#printmarketing – what YOU as a printer can do, part 1

timthumbIn my introductory post last week, I discussed the importance of printers marketing themselves, as well as the an outline of several tools that can be utilized to help with a printer’s marketing efforts.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a few of those points and discuss them at length.


It really comes down to “practicing what you preach”.  Printers love to talk about direct mail, or personalized direct mail, yet they do not take advantage of the same data and technology that they use for their own clients.  Doing direct mail as a marketing tool allows you to become more of a resource for your prospects and clients, and more authoritative on the subject of direct mail, and some of its components, Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) and personalized mail.  But what are the basic tools you need to do direct mail:

  • GOOD data, either from your database, or your company’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.  It can also be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet. The most VITAL thing is for the data to be accurate.
  • Digital print capability, while not crucial, is very helpful, whether you have it in-house, or you have to outsource it.  Having the access to a digital press can allow you to print and address the cards without having to go through the inkjet process, and it allows you to use variable data to personalize the piece.direct-mail-marketing
  • In planning a direct mail campaign, the secret is DON’T DO IT JUST ONE TIME!  I have heard of print companies that refuse to do direct mail because either they or someone they heard of sent out a mailer and didn’t have any response.  The industry experts say that a 2% response is good.  Don’t expect that sending out 1500 mailers will get you even 150 responses.  Allow for 30.  If you get more, then you’ve been wildly successful.  But the key to direct mail is send out regularly, alter the “call to action”, and keep trying.  Direct mail is a “long haul” client maintenance and lead generation tool.


neenah_unblocks3Structural, or what is also called dimensional graphics, is creating printed pieces that have a 3-dimensional feel.  This is accomplished by careful planning and design, and working with a finishing company that does die-cutting and special packaging daily. Structural collateral  has the benefits of being something that is bigger and bulkier than just a standard 9×12″ pocket folder.  They may even be so dynamic and different that the recipient might leave them out on display.  You can do capacity folders, or even boxes that can carry samples, or other collateral material, to the prospect or client.  “Leave-behinds” are VERY effective in keeping your print company’s name in front of clients and prospects, so having a dynamic piece can make the difference in which printer they may call.  In addition, it can secure YOUR reputation for being innovative and willing to work on something that some other printers may not. Neenah Paper, for example, is a an excellent example of using structural graphics to promote their products.  


Brand is often thought of as the appearance of your printed materials, or the look of yourArbella-collateral-1 website.  While that is a narrow interpretation of “brand”, having your printed collateral materials match in design elements, paper used, content, format – everything – is vital.  But what ARE branded collateral materials, and what are some of their uses?  Let’s look at the basic as well as unique branded collateral materials that you can develop and use:

  • Educational sheets, which can cover topics such as mailing, creating print-ready PDFs, tips on how to create gradients, or anything that you can think of to educate and inform prospects and clients.
  • Sheets about your company, which would present your Mission Statement (that’s a blog post in itself!), your values, maybe even a history of the company (in a paragraph or two).
  • ALL of these should be in both a printed form and in a central location for reps to use when assembling kits for prospective clients, as well as PDF files that can be emailed to anyone who needs the information.  This allows you to quickly adapt and change the content as you see fit.
  • Stationary items, such as letterhead, #10 envelopes, mailing labels, note cards and corresponding envelopes for them.  All of these items can be used in concert with your structural giveaway piece, as well as the various printed informational sheets. REMEMBER, do not print these DIGITALLY, since they will most likely run back through a laser printer, which can re-activate the toner in the letterhead.  Also, avoid using varnishes, since they can “cook” from the heat of the laser printer and, well, stink up the office!

finger HERE’S A TIP ON THE LETTERHEAD: I read recently that having the back of the letterhead printed with a full bleed image, maybe even just the corporate color, makes a difference.  Since most letters are folded with the copy IN, having a color or some design element showing as the envelope is opened can have an impact, and even introduce your brand or brand color before the letter is read.

So, there’s the first things to think about when marketing your print company.  Next week we’ll look at two major topics: blogging and then social media.

Connect with John on Google+Twitter and LinkedIn.


About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at www.ricreativemag.com
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