Quick Printing
December 2005
Two ideas to grow sales, morale
Market your shop across departments and let your staff rule the pop stand
This month I’d like to share two marketing ideas that you can use to grow sales at your printing firm. The first is a new approach to an old idea: box stuffers. We all know about box stuffers, how they work, and the many benefits of using them. So, if box stuffers are so effective, why do so few printers use them? I guess it’s just “marketing inertia.” That dreadful trap that occurs when we know what to do to promote our printing products, but just never quite get around to doing it.

Box stuffers
Box stuffers are easy marketing programs to implement, and they are effective. I like them because they don’t cost much, and they involve my production team in the sales and marketing process, since they’re the ones who insert the stuffers in the boxes that leave our print shop.
The box stuffer we use is a small 4.25" x 2.75", four-colour item printed on C1S glossy card stock. We insert it into every single box that leaves our building. For example, if a customer orders a full carton of 2,500 #10 envelopes, we put a box stuffer in each of the five boxes of 500 envelopes in addition to the one we include with the delivery invoice. Why do we do this? Well, the delivery invoice often goes to the bookkeeping department, while the envelopes go to several people or departments within the company. Doesn’t it make sense to promote your printing firm to all the individuals who are actually using your product? I think it’s a smart choice.

We use lime green as the predominant ink colour on our box stuffers because it’s uncommon, bright, and cheerful. It really jumps out at you when you see it. The design is simple and uncluttered. The copy is very unique and “different,” it says:
Partnership There are dozens of people involved in the manufacturing of this printing. We nurture our relationships with these people as carefully as we select the inks and papers we use in our production facility. We care for our employees, suppliers, community, and all of you. Thank you for supporting Express Press.

Box stuffers like ours create a powerful triple win. They build brand awareness. They create name recognition. And lastly, they strengthen customer loyalty among your customer base. That’s a lot of benefit from such a small little item.

Pop machine
The next idea I’d like to share is one of those fun in-house things you can do for your employees that goes a long way towards making them feel appreciated. For 20 years, we’ve had a soda-pop machine in our production area. One day, I saw an advertisement suggesting business owners purchase their own pop machines instead of letting an outside vendor provide the service.
The pop machines in the ad were expensive, about $3,000, and I decided I wasn’t interested at that price. But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, so I asked one of my employees to do a Google search. He quickly reported that there were several companies selling reconditioned machines on the Internet for under $1,000. Well, to make a long story short, we found a wonderful company online that offered us a reconditioned, machine for $500. (EmpireEquipmentCo.com)

I decided to purchase it and when it arrived, we were delighted to see it look spotlessly new. It was completely rebuilt, repainted, and reconditioned. It was, in a word, beautiful.

I told the employees it would be their pop machine. They’d have to maintain it and refill it. We set it up like a little business. My employees were thrilled because we let them choose what pop would go in the machine. Since it was ours, we could mix Coke and Pepsi products, which we couldn’t do previously. My employees are responsible for ordering inventory, paying utilities to the print shop ($7.50 per week), and repaying the $500 “loan.” After only 10 months, the pop machine is completely paid for, and this week we will lower the cost of the pop from 50¢ a can to 40¢.

I have 20 employees in my building and without spending a lot of money, I discovered a surprising little idea that provides them with a convenient service, has allowed some of them to help manage their own little business and make decisions about pricing, inventory, and cash flow. It’s also created some positive talk and good morale. If you try this, remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it because you can do what I did and let your employees handle all the details They’ll jump at the chance.
Mike Stevens is one of North America’s most successful small printers. He owns Express Press in Fargo, North Dakota. Starting with sales of $10,900 a month in 1985, volume now exceeds $250,000 per month. You can reach him at mikestevens@expresspressusa.com or visit www.expresspressusa.com.
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