Midwestern Printer Targets Direct Marketing for Growth

In its 30 years of existence, regional printer Metzgers Printing and Mailing has evolved from a small typesetting house to a $7.5 million company that sees 50 percent of its sales come from direct marketing customers throughout Ohio and Michigan. The firm hopes to attract even more DMers with recent investments in a new 6-color printing press and a Web-to-print solution from Pageflex.

The other half of the Toledo, OH, company's sales comes from printing stationery and other corporate branding materials. Though this business is important because “everybody uses stationery,” Metzgers president Joe Metzger said, the direct marketing business is more valuable.

That's why Metzgers is trying to position itself as more of a “direct marketing communications provider,” Metzger said. He sees this as a critical step to stay competitive in today's market, when many regional printers are going out of business or being acquired.

Metzgers already had a Web ordering system for its stationery business when it invested $60,000 last year in Pageflex Storefront. One reason Metzger chose Pageflex was that “it works like our system we already built,” he said.

The goal is to use the Web-to-portal system to create customized printing for customers so they can place orders whenever they need to. Metzger uses both digital and offset printers, which means customers can place orders for quantities as small as 250 and as large as 25,000. Plus, the new system saves on the creation costs, the typesetting and layout costs and reduces production time, he said.

“Some printers and mailers build a portal to sell really cheap printing,” he said. “We want to use it to create a one-to-one connection between our customers and our company.”

The company has been presenting the software to existing customers on a one-by-one basis since acquiring it in November. Metzger said 14 customers have signed on already and that sales have risen.

One customer uses Pageflex Storefront to create tri-fold mailers to advertise open houses for new stores in the automotive industry. The customer can see online and customize about 10 variables before ordering. The time saved here is crucial, Metzger said.

“For anything that needs to get people to a grand opening, an extra day or two is invaluable because it is going to get people to respond,” he continued.

Another customer is a university that supplies Metzger with the data for prospective students who visited its Web site recently. Depending upon what topics interested the students, Metzgers mails a six-panel piece specific to those interests. Metzgers mails 40 to 70 of these pieces daily.

The system also improved the company's stationery business because it can produce the cards in hours. Metzgers now can offer this category at the best value while providing more services to each customer. Users log into an interactive Web portal where they can choose from various designs and layouts and enter all of their relevant data into templates. Once they have the design and text they like, their order is sent into production immediately.

To accommodate the company's growth, it moved in December 2004 from a 15,000-square-foot building in a suburb of Toledo into a 35,000-square-foot facility in the city that houses print, mail and fulfillment operations and runs three shifts.

Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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