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Out from Under the Rabbit’s Foot

When you’re a celebrity best known for your roles in blockbuster movies, rebranding yourself as a singer is as easy as appearing on your favorite musical competition show. Bam – instant chart-topping album.

For the rest of us, changing the way the public views us and our range of talents just isn’t that easy, as the folks at Auburn (Calif.) Printers & Integrated Marketing discovered. Though they had introduced a range of cross-media marketing services – digital and otherwise – they continued to be known primarily as “the printer.”

Blame it on the @#! rabbit.

The critter’s name was Prince Perfect and since 1989, he of the soft ears and debonair bow tie (a Pantone book clasped in one hand, don’t ya know) had been the very recognizable mascot of Auburn Printers. But when the company unveiled the expansion of its operations in 2012 to include a full complement of cross-media marketing products and services, they realized that Prince Perfect simply had to go. (Don’t worry – they put him humanely out to pasture: keep reading.)

It was decided that the bunny would announce his retirement, then introduce a new company name and logo that would more accurately reflect the printer’s new identity.

Now there was only the little question of how that would all happen.

api-help-prince

Forget the Rabbit, Here’s API-Marketing
In just 10 months, Auburn Printers successfully rebranded as API-Marketing, gained valuable insight into its target market’s tech savvy and media preferences, reassured existing customers that original owners and print capabilities were still a part of the business, and yes – increased overall sales.

And in a move that Prince Perfect himself surely would’ve appreciated, API-Marketing accomplished all of this by coordinating the very cross-media channels it was now offering to clients:

  • Direct mail with variable data text and images
  • Ads in the local newspaper
  • Email campaigns in partnership with area chambers of commerce
  • Social media engagement (Facebook and Twitter)
  • Announcements on local radio stations
  • Press releases
  • Videos
  • Personalized URLs
  • QR codes
  • Custom landing pages.

The whole 10-month endeavor would’ve cost API-Marketing a good $30,000 to $40,000 had they purchased all these services externally, estimates vice president and general manager Brad Weston.

“We picked up over a dozen clients for print and marketing services because of the campaign,” he says.

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Navigating the Cross-media Spider Web
“You can visualize printing as a linear function with one event (e.g., art files) leading to the next (e.g., proof or plates),” explains Weston. “Cross-media is more like a spider web with tasks happening at the same time and branching out in several directions. Tag lines might be used for printed materials and the radio script, a photo used on a landing page as well as print collateral.”

On any given cross-media project at API-Marketing, there will be a team of five or six people ­­– two with direct client contact, with the remaining functioning behind the scenes in:

  • Design
  • Customer service/project coordination
  • HTML coding
  • Database management
  • Results tracking.

“A calendar is really helpful!” jokes Weston.

The operation does require a fair bit of technology to get the job done: URL creators; video editors; and electronic flowcharts, spreadsheets and project management tools. “We’re actually writing our own software right now, customizing to make it highly functional and simple enough for everyone to use,” says Weston.

A Few Tips Worth Knowing
“No matter what level of cross-media marketing you engage in, it’s very much a collaboration among all the stakeholders,” says Weston. “There are strong marketing and design firms out there that make the daily decisions for large clients that have a clear strategy in place. We’re positioned to help smaller companies who couldn’t otherwise do cross-media on their own.”

Weston gained valuable insight into the process of transitioning a print-only business into a full-service print and marketing provider. For those printers ready to add cross-media products and services to their capabilities, he has this advice:

  • The process is organic and will build on itself; be nimble enough to react accordingly.
  • Demonstrate the value of cross-media marketing. Most clients do not understand these processes and how the media work together to build sales and brand recognition.
  • Form strong and reliable partnerships for processes or products that you do not offer in-house. (Editor’s note: Might we suggest consulting the Storyboard Lookbook for that?)
  • Have easy-to-understand explanations for cross-media terms. Your clients will not give you the time to conduct a seminar in their offices.
  • Consider adding one or two cross-media products/services and build from there.

API-4

If you’re a marketer or design firm getting ready to hire a cross-media professional, Weston offers these tips:

  • Don’t rely too heavily on any single marketing channel.
  • Be willing to test, test, test.
  • Make certain campaign results will be tracked, quantified and analyzed.
  • Expect timetables to change during the campaign in response to results.
  • Make sure your cross-media specialist has equally strong creative and analytical components present in their business. A great HTML coder is as important as a talented graphic designer, so ask what each person does and how much experience they have.
  • Always conduct a campaign post-mortem with your cross-media marketing partner.

Looking back, there’s at least one thing that Weston would do differently with API-Marketing’s rebranding campaign. “I’d place more emphasis on the fact that we’re still printers. A year later we still get the ‘Are you guys the same people?’ question.” (That’s right, the company that didn’t want to be known merely as a printer now has to explain that it’s still a printer. Sometimes you just can’t win.)

To that end, Weston will be creating a 2014 marketing campaign with a strong printing component.

As for Prince Perfect, he’ll be tweeting about his retirement exploits and posting favorite pics to his Facebook page.

What else would a retired rabbit do?

 

 

ALL GOOD BUNNY TALES DESERVE A HOPPY ENDING

  • Before his retirement was even announced, a life-size cardboard standee of Prince Perfect visited more than 50 restaurants and retail businesses within a 30-mile radius every Friday for five months. Social media was used to announce his location on Wednesdays.
  • Each week he gave away cash and gift certificates at his personal appearances. If you took a picture with him at these events and posted it on Facebook, your name was also entered into a grand prize drawing for a free iPad. (Prince Perfect’s personal appearances were ramped up due to popular demand – 1,200 likes on his Facebook page alone.)
  • Prospects and existing customers received a smaller version of Prince Perfect in the mail (some as rack cards, others in invoices). This gave people unable to attend the Friday events a way to photograph themselves with Prince Perfect and participate in the iPad drawing.
  • Nine separate media channels were used to officially announce Prince Perfect’s retirement. All were coordinated to hit within the same week.
  • To encourage community involvement, a series of emails asked existing clients and prospects to nominate their favorite nonprofit organization to receive a set of free banners valued at $2,500. (Ever the team player, Prince Perfect reportedly sold his gold retirement watch to pay for this.)

 

Author: Cyd Peroni

Cyd Peroni is a Phoenix, Ariz. writer and owner of Three Figs Villa, an online boutique that creates and sells fine art letterpress prints for writers and wordies.

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