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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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Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Commercial Printing: A Select Few Advertising Venues

Monday, September 11th, 2023

Photo purchased from …

The Printing Industry Exchange Blog is #12 of the best 40 digital printing blogs, as selected by FEEDSPOT.

I just learned a new word: “advertising creep.” I guess it’s like mission creep, in which your boss’ plans for you grow exponentially, and sometimes the original goal is lost.

Advertising creep is not a bad thing, though. After all, advertisers compete heavily for your attention. Just think about all the images and ads that bombard you when you go to the grocery store. Even the shelves now have “shelf talkers,” little signs as you go through the aisle, identifying and describing the merchandise, lest you not see it and walk on by. On Google, I just found that a grocery store has up to 60,000 individual SKUs (or distinct items).

A Grocery Cashier’s Branded Conveyor Belt

So in this light I was actually rather amused when my fiancee and I entered a specialty food store recently and found advertising creative on a formerly black conveyor belt at a checkout cashier’s station. Moreover, it had a huge QR code along with the bright advertising imagery and text.

So when we got home I Googled this new phenomenon (which I’m sure will spring up elsewhere as well) and landed on “,” where I did some research.

First I learned about the logistics. I found a video of a seven-year-old installing what looked like a long, flat strip of custom printing material over the black conveyor belt, then attaching the two ends with pre-positioned double-sided tape, and then using a roller to firmly adhere the adhesive-backed, printed strip to the conveyor belt. I hope they paid the seven-year-old. She did a great job.

Accompanying data on the website noted that most people would actually prefer to see advertising instead of a solid black conveyor belt. And from the point of view of the advertisers, this is a great opportunity. After all, for a good chunk of time they have the undivided attention of the target consumer. Even if he or she doesn’t buy the advertised product at that specific time, the message has been transmitted and stored in the customer’s subconscious. Maybe next time.

And in the case of my fiancee’s and my trip to the grocer, the huge QR code we saw will send anyone with a cell phone and the right app (or computer application) directly to the grocer’s website. From this point on, she or he can learn about food items, prices, and more. And everything I have read for years touts the synergistic effect of cross-media marketing. If you use more than one advertising medium together–seamlessly–moving the customer from the conveyor belt (metaphorically, of course) to the grocer’s website, your chance of increasing sales rises exponentially.

What makes this exciting to me is not that it exists now, but that it hadn’t existed before. Someone actually identified the few square feet in a grocery store not covered in flexible packaging art, folding carton design, shelf talkers, and other promotional signage. More power to them.

To go back to the company that makes these wraps (, here are some specifics from the website:

  1. There are 6,000 trained installers across North America (plus the seven-year-old in the video).
  2. The message wrap is supposed to last for six months (i.e., regarding its “durability”). This doesn’t deter me, since other billboards (which is essentially what this is, a moving billboard) are often installed for only a short amount of time.
  3. The commercial printing product is coated for durability (scratch resistance), but it’s also coated to be antimicrobial. You really can’t say this about the original, unprinted black conveyor belt it covers.
  4. According to research, customers seem to love the new look since it is colorful and engaging.
  5. It’s new. Apparently no one has done this before.
  6. The specific physical design (having one end of the printed advertisement attached to the other end in an endless loop and then also having it bonded to the underlying black conveyor belt) makes it stay put and not come loose.

I did not look closely with a 12-power printer’s loupe when my fiancee and I saw the printed conveyor belt at the specialty grocer, but given the look of the product in the website video, I would venture to say that it was inkjet printed on a roll-fed inkjet printer and then coated for scratch resistance and cleanliness. Apparently, it also comes with cleaning liquid to make it both pristine again (after regular use) and sanitary again.

A Medical Office’s Digital Signage

Another captive audience includes patients at a doctor’s office or dentist’s office. In addition to posters on doctors’ examination room walls selling pharmaceuticals, there is a trend now toward digital signage and/or videos. In my dentist’s office waiting room, for instance, there is a short video in which chimpanzees discuss dental self-care. What makes this effective is twofold. When you’re waiting to see the dentist, you have relatively few sources of visual stimulation, so the large-monitor digital-signage/video along with its soundtrack will catch your attention. This visual/audio center of the waiting room can be very persuasive. And this is the goal of advertising.

The second reason it’s effective is that it repeats in an endless loop. Ask any hypnotist just how effective repetition can be.

From the point of view of a marketer, the doctor’s or dentist’s office provides multiple opportunities for advertising creative. The posters in the examination room provide distraction for the patient awaiting a medical examination. In many cases these posters focus on pharmaceuticals the patient may request or the doctor may offer. But when these are paired with brochures scattered among the waiting room magazines and the visual and auditory stimulation of the digital signage, a coherent marketing message can be presented. In fact, I’m surprised my dentist has not yet included QR codes in his promotional literature, although he does text me both before and then after my appointment (for feedback), and his office assistant does call to remind me of the appointment. So you can add my cellphone to the digital signage and printed posters and literature, for a comprehensive, targeted media blitz.

A Near-Field Communication Poster

Finally, the same technology that allows you to tap a chip-enabled credit card against a cash register reader and transfer your payment information, NFC (near-field communication) technology can also enable you to touch a poster with a hand-held device, like a cellphone, and have a NFC chip in the large format print poster link you to further information about a product or service.

What makes this useful is its short range. Unlike Bluetooth-enabled devices, NFC technology only works within about four inches. This makes it convenient for a marketer to link a large format print poster or other marketing tool (in a fixed location) with your (or another prospective customer’s) cellphone. And it also ensures more secure communications.

The Takeaway

In many if not most of these cases, the effectiveness of the advertising is based on cross-media promotion, in which multiple technologies are used together to enhance the effectiveness of both (or all of them) in communicating a single marketing message.

It’s called synergy. Everything works together—if your marketing guru has thought this through and has ensured a seamless transition from one technology (and device) to another. And together everything works better than the sum of the individual, component parts.

Custom Printing: Advertising Options at the Beach

Sunday, May 28th, 2023

Photo purchased from …

Here it is spring already. At this rate it will soon be time for the beach. I can already feel it in the air.

When I think back to visits my fiancee and I have made to Ocean City, DE, one of the things I remember most clearly are the advertisements. I know that makes me a commercial printing nerd, but so be it. Ocean City would not be a thriving center of commerce if not for all the advertisements, from the signage to the banners, that seem to focus on only two things: food and beauty.

Here are some thoughts on the various vehicles for beach advertising and why they are effective.

The Kites

In this case, we are similar to our house cats. We love color and movement. We also want “that,” “the pretty, shiny thing they have,” whatever that might be.

On the boardwalk in Ocean City there is a kite store that has been in business as long as I can remember. They always have kites in the air, presumably tethered to something on the ground. These kites are colorful and diverse, and it looks like it would be fun to own one and fly it on the beach.

Presumably, it is no accident that I feel this way. I’m sure the marketing team at the kite store knows that the vivid color and movement of the kites will attract my attention far more effectively than any signage. At best, signs tell a story, while actual products show you what you’re missing.


At the beach there are a lot of things you can do with a small airplane that go far beyond flying from one location to another.

In my recollection of more than 45 years’ worth of trips to Ocean City, the skywriting has been one of the more intriguing. Maybe it’s because skywriting requires supreme control over the plane. (I’ve never seen one lose control, although I’m sure that happens.) Maybe it’s because of the movement (as noted above with the kites). And perhaps it’s because of our innate desire to know the whole story. Skywriting starts as meaningless lines of airplane exhaust. Then the lines evolve into words. Then a sentence. Once you start watching, you just have to see the whole thing.

Large Format Print Signage Tethered to Boats and Airplanes

I’m sure you could go through piles of photographs of Ocean City and see airplanes and boats trailing banners of some kind, even going back to the ‘50s or ‘60s, or probably even earlier. Back then we didn’t have digital signage. But the idea is related. If your potential clients for a meal with drinks or the newest beachwear are in beach chairs on the sand, nothing works as well as advertising that doesn’t require them to change their positions or even turn their heads.

Just sit, stare straight ahead, and absorb the advertiser’s message. It’s just like watching television.

Digital Signage

The first place I saw digital signage was in Ocean City, maybe 20 years ago. I remember how fascinated I was, and how I tried to wrap my brain around exactly how and why I knew it would be a winner. Then my fiancee and I saw it in the movie theaters during the decade we worked as standee installers. Then it was in the malls. Then it was everywhere.

In the case of Ocean City digital signage, I initially saw what looked like a matrix of individual pixels on which the colors changed in ways that allowed simple text and images to travel across the signs. The large size of the pixels made the signage look computer-generated or artificial in contrast to the digital signs we now see in strip malls near our house (which seem to be of much higher resolution). These images look more like movies projected in endless loops.

In either case, even with the more primitive equipment we initially saw at the beach, what made digital signage stand apart from other large format print signage was not just the movement (like the kites noted above, which would have intrigued a cat as well as a person) but also the ability of digital signage to present a narrative.

In my opinion, digital signage compared to static large format print signage is like a movie compared to a photo. This is due to two characteristics of the medium. Digital signage may include both sound and visuals (print signage only speaks to one sense: the sense of sight). And digital signage can both tell about, and show, multiple events over time. It can transmit more information and, like the kites, tease the viewer with more color and movement.

And, as with any type of advertising, the longer the ad holds your attention, the more chance it has of getting you to buy something.

Vehicle Wraps

These used to be rare. In fact, I think that before vehicle wraps, the kind of similar advertising that caught my attention was the mini-billboard situated in the rear of a small flatbed truck. I saw these in Ocean City, too. The vehicles were small versions of regular delivery trucks, but instead of a covered bed (like the structure built around an 18-wheeler load), there was a double-sided display board running the length of the truck. An advertiser could pay for advertising (like a miniature billboard) that would travel through Ocean City telling the advertiser’s story.

But once inkjet large format printing came into its own, and once advertisers could print imagery on vinyl flexible enough to glue to all exterior plastic panels of a car (or a bus or a truck), there was far more room to advertise.

Having seen wrapped vehicles traveling through Washington, DC, before I saw them in Ocean City, I was still struck by how they stood out from all the other cars. I think this is one of the reasons they are effective. First of all, back in the day they were rare. I would see maybe one car a month completely covered with large format print imagery. Like the panel trucks carrying a two-sided billboard, they stood out because they were unique.

Plus, as noted before, there was a lot more room to advertise, especially with perforated vinyl mesh. (I’ve heard it called 60/40 mesh because 60 percent is the printed image and 40 percent is the matrix of tiny holes.)

You might have seen printed vinyl mesh on a bus. From the outside, the vinyl-printed imagery can cover not only the sides of the bus but but also the windows. This provides an unbroken surface (almost the entirety of the vehicle) on which to advertise. But from the inside, you can still see through the windows because of all the tiny holes in the perforated vinyl.

The Takeaway

So if you’re a designer or marketing person, consider the options you have. Moreover, consider using the same type and imagery across a number of these options distributed across the geographic location in which you are advertising. Brand consistency sells.

Keep in mind that variety, movement, and color will attract attention and allow you to present a memorable sales message.

Novelty is important, too. The digital signage and even the vehicle wraps stood out, for me at least, because I hadn’t seen them before.

And nothing sells like the product itself (when I was growing up, department stores used to have people demonstrating cooking tools right in the middle of the store). The kites in Ocean City, for instance, are a good sales tool because they appeal to the inner child within all of us and evoke our happy childhood memories.

They do a good job of this in Ocean City. Moreover, it’s a seamless, coordinated presentation across multiple media.

Benefits of Choosing a Printed Newsletter for Your Business

Thursday, September 30th, 2021

The world is becoming a digital space, and no one can deny that it gets exhausting after a while. Thanks to printing companies, they are still working to provide offline advertising services and give us some time off the screen. Newsletters are an excellent way to keep staff and stakeholders informed about company happenings. They can also be used as external marketing tools for products or services, making them useful in any sales campaign. Let us know a few more benefits and why printed newsletters are important in today’s era! (more…)

8 Ways Print Marketing Works for Creating Brand Buzzwords

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

printed material

Recognition is essential for the long-term success of a brand. If you are not focusing on print marketing, then you might be missing a lot on your marketing efforts. Print marketing materials help to develop a sense of legitimacy and authenticity. They represent your business physically. People trust printed materials. They represent the benefits offered by your brand. These materials help people to create a trustworthy image in the minds of the target audience. By using eye-catching designs, colors, images and fonts, you can assure your target audience that your brand is here to stay. (more…)

Custom Printing: Samples of the Fine Art of Advertising

Monday, May 4th, 2020

I have been absolutely intrigued by the art of advertising for the better part of my life, perhaps because it usually blends visual art, writing, humor, psychology, and storytelling.

First of all, I want to draw a (minor) distinction between advertising and marketing. I consider advertising to be more targeted, directly selling a specific product or service rather than just nurturing a favorable image of a company (public relations) or increasing public awareness of a company (marketing). But really, they’re all the same in that the purpose is to make people aware of what you’re offering (either a service or a product) and to convince them to buy something. (more…)


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