By Melissa Donovan
Marketing campaigns span multiple formats, including traditional promotional materials like invitations and signs to Web-based collateral such as personalized URLs. Print providers who offer options to customers are poised to grow as media buyers and brand managers realize the potential of customized and multi-faceted campaigns.
Promotional print supports brands, products, or events—the opportunities are limitless. The following print providers use digital print to create unique and successful campaigns. When completed, more often than not, these same customers are ready to execute a new concept all over again. The repeatability of this print work is a primary reason for why promotional print is such a lucrative business for so many print providers.
Creating a Visual Brand Experience
Priority Press offers print, mail, mobile, fulfillment, creative, analytics, signage, vehicles, point of purchase, apparel, and merchandise services to 1,200 customers nationwide. A staff of 75 full-time employees work out of a 90,000 square foot space in Indianapolis, IN.
Established in 1980, the company added digital printing nearly a decade ago. “Initially, our primary objective was to economically produce short-run, four-color projects. In time, that objective expanded into driving one-to-one personalized communications and more fully integrating data into our targeted marketing projects,” explains Joe Straka, president/CEO, Priority Press.
About two-thirds of its color digital print work is related to promotional materials, whether personalized and targeted direct mail, customized and tailored brochures, or targeted offers and appeals. Recently, Straka has noticed demand growing for targeted and personalized brochures.
“Our business to business clients increase conversion in their pipelines through more tailored and specialized pieces, which contribute to more sophisticated campaigns,” he admits.
Part of what enables Priority Press to support this is the acquisition of a Canon U.S.A., Inc. imagePRESS C7010VP press in 2012 and then another in 2013. The initial machine was purchased to satisfy the needs of color critical-customers who manage major national brands. With inline spectrophotometric color control, the Canon imagePRESS C7010VP helps the print provider manage consistent, accurate color throughout the color gamut.
For targeted and personalized brochures in particular, the Canon imagePRESS C7010VP presses allow the team to reliably produce professional-looking pieces on a timely basis at economical prices.
Traditional printed pieces are only part of the equation. Straka says the company focuses on “creating visual brand experiences. Living in a graphic-driven world, the market wants—and needs—turnkey solutions.” In his experience, most print providers have a poor concept of value creation, especially as seen through the client’s eyes. Priority Press counteracts that by selling technology services, graphics, wraps, branded apparel and merchandise, in addition to other services to execute a full promotional campaign.
For example, the print provider fulfills many requests for Purdue University. A recent piece was completed for the athletic department with the intention of driving ticket sales for premium seating. Priority Press worked directly with the university and provided creative input throughout the entire process.
“More of our clients seek our opinion and thoughts on highly differentiated, highly important pieces. We find an increasing number of designers with whom we are working with have greater experience working in the digital space. As a result, the value of our opinion and experience continues to rise as they seek breakthrough pieces with high differentiation and greater response rates,” explains Straka.
With the Purdue athletic project, the university was open to the print provider’s thoughts, opinions, and ideas. What resulted was a direct mail campaign to 3,500 highly targeted families over a two month period. The campaign was a success and is planned to be executed again.
A Design Firm that Prints
Founded in 1999, Cirrus Visual—based out of Tucson, AZ—grew from Brandon Blair, president, Cirrus’ vision of being design firm that prints. That dream is reality with a staff of 18. Seven of those being in-house designers. It offers graphic design services for Web and marketing materials, digital printing, and promotional items.
The digital print provider moved out of a 5,000 square foot space in August 2016 to a 15,000 square foot location. Tripling its footprint was integral at this particular time due to its recent purchase of two Ricoh Pro C7100 printers in mid-July 2016.
The new printers offer Cirrus two features that it previously did not have—a fifth color channel for white ink or clear varnish and oversize sheet capabilities—which sets the company apart from its competition, according to Blair.
In regards to printing promotional materials, the Ricoh Pro C7100 printers are hugely influential. Designers create graphics for projects that standout thanks to the white ink, for example, designing with darker substrates or specialty paper in mind.
“I envision there will be even more opportunities as the designers learn how to leverage these new capabilities even further,” shares Blair.
Currently, about 40 percent of Cirrus’ revenue involved promotional print, or as it is referred to at the company—event material. These are usually shorter runs, so they take up a lower percentage of paper volume. Most projects involve multiple channels, from a website with a giveaway prize, to print and a landing page.
Cirrus’ ability to design for every single one of these mediums is its true strength, says Blair. And its clients keep them honest, depending on the sophistication of the customer and whether it is a repeat project, the designers either create a concept from scratch or simply tweak an existing idea.
One of the first jobs run on the Ricoh Pro C7100 printers was for repeat client Reid Park Zoo in Tucson. It included promotional material used before the event—ZOOcson—took place and during the event as well. This campaign featured many elements, including invitations, signage, online graphics, and email campaigns.
“This was the first job that really utilizes the printers and the graphics were designed with the printers’ capabilities in mind,” explains Blair.
ZOOcson is a fundraising event held every Fall, Cirrus is the design and print sponsor. This year the customer requested the promotional materials were elegant, modern, and exciting; included animal representation; and conveyed a black and white color scheme with a pop of color.
The print provider was given key information to meet these requests like the target audience, which included philanthropic zoo donors and members and corporate sponsors around 24 to 70 years of age with a mid-level income.
The main design went through several iterations before a final was chosen. The starting point was a printed invitation for the event that all other graphics were based from. With a black background, Reid Park Zoo wanted the gold portion of the invite to pop off the page, resembling foil. Cirrus’ designers achieved this with the use of black paper and a white ink underlay for the gold colored areas.
The media was printed on the Ricoh Pro C7100 printers twice. The first pass was B&W and the second pass laid down the pop of golden color. The invitation was run at 10×7 inches, with final dimensions of the folded card 5×7 inches. 122# Black Plike Cover was the substrate of choice. A single score up the middle allowed for ease of folding. Mailed with the invitation was a reply card and a reply A6 envelope, bundled in a full-color A7 mailing envelope.
Supporting event collateral included a website/Facebook header, an 8.5×11-inch flyer, newspaper ad, event t-shirt, event signage, and sponsor thank you—all handled by Cirrus.
Be the Solution
Digital print has always played a role at HardingPoorman. Located in Indianapolis, IN, the company began in 2003 and although it ran large offset jobs, it also hoped to offer other products to its customers so they would have one place to shop.
Today, the business is home to 135 employees who work out of a 120,000 square foot location. Services include offset printing, digital printing, wide format printing, mail, and Web. Customers are nationwide.
At the beginning of 2016, the print provider added two Canon presses to its operation—the imagePRESS C7011VP and the imagePRESS C10000VP. According to David Harding, chairman/CEO, HardingPoorman, the printers were chosen for their consistent production speeds across stock weight, color consistency, minimal downtime, and the responsive service of Canon.
Color management is a critical consideration for the company. Especially as the bulk of its work is considered promotional and branding is key. Customers rely on HardingPoorman to hit their brand colors accurately every time—and the company believes that its Canon devices are an essential part of its success.
Another important piece of the puzzle when it comes to the print provider’s success is its ability to offer a vast amount of knowledge to its customers. “We want to be the solution, so we offer clients advice on how best to achieve their goals. That can include a mixture of digital, wide format, offset, websites, and ecommerce,” explains Harding.
Sometimes the best way to showcase these abilities is to work with a vendor partner. HardingPoorman printed a full-color book for the printer manufacturer. The run included 2,000 pieces and the goal was to showcase the capabilities of the Canon presses. The marketing idea came directly from the print provider and Canon was pleased with the color presentation across the entire project.
The newest digital presses allow print providers to offer their customers unique applications to promote a brand, product, or event. It is important that today’s print providers are well versed in multi-channel marketing and what it entails, because brand owners are increasingly interested in these promotional campaigns. dps
Nov2016, DPS Magazine