Marketing Campaigns

Why Marketing Campaigns Are So Important

Marketing campaigns are the perfect way to reach your customers, clients, and leads. They can be the game-changing move that secures meetings with customers or prospects. Producing campaigns with a series of touchpoints will grab someone’s attention better than a single advertisement. You need to break through the clutter when promoting yourself, and marketing campaigns with incentives can do that for you.

Also, adding an incentive lets you follow up with customers. It lets you explain your services and promote your brand even further. This makes marketing campaigns an important piece of any B2B sales strategy. It’s helpful whether you’re keeping in contact with current clients or finding new leads. Standing out from the crowd isn’t easy, but Gilson has the right amount of magic to grab a customer’s attention. We can show you the effectiveness using our recent Holiday Elves 2017 campaign as an example.

Don’t believe us? The elves speak for themselves!

Marketing Campaigns: A Holiday Elf of Their Own

This year we revived our hugely popular Holiday Elf marketing campaign. We invited customers and clients to create a customized cardboard elf we would ship to their work or home. This campaign was important because we wanted to show our customers and clients appreciation while also showing them what we could provide for them in a marketing campaign. The elves were a big hit when we did them last year, but we decided to switch it up from last year’s graphics. We wanted clients to have their very own custom elf, but we also wanted them to have some fun and funny duties to choose from at the North Pole. We decided to go with a few festive designs that included some classic holiday jobs along with some dirty elf jobs.

Here are the options we went with this year:

  • Cheer Squad
  • Sleigh Racer
  • Gift Wrapper
  • Reindeer Handler
  • Santa’s Pit Crew
  • Rubbish Wrangler
Cheer Squad Elf

Cheer Squad

Sleigh Racer Body

Sleigh Racer

Gift Wrapper

Gift Wrapper

Reindeer Handler

Reindeer Handler

Santas Pit Crew

Santa’s Pit Crew

Rubbish Wrangler

Rubbish Wrangler

We offered our clients the option of uploading their own photo or choosing from one of our cute cartoon faces to complete their little helpers. Everyone loved the traditional and bad elf jobs that we let them customize, and we had a healthy mix of cartoon faces and original photos.

Running the Campaign and Packing the Sleigh

Running the campaign was a multi-step process. We planned the touchpoints, created the assets, and then executed the plan. Here are some of the behind the scenes steps showcasing the importance of planning out a campaign.

The Campaign

We launched the campaign with a mailer inviting people to create their own elf. Inside was a pURL (personalized URL) address that contained their name and contact information. That pURL took them to the website and let them upload their photo and build their elf from the ground up. From there we sent reminder emails and a letter that invited guests we hadn’t heard from to join in on the fun.


We started with a fun mailer that invited people to the campaign. This mailer had a pull-away mystery face and fun graphics to invite clients to upload their very own face.

Elf Mailer 1 Elf Mailer 1 Elf Mailer 1

We sent follow-up emails to clients that didn’t respond to make sure we included everyone on our list this year! These emails were simple and text-based to make sure that photos and images didn’t bog down a client’s inbox.

Reminder Letter
And between emails, we sent a reminder letter with some photo examples of elves from our previous campaign.


Elf Letter

Elf Photo

The Packaged Elves

We sent the printed elves wrapped up and banded to all of our campaign participants so they could unwrap them for the holidays. Each elf was folded, wrapped with a band, and shrink wrapped for delivery.

Elf Package

The Stats

The direct mail campaign had a whopping 30% response rate, and soon we were flooded with images of fun and happy elves ready to make the season bright. And since we sent out invitations to nearly 2,000 customers, clients, and leads, that’s a holly jolly lot of helpers we sent out into the world. When it came to popularity, the Cheer Squad and Reindeer Handler were our two most popular, with over 170 submissions for each elf.

The Cheerful Results

The elves were a huge hit again this year and people couldn’t wait to send us photos of their happy helpers! Clients emailed and posted photos of their elves around the workplace and helped spread the holiday cheer that we were happy to provide. The campaign was built on the simple idea of letting clients customize their own printed piece and showcased just how fun and effective a marketing campaign can be during the holidays.

We were also able to use a wide range of our services in the campaign, including creative, large format printing, web services, and fulfillment.

Elf Sample 1

Customize Your Campaign

Marketing campaigns are one of the best ways to engage with your clients and promote your brand. A little creativity and a lot of hard work can go a long way. Are you looking to do your own fun customizable campaign? Whether it’s a holiday or a fun work or client event, contact the team at Gilson to make your dream campaign a reality.

Gilson Wins Reindeer Games This Christmas

Join us for some Reindeer Games and a marketing campaign so successful, you would even say it glows! When it comes to marketing and Christmas, Gilson has all the holiday magic you’ll ever need.

Reindeer Games: Beyond a Foggy Christmas Eve

Like Santa on a foggy Christmas Eve, everyone could use a little reindeer rescue now and then! But how—you may wonder—does a reindeer relate to Gilson and its business challenges?

It all began with one of our top objectives for the new fiscal year: to increase the percentage of sales arising from new business. We figured the two most effective ways to achieve this were by selling existing services to new clients or to sell new services to existing clients.

Additionally, Gilson’s marketing team was presented with the challenge of broadening the public perspective on the company’s service capabilities from simply “commercial printing” to “full-service marketing.”

Read more

Meijer: A Gilson Case Study

In business since 1934, Meijer is widely acknowledged as the pioneer of the American superstore – it opened the first “hypermarket” in 1962, 26 years before Walmart. Today, Meijer owns and operates more than 200 supercenters and 177 gas/convenience stations throughout the Midwest. It is one of the nation’s largest privately held companies, with annual sales topping $15 billion.

Meijer Logo

Meijer and Printing

For years, Gilson was one of the vendors Meijer relied upon to print in-store point-of-sale materials. Meijer designed the materials and outsourced the production and printing; finished goods were sent to Gilson for kitting, storage and shipment to Meijer Distribution Centers throughout the Midwest.

As the number of stores grew and the complexity of kits and materials increased, this system became increasingly inefficient. Among the problems:

  • Each department manager at each Meijer location used a paper-based binder and bar-code wand to scan the item(s) and kits needed for display. Managers frequently ordered the wrong item(s).
  • Each order was shipped from one of 18 Meijer Distribution Centers via a Meijer truck also loaded with pallets of food and general merchandise. Kits were frequently damaged, misplaced or lost – and store promotions were delayed or diminished as a result.
  • Damaged or missing orders required rush assembly and collation of replacement kits.

These problems negatively impacted both store-level sales and corporate marketing budgets. Gilson analyzed the situation, sending team members to store locations to better understand and evaluate the process.

Gilson’s Solution

We addressed the above problems and more with these process improvements:

  • We removed all fulfillment responsibilities from Meijer Distribution Centers. Today, Gilson kits and packs all program elements and distributes the kits directly to supercenters and convenience stores, and inventories individual kit elements for future replacement orders.
  • We used our Mindwire technology to create a website managers access to order items and kits. The site shows visuals of all products available, is easily and quickly updated to reflect new promotions and outdated items and incorporates robust security that allows only approved users to see, order and manage specific items.
  • We created a digital asset management system to maintain all production files.
  • We print the majority of kit elements and procure the rest, ensuring brand and color consistency.
  • Our design staff works with Meijer’s internal design group to produce various program elements – including all gas station POS materials.

The Results

Gilson’s approach has:

  • Sped up delivery of materials to stores – it’s now 1-2 days instead of 2-3 weeks.
  • Reduced distribution costs by approximately 30%.
  • Improved turnaround time of printed materials and POS products from an average of five days to 1-1/2 days.
  • Reduced order entry and shipping errors from 19% to less than 1%.


Family Christian Stores: Gilson Case Study

Family Christian Stores is America’s leading specialty retailer, with more than 250 stores in 39 states offering Christian-themed books, music, videos, software, gifts, apparel and more. The FCS chain grew rapidly after spinning off from Christian publishing giant Zondervan in the ’90s.

Family Christian Stores and Fulfillment

By 2005, it became apparent that FCS’ fulfillment vendors could not keep pace with continuing expansion – and the company launched a formal search for a strategic partner that could successfully address these problems:

  • Lack of consistent color in store signs.
  • Damaged signs and late deliveries.
  • Inaccurate and incomplete store kits.
  • Slow response christian stores logo

Gilson’s Solution

Gilson’s vast experience serving retail industry clients convinced FCS to include us in their evaluation process. Our immediate grasp of their situation and identification of possible solutions sealed the deal.

Our services for FCS include:

  • We’ve created specific ink matches for each color in the FCS “palette,” ensuring consistent colors from one press run and one product to the next – vital for stores in which colors are used to designate departments.
  • Our packaging department designed custom boxes for different kit sizes, accommodating materials ranging from 41″ x 55″ window banners to 3″ x 6″ shelf cards. Proper packaging has virtually eliminated damage.
  • We used Mindwire to create an electronic packing list that FCS can instantly update and transmit to our packing department, so the right materials get kitted and sent to the right stores. Mindwire also allows FCS to electronically order replacement signs for same-day shipment to stores.
  • We enable FCS to use online proofing, speeding their approvals and our turnaround time.
  • We’ve “lent” our graphic design personnel to FCS to temporarily cover their staff shortages.

The Results

Prior to Gilson’s involvement, FCS fielded roughly 100 follow-up calls from stores every time a kit was shipped. There were only three calls after Gilson’s first shipment – a performance standard that continues to this day, saving FCS considerable money, time and frustration.

Our shipments are not only accurate, they’re fast. “We can give you a week to turn this around,” FCS told us on one of our first projects for them. “Why would you give us that long?” we asked. “We’re accustomed to working at the speed of retail … we’ll have it for you today.”

BDO: A Gilson Case Study

BDO is a national accounting and professional services firm that provides assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a wide range of publicly traded and privately held companies. The company, one of the largest of its kind, serves clients through 34 offices and more than 300 independent alliance firm locations nationwide.

BDO Accounting

After its founding in 1910 in New York City, the company opened a Grand Rapids, Michigan office in 1917. Over the years, Grand Rapids became the site of BDO’s internal print and distribution department, churning out everything from business cards and letterheads to audit reports and glossy brochures.

BDO and Growth

In the ’90s, BDO management determined this department did not fit in with its core business, a decision informed by these factors:

  • The growth of the company’s global organization outpaced the capabilities of internal print resources.
  • The internal print shop was outdated, inefficient and costly.
  • Outside vendors had to be used to supplement internal print resources, resulting in inconsistent quality.
  • Using multiple vendors led to inefficient project management and poor coordination between design and print production.
  • The internal distribution system was limited by capacity and commitment.

Gilson’s Solution

At the time, Gilson was one of BDO’s outside print vendors, and we were asked to consult on the transition from internal to external operations. Our solution? We proposed to fold BDO’s print department into our own business – hiring their employees, acquiring their equipment and providing a completely hassle-free conversion for internal customers. We would even adopt the department’s existing phone numbers!

BDO jumped at the opportunity. And Gilson has repeatedly proven the value of that decision:

  • Our continuing investment in new print technology delivers efficiency and economy.
  • As a single print source, we ensure adherence to corporate graphic standards and consistent colors.
  • Our Mindwire technology provides consistent order flow, pricing, distribution and reporting for marketing materials and operational items.
  • Gilson design services serve as a convenient, consistent resource for developing new materials.
  • Gilson mail services distributes printed products efficiently and affordably.
  • Our designated support team provides quick, accurate, focused service.
  • We are able to scale solutions to match the fast pace of their growth.

Many of the world’s largest corporations trust BDO to provide smart business advice. The company practices what it preaches – choosing Gilson was a sound business decision.

General Motors: A Gilson Case Study

General Motors is the world’s largest automaker. It was founded in 1908 and shortly thereafter became the industry’s annual global sales leader — the title it still holds today, in the face of fiercer-than-ever competition. With global headquarters in Detroit, General Motors manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries.

General Motors

In the U.S., GM sells its vehicles through a nationwide network of roughly 8,000 dealers. The company supports dealer sales efforts in a myriad of ways — from high-profile television advertising to glossy four-color brochures. But the crux of the GM-dealer relationship is contained in a Policies & Procedures Manual. This manual spells out everything from service standards and training requirements to claims processes and warranty specifics.

General Motors and Conventional Fulfillment

For years, the manual was printed onto individual pages and assembled into binders for shipping to dealers. By the late ’90s, the volume of information included had increased to the point that it strained the confines of a three-inch binder.

This conventional fulfillment and distribution system posed a number of problems, including:

  • As size increased, shipping costs escalated.
  • Additional copies and replacement copies were ordered via phone by individual dealer personnel – there were no means to control distribution.
  • Changes were cumbersome. Shipping new binders every time a revision was made would be prohibitively costly, so individual pages were printed and sent to dealers with instructions to replace outdated pages. There was no way to monitor dealer compliance.
  • The reams of paper required to print the manual each year didn’t jibe with GM’s very public commitment to environmental sensitivity.

Gilson’s Solution

Gilson, which had been handling the printing and fulfillment of these manuals, approached GM with an alternative: we proposed to assemble manuals in pdf format and distribute them to dealers on CD-ROM. GM agreed to the move — and immediately cut its program costs by 50%.

Several years later, we took advantage of increased Internet delivery speed and our own Mindwire technology to make the program even more efficient. We constructed a stand-alone website that contains the entire manual — one web page for each manual page – and gave GM dealers secure access to it. Now, approved dealer personnel can download and print all or part of the manual at any time. Change notifications are sent via email, and GM can monitor whether revised pages have been downloaded.

The Results

In addition to streamlining delivery, we developed a new workflow for assembling, editing and finalizing the manual. Creating content is the responsibility of 35 GM “Subject Matter Experts” located around the country. We’ve empowered them to share information and complete their work online. It’s a faster, more efficient, more accurate method.

GM is so pleased with the results, they’re exploring new ways to use our fulfillment and distribution technology throughout the corporation.

Viking Corporation: A Gilson Case Study

The Viking Corporation has led the world in the design and manufacture of fire protection products for more than 80 years. Today, Viking systems protect many of the world’s most invaluable properties, from the White House in Washington, D.C. to the Grand Theatre in Shanghai to the Palace Hotel in Madrid.

Viking Corporation

Viking markets its products to fire sprinkler contractors through 44 company-owned locations and a host of independent distribution partners. The highly technical nature of sprinkler systems requires reams of data to be published and distributed to these locations for dissemination to prospective customers and specifiers.

Viking Corporation and Fulfillment

This fulfillment function was managed internally by Viking until 2004. Then, the company’s fulfillment manager decided to retire — a “compelling event” that prompted Viking to reevaluate its program in light of these realities:

  • The company’s growth was outpacing its ability to quickly and cost-effectively fulfill literature requests.
  • With no system in place to manage and track inventory, Viking consistently printed and stockpiled more literature than it needed.
  • Stockpiled literature — including 500-page catalogs — quickly became obsolete, because technical data changed frequently and unpredictably.
  • The company was launching a global distribution strategy, which would add even more complexity to the fulfillment process.

Gilson’s Solution

Gilson showed Viking Corporation that outsourcing fulfillment would solve these problems. We used Mindwire technology to:

  • Improve inventory control – giving Viking 24/7 online monitoring of real-time inventory and precise usage statistics.
  • Enable online ordering of literature, letterhead, business cards and other materials – eventually expanding the program to include such premium items as hats and T-shirts (which, like print materials, are warehoused at Gilson and shipped as needed).
  • Introduce Print-On-Demand capabilities, which allow Viking salespeople to download and print (or email) the most up-to-date technical and promotional material for distribution to customers.
  • Empower Viking employees to create customized sales presentations in pdf format – simply by logging on to Mindwire and selecting specific products and information to be included.

The Results

Today, Viking Corporation no longer employs an internal fulfillment manager — and thanks to Gilson, their fulfillment process is faster, more efficient and less costly than ever!

HelloWorld (Formerly ePRIZE): A Gilson Case Study

HelloWorld, based in Detroit, is a world leader in interactive promotions for more than 60 of the nation’s top 100 large-brand advertisers including Adidas, Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Disney, General Mills, General Motors, HBO, and Wendy’s. Since its founding in 1999, HelloWorld has grown into the largest company of its type in the world — more than twice the size of its closest competitor — and has opened offices in Chicago, Dallas, New York, and London.

HelloWorld (Formerly ePRIZE)

HelloWorld and Rapid Growth

HelloWorld has launched thousands of promotions in recent years – more than 800 in 2006 alone – offering prizes that range from Orville Redenbacher popcorn samples and Hardee’s breakfast sandwich coupons to Home Depot hot tubs and NASCAR vehicle parts. Almost every single promotion has been fulfilled by Gilson.

The rapid growth at HelloWorld combined with their unique and custom-designed programs created many challenges in fulfilling their prizes including:

  • Storage and distribution of uniquely-sized and shaped items
  • A wide variety in size and scale of these projects
  • Difficulty with production and coordination of intricate programs involving printed literature, product samples, and other unique items
  • Inefficient and expensive shipping methods due to poorly managed programs

Since HelloWorld was a fledgling company with four employees, Gilson has been a primary partner, managing increasingly larger and more sophisticated programs as the company has grown to more than 400 employees.

Gilson’s Solution

Our services to HelloWorldinclude:

  • We’ve set up more than 20 PO Boxes to receive sweepstakes entries and – because HelloWorld conducts 40-60 ongoing promotions at any one time – we sort thousands of pieces of mail each day.
  • We inspect and review all entries for compliance with contest rules, which may include the submission of photos, essays, videos and other materials.
  • We coordinate with third parties to receive premium items – iPods, plasma televisions, beach towels, umbrellas, golf clubs, car tires and much more – and inventory them for timely fulfillment.
  • We provide turnkey solutions for rebate campaigns – from printing and distributing the initial coupon offers, opening and maintaining bank accounts to fulfilling the printing and reconciling of checks.
  • Using Mindwire® technology, we built a web portal giving HelloWorld real-time views of inventory status for all promotion items. Mindwire can also track shipments and confirm deliveries.
  • Mindwire is also the tool used to capture customer information from entries and transmit data to ePrize for dissemination to HelloWorld clients.

The Results

As a strategic partner, we’ve increased our warehouse packaging and distribution space from 25,000 sq. ft. to more than 150,000 sq. ft. Our investment in fulfillment infrastructure has allowed HelloWorld to focus on its core business – selling and designing promotions.

Josh Linker, founder and Chief Executive Officer, says Gilson has played an integral part in his company’s success: “We couldn’t have grown so quickly without the help of Gilson!”

Baker Publishing Group and Digital Printing

World Leader in Christian Publishing

Baker Publishing Group was founded in 1939 and is one of the world’s largest publishers of Christian Books. The company is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has six divisions. Each division features a unique segment of Christian publishing. It distributes its products to bookstores and other retail outlets around the world.

Digital Printing Arrives

Baker Publishing Group

Baker relied on traditional book printers to publish thousands of titles. They used conventional production methods — offset printing, long print runs, extended lead times, and extensive warehousing.

Then digital printing arrived. Baker addressed one of its biggest challenges — books with slower sales volume. Niche titles and older releases didn’t fit the traditional print production process. Too many copies had to be printed, they took up too much warehouse space, and the cost was too high.

The Problem

Baker investigated the possibility of on-demand digital printing. The company found that:

  • Its existing print vendor base was focused on offset and web printing.
  • Digital print vendors were far from Baker headquarters and wouldn’t change — they wanted Baker to adapt to their methods of order management, print production, distribution, and financial transaction.
  • The quality level of these digital print vendors was low.

Gilson’s Printing Solution

Gilson prints Baker promotional materials, so we were familiar with its business. As our digital capabilities became more sophisticated, we proactively devised an effective solution to Baker’s problem with slow-sales-volume titles.

We developed an efficient and economical approach to short-run book printing. Initially, we created a unique workflow that integrated both offset printing (for book covers) and digital printing (for interior text pages). Book covers were printed in small batches, placed into Gilson’s inventory and synchronized with digital book production via our Mindwire technology. The quality of the finished product was indistinguishable from books printed conventionally.

The Results

Baker was thrilled with the result. But we weren’t content to rest on our laurels. We’ve since upgraded our digital cover capabilities, enabling covers to be printed on demand — eliminating inventory and establishing an even more efficient production process.

Orders are coordinated to the carton space allowed by Baker’s fulfillment capacities, and finished books are delivered and integrated into their order process system. Custom bar-code labels provide consistency with other products in Baker’s inventory.

Thanks to Gilson, Baker no longer has to list any title as “out of print.” Thanks to Baker, Gilson has established a reputation as one of the nation’s foremost on-demand book printers.

Visit the Baker Publishing Group website to learn more about their publications and projects by clicking here.