Holiday Luncheon

Season’s Greetings from Gilson Graphics’ Holiday Luncheon

Gilson Graphics’ Holiday Luncheon celebrated the season in style with food, fun, and festivities here in the snowy heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This year we went with a Flannel dress theme that let employees channel their inner lumberjack and share in the lively activities we had planned. Reminding everyone that we like to work hard and play hard here at Gilson–especially during the holidays!

Holiday Luncheon


Holiday Luncheon and Reindeer Games

After a tasty spread of chicken, ravioli, and sliced beef with all the trimmings, we had holly jolly activities for everyone to jump into. First on the list was an unwrapping challenge for each table. Contestants had to try to open gifts with multiple layers of wrapping paper while wearing oven mitts. The catch was that other people at the table would roll dice, and each time they got doubles the oven mitts passed to the next person. There was fierce competition to grab the prize inside–a voucher to grab a gift from Santa’s gift bag! But some of the boxes were filled with coal.

Holiday Luncheon

We also had a photo backdrop for employees to take festive pictures with funny holiday-themed signs. Nothing really captures the spirit better than holding up a funny sign next to a coworker in a snowy setting.

Holiday Luncheon

But we didn’t stop there! We also had an ornament station so that employees could create their very own ornaments to take home and decorate with. Bringing out the holiday magic, busy hands created some stunning home decorations to celebrate the spirit of the season.

Holiday Luncheon


Season’s Greetings from Santa

Dave Gilson addressed the partygoers and thanked them for all the hard work they’d put in over the year. Not to mention the party planners who were able to make the Holiday Luncheon possible.

Holiday Luncheon

And just when we thought it was over, Santa Claus made a surprise visit to the event! After Mr. Gilson took his leave from the party, Santa arrived to personally greet the guests. Funny how we never saw Mr. Gilson and Santa in the same room…

Holiday Luncheon

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Christmas might be a busy time for everyone, but it’s always important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and let out a holly jolly belly laugh to spread cheer and warm wishes. After a festive and fun holiday luncheon, everyone at Gilson Graphics wants to wish you a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year!

Digital Imaging, Gilson Graphics

Lunch & Learn 2017: The Future of Digital Imaging

The Future of Digital Imaging and Changing Marketing Ideals were the hot topics at our Lunch & Learn this year. We invited guests from all across the country to take part in the activity and celebrate the future that digital imaging holds. Guest speaker Frank Mallozzi from EFI talked about the leaps and bounds the industry has taken in a fun and informative presentation that was a smash hit!

This year’s theme was digital imaging, so we went retro and made a fun Polaroid-themed invitation that we used as the overall theme for the event. We also offered fun tie-dye stations, samples and info from our sponsors Veritiv and Mactac, as well as tasty food and great conversation about new innovations in the industry.


Digital Imaging

Gilson Graphics Lunch & Learn 2017 Invite.


The Future of Digital Imaging with Frank Mallozzi

Frank Mallozzi is Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing at EFI, a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation. He now leads the successful global sales and marketing operations for the print industry’s most robust, comprehensive product portfolio.


Digital Imaging

Frank Mallozzi (Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing at EFI).


At our Lunch & Learn he discussed the future of print and digital imaging, talking about the importance of direct mail, innovations in large format, and how customization and personalization is the future of the industry. Not only were his talking points informative, but Frank made the presentation fun and exciting as he shared what the future holds for print and digital imaging.


Our Guests and Activities

Our guests were given more than just a fantastic presentation—we had lots of activities to keep them busy! We had tie-dye stations where they could dye clothing, which was more popular than we could’ve guessed! We also had white stuffed dogs for K9 for Kidz, where we’ll be donating the decorated pups for local firefighters to hand out to children in need. Our guests did a fantastic job decorating the pooches and we can’t wait to deliver them.


Digital Imaging

Tie-dye station.


Digital Imaging

Blank K9 ready for decorating!


We also had a contest with a printable promotion that fit with our retro imaging theme. During the event, we had guests take pictures and post them on social media with the hashtag #gilsongraphics. Then we pulled the images and printed them for people to take on photo paper in a template that looked like old-school Polaroid photos. Why Polaroids? Because everyone who took a picture was entered into a contest to win awesome new Polaroid products! We gave away one new Polaroid camera and two bluetooth printers.


Digital Imaging

Printed photos from guests at Lunch & Learn 2017.


 Our Sponsors

Our other sponsors and partners at the event were Veritiv and Mactac, who showed off some of their varied products and services that can be brought to new innovations in the print industry. Veritiv specializes in packaging, print, logistics and facility solutions and Mactac’s products are used in a wide range of industries including label printing, graphic design, packaging, digital imaging, and more. Guests were thrilled to see new adhesive technologies and fun applications that can be used for any creative project.


Digital Imaging

Ross Burnham from Mactac.

Post Lunch & Learn

This year’s Lunch & Learn was a huge success, but not just because of the presentation, the activities, prizes, or partners—it was a success because we got to spend an afternoon with clients and share what’s new and exciting in our industry. We’re thrilled that so many people wanted to tour our offices and share our love of the future of digital imaging, and we’re looking forward to making it an even better event next year.


Digital Imaging


Are you interested in joining our Lunch & Learn next year? Visit our website and contact us to be added to the contact list for next year’s event.

Company Picnic

How to Work Hard and Play Hard with a Company Picnic

A company picnic is no joke. We all love to work hard, but it’s just as important to play hard. This year we celebrated our first company picnic in almost ten years for Gilson Graphics! We celebrated at Riverside Park in beautiful Grand Rapids where we played games, ate great food, and celebrated our employees and accomplishments.

We wished that all of the Gilson Graphics team could be there, but the turnout was still incredible and we couldn’t have been happier with the results.

What happened at the company picnic?

We’re glad you asked! Here’s a quick recap of some of the big events that happened at the event.


The Gilson Company Picnic

Here’s a detailed breakdown of everything fun that happened at our company picnic. We like to work hard and play hard, so we made sure there was plenty for everyone to do at the event.  


Celebrating Gilson’s History

The biggest surprise of the day was for Dave Gilson, who received a special memento book that we created. The book contained photos of all of the Gilson staff, signatures, special messages, and history about Gilson Graphics.

Company Picnic


The Games

We had a wide variety of games for our employees at the event. The main attractions were cornhole, a golf chip, frisbee, and a ring toss game. The cornhole tournament was the most competitive game at the picnic. We watched as our team members buddied up and went head-to-head for victory.

Company Picnic


The Dunk Tank

One of the biggest draws for the company picnic was the dunk tank, which we charged money for and donated the money to Special Olympics Michigan: Area 11. People were all too excited to dunk Dave Gilson into the tank of chilly water!

 Company Picnic

How you can inspire people with a company picnic

So how can you make sure that you and your co-workers work hard and play hard? Here are some of the basic guidelines to follow and why they’re so important. Because if you’re going to put in the hours, effort, and creativity, it’s important to celebrate your accomplishments together.

1) Make it about the employees and the company as a team

We all know that a company is nothing without its employees, but you want to make sure to remind your coworkers and team members that you’re a team first and foremost. A little speech, some party favors, or personal conversation can go a long way to help inspire them to work harder and smarter on projects they can be proud of.

2) Schedule the picnic on a workday

This might seem like a strange aspect of a company picnic, but scheduling the picnic on a workday shows that you value the time of your employees. Not only are you setting aside time to celebrate them, you’re showing them that being part of a team is just as important as a regular workday in your company or industry. It’s a little gesture that goes a long way the more you think about it.

3) Participate in team games and sports

Nothing builds working relationships and team spirit more than actually being on a team! Adding games and activities to your picnic will encourage talking and cooperation between your coworkers and will inspire them to work better as a team back in the office by testing their skills out on the field. So many people at our company picnic got closer and became better team members and friends after our events and it’s really showing in new projects and endeavors.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Celebrating your company’s achievements and employees is a must. A company picnic is just what you need to inspire your coworkers and team members to work hard and play hard when it comes to their company. We’re hoping to make this a yearly tradition to not only look back on what we’ve accomplished but to look forward to new milestones and memories.

Fall is here, but next spring and summer will be here before you know it. How are you planning on taking your next company picnic to a whole new level?

Marketing Power Up Booth

Marketing Power Up! Gilson is a Game-Changer

Reach a new level in marketing! If there’s an uninspired or unsuccessful marketing campaign lurking in your past, slay that beast for good with Gilson. Use a powerful mix of services to create, produce and deliver a targeted, effective campaign.

A Blast from the Past

Our recent marketing campaign revived the kitschy fun of an electronic classic that featured sea monsters, castles, and brave warriors. As well as the iconic graphics of retro video games. This reached out to Gilson customers in a creative, yet systematic way. As a result, the multi-tiered campaign provided measurable results that demonstrate the success of our marketing team’s approach.

Marketing Power Up Booth

Gilson’s Power Up! Booth

Our time-travel to the early days of computer animation began with a theme-introducing “Save the Date” card sent to potential attendees of GlobalShop, a major retail trade show Gilson participates in annually. The card introduced three classic pixelated images (heart, sword, and coin) that appeared throughout the campaign. This created a visual reminder of the Gilson brand in printed materials and in the trade show booth.

Capture the Marketing Castle

The campaign’s next phase went to local customers and the GlobalShop list. This involved the arrival of an unexpected package and an intriguing invitation to some good, old-fashioned fun. The personalized invitation was sent in an eye-catching clear plastic tube, encouraging recipients to visit a personalized registration site. In keeping with the video game conquest theme, a fearless knight on the invitation defended his castle, which featured a listing of the three “levels” of Gilson service.

Marketing Display

Level 1 of Gilson: Create

After going to the campaign landing page via their personalized URL, recipients who were not attending GlobalShop were given a choice of prizes immediately. The choices included sturdy, oversized heart, sword, and coin icons with a dry-erase coating. A reminder of Gilson’s customizable marketing services.

Recipients on the GlobalShop list also received a Nerf® dart as part of their “Save the Date.” Ammunition to defend themselves from hazardous marketing “monsters” lurking on the interactive game board in our booth. Show attendees from across the country came to the booth armed with their dart and ready to test their skills in exchange for their choice of fun Gilson prizes.

A Fantastical Fabricated Fortress

For the GlobalShop portion of our integrated marketing campaign, our marketing and design team created a themed booth that highlighted the team’s innovative ideas and showed off the capabilities of Gilson’s large format department. Part “brick” castle and part interactive game board, the booth featured a giant integrated LED video screen to show our “Retail World” video.

Marketing Power Up Screen

Digital Display

Gilson partnered with Parker3D, an expert in video displays and animated electronic shows, drawing attendees to the booth and supporting the video game theme. This offered customers an entertaining and informative overview of Gilson services. The display captured the attention of major retailers who commented on the effectiveness of the collaboration with Parker3D. The booth’s unique animated elements and its advantages over static booths were a big win.

And the Winner Is…

We understand that bragging isn’t the hallmark of a good sport, but we’re so thrilled with the outcome that we can’t keep it to ourselves. Just a glance at these graphs shows the results you get from an intriguing, well-designed marketing campaign.

Within days of sending out the invitations with pURLs for local customers (followed by a quick email reminder after each), our response rate was an impressive 33%!  Among GlobalShop attendees, we also had our highest response rate on record. As a result, they rose above the level of previous shows and attracted a host of potential new customers to our booth.

We’re Not New to the Game

We’ve spent over 70 years shaping our expertise. We employ the latest advances in technology, equipment, and processes to meet our customers’ ever-evolving needs. We know that experience counts.

Marketing Power Up Display

Power Up Display

The growing success of our campaigns shows the value of changing your game plan and knowing your audience’s needs and interests. Since the first year, Gilson participated in GlobalShop, the response rate to our marketing campaigns (think “sandwiches” and “cool cats”) has taken off. This has tripled in the first two years and steadily rose to 13%—and that’s among “cold” leads. Our success with customers who are familiar with Gilson has been equally notable, with a response rate that climbed from 11% to 33% in four short years!

To the Victor Go the Spoils

No matter what the game, every true competitor’s goal is to advance toward the prize and achieve the highest level of success. But without a proper plan for systematic monitoring and follow-up, the marketing game can quickly lose momentum, resulting in a rapid and unwanted return to “level one.”

Gilson makes it easy to maximize the success of your marketing campaign with a customized electronic dashboard. The dashboard monitors customer response in real time, giving salespeople, project managers, and company executives fast access to results during and after the campaign.

Game OVER (For Your Competition!)

When you’re ready for the final battle against your arch rival, invite Gilson to join your game. It’s a power-boost in the marketing department.

Most of all, remember that powerful mix of services to create, produce and deliver just the right marketing solution for your business. It’s there for the asking. Give your Gilson rep a call today or visit our website, because even office heroes need a little help now and then!

Marketing Power Up Booth

Gilson’s Retail World Goes Retro at GlobalShop 2017

At GlobalShop, Gilson dares to be different! This year’s GlobalShop display was no exception, we showed off a brand new retro gaming-themed booth that explores the various levels of “Retail World” – and how Gilson can help you reach the top of your game. If you’re looking for new ways to promote your business, look no further!

Gilson’s Retro World at GlobalShop

GlobalShop, which takes place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV from March 28-30, is the world’s largest retail trade show and conference. Gilson has attended for the last several years, with booth displays each year that encouraged participation and engagement from those passing by.

Gilson Power Up GlobalShop

This year’s booth included a massive digital display, broadcasting a fun (and educational) retro video developed by Gilson’s creative team. Also, our big crowd-stopper was the live-action Nerf gun shooting range, which encouraged attendees to participate by hitting moving targets with suction cup darts. People got to test their skills against marketing “enemies” in a fun and retro way.

The darts made an appearance in the pre-show campaign as well. Gilson mailed a dart to select attendees and encouraged them to ‘Save The Dart!’ and visit Gilson at the show for a chance to win prizes. The direct mail pieces helped draw a parallel between Gilson’s message and the theme of the booth, increasing foot traffic and recognition of Gilson’s name at the show. The promotion was fun and effective while having a retro flair!

Learn More about the Campaign

For more information on the campaign results, see our related blog post here.

Have an event or promotion coming up that could use a creative boost? Contact your Gilson account representative or visit our Contact Page to reach out! We’re ready to help you take that promotion to the next level.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Gilson at GlobalShop

If you’re planning on attending the 2015 GlobalShop in at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas this year, you won’t want to miss the Gilson exhibit! There will be plenty of opportunities to interact with the display (think: magnets, dry erase, edge-lit LED plexi, and more!) and to be inspired. Here are just a few reasons to visit Gilson this year.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit us at GlobalShop

1. Curiosity: How Will We Top The Sandwich?

You probably saw our 20-foot long cardboard sandwich last year… this year we’re taking it to new heights! Look for the “sandwich in the sky” to find us!

2. Free Casino Chips… HELLO!

We’re giving away free casino chips to qualified attendees. All you have to do is sign up at your personalized URL and you’re on the list! Want to earn double the chips? Schedule a floor meeting with your Gilson rep!

3. Your Name + Our Booth = Selfie Opportunity

We’re all about one-of-a-kind marketing solutions, and we’ve got one with your name written all over it (literally!) Sign up at your pURL before March 6 and we’ll print your name right on our booth. Make sure you stop and snap a pic.

4. Feeling Drained? Charge up.

After a few days of roaming the show floor, both you and your cell phone battery might be feeling a little drained. Stop by, take a load off, and charge up your cell phone.

5. Giant P.O.P.-Style Booth Structure: 100% Gilson-Made.

We challenged ourselves this year to engineer our entire booth from the ground up, using only materials readily available to us and our in-house creative and design services. Falconboard. Plexi. Ultramount. It’s big. It’s recyclable. And it’s the ultimate in P.O.P. display construction. We can design and build one for you, too.


Direct Mail Webinar Now Available

In case you missed it – or want to see it again! – Gilson’s most recent Lunch & Learn Series Event is now available for online viewing. Relive the educational and inspirational event where Danial Dejan from Sappi North America discusses the ins and outs in his one-of-a-kind workshop ‘Act Now! Direct Mail: Pushing the Envelope.’

Watch the entire workshop online – segmented into five core subject areas. Interested in learning more? Reach out to your Gilson representative and request the companion booklet “Act Now: A Better Response to Direct Mail.”

Part 1: Introduction to Direct Mail Research
(Click here to watch on YouTube)

Part 2: The Value of Direct Mail
(Click here to watch on YouTube)

Part 3: Return on Investment
(Click here to watch on YouTube)

Part 4: Strategy, Frequency & Format
(Click here to watch on YouTube)

Part 5: Intelligent Barcodes, QR Codes & Augmented Reality
(Click here to watch on YouTube)

For an audio-only podcast of last year’s Lunch & Learn Series Event titled “Print&”, you can listen online.

Selling the Sandwich: More Than You Think

What do we mean by a “Sandwich?” For the fourth consecutive year, Gilson made the trek to GlobalShopthe world’s largest annual event for retail design and shopper marketing. Anyone who’s ever been involved in an annual event or campaign knows that repetition is the key to success. Moving forward with that in mind, our team knew this was potentially a BIG year for Gilson at GlobalShop.

Building the Sandwich

More than six months of planning came together during three jam-packed days of exhibiting in Las Vegas. Upon our return, we started crunching the numbers and sorting the leads, and we realized that this year, things truly were different. Things were BIGGER! The sales team unanimously agreed that it had been our most successful show to date, with a huge increase in qualified leads over the previous year, a basketful of new quote opportunities, and overall great feedback from attendees.

globalshop, sandwich, acrylic, large format, integrated, booth, exhibit, design, creative, Tonic

GlobalShop participants raved about our booth and lauded our pre-show marketing materials. We were scanning badges left and right, and scheduling follow-up meetings and site visits. We knew we’d nailed it; the campaign was a hit. But why? What had made it so successful? Had our repeat attendance as an exhibitor finally pushed our opportunities to the next level? Or was there something more?

Just a few days later, I read an article in Exhibitor Magazine that reinforced the likely reasons for our success. The article by Travis Stanton titled “The Brain Drain,” examines the “dumbing down” of our industry due to a lack of time and energy. The article noted that for the past five years, marketers have been forced to do more with less. Too true! Projects that were previously outsourced are now kept in-house, adding more tasks to our already overflowing plates and leaving less time and energy for strategic marketing and creativity.

Couple this with consumers’ increased knowledge and savvy—they’ve done their homework on your company online and they know your product before they’ve stepped into your booth—and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some pretty bland event marketing. Stanton goes on to say that it takes more than a simple regurgitation of your website content in your event display to make an impact on potential customers. Anything less than a fresh, new approach is “woefully insufficient, and…insulting to clients and prospects who have invested an inordinate amount of time and money to attend the event.”

A Look Back at GlobalShop

Looking back at GlobalShop, proof of Stanton’s argument was glaringly obvious. Virtually all the booths at the show were mere physical representations of what could be found on the company’s corporate website. But not Gilson’s! Without anticipating the full impact of our booth, Gilson stood out from the crowd, clearly overcoming “brain drain.” We may not have been the biggest booth on the block, but our creativity and ability to think outside the 10’ x 20’ box shone the brightest.

To make an impression in a big way, we developed a campaign that was sure to get noticed. Enter the 6-foot tall, 20-foot long cardboard sandwich! It was friendly. Approachable. Simple. A metaphor: we have all the marketing ingredients you need, but you choose only the ones you want.

It was huge! Everybody saw it. Most people “got” it. (And, of course, a small percentage thought we were selling sandwiches.) For virtually every visitor, it led to a discussion about what we do and how we can help solve a company’s business challenges using a custom-blended mix of marketing solutions.

The Results

The end result? A 64.7% increase in leads over the previous year. More than seven times the number of new business opportunities than originally anticipated. And the decision to double our booth space for next year’s event.

We get it; creativity doesn’t come easy. It’s harder than ever to come up with ideas that break the mold and grab your potential customers by the eyeballs. As marketing folks, we’re used to continually tightening our belts. We’ve been conditioned to scrape by, re-purposing what we can without much of anything new to offer. Your customers deserve better than that. Your business deserves better than that.

Odds are, you’ve experienced a similar situation yourself. It might not have been event marketing, but somewhere along the way, your once-creative efforts have gone stale. Let us give you a hand. Check out our post outlining the guts of the pre-show campaign and detailing the response rates and results. Then don’t forget to get in touch with your Gilson account rep to start creating some fresh new marketing solutions.

Want to join the campaign and get some #gilsonfresh marketing ideas of your own? Visit and request yours today!

Kim Hasenbank is a West Michigan native and Gilson’s in-house marketing manager. She works closely with the Gilson sales team to provide creative solutions to their own marketing challenges, as well providing insight to the challenges of their clients. Send your questions, comments or requests for more information about the content of this post to

Gilson Sandwich Pre-Show Marketing

Pre-show Marketing: A Turn for the Tasty

Trade shows. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. On the one hand, you need to attend to be considered a viable player in the industry. On the other hand, you’re sharing space with hundreds of your biggest competitors—all vying for the attention of people who may not even be the decision-makers you’re trying to reach. On top of that, you’re juggling freight charges, booth fees, hotel charges, entertainment and travel expenses, and (of course) the costs associated with developing a whiz-bang, knock-out, show-stopping trade show promotion.

Whew! So the question is, with all that pain and suffering, how can marketers make it worthwhile? Let’s take a look at how we handled our most recent trade show experience, and the takeaways you might borrow for your own event marketing campaign.

The Audience

Knowing the needs and challenges of retail industry professionals helped Gilson create a highly targeted pre-show marketing list that included both previous years’ contacts, as well as rented names from GlobalShop. In all, Gilson targeted approximately 300 existing prospects and 1,000 suspects (individuals who had not previously been contacted by Gilson).

Editor’s note: To capitalize on the time and energy already being put into the development of the pre-show campaign, Gilson expanded the target audience to include individuals from non-retail industries. Using versioning and variable data printing, Gilson was able to target three audiences at once. Learn more about the other half of the campaign here.

The Pre-Show Marketing Strategy

For the past four consecutive years, Gilson has attended GlobalShop – the world’s largest annual event for retail design and shopper marketing. In an attempt to ramp up efforts and begin achieving the sort of results that would justify a return trip in 2015, Gilson set a number of goals. As is typical of any event marketing strategy, one of the primary goals was to increase booth traffic and generate qualified sales leads before, during, and after the show.

The sales team also set specific, measurable objectives to achieve within 30 days of the show: schedule three on-site meetings with prospects after the show, and obtain one customer request for a quote from a company with whom Gilson had not previously done business. In addition, the marketing team’s objective was to increase new lead opportunities by a minimum of 25% over the previous year as a result of the pre-show campaign and promotions.

The key to any strong campaign strategy is knowing your audience. Gilson knew that many of the suspects in our list would not be receptive to a generic postcard mailing from an unfamiliar company. Additionally, we knew that the use of multiple touchpoints and incentives are a proven method of driving traffic to data collection sites (in our case, a microsite capturing contact information and the show itself). Gilson set forth with a campaign that would not only generate leads but also demonstrate our capabilities as a full-service integrated marketing provider.

The Campaign

Playing off the success of Gilson’s earlier Lunch and Learn event campaign materials, Gilson built upon the metaphor of a sandwich to illustrate its service capabilities. For this particular audience, Gilson knew it would be important to showcase its end-to-end communications capabilities, up to and including kit-packing, warehousing, and fulfillment.

The campaign consisted of three main components: pre-show, at-show, and follow-up. The pre-show campaign incorporated a die-cut, highly personalized sandwich-themed mailer inside a crystal-clear envelope. The piece included a personalized URL and individual security code that drove traffic to a microsite where the recipient could either request a follow-up marketing piece, or register to redeem an at-show promotion during GlobalShop later that month. Non-attendees would receive a kit packed with a Gilson “sandwich,” complete with all our marketing “ingredients” and a bag of snack chips. Since GlobalShop was hosted in Las Vegas, show attendees who responded would receive the same Gilson sandwich and a casino chip (in lieu of snack chips). Those attending the show could request a floor meeting with a Gilson representative to receive “double the chips.”

globalshop, kit, packaging, variable, sandwich, chips, chip box, large format, kit packing, campaign, pre-show, response, pURL, direct mail, envelope, variable data, J Press


The Show

The show itself was a key component in gathering lead information. The 10’ x 20’ booth graphics mimicked the look and feel of the pre-show campaign, serving as a recall mechanism for those who received the mailer. Gilson’s booth staff engaged attendees by striking up a conversation about the massive cardboard hoagie and explaining the metaphor of Gilson’s many services using specially made acrylic props—also router-cut to look like sandwich pieces. Attendees who engaged with a Gilson representative were eligible to scan their badge and receive a casino chip, as well as a follow-up kit after the show of their very own Gilson sandwich swatch book and bag of snack chips.

To construct the booth, Gilson met with a local partner, Exhibit Design Consultants, to bring its larger-than-life, sandwich-themed booth concept to fruition. Together, the two groups constructed a custom aluminum extrusion booth frame to support the tri-layered booth graphics. LED lighting created visual interest between the layers and flooded the back wall with color to draw attention to the booth. Gilson printed and CNC router-cut all of the various substrates, which were then affixed to the extrusion using hook-and-loop fasteners. The booth was primarily constructed from Falconboard, Coroplast, Sintra, and Ultraboard, tangibly demonstrating Gilson’s ability to create signage and POP displays out of a variety of substrates—a key point of interest for many retailers.

The Gilson booth stands head and shoulders above the rest.

The Follow-Up

As each person responded to the campaign, Gilson produced a follow-up kit using full-color variable data printed two-sided. Each customized box contained a bag of snack chips, variable messaging based on the recipient’s responses to the online pURL site, and a set of die-cut sandwich pieces, each describing one of Gilson’s nine marketing “ingredients.” In addition, Gilson’s kit-packing and fulfillment department managed weekly orders for the variable production and assembled the kits, fulfilling the final step of the end-to-end marketing circle.

Not only did the GlobalShop leads receive the follow-up marketing kit, but all show attendees who visited the Gilson booth received a thank you note from their new Gilson account executive. All campaign respondents also received a follow-up phone call, email, or LinkedIn message from the account executive thanking them for their interest, and continuing the dialog about Gilson’s many services. The ultimate goal was to gain an invitation to the prospect’s location for a site visit, to get onto a bid list, or to generate another new business opportunity.

globalshop, kit, packaging, variable, sandwich, chips, chip box, large format, kit packing, campaign, pre-show, response, pURL


The Results

As a result of this integrated marketing program, Gilson experienced a 64.7% increase in unique company leads at the GlobalShop show compared to the previous year—far exceeding the marketing team’s goal of a 25% increase—indicating a significant uptick in booth traffic. While the direct mail campaign only achieved an initial 1.6% response rate, when added to the at-show campaign responses, the entire campaign yielded an impressive 165 kit requests.

The three-person sales team exceeded its goals as well. Each salesperson successfully scheduled three or more on-site meetings with new clients following the event and surpassed the goal of obtaining one new quote opportunity apiece. Combined, the team had seven major quote opportunities within one week of returning from the show, with several more in the pipeline.

With these goals accomplished, Gilson decided not only to attend GlobalShop again in 2015, but also to double our booth size. Time will only tell if we can “top the sandwich”… Hmm… do we taste a potential theme for next year?

For more information on how you can create your own knock-out trade show or event campaign promotion, reach out to your Gilson account rep or click here to send us a note. Don’t forget to check out our feature post “No, we don’t sell sandwiches. It’s a metaphor. Let me explain…”.


Variable Data: More than a Name

If there’s one thing Gilson’s marketing team knows, it’s the importance of using your data to your advantage. So when we set out to plan our pre-show campaign for GlobalShop, we carefully considered the use of variable data.

Approaching Variable Data

Traditional variable data might conjure up images of flashy postcards with glaringly obvious personalization (“Hey Jim! You’ve won!”). But we have a much more sophisticated approach that uses data to add value to the message for a specific audience. That means completely different messages for completely different industries—all printed at the same time from a single database.

Let’s take a look at the data we had at our disposal. We knew we needed to promote our upcoming presence at GlobalShop to a fairly specific audience. Because of the time and effort being invested in the development of that campaign, we asked ourselves: how can we expand this into the other industries we serve?

The answer was simple: variable data. One campaign, one timeline, one print-run—all for multiple audiences.

globalshop, kit, packaging, variable, sandwich, chips, chip box, large format, kit packing, campaign, pre-show, response, pURL, direct mail, envelope, variable data, J Press

Using the theme of a sandwich to describe Gilson’s multi-layer services, we designed a series of marketing materials to showcase our technological capabilities and introduce our brand story. Gilson’s business model can be described as having many “ingredients” which clients may choose in any combination to meet their particular business needs.

Changing Situations

But understanding that different industries use our services differently, we tailored each message to address customers’ unique challenges and worded the message in a language familiar to their particular industry. Retail prospects resonate with terms like “kit-packing,” “POP displays,” and “wayfinding signage.” Education prospects speak in terms of “admissions collateral” and “student retention.” For every core audience, Gilson communicated this key underlying message: “We get you.”

Odds are, your customers are the same. Whether you sell to the B2B marketplace or the non-profit sector, you have the ability to speak to each audience on a personal level. Thanks to advancements in digital inkjet technology, all this variable versioning can be done on the fly. And it should be. Why let the clock tick on stacks of collateral just waiting to go out of date? And don’t forget, variable data doesn’t apply only to personalization; it also allows you to try out different marketing messages on your audience, monitor your results, and make improvements to your campaign along the way.

To touch briefly on the guts of the campaign, we developed one central message and three simultaneous versions related to our targeted industries. Each piece was further customized with individual sales rep information, a personalized URL, and a unique reward code.

Every prospect was tracked through a communication channel with multiple touchpoints. If the individual did not respond to a piece within an allotted time, a second piece was sent, then a third until the prospect engaged with the campaign in some manner. The final stage of the campaign was the follow-up piece which was also fully variable—right down to the name on the box. Gilson’s sales reps were notified of their lead responses and engaged prospects with a follow-up call or emails to continue the dialog.

The Results

In all, 10.2% of the campaign recipients responded and received their marketing kit. (Response rates varied by industry, with the coldest leads—those Gilson had never before contacted—generating only a 1% to 1.6% response rate. The warmest leads came from those who we’d already been in contact with, resulting in a 10.8% to 12.7% response rate. Account executives reported an uptick in expanded business opportunities with clients who had previously done business with Gilson in one or two of our service areas.

At the end of the day, your marketing campaigns are only as effective as the data used to generate them. But one-to-one communication doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, increasing the size of your prospect pool can help drive down your overall per-piece cost, reaching a greater audience without sacrificing personalization.

Want to learn more about maximizing the power of your data? Get in touch with a Gilson account executive or fill out a request for more information.