Self Promo--Top 10 Ways To Get Noticed
BY ERIK CAGLE
One by one, the staff of Printing Impressions paraded past tables of submissions for the magazine's 13th annual Self-Promotion Contest. As the members perused over the quality promotional pieces, the subject of judging criteria was brought up. What exactly makes one submission stand out from another?
It's a good question, one marketing departments and creative gurus have long pondered when developing ideas to tout the virtues of their respective companies. Making matters more difficult, the promotions are being created for marketing in the commercial printing industry, the equivalent of chefs being asked to bring a covered dish to a pot luck dinner. Talk about being under the gun to produce.
The following "Top 10" were judged on the quality of printing and were not judged on the quality of printing. Yes, printing reproduction is important, for how would a poorly produced package reflect on a printing company's abilities? By the same token, there are a bevy of quality printers across the land—since you're reading this, we'll assume you're not cranking out copies by hand and blowing on the ink to dry.
The criteria set forth here is relatively simple. An award-winning, self-marketing piece has a creative hook, an eye catcher that brings a smile to the face and an "ooh, nice," to the lips. They're not run-of-the-mill capabilities brochures or stock calendars with the company logo affixed. No, these items find their way to the desks of existing clients or prospects. And they stay there, in full view, with your company name and/or logo staring them in the face each morning, while company X's brochure gets stuffed in a filing cabinet with the scores of other would-be prospects.
You may not agree with all of our selections—some quality entries barely missed the cut—but there's no denying that these self-marketing pieces have a flair for the unusual.
Here are the winners, in no particular order:
Parade of Promos Are Bit of a Stretch
Berman Printing, Cincinnati
Debbie Johnson is marketing manager for Berman Printing, and it is safe to say she's had her hands full this year with an exhausting array of promotions, designed to coincide with the company's $3 million acquisition of an Agfa Galileo platesetting system and a new press.
The parade of promos began in January, with a business letter detailing the equipment investments. In the spring, Berman followed with the distribution of—think back to your childhood—a Slinky, with the tagline, "We're stretching to meet your needs." Included with the toy was a fold-out pamphlet that announced the company's newest additions, along with some fun facts and history of the Slinky.
On April Fool's Day, Berman sponsored—and sold out—a "Creativity Seminar." The commercial printer produced a challenging invitation announcing its selection as Adobe's partner for the introduction of the new software product, InDesign. The promotions heated up in July with a series of four educational post cards, complete with eye-catching color and dazzling graphics. In October, Berman sponsored a seminar titled, "Digital Workflows: The Future of Design for Print."
Two other promotions detailed Berman's printing abilities. A wire-bound brochure, "Effects," demonstrates creative capabilities via intricate patterns, graphics, colors and non-traditional substrates. The piece won an "Award of Excellence" from Zanders. Berman also offered a fold-out brochure featuring standard diecuts, which provides clients with standard templates, saving them the cost of a new die and saving time in prepress.
Berman has focused on the offbeat with several other promotions. The company created a donut box for its sales staff to deliver on sales calls, allowing the worlds of pastries and print to collide. A small pamphlet called "Riddle Dogs" offers up canine conundrums and prizes to those who get the most correct.
Reproducing Sheer Beauty
DS Graphics, Lowell, MA
Perhaps are can happen on its own and flourish without outside influences attempting to intercede. Thus, if "art happens" on occasion, DS Graphics has done an extraordinary job of capturing it in its 1999 calendar—truly a visual bombardment of the senses.
The calendar catches natural essence through photography with an emphasis on New England, but falls short of heavy-handed, Rockwell-esque imagery overkill. Scenes range from the New York City nightlife to a bright red tractor buried deep in New Hampshire snow.
"We didn't wanted the design to be too busy, as it would detract from the photographs selected," notes DS Graphics' Jack McGrath. "We believe the simplicity of the design has actually enhanced the photographs, while still allowing us to show off our printing skills. It was our intent to build confidence and trust in our abilities with our clients and prospects through this piece."
The calendar cover was printed on 100# Warren Strobe Gloss Cover and the text pages were printed on 80# Warren Strobe Gloss Cover. The flyleaf was printed on Glama Natural Marbel White. All color images were scanned at 175 line screen and imaged through a Scitex Brisque on a Dolev 800v imagesetter.
All varnishes were created in-house using Photoshop 4.02. The cover, February and November photos were manipulated in Photoshop for an additional bump of PMS 185.
The entire calendar was printed on a six-color, 40˝ MAN Roland press, with process black, cyan, magenta, yellow and PMS 185, and with off-line spot gloss and dull varnishes. DS Graphics also performed all finishing and packaging duties.
All the Right Ingredients
Badger Press, Fort Atkinson, WI
"Your Recipe for Success Starts with Badger Press," begins the title card for the clever, clean and quite attractive self-promotion campaign from Badger Press. The piece, which was mailed to current and prospective customers, is a recipe box adorned with the company logo. Inside the box are filing cards that contain recipes and a list of Badger Press products and services.
"We've revamped our identification to reflect not only our printing and service strengths, but also our commitment to service excellence," notes Frank Brown, president and CEO of Badger Press.
The box itself is unfinished, marked only by the company logo and its new motto, "A Rare Breed in Printing." The box measures 51⁄2˝ tall, 73⁄4˝ wide and 43⁄8˝ deep. File cards detailing Badger Press' services separate packets of note pads that feature the company logo and contact information.
Among the capabilities detailed are digital prepress, WAM!NET file-transfer services, sheetfed and web printing, and bindery and mailing services, as well as Badger contacts and support team information. Also included with the file cards are recipes for Southern Badger Flank Steak and Badger Roast with Beans.
On a Nature Walk
KAR Printing, Miami Lakes, FL
As the new CEO of KAR Printing, Scott Levy wanted to make a bold statement about his company's tenacious attitude toward providing customers with enhanced levels of service. The result was a challenging piece that stresses survival of the fittest.
KAR Printing's promotional package begins with a four-color folder that reads, "Today and the Next Decade." Inside are the two key components to its self-marketing kit: 1) a fold-out pamphlet with an attached for-more-information mailer and 2) a calendar.
The pamphlet/mailer poses the question: "What's blue, weighs a massive 100 tons and has a demanding appetite?" The answer: "The hungriest piece of metal in town, the G18"—KAR's five-color Goss web press, which can be viewed in full spector upon unfolding the pamphlet. The piece was designed and created by KAR's team of graphic artists, with the tagline created by Anthony Proenza, chief information officer. It was only fitting that the piece was also printed on the Goss G18 press.
"I was looking for a promotional piece that would leave an indelible impression in the marketplace that KAR Printing is eager to provide enhanced levels of service to its customers," Levy explains. "The 'Hungriest Metal in Town' is an attitude."
The personalized calendars add beauty to go with a bevy of beasts. Each month features an animal and an attribute that matches those that help produce quality products and services.
"The calendar was designed to describe both the personal and professional attributes necessary for success in our competitive marketplace," Levy notes. "We chose nature and its wonderful gifts within the animal kingdom to draw analogies to the core of our brand."
Look What the Stork Brought to the Southeast
Tucker-Castleberry Printing, Atlanta
Not every great idea is born out of hours of intense marketing research sessions. Many effective self-promotions just fall into the designer's lap.
Perhaps out of the sky.
Like a stork delivering a baby.
The concept was that simple for Tucker-Castleberry Printing. The promotion was mailed out resembling a birth announcement. On the cover is a picture of the child (in this case, a six-color MAN Roland press) and the date it was born (installed September 2, 1998), along with a baby pin affixed to the front. Inside is a fold-out view of the bundle of joy along with the vital statistics, "11:14 a.m.; 20 tons, 64 pounds; 721⁄4 feet long."
A second, follow-up announcement added another touch of humor to the promotion. On the cover is a large, hairy man resplendent with tattoos, wearing swimming trunks, goggles and a hair net. The note inside reads, "He didn't help us revolutionize the printing industry. He didn't help us build a national image. He helped us move in our new press on September 2." This mailer was intended as a reminder for Tucker-Castleberry's customers to give its new press a try.
Thinking of You
Lithocraft Inc., Santa Rosa, CA
Lithocraft Inc. wanted a direct mail campaign that would effectively convey the company's capabilities in a touching, even personal, manner. The result was a series of mailings that included a set of three greeting cards as a gift to the customer/prospect, along with an invitation to lunch and a tour of the company's plant. The lunch invitation was extended to include bringing the food to the office of the customer/prospect.
Each mailing consisted of the following components: embossed outer envelope; a customer courtesy sheet (customer version only); a lunch invitation and reply card (prospects only); a second reply card for "responders" to the previous mailing; a portfolio with three gift greeting cards and A-7 envelopes; and a vellum band to hold the package together and title it.
The four mailings are titled "Craft," "Response," "Caring" and "People." Each mailing has a different set of greeting cards, and each portfolio talks about Lithocraft's capabilities regarding the particular theme of the mailing.
The outer envelope measures 81⁄4x61⁄8˝ and has 80# Strathmore Grandee Text, Bright White stock. The cards are 10x7˝ and fold to 5x7˝, with six cards on McCoy Gloss 120# Cover and six on McCoy Velvet 120# Cover. The portfolios measure 53⁄8x71⁄2˝ finished, with two on McCoy Gloss 120# Cover and two on McCoy Velvet 120# Cover. Two versions of the business reply card measure 41⁄4x6˝ and are on 88# Starwhite Vicksburg Archiva Cover with Vellum Finish. The vellum band (113⁄4x21⁄2˝), courtesy sheet (4x53⁄4˝) and lunch invitation (4x53⁄4˝) are all on Lucence 17. The card envelopes measure 51⁄4x71⁄4˝.
Fortran Pprinting, Cleveland
Fortran Printing has found a way to spruce up the common calendar planner. However, there is nothing common about Passion, a calendar planner that is the combined effort of Fortran Printing, Corporate Packaging, French Paper Co., Potlach Corp. and Murphy Design.
The calendar, designed by Mark Murphy, is a compilation of the works of 25 illustrators. The artists include Julie Delton, Gary Taxali, Tom Patrick, Pol Turgeon, Jordan Isip and Kathy Osborn.
All coated pages are Potlatch Karma 100# Cover and were printed seven color—four plus a red touch plate and one metallic spot color plus one spot gloss varnish. All uncoated pages are an assortment of French Paper 80# Cover sheets, all printed two colors. The outside package was separated, produced, printed and assembled by Corporate Packaging.
Making a Conversation Piece
The Outlook Group, Neenah, WI
The worlds of pop culture and commercial printing meet in this coffee table-style book, titled "Words + Pictures." The book's aim was to showcase the Outlook Group's printing capabilities along with its ability to use computer-to-plate technology.
Movie quotes, song lyrics and television potpourri are balanced against mostly color photos that are sectioned into themes, not all of which are readily apparent. It may be an eclectic collection, but it boasts an ordered quality.
The Outlook Group, which produced the piece in a joint venture with its prepress partner, created the book to: demonstrate its ability to print on a variety of stocks (text, cover and specialty grades were used), illustrate its quality of printing, display finishing capabilities, and better explain its prepress vendor's skills and talents.
This Is Only a Test
Jacob North Companies, Lincoln, NE
A man named Herman Rorschach devised a test that analyzes personality via blocks of ink. Since Jacob North Companies had been testing itself through ink on paper, it seemed only fitting that the pair should merge.
Jacob North's low-tech, high-interest promotion, the Rorschach Test, was developed with the help of a local agency, Bailey Lauerman & Associates, which presented Jacob North with the idea, according to Debbie Hardesty, vice president of sales.
"When we decided to do a piece, we were looking to do something different and fun for the readers," she says. "We believe it's more unique than simply going through a company's brochure and seeing pictures of the company building."
The piece, which comes complete with test answers, was printed on McCoy Silk. The cover and body are printed four-color process with satin aqueous coating. The test results section is printed in red, black, warm gray and PMS 209.
This Book Is a Keeper
Signature Graphics, Porter, IN
The idea book from Signature Graphics was literally built too big to be thrown away or ignored. Designed as a coffee table book, the piece fits snugly into a Federal Express box. Coincidence? Hardly.
"This was on purpose, to again draw attention to the piece, even before it was taken out of the box," notes Rachelle DeGraaf, marketing manager for Signature Graphics. "The FedEx box means there is something important inside. It should be opened up and not just discarded before taking a look at it."
The piece combines existing marketing materials, including a corporate video and interactive diskette, with a storybook. The book tells the tale of a business owner with a successful company that lacks a uniform corporate identity. Signature Graphics designs, manufactures and installs the new corporate identity. A personalized letter and shipping label are also included.
The Idea Book set Signature Graphics back approximately $90,000, but it has directly resulted in about $1 million in business for the company. The book is also used by Signature Graphics' sales representatives in their territories and by its marketing department at trade shows, indirectly resulting in additional business.
"In most cases, the Idea Book is the first impression a company is getting about Signature Graphics," DeGraaf notes. "Because of the quality and professionalism of the piece, recipients will come away believing that Signature Graphics is a first-class organization with which to work. We feel that the Idea Book presents us as more than just a graphic manufacturer."