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Tapping into knowledge

Feb 1, 2001 12:00 AM

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Kimberly Becker is a big fan of the Morgan Press Printing Guide. "I have practically worn it out; I use it all the time," says Becker, of Kimberly Becker Graphic Design (Ayer, MA).

The Morgan Press Printing Guide is a 44-page reference that presents a tremendous amount of valuable information for any print buyer, whether a senior art director or a small-business owner. The reference was created by Morgan Press (Manchester, NH), a 20-employee printer that logged approximately $2 million in sales in 1999. With two-color presses and a new Quickmaster DI, the company offers a full range of services including design, prepress and finishing. Clients include small businesses, manufacturers, Fortune 500 firms, ad agencies and nonprofit organizations.

The company created the original guide in 1990 and can point to approximately a half-million dollars in new business as a result. But "with all the changes in prepress and our purchase of the Quickmaster DI, it was definitely time for an updated version," explains vice president Marcia Morgan.

The printer recently finished the second printing guide. Designed much like a PMS book, the reference measures 2.75 x 7 inches, and is bound with an aluminum screw-post, encased in red corrugate, sealed with a gold sticker and tied with black raffia. It includes guidelines for output-ready files, scanning formulas, international paper sizes, folding allowances and more detailed information for artwork creators.

SALES TOOL AND MORE Besides being a sales tool, the objective of the piece is to help Morgan Press clients prepare files correctly and buy knowledgeably.

To generate interest in the printing guide, the company printed 2,500 direct-mail pieces inviting clients and prospects to call, e-mail or mail an attached business reply card to receive the free guide. The cover of the mailer bears this teaser copy: "Tap Into Some of Our Greatest Resources." The inside copy reads, "As indispensable as a pocket knife in the wilderness, the Morgan Press Printing Guide contains the tools you'll need to plan and complete your print projects... In addition, you can tap into the expert knowledge of our printing service specialists, who will help guide you along the way..."

An ad agency that is also a Morgan Press client developed the concept for the direct-mail piece, and both the guide and the teaser mailer were subsequently produced in-house. A stock photo was purchased for the covers of both pieces. The first 20 pages focus on Morgan Press capabilities, and were produced on a variety of stocks and colors. To keep costs down, scrap was used for this section. The reference section that follows is in black and white, and details subjects ranging from envelope sizes and varnish samples to type measurements and binding methods.

A total of 1,000 guides were printed. The promotion cost approximately $8,000 plus postage.

`TERRIFIC' DOOR-OPENER Once someone responds to the direct-mail piece, typically a Morgan representative will hand-deliver the guide. "Occasionally we mail it and let the prospect be `wowed,'" explains Morgan. "Then we call for an appointment. The guide is a terrific door-opener."

According to Morgan, the campaign will last approximately two years because the company is methodical about following up with everyone who receives the teaser mailer and/or the guide.

"We do not want to give out the guide unless we know the person genuinely wants it," the exec explains. "We follow up on every single one that we send out. It's a one-time opportunity to make an impression and establish ourselves as knowledgeable and helpful printers."

To accommodate the follow-up activities, the invitation piece is mailed in waves. The initial mailing of 750 went to regular clients and the company's most active prospects. Two weeks later, another 750 were sent to targeted prospects. From those two mailings, Morgan Press has delivered 250 guides (one-third were given to customers and two-thirds to prospects).

Within two months of the guide's introduction, the printer set up 40 appointments with prospective clients. A dozen have already become new clients.

The next series of mailings will be to targeted lists, which are being acquired through list brokers and through local creative/communications groups.

"There is a lot of beautiful printing produced for print promotion," observes Morgan, "but we feel there is a definite advantage in combining a promotion with a tool that will be truly useful to the print buyer."