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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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Custom Printing: 4 Examples of Successful Integrated Marketing

I recently read an article by TJ Raphael in Folio called “Backstage Ties Print and Digital Together with Redesign.” It got me thinking about those companies that successfully integrate print materials and the Web, at least those I have come across in my own life. I wanted to find examples of companies that embrace print catalogs and magazines, not those in the process of shifting their focus from print to digital.

Here are a few companies successfully blending print and the online experience: Backstage, Sappi, Ikea, and Staples.

Backstage Magazine

The Folio article noted above describes a magazine focused on the needs of actors. According to John Amato, chairman and CEO of Backstage (as quoted in the Folio article), “What we’ve tried to do with this magazine is take almost every part of it and lead it back to the Web.” As a reflection of its commitment to custom printing as well as the Web, Backstage has recently transformed its magazine from a tabloid newspaper to a glossy 9” x 10.875” print book.

Amato notes that “We’re literally trying to incorporate how you process the magazine and interactions with Backstage online into one cohesive product that is Web and print.” Print “keeps you relevant as a brand, it gives you a currency that being online only doesn’t give you.” The goal of Backstage management is to blend the magazine experience, the website experience, and social media to provide both news related to the performing arts and utilities that will serve actors (such as casting listings or information on how to find an agent).

The Backstage print book is definitely viable with a circulation of 60,000.

Sappi Paper Company Books

Sappi is a premium paper manufacturer. As a commercial printing broker, I periodically receive high-end promotional print books such as The Standard, a knowledge base of offset and digital custom printing techniques all produced on paper created by Sappi.

However, Sappi also has a website, tied visually through its look and branding to the promotional publications I receive. While Sappi spares no expense in using its commercial printing services to promote its custom printing papers, it also provides online information on paper and printing. You can order promotional books and read descriptions of its print books, such as Life with Print (focusing on “Direct Mail,” “Internet Integration,” and “Engaging New Generations”), all of which demonstrate the relevance of printed publications.

Ikea Print Catalog

I mentioned Ikea in a prior blog posting because this company has demonstrated a commitment to ink on paper as well as the Web. Ikea’s print catalog is delivered to approximately 210 million homes around the world.

I checked out the Ikea website last night. Ikea’s online catalog mirrors the print catalog. You can point with your mouse and turn the pages online just as you would review the printed book.

However, the online version provides additional content that expands on the information in the print catalog. For instance, in one case you will see a furnished room in the online catalog spread. Using the mouse you can change the room, adding different colored doors, more or less furniture, or additional window treatments. On another digital page spread, you can click the mouse to activate a video that supplements information provided in the print catalog. Still another page spread reveals an animation that displays alternate room designs and alternate color schemes.

Staples Online Flyer

Each week I also receive an email flyer from Staples. It is a screen version of the paper-based circular, also available in the store on newsprint paper. However, as you move the mouse over individual products online, the screen reveals extra information about each item. Like the paper version, you can turn the pages using your mouse as a pointer. The design of the online flyer makes the print version in the store immediately recognizable (and vice versa).

What We Can Learn

If you are designing a marketing campaign that will successfully coordinate both a print-based experience and an online experience, keep these thoughts in mind:

  1. Tie the print component and Web component together graphically as well as editorially. Make them a complementary visual experience provided in a coherent manner.
  2. People are accustomed to page-turning paper circulars and catalogs, so give them an analagous experience on-screen (a page-turner). Then add supplemental content (words, images, video) to expand upon the prospect’s initial experience with the flyer, circular, or catalog while reinforcing the brand values and providing ways for the prospect to contact your business.
  3. Coordinate the print and online experiences so they are clearly from the same vendor. Provide additional information within each medium, not just the same information duplicated in a different venue.

3 Responses to “Custom Printing: 4 Examples of Successful Integrated Marketing”

  1. Ben Waugh says:

    Pretty good insights. I’ll be sure to stop by and read more from you. Thanks.

  2. I agree with Ben, great general information. Loved the part about designing for print and web together.


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