“How in the world did you start this business?”

By Travis Lee

I get asked this question often.  It gets asked during tele-seminars and one-to-one calls with clients throughout the country.  People find it hard to believe that there’s a viable niche for a business like this, so let’s start from the beginning, long before I starting working with Keith (my father, with whom I started the business).

Keith became General Manager (and later owner) of his first business, American Retail Supply, in 1981.  He did well, and grew the business.  But it was tough.  Long hours, weekends at the office, and very little time off.  He was growing a successful business, but he was doing it just like everybody else, with long hours; working harder, not smarter.  He knew there had to be a better way, and he went searching for it.

In 1991 Keith discovered a marketing Guru named Dan Kennedy (you may have heard of him) at a Peter Lowe Success Seminar in Seattle.  Keith regularly attended events like this, searching for a better way.  Keith instantly fell in love with the measurable, direct mail techniques Mr. Kennedy taught on stage at the Seminar.

The “Ah-Ha” Moment Arrived

“This is it!”  Keith thought, “Measureable, dependable, and effective direct mail.”  Keith quickly went back and implemented the techniques he learned through Kennedy’s Magnetic Marketing System and created his first 3-step direct mail campaign.  That first step was a rework of the famous Gary Halbert dollar-bill direct mail piece.  It was a HUGE success.  The first 3-step sequence got a 35% response rate and was a sample for years in updated versions of Dan Kennedy’s Magnetic Marketing. Needless to say Keith was hooked on direct mail, and what we now call 3D Mail.

Can You Drive 80% Of  Your Competition Out of Business?

Keith was finally working smarter than his competition, and the direct mail strategies he employed were the single biggest reason why Keith is still in business while 80% of his competitors in 1991 are now out of business.  Keith still owns American Retail Supply, and spends most of his time working in that business, while helping out with this 3D Mail business.

Fast-forward 16 years, to 2005.  I (Travis) had finished my marketing degree at Washington State University and came to work with my dad.  In that time Keith had used 3D Mail in his new-client sequence described above, he used it to fill seminars and boot-camps, and many other promotions over the years.

However, Keith grew tired of searching all over, running from store to store, and trolling the web trying to find enough unique items to mail.  In fact, one of my first assignments when I came to work with Keith was to raid all the local dollar stores of their puzzles so we could get 25,000 pieces to mail out!

In May 2007, while we were traveling to a Mastermind Coaching group in Baltimore, MD hosted by Bill Glazer, we hatched a crazy idea to start a business where we would supply all the grabbers and items a business would need to implement hugely successful 3D Mail campaigns.

It was simple in our eyes.  It went hand-in-hand with our current business as a distributor.  We were already importing 1,000’s of items from over-seas, and our manufacturer’s there could easily create these wacky, but effective 3D Mail items.  Plus, we had the infrastructure with our current business to warehouse and ship hundreds of packages a day.  It seemed to be a no-brainer!

We presented the 3D Mail business idea to the Mastermind group, and needless to say, it was a smashing success!  Members of the group were asking us when we’d be ready for business, because they wanted to place their orders.  The other business owners had seen Keith’s successful direct mail before and knew it would work, and they knew they could use it successfully in their businesses.  By October of 2008, just 5 months after concocting the idea on a plane ride, we launched our new 3D Mail business and we haven’t looked back.

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