AlphaGraphics: Upbeat With an Edge

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Quick-print franchise AlphaGraphics begins a three-year direct mail campaign next month that will try to keep the edgy tone of past efforts while being more positive.


"We believe an edge creates response, rather than a 'Hi there, we do copies' approach," said Kory Kogon, senior vice president of operations at AlphaGraphics.


Aimed at office managers of small to mid-sized businesses, oversized postcards with tear-off redeemable coupons will be used in the campaign. About 100,000 pieces will drop monthly for three years.


Previous AlphaGraphics campaigns, which used black-and-white artwork and long copy to stress the dangers of choosing the wrong print services provider, could have been perceived as negative, the company said.


This time the company chose a more humorous, visual approach with less copy, while keeping an edgy feel to the mailers and not resorting to overly upbeat creative.


In one piece, a man is depicted seated poolside in a lounge chair beside a life-size poster of a beautiful woman. The headline reads, "Can large format printing enhance your image?" In another piece promoting AlphaGraphics' print personalization, a high school student is shown placing prom invitations on lockers, and each invitation bears a different girl's name.


"We were trying to employ a humorous approach, showing how customers are using the product to solve their problems in a fun way," said Jeff Bagley, managing director and chief creative officer for Euro RSCG Tatham Partners. "The whole point is to get them to be engaged in the piece and turn it over for a more detailed explanation."


AlphaGraphics worked with the Salt Lake City office of Euro RSCG Tatham Partners to develop the campaign. Complicating the development was that Euro RSCG needed approval from both AlphaGraphics' corporate office and its 250 franchisees.


Another unique aspect is that individual franchisees determine how many and which of the 24 pieces will be sent to prospects and customers. Using an online interface, franchisees, which supply their own prospect and customer lists for the campaign, choose the pieces and add about 100 offers and other customized features, and contact numbers for individual salespeople.


Previous AlphaGraphics campaigns netted response rates of 8 percent to 9 percent. For the new campaign, AlphaGraphics expects response to equal or surpass the old mailers, Kogon said.


Response will be tracked in part by the number of customers who use the coupons on the postcards. AlphaGraphics also uses data-mining software that tracks when customers who receive mailers order services from the company and determines which services they use.


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