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How 5 Printers Surprised Their Customers and Won Big

“I didn’t know you did that.” Six words, rich with opportunity but laced with irony.

For the industry that first made mass-communication possible, it’s surprising how many print shops fall short when it comes to spreading the word about themselves.

In search of work with larger and more stable margins, many print shops are sensibly looking to establish themselves higher up the value chain – beyond print and into marketing services. And the first step in that journey is figuring out how to get the word out.

Here are five print providers whose innovative self-promotional, awareness-building campaigns forced clients to think: “Maybe there’s more to these guys than we thought…”

1. Chocolate Melts Preconceptions

Norway’s CopyCat already had a well-earned reputation for quality print across applications such as brochures, packaging, labels and posters. But they wanted to do more to promote their in-house web and design expertise.

They kicked off their campaign with a unique dimensional print which was actually a six-side A4 brochure, featuring a personalised URL (PURL) and QR code that directed readers to a fully-responsive landing page. Once there, readers were asked for basic information – and their favourite chocolate.

CopyCat chocolate box

2. Money Pours in Following Message in a Bottle

Mark Serbin, president of Serbin Print Marketing & Publishing, was struggling to convince long-term customers that his team was a marketing resource, not just a printer. But with one campaign, Serbin was able to post its best financial results since the recession.

The campaign began with a save-the-date message in a bottle – sent to 300+ local not-for-profits – for an educational workshop on the latest techniques for drumming up donations and memberships. Conceived with the help of the Xerox® ProfitAccelerator® Digital Business Development program, this “Next Level Workshop” provided thought leadership and featured a keynote from a recognised not-for-profit marketing expert.

Save-the-date poster

From start to finish, the campaign proved Serbin was more than “just a printer” by demonstrating their ability to offer unique marketing services. Included were:

  • Invitations designed as eye-catching pop-up mailers that featured PURLs

  • Confirmation messages that included images of guests’ chosen snacks for the day

  • A post-event, personalised mailer containing a chess piece-USB loaded with the day’s presentations, telling recipients: “The next move is yours.”

Of the invitations Serbin mailed, 55 per cent viewed their PURLs and 29 per cent registered for the event. The invitation response was so good that they even cancelled a planned follow-up postcard.

3. Personalised Calendar Captures the Imagination

After investing in a Xerox® iGen4® Press, America’s Progressive Communications wanted to inspire customers to think big. So they set to work creating a 1:1 direct marketing campaign consisting of a mailer, initial email, PURL and a confirmation email using XMPie® to drive variable text and imagery.

Two personalized calendars. One has a dog with a newspaper in its mouth, one has a hot dog with a name written in mustard.

The front of the mailer included a gender-specific silhouette image and the recipient’s first name. On the back was their sales rep’s contact information, a personalised image, PURL and a QR code. The show-stopper, however, was a fully-personalised calendar, featuring gender-driven imagery that incorporated recipients’ names for each month of the year.

The campaign was a big hit, scoring a near-17 per cent response rate, 11.5 per cent registration rate and a smashing 68.5 per cent conversion rate – a return that campaigns using digital media alone could never hope to achieve, and proof of Progressive’s ability to deliver results.

4. Twitter Makes Printer the Talk of the Town

Japan’s K-Print was primarily focused on photo-based products such as greeting cards and photo books when they spotted a gap in the market, closed to competitors but wide open to them: personalised packaging.

Personalized photo boxes

A social-media savvy company, K-Print turned to Twitter and blog posts to gauge interest. They knew they were on to something when online mentions of the pilot product prompted spikes in visits to their website.

To capitalise on the opportunity, they built a web-to-print interface that allowed customers to create their own packaging PDF with text and images. Then they rendered it in 3D – creating a 360-degree preview of the product.

K-Print’s marketing eventually caught the eye of one of Japan’s top confectioners, which now uses the print provider to design personalised packaging for their products.

5. Cross-Media Draws a High-Powered Crowd

Big things can come from small beginnings. Four months before QuantumDigital’s Marketing Innovation and Discovery Summit, the company sent out a greeting card as a teaser. It was followed by a save-the-date desktop calendar and pre-invitation emails.

Print samples

In keeping with the musical heritage of Austin, Texas, USA – the summit’s location – the first official event invitation then arrived in the form of a concert poster, featuring a PURL and a unique QR code for online registration. Finally, six weeks before the event, a personalised booklet was sent out with details such as speakers and session topics, as well as further links to a registration page.

The flawless cross-media promotional campaign ahead of the summit meant that, by the day of the event, there was no doubt that QuantumDigital was a serious player.

In the end, the campaign generated a 51 per cent response rate, a 38 per cent conversion rate and more than 100 people tuned in to watch the live stream of the two-day event. And within just a few weeks, QuantumDigital had secured $90,000 of additional business and was celebrating the signing of contracts with several large agencies.

Key Takeaways:

  • Show Don’t Tell: Every marketing campaign you conduct is essentially a demonstration of your strategy, skills and tactics. Bring your best stuff.

  • Get Under Their Skin: By truly understand what your clients are trying to achieve with their marketing or the challenges they’re facing, you can craft a campaign that says all the right things at the right time.

  • Be Proactive: While you’re waiting for the phone to ring, the print shop down the road is out there getting in front of people.

  • Challenge Yourself: You control the brief when you’re marketing yourself. So don’t hold back. Use every tool in your box and don’t be afraid to fail.

  • Rally the Troops: You don’t have to do it alone. Use common interests to build alliances with other organisations, amplify your message, and take advantage of business development support.

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