Summit Direct Mail Blends Digital & Print With OptiChannel Marketing, Grows to $36 Million

Led by owner John Barber and Mike Robinson, the creative team at Summit Direct Mail combine direct mail with Personalized URLs (“PURLS”), 1:1 landing pages, SMS text, call center management, and other channels to create predictable, scalable, and measurable campaigns for their clients.

Using the OptiChannel precept of finding consumers on the channels they’re most likely to engage and then giving them reply options that are best suited to their individual preference, this leading printer has found success — despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic and economic downturn.

To achieve their success, the leadership team at Summit constantly seeks to create new solutions for their Clients. Their focus on finding new ways to help drive engagement, response, and sales is what has set them apart.

Whether scaling to 10’s of millions of personalized URLs, building dynamic OptiChannel workflows, creating sophisticated triggers, or routing leads in real-time to lead management systems, Summit Direct Mail is one of the rare breed of printer who has managed to blend technology with print successfully.

Appearing recently in an article from Printing Impressions (quoted below), Summit is in a unique position — despite COVID-19 and economic challenges in the United States — because they’re capable of actually blending both offline-and-online channels to drive revenue for their Clients.

How They Do It

The Summit approach begins with understanding that direct mail is still very effective at driving engagement, response, and leads.

Summit builds marketing campaigns for their clients that orchestrate print (direct mail) into a tapestry of marketing services that fully incorporate PURLs, landing pages, SMS text, call center management, and other means to create what CEO John Barber describes as “predictable, scalable, and measurable” campaigns for clients.

In the campaigns they create for Clients, Summit Direct Mail tracks recipients’ activity, and sends them trigger-based messaging until they take the actions the Client wants them to take.

The result is a decreased cost-per-action, whether that’s a lead, phone call, funded loan, and so on.

Here’s how John Barber describes it, as described in the Printing Impressions article:

We bug you ‘til you buy.” When John Barber describes Summit Direct Mail’s approach to multichannel direct marketing that way, he’s just being blunt for effect.

Fully expressed, his company’s goal is to increase response rates for clients at the lowest cost of Client acquisition that any marketing services provider (MSP) can give them — an objective that Summit Direct Mail uses a highly sophisticated blend of digital and conventional technologies to pursue. 

With its auxiliary web printing company, Texas Offset, Summit Direct Mail offers mail-based and electronic marketing services to a nationwide clientele across verticals that include the financial services, consumer lending, insurance, educational, mortgage, and automotive sectors.

As an MSP that, as Barber says, “just happens to print one million pieces of mail per day,” Summit Direct Mail has embraced digital printing to maximize the productivity and cost efficiency of this key component of its business.

The company’s offset operation continues to be strong, with three variable-cylinder UV web presses that can run roll-to-roll, roll-to-fold, or roll-to-sheet.

But Barber also has acquired digital web capability in the form of one Truepress Jet520HD, and two Truepress Jet520ZZ inkjet web presses from Screen. A Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 UV inkjet press provides B2 digital sheetfed printing, supplemented by two 13×19˝ HP Indigo liquid-toner machines.

Summit Direct Mail blends the output from this equipment into a continuum of marketing services that also uses personalized landing pages, SMS text, call center management, and other means to create what Barber describes as “predictable, scalable, and measurable” campaigns for clients.

In these campaigns, Summit Direct Mail tracks recipients’ activity, and sends them supplemental messaging until they take the actions the Client wants them to take.



Barber maintains that in direct marketing, response rates aren’t as important to his Clients as the cost of generating the responses — a factor that Summit Direct Mail always works to drive down. 

He says digital printing help to keeps production costs under control by virtually eliminating makeready waste and enabling personalization at higher speeds than were achievable with offset overprinting.

The company’s well-balanced mix of digital equipment also lets it weigh all-inclusive click charges against running costs based on the consumption of ink — a comparison that helps the pressroom assign jobs to the devices that can produce them fastest and most economically. 

Barber says that by augmenting its digital presses with high-speed cutting, folding, and inserting equipment, the company should be able to more than double its printing and mailing capacity without expanding the workforce.

Where he intends to add talent is on the creative and analytical sides, hiring people who can help clients “throw sharp, accurate darts” by refining the effectiveness of the campaigns that Summit Direct Mail produces for them.

That may take some education and inspiration, because as Barber acknowledges, “we can be extremely innovative, but it can be very difficult for the client to be as innovative as we are.”

By Patrick Henry, Senior Editor at NAPCO Media and writes for In-plant Graphics, Printing Impressions and Packaging Impressions.

Congrats to the entire Summit Direct Mail team for their success. You’re an inspiration to all of us!

Questions about how Summit Direct Mail has achieved its success? Drop them in the comments and we’ll get them answered.