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If you’ve ever used direct marketing in your business, chances are you’ve used Salmat, a company that delivers more than 60 per cent of direct mail in Australia. Heading this venture is Peter Mattick, a man said that his success was inspired by wanting a job that would deliver him a shiny new car. Mattick joins Peter Switzer on his Sky Business Channel Program – SWITZER.

Mattick explains he grew up in a single parent household and says his mother was a “great role model” and mentor to him and his brothers – “I probably got the common sense and the best advice from Mum more than anyone else”. 

What to do?

Mattick and Phil Salter who went to school together founded Salmat business in 1979.

Before this, they had always talked about going into business together, but didn’t know what area. They looked at real estate and ended up going into men’s fashion – “it was good to us, but we’re not into fashion”.

Salter’s father was working for company that delivered catalogues to letterboxes, which he said was an interesting business.

So they all met in a Burwood pub to discuss the idea – they took this relatively old industry, and decided to put “some smarts behind it”.

“We allowed retailers to understand what message they should be sending to the market and where,” he says. “So there’s not much use a Kentucky Fried Chicken store sending a message to someone 20 kilometres away through an ad in the newspaper when [people] are not going to drive 20 kilometres to get there. Three to five kilometres round the store – that’s a good message. So we started talking to retailers about targeting and socio-economics and what people bought. And we also the same at the back end tidied up the accountability of distribution and made sure that the catalogues got there on time so that the stores could actually match their sales offers when the catalogue got there.”

Business growth

Today, this initial business is only 20 per cent of turnover for the publically listed company. Salmat ventured out into businesses such as direct marketing, essential mail, email, SMS and social media. It puts around five billion catalogues in letterboxes and sends out billions of emails and SMS.

The business doubled every year through to the mid-1980s. Mattick explains the company grew so fast that they couldn’t fund its growth, so they sold 16 per cent to the Herald and Weekly Times, 16 per cent to Queensland Newspapers and 16 per cent to the Adelaide Advertiser.

“Rupert [Murdoch] bought them all, and suddenly we had a new partner. I’ve got to say over the nearly 14 years we were in business, he was a great partner.”

In 1998, Salmat bought back the share from Murdoch. 

What the future holds

Mattick believes Salmat will be a “vastly different company” in 10 years’ time. He says today “everyone wants to be treated individually”. The consumer decides how to deal with the retailer or financial institution, for example - “not the other way round.

“I think we’ll see our traditional channels, what I call our legacy businesses, which actually provide the funds to grow these new ones will slowly tail off, but the new ones will just boom again.”

Check out Peter Switzer’s SWITZER on Sky News Business Channel, Monday to Thursday from 7pm.

Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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Published on: Tuesday, November 09, 2010

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