Commercial Printing: How a Manufacturer Makes the Most of Marketing

For manufacturers big and small, print marketing is essential to meeting sales goals and creating brand awareness. With custom catalogs, direct mail marketing, wall art, training collateral and more, the team at Walker Manufacturing Company finds print to be a strategic seed that just keeps growing. 

“Digital delivery is a great way to get information to customers quickly, but print is still an essential part of the customer experience,” said Tim Cromley, marketing manager for Walker Manufacturing. “The tactile and visual results of a strong printed piece still have a viable place in today’s buying habits.”

We spoke with Cromley, along with Jessica Barnes, Walker Manufacturing’s primary graphic designer, to find out how they use trade and commercial printing to weed out the competition.

Two hands holding open a product catalog for Walker Mowers.

Tell us a little bit about the Walker brand.

Cromley: “Walker Manufacturing designs and manufactures the Walker Mower, a high-end, primarily commercial lawn mower. Our company sells our product to distributors, who then work with dealers to sell the product to end customers worldwide. The marketing department’s primary goal is to increase brand awareness and provide various assets for our distributors and dealers to use.”

How has print proven to be integral to your business? 

Cromley: “Our product is best sold using a demonstration (test drive), so a print item helps potential customers walk away from a demonstration with something in their hands that can remind them of their experience on the Walker Mower. [After] the customer purchases the mower, the ongoing reminder that they made the right decision is reinforced by print items [in] the owner’s packet and re-marketing in the future.” 

What advice do you have for manufacturing and trade companies when building a print marketing strategy? 

Cromley: “We try to look at an overall global strategy of offering diverse ways to learn about our product. If your company is manufacturing a high-quality product, you will certainly know that it takes more than just one media to reach your customers. A relationship with a versatile company can help you confidently deliver premium printed content as part of your well-rounded marketing strategy.”

What impresses you most about the final products and working with our online division, Smartpress? 

Cromley: “We look at the overall final product as a finished piece in our hands [and] the journey it took for that item to get into our hands. The process is as important as the result. What we like about Smartpress is the ability for us to cast a vision, decide on details, submit our work and have a smooth process. Ease of use, professionalism and the ability to approach something a little bit differently while putting out a great product is a rewarding way to do business, and we get that with Smartpress.”

What was your purpose for creating the 2020 Advantage Saddle Stitch Booklet?

Barnes: “[Our] purpose was to have a physical piece representing our Walker Advantage campaign, [which] outlines the various advantages of our product. Prior to this booklet, the information was online. The book [can] be stocked in dealer showrooms, handed out at trade shows, mailed to customers and given to attendees at our annual Sales Training event at the Walker factory.”

You often print custom Letters and Envelopes with additional kitting and Direct Mail services. What’s your experience been like using these online printing services?

Barnes: “[They’re] used in our Product Catalog Mailing Kit Program, [which lets] our dealers simply place an order [for our catalog], provide their mailing list, and we design their letter, have it printed, kitted and mailed through Smartpress. The variable data was an additional nice touch. Having Smartpress do the kitting and mailing services has been invaluable, as our marketing team would never have had the labor availability to do this ourselves.”

Why did you choose Collated Printing for your Walker Words Cards? How have the cards helped drive business goals?

Barnes: “The cards are used as a tool at our annual Sales Training event at the Walker factory, a multi-day outdoor classroom setting where sales reps from our dealerships learn first-hand what makes our product different. 

“The cards contain product information in a flashcard format. Collated printing has been an excellent solution, as we had been printing each card individually and then having our team hand-collate them. [It] saved us time [and] was less expensive than having each card printed individually. One of the cool things is when we see them on dealer counters or desks being used as refreshers for their sales techniques.”

With your Walker Ware Greeting Cards, you printed cards with 12 different designs. What was your experience like online printing with our Versions feature?

Barnes: “Walker Ware is a business we own that sells clothing and accessories, [and] recently they began offering greeting cards. We wanted 12 cards per set, featuring six different designs, and a display card showing all six designs as part of the packaging. Rather than place separate orders for each of these designs, Versions allowed us to print the six designs twice for each of the sets. A Custom Quote allowed us to also include the display card for each set.”

We love that your How to Mow Postcard includes a QR code linking to a video. Who do you send this to and why did you want to incorporate print with a digital strategy?

Barnes: “The postcard is included in every owner’s kit, provided when a customer buys a Walker. The video provides guidelines and instructions for using our product. In years past, we would include a DVD but have recently switched to the online video so it’s easier to view and update. We felt it was important to still have a physical piece in the kit, instructing customers to view the video. The unique size, thickness and feel of the card make it hard to miss.”

Where do you display your SEG Wall Graphics?

Barnes: “They’re used to adorn the walls of our office. The colorful, clean displays brighten our common areas and personal offices. They typically feature a photograph displaying the quality result of our product by actual customers and encourage a sense of pride in the work we do. We are also looking forward to being able to switch out the fabrics with new images in the future.”

How do you use the Walker Mower Add-ons and Product Lineup Small Posters?

Barnes: “The posters are designed to be used in dealer showrooms. They’re displayed next to Walker products to help inform customers of the various models and add-ons available. The posters allow up-to-date information in a clean, easy-to-use format that doesn’t take up space [and] are also used at trade shows and our Sales Training event.”

Why was it beneficial to print custom Pocket Folders for your Distributor Meeting?

Barnes: “[We] gather with our distributors around the country and the world to discuss plans for the coming year, [and] custom Pocket Folders were part of the overall branding for our meeting. The colorful and crisp presentation of these folders was professional and inviting. We also ordered cards for this event. The die-cut option and variable data allowed us to [create] custom lanyard name badges for our guests.”

How has your Quick Reference Guide Brochure proven to be useful? 

Barnes: “These guides are designed to be used by our dealers in their showrooms and at trade shows. [They] are updated annually [to] help customers better understand our product [and] are intended to be a more simplified piece that customers can take home.”

Why did you choose to use a Perfect Bound Booklet for your 2021 catalog?

Barnes: “[It was] due to the page count and page stock of our catalog. At that size and thickness, saddle stitch was no longer a viable or clean option. The perfect bound format allows the catalog to close cleanly and overall have a more professional final appearance. It’s important to us that the quality and stock be reflective of the high quality of our product. We also really liked the spine – its thickness and sturdy feel helps customers feel they have a high-quality product in their hands.”

A pile of Walker Mower product catalogs laying open with saddle stitch bindings.

How have these print initiatives helped you achieve Walker Manufacturing’s strategic goals? 

Cromley: “Because the Walker Mower is a serviceable good, we have to help customers develop a relationship with their local dealer to get the best available value from their purchase. (Imagine having a really nice European sports car but nowhere to get it serviced or fixed.) Our marketing strategy is primarily built around initiating and nurturing this local relationship. We certainly love to know and interact with our customers, but the development of their local relationships is paramount.”

What feedback have you received from your clients? 

Cromley: “Our product is known in the industry for its productivity, high quality, unique design and longevity. In the same way, our marketing material needs to reflect the products we are asking customers to get to know, accept and be a fan of. Our sales channel and customers remark that our marketing material reflects high quality, like our product does.”

A collection of Walker Mower print marketing pieces, including business cards, posters, catalogs and pocket folders.

Other Successful Ideas

  • Think beyond marketing staples and get creative with your design and delivery. Walker Manufacturing uses everything from Canvas Prints for decor to Folded Self-Mailers for newsletters (and so much more).
  • Be seen in multiple areas. Coordinate direct mail and packaging with manuals, stationery, promo items and event collateral.
  • Use our Custom Quote feature to print custom marketing that suits your business.

Hint: See how other industries make print a priority.

Manufacture Your Marketing Strategy with Print