Published by Australian Printer Magazine June 2014

Mark Mina built the mailing house A P Mail Management on a solid reputation of consultative customer relations, second time around his strategy is firmly laid on that same foundation

Starting in 1996 Mark Mina built A P Mail Management, turning it very quickly from a from a one man band into one of the most successful mailing businesses in the country.

Mina started his business following an 18 year stint at Australia Post. He says,

“It was clear to see that there was a huge gap in the market for mailing houses that wanted to be more than order takers.  I began the business with a vision to offer customers a tangible ROI by working closely with them to develop and deliver optimum mailing solutions. Until then mailing houses tended to be process oriented rather than market oriented. We recognised the value in the relationship, a lifetime value, and took the opportunity to build long term mutually beneficial relationships. It was a completely different business proposition, a consultative approach, an approach that the market welcomed.”

Mina gives as an example a charity client which had a typical mailing run of 70,000. He says,

“Running sophisticated software we did some data mining to more accurately predict response rates, both geographically and demographically.  This resulted in a 50% reduction in print and mail and allowed for a more tailored campaign. We were able to track the behaviour of donors and deliver a more targeted approach, creating different messages for different segments, and cutting out some segments altogether. The reduced cost combined with a higher response rate resulted in a far greater ROI for the client. When you start talking in these terms it is very appealing to customers, as ROI is the key factor in determining the success of any marketing investment.”

Over the years A P Mail Management grew from just Mina himself to a staff of 77 in a large building in Parramatta, which he chose as it is the geographic centre of Sydney. Things hummed along nicely until 2007 when Geon came a’knocking as part of their strategy to monopolise the print industry. He sold the business to them, stayed on for a 3 year contract, and then departed to pursue other interests.

Fast forward six years from 2007 to the inevitable collapse of Geon, and Mina, who still owned the building that Geon Mailing was located in, bought the equipment back and started again in the very same location where he left off. The business, staff and customers had been bought by Blue Star and relocated five kliks up the road, but despite industry luminaries such as Lawrie Griffith and Bill King telling Mina he was ‘crazy’ to get back into what was a declining market, the opportunity for an encore performance was too tempting, Senses Direct had now entered the mailing market. Mina says,

“I still see a lot of value in mailing. Personalised direct mail is without any question the most effective form of communication there is. If done well it can appeal to the all the senses and entice customers to engage with the product or service being offered, increasing response rates and campaign ROI.”

Underpinning the consultative marketing approach is a fundamental commitment to meeting the peaks of demand, and ensuring that customers’ deadlines are always met. Senses Direct is able to ensure this as Mina always installs more production kit than he needs. He says,

“We have a high level of equipment redundancy to ensure that the answer is always yes. We never say no to our customers and are confident we can fulfil our promises. We have multiples of every machine when we typically only use one, we have five inserting lines, seven digital printers, three plastic wrapping lines. When you walk around our factory you will see a lot of equipment, some running, some idle but always ready to be turned on at a moment’s notice, switch into gear ready to get that urgent job out the door.”

That demand goes from short run work up to the biggest jobs; Senses Direct has just finished a nine million run job which will go to every household in Australia.

Mina is unequivocal in his belief in only implementing top quality equipment, for instance he has the largest German manufactured Grutzmacher inserting machines in Australia, which operate at 10,000iph. He says,

“I can say without any doubt that Senses Direct is the best equipped mail house in Australia, our investment in technology is very strong, because to us reliability is absolutely key, deadlines do not change. Our customers know that no-one will do a better job than Senses Direct , and they know they can depend on us to get their collateral out on time every time.”

Accuracy, attention to detail and quality control are also key to Mina and the continual success of his business. He will happily show any visitor the graphs from AusPost Mail which consistently shows Senses Direct achieving zero errors.

Since its rebirth from the debris of the Geon empire Senses Direct has grown rapidly, through both itself and acquisitive means, it bought B&C Mailing and is currently acquiring another mailing house. Mina also says there is a compelling reason for mail houses and printers to stay as separate entities, ‘they are best to stick to their own skill sets’, and believes they exist best by collaborating, he says,

“It is better to specialise rather than offer too broad a service mix.”

There is no doubt that Mina understands mailing, he has twice built a successful business that sets the pace in a highly competitive market. An intuitive understanding of the wants and needs of his customers and changes in the marketing environment Mina continues to offer a consultative approach, resulting in tailored and innovative mailing solutions. Backing up those solutions is top notch customer service and a production centre that can meet every need.