I recently spent some time with HP at Interpack 17 in Germany (watch the videos!). As usual they had a plethora of products and services that are wowing the packaging industry and pushing the packaging envelope way beyond the corrugated box. It’s really cool to get a glimpse of where the “package” is heading, and the huge opportunity for brand marketing with the use of digital print. A package is something we pick, and bring into our homes in most instances. The connection is already established, and now brands can continue that relationship in other ways from the label, the pouch and especially the box.

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Even in that brief synopsis I mentioned brands 2 times. During the HP Packaging Show that ran several times a day, applications created for brands were forefront of establishing new possibilities with digital printing. We have seen these in our grocery stores through Coke bottles with people’s names, individually unique Bud Light cans and Mr. Peanut labels. We may have even received a personalized package of Oreo’s or a jar of Nutella in the mail. (What’s coming next is even cooler… here is a sneak peek!)

At Interpack, HP shared a new and amazing partnership through personalized packaging with South Africa’s Amarula and their #namethemsavethem campaign to stop elephant poaching. Even KitKat via Nestle’ has come to play in HP’s packaging toy box. It’s all very impressive, the ROI is bonkers, and the reaction from the world is “give us more.” Fantastic! We love when big brands clamor for more print and execute creative marketing campaigns. That helps everyone in the digital print food chain no matter what equipment you have. Thanks HP!

Now that consumers have had a big taste of digital print possibilities thanks to the work HP does educating and executing with the big brands, and assuming that most of you reading this don’t have Nestle’ or Nabisco on your call list, let’s look at three ways to take digital print possibilities, local.

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Have a Meal! Actually, have many. It’s market research. Last week I went out to a local restaurant and their “current” beer list was printed out 4-up on an 8.5 x 11 from a desktop printer, and cut with a scissor. The food specials were bigger, but same method. I asked the manager WHY it was done this way. She replied…

“We CHANGE our drink and dinner specials too often to do it ANY other way.”

Clearly, no printer within a reasonable distance has explained to this restaurant that there is a MUCH better way to do this through digital printing. Establishing a designed template where new specials can be emailed night before/morning of, dropped in by the printer and picked up when needed, is just one. The professionally printed drink list and specials will clearly elevate the current method and establish that the restaurant cares about such things. Print does create credibility and authority… business cards for example.

Once that process and TRUST is established, you can start offering more. Let them know that printing the full menu with the rotating specials is also possible. The drink specials can be included, too. Offer table tents with drink specials/food specials, information about upcoming music and special events, maybe even a “meet your chef or bartender” piece. Create a restaurant package with a menu of opportunities and let these restaurants order up some fresh digital print.

Take it Home! Barring the iconic Chinese take-away container and the black plastic bowls with the clear lids, more times than not my delivery and take-out food comes in a standard aluminum tin with a white cardboard-ish lid. The first thing you have to do is open everything to see what is inside. Seems like a great opportunity for a label! Most restaurants have a standard menu so take-home labels can be printed up for those items, and when warranted added to the “specials” order mentioned above. One little life-hack may seem unimportant, but it helps businesses create a positive user experience with their customers. It’s a simple an affordable extra-step restaurants can take to show they care, and say thank you for patronage, too.

Get a Gimmick! There are ways to help local restaurants stand out that tie into trends and also establish connection to customers. Turn the menu into an adult coloring book for patrons to take home that includes incentives for their return, or take-out order. Create life-sized cutouts for customers to take selfies with, change them weekly. Encourage the restaurant to promote on Facebook and Instagram and share the pics through their social accounts. They can print trivia questions or “pick-up” lines on napkins and coasters at the bar. It’s digital print! Keep changing it up to keep it fresh. There are so many opportunities, you just need to find them and match the application with the business, and their customers.

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A few small items here and there may not seem like big business to you, but helping customers create more business because of you, should be a strategic result.

I would only encourage you to go slow and ease them into it. Get creative and send over a “gift-basket” of the printed items you recommend. Pinterest is an AMAZING resource for restaurant printspiration — some examples in the above image. Use the logo and menu information from the restaurants you approach for your samples… no generic “your name here” print allowed! People eat with their eyes first, help them order by making it easy and mouth-watering.

When the time is right you can introduce more digital print possibilities. There are amazing wide-format applications perfect for restaurants such as printed tabletops, floor and wall decals, and a plethora of indoor and outdoor signage to name a few. You can get way more creative with take-away packaging as well. The trick here is not to force-feed all the applications at once, and only offer the ones that make sense for THAT restaurant, and their customers.

After your new customers see some positive results, gather up basic ROI information and create a buffet of digital print success stories to share – everywhere. Prove your case that there is indeed a better way to print menus than a desktop printer, a bottom line reward for the effort, and let new prospects eat it up.

While I focused on restaurants here because it was the catalyst from a life real-life experience, this approach can be applied to many other establishments. The key is going in as a CUSTOMER and having the print experience currently being served, then figuring out how to help businesses add some spice to it.

Print Long and Prosper!


DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr, a Print Buyerologist™, Integrated Marketer, Industry Speaker and Blogger, Cultivator of the Print Production Professionals Group, the #1 Print Group on LinkedIn, and host of #PrintChat, a weekly industry gathering on Twitter every Wednesday at 4PM ET. She has 25+ years experience working in advertising as a Print Producer, and currently works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping them to achieve success with their social media marketing endeavors, and create meaningful relationships.

Connect with Deborah: Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Instagram / YouTube / Pinterest / Print Production Professionals Group / deborah@printmediacentr.com

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