail marketing. In my role, I saw an opportunity to expand this even further by distributing printed pieces through newspapers. We explored this angle a little, but, ultimately, they opted not to pursue it. They just weren’t interested. So I decided I would give it a shot and do it independently.
Newspapers have seen continuous decreases in circulation over the years, which meant if Taradel was going to continue, we needed another way to get our mailers in the hands of consumers. As we experimented with that, we developed technology to make it easier for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to complete the whole marketing transaction with ease and simplicity by creating a fully integrated marketing platform.
Taradel: So Taradel began with the goal of getting printed mailers into the hands of consumers, but who is Taradel’s customer base? What are their needs?
Jim: We have two bases: small businesses that need help reaching out to local markets and larger businesses reaching out to small businesses as their own customers. Our job is to provide a comprehensive solution (that can be white-labeled in the case of the larger businesses) that makes marketing easy.
Smaller businesses tend to struggle with running effective marketing on their own because they’re focused on what they do best rather than on marketing. This is a strength too because small businesses tend to do really well with customer retention. Our job is to help them with acquisition. Direct mail is particularly awesome in that regard, and we offer easy-to-use tools in our integrated marketing platform to make it easy for them and amplify their efforts with other digital marketing strategies.
Taradel: You’ve mentioned physical mail, but where does the digital aspect come in?
Jim: While direct mail is one of the best solutions, there’s no denying the power of digital marketing. In all the studies, you find that the digital amplifies the results of any marketing campaign.
There’s something called the Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon, often called frequency bias. Basically, what it shows is that once you become familiar with something you start to see it everywhere. Need a mattress? Suddenly it seems like every radio ad and billboard is about mattresses. Direct mail makes a big impression on people, and when you combine it with digital—that’s just more times a customer sees your ad and grows familiar with it.
We take the targeting methodology we use for direct mail and partner it with the digital side of things. We’re living that marketing adage: “Reach tells, frequency sells.”
Taradel: Would you say digital is required for every business?
Jim: I would not, actually. We have many SMBs as clients that are very happy with their direct mail options and never jump into the digital marketing side of things. However, it is getting more difficult to ignore digital entirely—but your situation is uniquely yours. And if direct mail is how you like it, you’ve got our support.
The big secret is finding the channels that resonate with your audience. At Taradel, we are constantly monitoring marketing information and trends so we can present opportunities and options to our customers so they can create and execute the marketing campaign that works for them.
Taradel: What do you think makes Taradel the must-have solution?
Jim: It’s a combination of a few things. For one, our whole design strategy revolves around making complicated tools usable through a simple, easy-to-understand dashboard and fully integrated marketing platform. We put a lot of energy into lowering the bar of complexity so any of our SMB customers can track their marketing results and get the learnings they need to optimize and get better with each campaign.
We’re also broadening our reach to include things like QR codes and working with other ad partners like Spotify, Hulu, and NextDoor—all under a simple, scalable ecommerce platform.
Another aspect is our culture. I’m lucky to work with people I love working with. There are smart people and there are creative people, and we’re lucky enough to have people who are both here at Taradel. I also get to practice what I preach. I tell customers to get data points, learn from them, and apply them to the next campaign. And, I take that same approach at Taradel as we continue to focus on growing the business and evolving with the marketplace. And though I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the last 18 years, I’ve got a great team that pulls through for me; we learn from those mistakes, and we roll the dice again. Sometimes we win, sometimes we don’t.
Taradel: Do you have any advice for small business owners today?
Jim: Try it. Whatever that idea is, take a chance on it. I know how hard it is for SMBs with a limited cash flow to throw money at any project or risk, but investing in your business by experimenting with business strategies will help expand your ability to grow—and sometimes that investment means you need to take home a smaller salary for a little while as you focus on growth for a bit. Marketing and test marketing go hand in hand with growth.
Stay focused and make sure you’ve got a balance between pushing that risk and holding back. Remember: no one can do everything, but we can all do one thing great and then partner with people who do the rest of it just as brilliantly.
Thanks for that insight, Jim!
At Taradel, thanks to everyone here, we’re always experimenting with new ways to serve SMBs and their marketing campaigns. If you found this interesting or would like to know more about our integrated marketing platform, be sure to contact us. And if you’d like to get started on designing a mail campaign, try Mapfire for free today.