Cathedral: Pioneers of Print and Mail
Cathedral Corporation delivers essential financial communication programs and direct mail to our customers. In our earliest days of providing fundraising and stewardship services for churches, we managed parish member lists and produced and mailed church offering envelopes. These envelopes were a vehicle for parishes to collect donations on a regular basis and helped the parishes reach their financial goals. For Cathedral, this strategy of managing customer data, producing mission-critical documents and distributing the documents in the mail continues today as one of the company’s core competencies. Cathedral continues to produce direct mail, both first-class and standard mail, in multiple industries including Financial Services, Healthcare, Religious Organizations, Municipal Entities and Utilities, Higher Education, and other Non-Profit Organizations. The company’s 100-year history of experience continues with the creation of customized and personalized print and mail in various forms - statements, invoices, explanation of benefits, church offering envelopes, direct mail letters, postcards, etc.
Brief History and What We Do
The corporation dates from 1916 starting as a manufacturer of corrugated boxes, called The Columbia Corporation, eventually evolving into other “niche” products and markets using more modern paper-making equipment demanded by the market. Over time, management saw the need to diversify the business acquiring a company that produced offering envelopes that managed parishioner lists and mailed these offering envelopes directly to parishioner homes.
Overtime, the paper-board part of the business was sold, however the print and mail part of the business became the strategic focus of the company. Along with the existing church offering envelope business the company expanded to offer data management services and other kinds of direct mail. For example, a church mailing of offering envelopes commonly went to only a partial list of the parishioners. A personalized direct mail letter to the remainder of the parishioners allowed the church to stay in touch to all parishioners. This strategy helps the church be more financially fit by providing other ways to receive offerings and in addition, and just as important, to stay in touch with all parishioners and increase parishioner involvement in the church. The stewardship direct mail program for churches became a proven and effective approach.
Future Success with Direct Mail
A natural evolution of managing customer data and focusing on member type groups, Cathedral Corporation started to diversify into other industry segments still focusing on core competencies which included personalized direct mail programs, high-quality production control and exceptional customer service. In the for-profit business segment, just like in non-profit, the customer data is used to create a more relevant experience and relationship. Transaction-type documents (bills, invoices, account statements, etc.) such as a credit union member statement shows monthly customer detail for that member’s financial account. These are mailed as first-class documents which are surely to be opened by the recipient. This transaction document, e.g. credit union member account statement is also a canvas to convey important member information and can include targeted advertisements. Thus, mass marketing was replaced with mass customization. In other words, marketing to each individual per month with the first-class mailing had a high-rate of being opened is now an opportunity to connect to the recipient in other ways to improve the member experience and to market to them using data intelligence. Over the years as capabilities of printing technology advanced, Cathedral has been able to go from black-and-white printing to the use of one-color and now full-color. Now with color and the use of data intelligence, the document being produced - whether in the non-profit or for-profit space - can be a more powerful tool to drive attention and response. This is also true with the outer envelope used to mail the document. The message on the outer envelope can be enhanced with the use of color and/or messaging to gain action from the recipient. Certainly the class of mail can also drive that attention. Financial documents must be mailed first-class with a high percent of them being opened and read. Other types of direct mail that are advertisements are sent standard rate is a signal to the recipient of being “junk mail”, however with the use of transaction data a more relevant mail piece can increase the likelihood the recipient will take action.
The advance of electronic was embraced to supplement Cathedral’s print and mail capabilities as the market demanded its use. Though some print and mail may have shifted to online, our experience has found it to be a complimentary service needed in all industries. The same customer data we managed was now being formatted into an electronic format such as PDF and HTML. Though some transaction-based documents, e.g. bank statements, are being presented electronically, marketers are aware of research statistics that the most effective advertising offers need to embrace multiple channels - both electronic and in print. And we have found that print and mail is the most effective medium for direct mail advertising especially when it is highly targeted and timely.
Partnerships and Relationships
Just as important in delivering exceptional customer service to our clients, Cathedral created partnerships and relationships with key industry associations. The quest of sharing and learning industry best practices allows us to deliver exceptional service and ensure our client-base of the strict rigor needed for an optimal production environment - as required by industry regulations and delivering on our promise of guaranteed quality.
Early on, Cathedral developed a strong relationship with the U.S. Postal Office due to the ever increasing mail pieces being generated. The learnings and best practices in the mailing industry have been instrumental for the business. This involvement led to Cathedral being recognized as a Business Alliance Partner with the USPS. Our evolution of standard-class mailing services for church direct mail to its growth and integration of for-profit industry segment with first-class mailing services, quickly cemented the need of our company involvement with the U.S. Post Office throughout the years including leadership roles on the Postal Customer Council (PCC), Mailers Technical Advisory Committee to the Postmaster General (MTAC) and the Area Industry Mailing Focus Group.
Today’s world requires fast turnaround, ability to respond to advances with technology, managing customer demands, and competitive pressures. Cathedral’s continued strategy remains focused on managing customer data for the production of customized direct marketing programs, high-quality production control and exceptional customer service. Our clients in all industries continue to have the need to deliver programs with return-on-investment that can be measured.