Joy Gendusa on How She Created a $60 Million/Year Company
1. Tell us about your company, PostcardMania, what exactly is it?
PostcardMania is the only one-stop-shop for results-generating marketing campaigns built specifically for small-to-medium sized businesses based on the results of over 95,000 clients. How’s that for a mouthful? We started out as a direct mail postcard marketing company, who was the first one to offer design, printing, mailing lists and bulk mail services all in one place. We now flank those direct mail campaigns with online ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, youtube and gmail and we’ve also expanded to offer website development, e-mail marketing, and other online advertising services…really anything a small business needs that relates to marketing. We are essentially an ad agency for small businesses without charging an arm and a leg for our expertise (for example 5000 postcards sell for $359). I’m personally very passionate about small businesses so we also offer a lot of free marketing education.
2. What made you decide this was the business you wanted to create? What lead you to PostcardMania?
This is a bit of a long story… I had a small graphic design firm and we brokered printing for our clients – but I had to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week in order to make a good living… I wasn’t successful enough to pay anyone that knew as much as I did so I had to do a lot of the harder jobs like quoting, analyzing where to print a particular job and then also the sales… So had a few staff for accounting and graphic design (I was a designer back then which is how this all got started) I kept feeling like there was something just on the horizon that was going to be big – like an idea in the back of my mind that I couldn’t quite bring to the front. Something where I could turn over hats easily and actually have a life LOL. Then one day I received an advertisement in the mail for 5000 postcards for only $425! Back in 1998 that was a STEAL. So I designed a card to market my services. I received a proof via Fedex of my design – and when I looked at it I saw they had added their 800 number in 5 point type onto my design! I called them and asked them to remove it because I sell printing and I’m not going to spend a bunch on postage to promote them! They informed me that I hadn’t read the fine print and that it would be $50 to remove that!! What the heck?? After that phone call I was so annoyed that I walked out of my office and announced to my four staff “We are starting a postcard company and we will call it POSTCARDMANIA and we will not be putting our 800 number on anyone’s design” – Granted, my announcement was met with blank stares, but the name stuck. Twenty years and over $60 million in annual revenue later, it turned out to be a pretty good idea!
3. Once you knew PostcardMania was what you wanted to do, how did you get started?
I started by purchasing a mailing list (on a CD at that time – haha!) of every business on a main street in my city. I mailed them postcards telling them that I could print and mail postcards for their businesses – and the phones started ringing ☺
4. Did you create a business plan when getting started with your business? Why or why not?
Nope – because I didn’t even know what that was! I just worked my ass off to get clients and deliver to them. I had no clue how big we’d get, I just knew I had to figure out how much I needed to sell in order to be profitable and it took me a couple years to figure that out because the more I sold, the more expenses I had.
5. Did you self-fund PostcardMania or did you seek out loans and/or grants? Do you recommend either or to new business owners?
I had a small print brokering agency when I started so I used a couple hundred dollars from that to start promoting my new business. As business came in I invested more of that money into increasing the marketing. I never took any outside capital or investments besides mortgages on our properties as we grew. I didn’t pay myself much and instead invested that money into more and more marketing. Today we spend $90,000 a week to market PostcardMania which organically grew over time from the couple hundred dollars I started with.
6. What are three key components someone would need to get started with their own business?
First they need to understand the market. Is what they have needed/wanted by enough people to be able to sell a ton of it? Next, they need to understand their competition. Will they be able to be better and also out market them? And for a third one, they need to understand that in order to really grow they need to market much more than they probably think. The number one thing I see with SMBs that I deal with is that when they ask me “How did you do it?” because they want to grow – and I tell them “you have to market way more than any sane person believes is enough” I can see them thinking “that doesn’t apply to me” or “this does not compute” or something but not “OKAY – I’M GOING TO DO THAT” for the most part.
7. What were some challenges you faced along your journey and how did you overcome them?
My challenges were always around money – how will I pay for this next bit of expansion? I really didn’t want any partners or anyone to tell me what to do that I HAD to listen to – so raising money wasn’t an option for me. I had heard too many horror stories around that. So truthfully, it was a balancing act between paying my vendors late, making payroll, and rolling the dice… not super conservative at all – pretty risky in fact… always living on the edge of failing for YEARS. I overcame this simply by being ridiculously positive that I’d make it and staying super upbeat.
8. What kept you motivated to never give up when creating your business?
Now, the truth is I have crazy perseverance on a given course. Meaning if I see something difficult I want I DO NOT GIVE UP. Period. People that have observed this in me over the years kind of marvel at it. I’m willing to lose money for a LONG time until I make a LOT. So that’s really just me as a person. I honestly didn’t know I had this trait until I was a business owner. I would have sworn up and down that I never stick to anything – I’m not kidding. I learned so much about myself doing this.
9. What is something you know now that you wish you knew when getting started with PostcardMania?
This is an interesting question. I’m honestly kind of glad that I didn’t know a LOT of things because I probably would have been too scared to carry on. So I don’t want to ruin any of your reader’s hopes and dreams by telling the bad parts.
10. Your story is so motivating! What is some advice you could leave our readers with about how to create a successful multi-million dollar company?
One of the hardest things for business owners to do is let go completely of a job – meaning delegate COMPLETELY. You really have to be willing to allow others to own their positions and make mistakes and not freak out when they do. You will have a much better team and a truly loyal team if you allow them to take full responsibility for their position. The reason I’m so successful is because I can delegate and choose the right people to delegate to. I have an amazing team. My three senior execs have been with me a long time… My president started as my assistant when she was just 19 years old. She’s been with me 22 years. My Chief Revenue Officer is her husband – they met after she started with me. He’s been with me 17 years now. My Chief Marketing Officer started here fresh out of college (she studied finance and learned marketing working for me) and has been here 16 years. These three are truly amazing and my dearest friends and confidants. The things they have done for PostcardMania are truly too numerous to list. Just think – everything LOL.. My COO has been with me for 19 years and was only 20 years old when he started as a shipping clerk and my CTO has only been with me for 10 years but is a huge part of our success as well.
And there you have it! I hope Joy’s story inspired you as much as it did me. Keep up with PostcardMania here!
Photo Credit: Postcardmania.com