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Event Walks the Talk —Sherburne

February 2008
THOSE OF you in Southern California may be familiar with PrintFest 2008, which will be held at the Anaheim (CA) Conference Center March 27-29.

The predecessor of this show was the Gutenberg Festival that was founded in 1973 and sold to GASC in 1999. Following the final year of the Gutenberg Festival in 2005, Chris Jacobson, whose father founded the Gutenberg Festival and Horse Trader magazine, resur-rected the Southern California show in 2006 as PrintFest and has been gradually rebuilding attendance and exhibitor levels.

The reason I am writing about this show is the unique approach that is being taken this year. Jacobson is partnering with the DMA (Direct Marketing Association)—more specifically, Bob Hughes and his Southern California chapter—to bring the print show under the same roof as DMAsc’s Southern California Direct Marketing Expo, which has historically had 300 to 400 attendees from creative firms, ad agencies and marketing departments. Members from the printing and mailing community are now also attending the event.

“Our belief is that, in a changing industry such as ours, you cannot continue to do things the way you have always done them,” says Jacobson. “Our objective at PrintFest this year is to bring customers and printers together with manufacturers and suppliers, paying special attention to the education of creatives and marketers relative to the changing world of print.”

PrintFest is walking the talk relative to change and promoting the combined show with a cross-media campaign being spearheaded by Primary Color and Gary Mack, a pioneer in cross-media strategies.

Variable mailers were sent to past PrintFest and Direct Marketing Expo attendees, as well as other targeted lists beginning last month. When recipients visit their customized Web URL included on the mailer, they are asked a series of questions. Business rules programmed into the site determine what conference sessions are most suited for each individual attendee and present them with a proposed conference agenda, which they can modify as they like, and they will be given the opportunity to register. There will be a series of automated follow-ups by print and e-mail, depending on responses, to keep the dialog going and excitement levels high.

A cornerstone of the PrintFest conference is Thursday’s session, an in-depth case study built around the design, development, execution and results of this multi-channel campaign. “We are using ourselves as the guinea pig,” explains Jacobson. “And we are going to provide all of the details, warts and all, about how this campaign was orchestrated. It will include what we did right, what we did wrong, the results we achieved and our conclusions. It will be very educational.” The case study will begin with a joint overview session and break out into marketing and print tracks for detailed discussion.
 

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