Episode #198 – Lincoln and Davis Elections, and Online Companies Using the Postal System

Welcome to Stamp Show Here Today Episode #198

Welcome to Stamp Show Here Today Episode #198 – Today we are discussing the elections of President Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, who were elected on the same date one year apart. We also discuss online modern companies and startups going back to using the postal system for advertising. Scott and Tom will be at Chicagopex next week and there will most likely not be a show then. Enjoy.

Hosts – Tom, Scott, Caj, Mark

Presidents Lincoln and Davis

November 6th 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency.

Lincoln received less than 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates: Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell by winning 180 electoral votes.

Lincoln carried many states above the Mason-Dixon line as well as California and Oregon. He did not win one southern state ands was not even on the ballot in 10 of them Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. He was the first presidential nominee to not appear on the ballot of every state.

Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig representative to Congress, first gained national stature during his campaign against Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858. The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the issue of slavery, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery, while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become free or slave. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party.

In 1860, Lincoln won the party’s third ballot for the presidential nomination with a party platform the promised not to interfere with slavery in the states but opposed slavery in the territories, a homestead act that promised farmland to western settlers, and the funding of a transcontinental railroad.

The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the beginning of secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.

By the time of his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded, and the Confederate States of America had been formally established.

One month later, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina. In 1863, as the tide turned against the Confederacy, Lincoln emancipated the slaves and in 1864 won reelection. In April 1865, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a confederate sympathizer, at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after the American Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

For preserving the Union and bringing an end to slavery, and for his unique character and powerful oratory, Lincoln is hailed as one of the greatest American presidents.

Also on the same day in 1861 Jefferson Davis was elected as the first president of the Confederate States of America. Davis ran unopposed with the election simply confirming the decision that had been made by the Confederate Congress.

Davis like Lincoln was from Kentucky. He attended West Point and took parts in the Black Hawk War of 1832 and the Mexican War from 1846 – 1848. He was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate from Mississippi after the war and later served a Secretary of War for President Franklin Pierce.  

Though he was the first and only choice for the Confederate States he feared what was to come saying, “Upon my weary heart was showered smiles, plaudits, and flowers, but beyond them I saw troubles and thorns innumerable.”

Davis was elected to a six year term which ended with the end of the Civil War when the Confederacy was dissolved May 5th 1865.

Abraham Lincoln was first featured on the fifteen cent black National Bank Note stamp, Scott No. 77 issued in April, 1866. He was also prominently featured on the ninety cent Pictorial Issue of 1869 which is the Carmine and Black Scott No. 122. He would go on to be represented on many more U.S. stamps.

Jefferson Davis, appeared on a majority of the Confederate States of America stamps, not holding to the convention of only representing prominent figures who were deceased. Davis is featured on Confederate States Scott Nos. 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Why do so many hip startups advertise with snail mail

An article on Vox.com breaks down why many digital first companies are marketing with mailers in this high tech environment.

The idea of having a mailbox full of actual mail seems outdated.

Print magazines are fading, more and more bills are paid online, and many brands have scaled back on printed catalogues, preferring to funnel resources into website upkeep and social media instead.

Yet over the last few years, brands — including hot, digitally savvy, direct-to-consumer ones like Casper, Harry’s, Wayfair, Rover, Quip, Away, Handy, and Modcloth — have taken to targeting customers in the mail.

If you’re in your 20s or 30s and live in an urban city, you probably have gotten, for example, a glossy, blue booklet from mattress brand Casper inviting you to check out its latest products.

Perhaps you’ve tossed these mailers into the trash and moved on to your meal delivery kit. But maybe you’ve done exactly what these companies want you to do, which is to go to their site. Extra points if you buy something using the accompanying discount code found on all their mailings.

Why do these disruptive, online-first companies want to be our old school pen pals?

The rise of young, digital brands spending money to mail us stuff speaks to the cyclical progress of shopping trends. A decade ago, companies looking to reach customers would often buy email addresses from third parties. They’d do giveaways and, if existing customers handed over their family and friends’ email addresses, they’d offer discounts too.

Fast forward 10 years and the virtual mailbox today looks a whole lot like our parents’ IRL mailboxes back then: A total wreck. Our inboxes are overflowing with newsletters, real letters, ride-sharing receipts, lunch-sharing receipts, bills, fake bills, breaking news notifications, not-so-breaking news notifications, brand promotions, sales promotions, social media alerts, spam, and porn. How do we all stay on top of this?

The answer, as you probably know, is that we can’t and we don’t. Emails often get deleted without so much as being opened, regardless of how cheeky the subject line is.

“People our age get hundreds of emails a day, but they only get ten pieces of a mail a day, if that many,” says Pete Christman, the head of acquisition marketing at the shaving company Harry’s, which counts on mailers as part of its marketing. “From a numbers perspective, email is a much noisier environment.”

Advertising on social media has become increasingly difficult too. In case you haven’t noticed, which surely you have, brands are targeting you on social. And in aiming for the ideal consumer for sexy, digital brands, many companies are finding themselves in the same spot: targeting the exact same age group (millennials), living in the exact same areas (heavily populated cities), with the exact same income (middle-class).

This pond brands have to fish in is small and only getting more crowded, which explains why so many digitally-native brands turn to old-school retail methods like opening stores or buying billboards. It’s for this reason that mail is often a better way to catch the attention of new and existing customers than a Facebook or Instagram ad.

“The advertising world gets excited about things like digital and pours money into complicated ads when there’s limited opportunity because everyone is trying to get in front of the same people and there are limited users,” says Christman.

Facebook often raises its ad prices as they become more effective, and so the cost of customer acquisition keeps climbing. The cost of a stamp, on the other hand, is not up to Mark Zuckerberg.

“Direct mail went away for a while, but more digital brands are seeing how well it works as strong marketing,” says Cheryl Kaplan, the president of DTC footwear company M.Gemi, which sends attractive, thick-papered pamphlets to new and existing customers. “It’s a different way to speak with customers who are sick of the ads they see on Instagram.”

But while customers might be sick of ads on Instagram, they’re not sick of ads that look like Instagram. Today’s mailers have a distinctly modern feel.

While brands like Glossier and M.Gemi choose to mail pamphlets out on their own, more companies are opting for a way in which they can share the costs: group mailers.

At some point in time, you probably have been mailed a thick, colorful envelope filled with promotional advertisements from many brands, all packaged and delivered neatly together.

One company that has mastered this type of mailing is Share Local Media, a mailer advertising company that’s been around for about two years, and specializes in working with digitally-native brands. Teju Prabhakar, the company’s CEO and co-founder, has a background in the world of digital. He previously worked at Quidsi, the fast-growing e-commerce company behind Diapers.com, which was acquired (and later killed) by Amazon. After moving to on-demand cleaning startup Handy, Prabhakar decided to start a mailer marketing firm in 2016 because he didn’t think digital businesses took the mail seriously enough.

“Everyone lumps direct mail with TV and radio together, and they are actually pretty different,” he says. “I felt like direct mail could work really well if you get the right targeting format and you are creative.”

Share Local Media now has Instagram-friendly clients like Casper, Joybird, Lyft, Oars and Alp, ModCloth, Away, Jet.com, Rover, Hims.

People who’ve received these mailers have noticed how striking it is to get mail from startups, of all places, and have even joked about comparing Share Local Media’s envelopes to podcasts, IRL.

Share Local Media charges them a minimum of $15,000 for 30,000 envelopes, a cost that’s split between the companies in the mailer. Prabhakar’s team buys customer addresses and demographic information from the United States Postal Service and third party providers like your credit card company.

Not unlike Facebook, the company is able to provide targeted mailing thanks to a proprietary system that organizes addresses into categories, such as moms, people who’ve just moved, or residents of high income areas. Shared Local Media also does “look-alike” marketing, determining who the brand’s existing customer is and finding similar customers to mail envelopes too. This is exactly the way Facebook helps brands target audiences online, except as Christina Carbonell, the co-founder of kids clothing company Primary, notes, “you give an offer that the person can hold onto. It’s hard to do that in a banner ad.”

As anyone who’s actually bothered to open one of these envelope knows, discount offers are what really matter to customers. Prabhakar advises that every brand puts in “value prop that compels a customer to take action” — a.k.a a coupon code. This, of course, is one of the oldest retail tricks in the book, dating back to when Coca Cola introduced the concept of a coupon in 1887 by offering a free glass of Coke as a way to introduce the drink to shoppers.

Science has studied how coupons can cause a rise in oxytocin levels. Psychology Today has reported on how shoppers prefer to buy products they have coupons for, even if it means spending more money on a product because it provides “smart shopper feelings.” More analysis of the coupon industry has found that 57 percent of shoppers will buy from a company for the first time if they are presented with a coupon.

Are mailers more effective than online advertising?

Shane Pittson, the head of marketing at electric toothbrush startup Quip says “direct mail piece URLs are more likely to be used than URLs from other offline marketing channels” and Christman, from Harry’s, advocates for the practice, noting that sending something to someone’s home can feel more intimate, which is true. But being targeted, unsolicited, at home could be at least as off-putting as being served an ad for a brand you Googled or talked about.

Glossy photography definitely looks better IRL, but it also essentially just ends up in the trash, just like everything else.

Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how much you enjoy being entreated to spend money — brands see mail as complementary to the rest of their advertising budget. It’s not an “if/or,” says Kaplan, but “is something that adds to the ways we can share our story.”

Show Schedule

November 15
Postal History of World War II in the Pacific OceanOn the Road CoursePrior to CHICAGOPEX- Westin Chicago Northwest, 400 Park Blvd, Itasca, Illinois

Instructor: Ken LawrenceCost: $45 for APS Members $95 for non-membersWebsite: http://www.stamps.org/On-the-Road-Courses

10am- 4pm

November 16-18CHICAGOPEX
Itasca, Illinois
Westin Chicago Northwest, 400 Park Blvd.

November 17
Manchester, Connecticut
East Catholic High School, 115 New State Road
Website: http://www.manchesterphilatelic.webs.com/

November 17
Autumn Stamp Festival
Cheektowaga, New York
VFW Post, 2450 Walden Avenue

November 17
Black River Stamp Club Annual Show
Elyria, Ohio
St. Judes School, 590 Poplar St.

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