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I grew up in a small town in Vermont. It was always a magical time of year when the weather started to warm and the snow started to melt after a long, cold, dark winter.

As locals know, Vermont (and much of New England) has five seasons. Sandwiched in between winter and spring is “mud season.” Where I grew up, mud season generally arrived in March. The blanket of snow is met with increasingly warm days. The ground thaws from the top down, and the excess water from the snow can’t sink through the icy lower layers, so it saturates the surface, creating a landscape of mud.

For many New Englanders, mud season is a time of dramatic change, a freshness in the air, and new beginnings. It is also a difficult time. Dirt roads are washed out at great expense to repair. Boots are mandatory and have to be left outside (or in the “mudroom” — you didn’t have one of those?). Everything hidden is now exposed, and there is work to do: preparing land for seed, repairing fences, fixing broken pipes, grading roads, shearing sheep, preparing gardens, repairing salt damage on cars and trucks.

Of course, there’s an analogy here. We are coming out of one of the most challenging winters and years on record. Everyone I’ve spoken to — from our partners to our employees — has expressed fatigue over the last year now being met with a new feeling of hope and excitement, but with a renewed sense of the work to be done now. The snow is melting, and the ground is thawing.

Our brand partners have rebounded, many spectacularly. Sectors that have been in hibernation are now starting to emerge, particularly travel but also physical retail, gyms, and financial services. The vaccine rollout has accelerated. There’s a lot to be excited about as brands lean into growth and consumers find a stronger footing.

But, we have work to do. Independent advertising is poised for another disruptive change as industry heavyweights and consumer privacy advocates stake their positions. Brands are more committed than ever to integrate their marketing to combine “offline” and “online” channels to better market to consumers in a respectful, relevant manner. Teams worldwide are shaping the post-pandemic working environment to prepare for employees coming together but doing so safely and in a way that allows collaboration and achievement in many kinds of important work.

And last, but not least, we all have a responsibility and are working to support and make a positive change in the face of ongoing discrimination, intolerance, violence, and racism which should have absolutely no place in our communities.

At PebblePost, we’ve made significant progress in our mission to enable the most relevant and respectful at-home marketing despite the tough year. We saw the pull-back, and then an incredible surge as brands and the market recovered throughout the year. We launched two major new products, Graph Mail and Lookalikes, which brands have quickly adopted and used to propel growth.

This year, as the snow melts and the ground thaws, we’re excited to introduce some new capabilities to better enable brands to use Programmatic Direct Mail to reach consumers at home, drive world-class marketing performance, and share actionable insights. We will continue to build with relevance and respect at the heart of everything we do to guide our work and make a positive impact on brands, consumers, and colleagues.

In all seasons (including mud), our Programmatic Direct Mail® platform connects hundreds of leading brands with hundreds of thousands of consumers via physical mail. On a daily basis, we get mail into postal hubs within 12–24 hours of consumers expressing interest in a product or service. This automated platform is always running, algorithms processing billions of data points to maximize relevance and a respectful consumer experience.

We’re excited to continue to deliver for brands and consumers. Let’s lace up our boots, stomp out the front door, check the mailbox, and get to work on preparing for the seasons ahead.

Jacob Ross is the CEO of PebblePost.

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