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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Case Study for Multi-Channel Marketing

There’s a new buzzword in printing. It’s “multi-channel marketing.” Multi-channel marketers embrace the new digital technologies rather than hide from them. They integrate offset and digital custom printing with social media and other Internet-based modes of communication.

Their goal is to communicate with prospective clients along multiple “touch-points”: that is, however the clients themselves prefer to be contacted. By offering information and expertise that includes “ink-on-paper” but is not limited to this medium, a vendor (of whatever kind) can establish its credibility and offer value to customers. And the “product” reflecting this value can be anything from a print catalog to an email campaign, to a downloadable whitepaper on how to improve one’s marketing results.

I’ve heard that multi-channel marketing is one good way for printing companies to survive and even thrive in the face of decreasing custom printing volume. Printing companies essentially become consultants, offering clients their knowledge and experience (as well as their product, ink-on-paper and toner-on-paper) as a means to an end rather than as end products in themselves.

The goal is to help a business understand what its clients (the actual end-users) need and give it to them. In this way a commercial printer can help expand brand awareness for the client, which translates into increased revenue.

This is why I think this is a great idea, whether it’s referred to as “convergent media,” integrated media,” “multi-channel marketing,” “multi-touch marketing,” or any other name. And here is an example of a multi-touch marketing campaign that I found particularly effective.

Skippy Steakhouse: A Case Study in Branding

That’s not really its name, but let’s call it Skippy Steakhouse to make it generic. Any steakhouse could do this.

The steakhouse has a physical presence: the building, the staff, the raw materials (the uncooked food), and the final product that only they can provide: the signature taste of the cooked food. But Skippy Steakhouse has more than this. It offers ambiance, and a positive and predictable dining experience. You can be confident that every time you sit down for a meal, it will be of high quality, the servers will be personable, and your bill will be fair.

From a Marketing Perspective

The aforementioned are internal, subjective experiences, but they include a branding component.

  1. The restaurant interior has a certain look and a regional theme that appeal to a particular demographic (families, in this particular case).
  2. For starters, the appearance of the building interior is reflected in the logo. You recognize the building immediately, since the logo sits above the entrance to the restaurant. All interior signage (large format printing) reinforces this look as well. And the logo carries through into the appearance of the menu. The tone of the restaurant is rustic, and the photos of food are large and inviting. The colors and typefaces match the tone of the restaurant just as the interior design of the restaurant (fabrics, paint, wood molding) reflects the tone of the dining experience.
  3. The print component doesn’t stop here. There are collateral materials along with the menu (table tents and such) including the same branding colors, typefaces, and tone of writing. All of these visual images reinforce in the mind of the client the subjective experience of eating a great meal. When the patron sees coupons, advertising, or even just the logo, he/she will remember a positive experience.
  4. But it doesn’t stop there. Skippy Steakhouse has a website (a “pull” medium, since you have to go to the URL to find the website). The website includes the same colors, typefaces, and rustic theme. Unlike a lot of websites, it also includes sound (appealing to an additional sense). You can hear birds chirping and have a rustic experience online as you learn about the restaurant. You can also post comments (you are encouraged to do so). After all, the new multi-touch marketing is a conversation, not a sales pitch. You tell the restaurant what you like and don’t like, and the restaurant takes this information and improves your experience.
  5. And it goes further. Once you sign up for the restaurant’s loyalty program, you get periodic emails with coupons (a “push” medium, since emails come directly to your computer or smart-phone). People love coupons. Instead of going to the restaurant once a week for $40.00, a 25-percent-off coupon will encourage many people to go twice a week and spend $60.00 ($30.00 + $30.00)–and feel good about it. The coupons continue the branding experience (same colors, typefaces, etc.). The goal is to make the image of the restaurant (physical printed coupons—toner on paper) call to mind the experience of the food and ambiance and encourage the customer to come back and eat again.
  6. Finally, the loyalty program has a physical, plastic, printed card (custom screen printing, I would assume). You hand in the card along with your Visa when you pay. You get points. Your points add up, and when you get a certain number, you get a discount on the next meal. So you keep coming back, happy and well fed.

All Touchpoints Reinforce the Message

All of the physical, printed items (signage, menu, table tents, plastic loyalty cards) and all of the virtual elements (website, emails, e-coupons that you can print out) work together, so you feel that wherever you go you have a positive interaction with Skippy Steakhouse. They’re there in your neighborhood. They’re there on your computer and iPhone. The experience travels with you through the day.

This kind of multi-channel marketing campaign takes thought. It has to be an integrated effort, with all offset, digital, and custom screen printing reinforcing the message, and all Web-based services complementing the custom printing.

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