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A Marketing Success Story —Sherburne

October 2006
I CAME across a terrific success story recently as I was researching the small commercial and quick printing market that I wanted to share with you. It demonstrates a unique sales and marketing approach, and the business results are incredible.

Ron Weber founded Zip Mail Marketing in 2003. The company is located in Rancho Cordova, CA, a suburb of Sacramento. Prior to starting up Zip Mail, Weber had retired as a real estate developer, and prior to that was an internal theft investigator for 15 years. As he points out, neither of these professions had anything to do with the printing industry. And one could certainly argue that 2003 wasn’t the best possible year to start up a new printing business, considering the struggles we have been undergoing as an industry.

Picking Strong Partners

Weber has two partners in the business; one has exceptional sales skills, according to Weber, and the other runs a business that remanufactures mailing equipment. He and his partners took a measured approach to establishing the business that reflected good business practices and included a solid—albeit simple—marketing plan. They:

• Studied the market to determine the category of products and services they could best deliver;

• Identified target customers who needed those products and services;

• Crafted a message that would resonate with those clients;

• Started small to keep overhead low; and

• Expanded as the business grew, operating from a cash position.

During 2002, working out of a 12x12-foot room, the trio studied the market to decide how best to structure their new business. Once they knew they would be offering a combination of printing and mailing, and as part of their market research, they collected all of the “junk mail” that arrived in their personal mailboxes. Weber says, “If you are looking for customers who are going to do a lot of production mailing, where better to start than your own mailbox?”

When they had educated themselves on the market and determined that they had a good idea for a solid business, they began operations in a 5,000-square-foot space. For the first six months, they ran the business themselves to keep costs in line.

Zip Mail began building its production portfolio, which today includes laser digital printing, both color and black-and-white, Didde presses, a Halm Jet Press, and some ABDick duplicators, as well as remanufactured mailing equipment. After six months, when their model began proving out, they hired their first employee.
 

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