I know it may sound a little goofy, and for sure it sounds goofy to friends
of mine who have never worked for a small business, but at Select Mail we
don’t actually think of ourselves as a lettershop. Taken to the level of
strictly business, a lettershop processes mail using machinery and takes
it to the post office. Just as a printer takes a customer’s file and puts
it on press and delivers it. Just as a mechanic takes a car and fixes it
or not. In today’s world, where price is king, things like addressing letters,
printing brochures and changing oil have become commodities, and the companies
that can afford to do those things profitably have become larger and larger.
So we’re not a lettershop. We’re not going to grow geometrically in order
to achieve larger efficiencies of scale. We’re not hiring a troop of salespeople
to bring in this or that mailing from this or that place. We like the idea
of being in a community — the community of our customers. A big part of that community has to do with geography. We are happy that we can
help solve the promotional problems of the hard working and sometimes overworked
marketers of some of the best Brooklyn institutions and businesses, many of whom we patronize ourselves. I very
much enjoy discussing world history and philosophies of child rearing with
Lois of Astroland, as we incidentally
discuss plans for the next promotional mailing. I am so happy to make sure
that Whitney’s extra calendars are sent right away to the Children’s Museum
after we finish their mailing. I am happy to prepare Ellen’s estimate so
she can be prepared when she goes into her meeting with the higher-ups at
Island Blood Services. I am always reminding Rebecca to remind me to
dedupe her lists before mailing the cards for events at St. Ann’s Warehouse.
And Chris Gibbons and I have yet to play basketball, although we occasionally
plan to use his facilities at St.
Francis College. Update - I finally played right before St. Patricks Day and while I had a great time and made a few baskets and assists - I was totally exhausted!
Increasingly, we are adding to our community because of this website. For many years already, ever since the fax machine and computer technology has made our work 'things' digitally virtual, there hasn't been the absolute need to have face-to-face contacts with the people I do business with. The first time that happened was in the mid 1990's. One of my early clients was the BSMP - Brooklyn Seminars in Modern Psychoanalysis. Every other month I prepared a flyer for their series "Brunch in Brooklyn," led by their late and missed founder, Dr. Carol Brod. I used to travel to her apartment in Manhattan and leave the extra copies of the flyer (the ones we didn't mail) with her doorman at East 55th Street. One day she called and said she was driving past our office (at the time we were on Flatbush Avenue near the Manhattan Bridge) and could she pick up the extras herself. When I ran out to drop the box in her car, we looked at each other and I could tell that we both realized that while we already had a long-term working relationship, this was the first time either of us had any idea what the looked like. In any case, the point of this is that since I started advertising this website all over the country, I have developed new 'friends' and made new relationships and become involved in marketing projects with people in Texas, and California and Louisiana, and I enjoy making chatting with these new friends as much as I have with those here in my hometown, and I guess with even less possibility of meeting face-to-face, but it's ok.
Of course, gabbing is what connects us. It personalizes the work we do for
clients, and so when we see something that could be done better, we have
an open line of communication. When there’s a problem at the Post Office,
say with an expired fee or design problem, we don’t just take the mail back
and let it sit until our client figures out what to do — we figure out what
to do to get the mail out and in the stream right away. Our client’s problem
is our problem — and we feel happy at their successes.
Of course, it is our customer’s successes that provide our raison d'etre. And by maintaining our humanity, and using technology to help us, rather than to alienate us, our chores become our pleasures as well. And hopefully you'll find that dealing with us will be a pleasure and not a chore either.
One thing you'll never have to worry about is what number to press when you call us - it's either a human if we're here, or a tape for you to leave a message which I will hear and respond to.