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September 2005
Helping Dealers Sell More Tires

[ The Business Objective ]

Manufacturers in competitive industries like automotive products need every advantage to help their dealers stand out in the marketplace. Bridgestone (www.bridgestoneamericas.com) is one of the world's largest manufacturers of tires and rubber products, with more than 1,500 dealers across Canada and the United States.

With dozens of products, collateral management and fulfillment for this network could easily become a branding and logistical nightmare. Bridgestone corporate marketing sought a solution that would eliminate these problems, and make it easier for dealers and retailers to develop advertisements and other marketing materials. Another goal was to reduce lead time for design and approval of custom advertising, while ensuring that all cooperative advertising programs meet Bridgestone's quality and branding requirements.

[ The Proposed Solution ]





Bridgestone dealers receive annual co-op dollars to produce six flyer programs, plus special events and dealer programs to reach car tire buyers. Bridgestone wanted a better system for producing these point-of-sale (POS) displays, newspaper ads, flyers and other marketing materials.

The existing program was time consuming and expensive. Orders came in by fax, and then a graphic designer would produce custom flyers. Often, frustrated dealers tried to create marketing materials themselves without following Bridgestone's branding requirements.

"The system was very slow," says Andy Thomas, president of Copyco Solutions (www.copycoinc.com), which specializes in customized print and online communications. Bridgestone wanted a Web-to-print solution for its collateral management and fulfillment needs, and Copyco had already created Web-to-print solutions for other customers.

"We were tasked with building a site that we could use internally to process orders," Thomas recalls, and it took about a year to develop a system that could handle orders directly from dealers. Copyco presented Bridgestone with an intranet-based system that includes templates for newspaper ads, flyers and other materials. Dealers register with the program, build a profile and select templates. It takes about 15 minutes for a dealer with no graphic design experience to be trained on the system.

[ Variable Data Elements ]

Variable data and digital printing helped Bridgestone take the process one step further with the ability to include personalized collateral in materials for dealers. Variable data and images include tire brand and model, sizes, pricing, service coupons, logos and sale dates. In addition to American English, the system supports Spanish, Canadian French and Canadian English.

[ How It Was Produced ]

Now dealers can interactively modify flyers and newspaper ads in almost any way, while maintaining the graphic integrity of the templates. The system prompts for production specifications and sends a watermarked PDF proof online.

The dealer can make revisions or come back later to finish. The system then sends a high-resolution PDF to Copyco or one of a network of printers closest to the dealer.

The system also notifies Bridgestone marketing managers about usage and prices, and ensures that all information contained in the documents, such as prices and sizes, are correct. Bridgestone can generate usage reports, add or update dealer profiles, and add or change content or images in the digital asset management system.

The end result of the flyer program is a letter-size sheet, with four-over-four color on either 50-lb. offset or 50-lb. enamel stock. An average print run for flyers is 20,000; most are printed on web and sheetfed offset presses at a location closest to the final distribution point.

About five percent, usually rush jobs, are produced on digital printers with similar run lengths. Digital equipment includes a Heidelberg Quickmaster DI digital press and Océ CPS 900 color printer for the rush orders. Pageflex EDIT facilitates ad layout, while Pageflex Mpower is used to print flyers, and MediaBank provides the digital asset management system. Finishing varies according to type of material produced.

[ The Results ]

The program has reduced the lead time for marketing programs from 10 weeks to 72 hours and greatly streamlined production of advertising and POS materials for tire dealers. More than 700 orders were handled in one year, including 16 million flyers.

The number of participating dealers tripled within the initial 12 months, and more than 1,500 dealers have registered with Copyco, with 30 percent of those participating in the custom flyer program. The program has enabled even dealers with no graphics training to produce quality materials, and it has increased the range of materials available to all dealers for POS displays, automated e-mails and newspaper ads.

Dealers and corporate management can review and approve documents, and the structured templates protect the Bridgestone brand and ensure that no document gets printed with missing or incorrect data. Intranet-based reporting and administration add further value for Bridgestone marketing.

With the ability to personalize materials and maintain the highest quality standards, among other benefits, the Bridgestone online collateral site has proven to be where the rubber hits the road for dealer success.

This case study comes from PODi's annual Best Practices in Digital Print research, the largest collection ever assembled of successful digital printing projects. PODi is an industry initiative with hundreds of member companies including executive board members EFI, HP, IBM, Kodak, Pitney Bows, Quark and Xerox. Membership in PODi is open to most organizations involved in digital printing. For more information on joining PODi or submitting your own case study, visit www.mypodi.org/pi1.
 

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