Print: The Elephant in the (Waiting) Room
If I hadn’t been so embarrassed, I’d have taken pictures of the room when I was there. Maybe next time.
I always go to Direct Tire in Watertown, MA, to have my snow tires mounted on my MINI Cooper. Since it takes less than an hour, I usually sit in their waiting area until my car is ready. Pretty soon, the dozen or so seats filled up with other customers.
At some point, I realized how chock-full of printed materials that waiting room was. I was about to shoot some photos with my smartphone for this post, but I chickened out. Let me try to recall the incredible amount of printed things I saw:
- Tons of colorful signs on three walls (the fourth was a wall of windows), promoting the various services offered;
- Certificates of excellence they’ve won;
- Framed newspaper articles about the business;
- A rack of brochures;
- Stacks of daily newspapers for customers to read (kudos, BTW, for having the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in addition to the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald);
- Printed labels on their coffeemaker;
- Printed packets of coffee, tea, sugar and creamer;
- Signs for the restrooms;
- Printed maps;
- Pads of forms for the service staff to use when customers check in/out;
- Packages of fish food for the occupants of their ginormous fish tank;
- Customer invoices;
- Business cards for each service associate;
- A yellow Post-it note attached to my rearview mirror with a big QR code, inviting me to rate their service;
- Another bright note hanging in the car with a suggestion to have the lug nuts rechecked after the car has been driven for 50–100 miles.
Then I tried to imagine Photoshopping all of this printed stuff out of the picture. What was left was just a shell of a room with furniture, some office equipment, lots of people and zero indication of what goes on there. It was barren.
Every printed material had a function: a sales or service purpose, plus items for customer comfort (like drinking coffee and reading) or something that was transactional or educational.
The most impressive materials were these two:
- The signs on the walls outlining all of their services. Sitting there for about an hour means you’re a captive audience—so why not remind everyone in that waiting room of all you can do?
- That Post-it note with a QR code. I give them thumbs up for that. Really smart.
So I tip my hat to Direct Tire in Watertown, MA. They treat customers right, and they’re a perfect example of the value of print. They killed me with kindness and a wide range of printed content.
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She is as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference.
Although she has exited the event business, Dana is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com