By Barbara Pellow July 26, 2004 -- In 1903, Alex Jackson and William Bates established a small stationery engraving company in Buffalo, New York. Their vision was to satisfy the growing needs of professional service firms in Buffalo by producing the finest quality stationery. As their capacity increased they brought on Edward Gaskin, who ultimately purchased the company. Ed, using the same vision and desire to be the premier stationer in Buffalo and the surrounding area, expanded the menu of services using innovative technology like electric engraving presses. Bates Jackson was a business where Gaskin family members labored to make the company the stationery powerhouse it is today. Ed's grandson, Ed Flammer took a keen interest in the company. Ed has a passion for paper and ink which drove him to push Bates Jackson's services even further. Flammer introduced thermography, foil stamping and lithography to Bates Jackson's ever-growing list of customers. In 1972, he purchased the company from Gaskin and incorporated it. Ed Flammer helped kindle that same vision that Bates and Jackson had in his two sons, EJ and Greg. As EJ and Greg looked at the market opportunity, trends and direction, they saw it was time for further innovation and plunged into the world of digital printing. That same vision that Alex and William had in 1903 was critical to the formation in 2002 of [email protected], llc. Becoming Digital EJ realized that over time demands for high quality stationery and business cards could diminish. Bates Jackson entered the digital print market to grow its business and decided that digital color and black and white printing was the perfect vehicle to do that. While high quality stationery is still an important aspect of the business, future growth will be dependent upon migration and expansion into new market opportunities. Originally, Bates Jackson invested in a monochrome digital press. Finding this to be profitable led them to purchase a digital color press. Bates Jackson also decided to invest in the large format color business. The combination of technologies opened the door for participation in a number of new markets. A key focus has been the development of 1:1 marketing campaigns that make both small and large businesses more profitable. High Tech Marketing for Small Business - Smokin' Joes Even with the wrong list we saw an 8 percent response rate that first week and a total response rate of 25 percent The mailing was very successful According to EJ, "High technology marketing is not just for Fortune 500 companies anymore. With the new technology of digital printing and variable data, the dream of 1-to-1 marketing is now a reality for even the small business owner." [email protected] implemented a 1-to-1 campaign for Smokin' Joes Trading Post located on the Tuscarora Indian Nation near Niagara Falls, NY. Smokin' Joes originally started out selling cigarettes and gasoline at the lowest prices in Western New York. It has grown over the years to include a gold and diamond department, a boutique, a full service deli and grocery store, a car wash and tanning facilities, and the Joseph Jacobs Museum featuring works by two internationally recognized Iroquois artists. Smokin' Joes found out that targeted 1-to-1 marketing can pay off in terms of both increased sales and profits. EJ Flammer says, "Smokin' Joes was looking to drive more traffic to other parts of the store beyond low cost, tax free cigarettes." 1-to-1 direct mailers were seen as an opportunity to build loyalty, and to create a potential customer database for future promotions. Mailers included customized 1-to-1 messaging on the front and inside for each recipient and included 6 coupons. The coupons were for savings on cigarettes, a free tanning visit, a $5.00 off coupon with the purchase of $25 in groceries, $10 off a gram of 14K gold jewelry, 15% off all other merchandise in the jewelry store and a $2.50 coupon off a super car wash. To increase the reach of the mailers, [email protected] purchased a list of people that fit the profile of prospective smokers and well as using data available from Smokin' Joes. Variable data was used on the name and addresses for more than 14,000 recipients, whose first names were printed on the front and inside along with a message about the valuable coupons and the coupon barcodes. The self-mailer was printed on a digital color press using Nexstream DL 100 to manage the variable data. Although the lists were less than adequate, the results far exceeded expectations. You would expect if you had sent your mailing to the wrong list you would see a very low response rate. According to Flammer, "We thought we had purchased a list of self-reported smokers. As it turns out we received a list of names and addresses of 'possible smokers.' Even with the wrong list we saw an 8 percent response rate that first week and a total response rate of 25 percent The mailing was very successful." At the conclusion of the mailing, Smokin' Joes had 500 entirely new names to add to its customer database and loyalty program. Smokin' Joes continued the campaign and would utilize "Smokin' tastings" to gather data about customer preferences for specific types of cigarettes. The ultimate objective for [email protected] was to assist small businesses in the development and delivery of relevant communications to their customer base. Building Business for Forge Consulting A completely different type of program was one for Forge Consulting. Forge Consulting LLC is the first major new firm in the structured settlement industry in more than a decade. The experts at Forge provide personalized payment plans for plaintiffs in personal injury suits seeking long term financial structures. They piece together the optimal balance between structured annuities and liquid assets to provide lifelong security and appropriate tax advantages. The target market for Forge is a high-profile personal injury attorney. Because their market is targeted, they utilize digital printing solutions for everything from brochures to highly targeted direct mail campaigns. Forge wants a strong professional edge and sees digital printing as the solution. Forge's consultants leverage personal contact to capture specific data from events that they attend. [email protected] jackson helps the consultants incorporate personal information in follow-up direct mailers. For instance, after every conference, they send out full-color mailers that are completely personalized, referencing the prospect's important cases and speaking about the issues involved. The content is directed to the individual personal injury attorney and includes a head shot and signature of the Forge partner. Follow-up mailings and customized literature have become staples of Forge's marketing plan because they produce results. Forge's President and CEO, John T. Bair says, "Our lead-to-close ratios are greater than ever before." The Future It takes more than just purchasing a digital press to be profitable with it. We are investing in cutting edge technology and with that you have to invest more than just the sticker price of the machine. Today, [email protected] employs 32 people in its combined engraving operation and digital print facility. Resources are shared across both businesses and Flammer has found putting additional capital resources into the company's infrastructure is critical for success with digital print technology. "Now that I have been in the digital printing business for almost two years, I know the keys are good infrastructure and value added services. It takes more than just purchasing a digital press to be profitable with it. We are investing in cutting edge technology and with that you have to invest more than just the sticker price of the machine. You need to invest in web tools, data base management and technical staff. " Flammer also understands that market education is critical. Currently the company is educating customers on the benefits of digital printing and taking long runs from offset to digital to save the customer time and inventory costs, as well as giving their customer timely and accurate information about themselves. The birth of [email protected], llc, has opened many unique doors for this small Buffalo, New York, printer. With over 100 years of experience in the printing industry, Bates Jackson has demonstrated that it cannot only evolve with new technologies, but learn what it takes to make this business profitable.