by Dianna Brodine, The Binding Edge
It’s the greatest maxim of marketing: don’t tell the customers what you can do… show them what you can do. Pacific Bindery Services, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, took the old saying to heart and created an award-winning piece that has impressed not only its peers, but also the companys customers.
Pacific Bindery is a finishing and bindery services company that has built a strong reputation as a postpress services organization known for excellent quality, efficient services and quick delivery. Now one of the largest binderies in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Bindery employs 50 staff members, many of whom are long-term employees and all of whom are well-trained and experienced in the bindery trade. Pacific Bindery’s vision has been clearly focused on providing customers with excellent products, technology and services.
With a full range of bindery and finishing services, including perfect binding, lay-flat binding, mechanical binding, stitching, collating, folding, gluing, diemaking, diecutting, embossing and foil stamping, the bindery wanted to find an effective way to communicate those capabilities to its customers and prospects. “The Big Book,” as it is known internally, was the answer. Formally labeled as “Finishing & Binding Guide: a Diverse Range of Services for Exceptional Results,” the book provides a detailed look at the specialty finishing options provided by Pacific Bindery Services.
Self-promotion at its finest
Pacific Bindery had previously produced a number of self-promotion pieces, according to General Manager Kris Bovay. “What was different about this one,” she explained, “was that, with the acquisition of a specialty finishing company in April 2012, we added some new services. This piece was developed and designed to highlight the integration of those services into our overall services list and to demonstrate that integration in a very visual way.”
The concept originated with Bovay, but it was all hands on deck to develop the full promotional piece. Bovay involved employees who directly produced the services highlighted on each page, including the laser cutting operator, diecutting operator, foil stamping and embossing operator and the operators from all other departments. “Their input was really the foundation of the production tips found throughout the book,” said Bovay. “We all wanted to inform clients of the best uses, design parameters and constraints for each specialty technique.”
In addition to the operators, key input was obtained from the Pacific Bindery Services production coordinators. “Their experience with projects and clients was integral in the development of this piece,” Bovay explained.
Constructing the capabilities piece
Each two-page spread features a description and illustration of a finishing process, along with production and design tips. Processes include laser cutting, laser etching and rasterizing, diemaking and diecutting, foil stamping and embossing, embossing and debossing, perfect binding, stitching, mechanical binding and folding/gluing. Also discussed are laminating, d-taping, cutting and value-added products such as easels and business card boxes.
Services that were not well understood or known – such as the intricate detail provided by laser cutting (including etching and rasterizing) – were highlighted. Many of the pages included a fold out so the technique could be fully appreciated, and a one-word description drove home the marketing advantage. For instance, the laser cutting page folds out to reveal the word “precision”, while the foil stamping and embossing page proclaims “depth”.
“Pacific Bindery’s services are well-known in our markets,” Bovay said, “so the focus of this piece was to highlight the integration of the new finishing services with the existing services. The front of the book is “heavy” with these new services, while the back of the book features our well-known binding capabilities.”
The Big Book’s text was written by Bovay after she developed questions and circulated them for input from key staff. Final content was circulated amongst a core group of eight for edits and feedback. Once ready for design, Bovay contacted Mia Lupton of Millennia Graphics. Lupton has been the graphic designer for Pacific Bindery on a number of projects.
The production notes in the back of the book provided information to customers and prospects wishing to recreate a specific look. The project utilized 130lb and 100lb Cougar Opaque Cover throughout, which contains 10-percent post-consumer waste and is FSC® certified. Other production details include ink colors and foil colors used. All varnishes and inks were wax-free, and soft touch laminating was provided by R & M Trade Laminating Ltd. The book was Wire-O bound in gloss black. Diecutting, embossing, debossing and foil stamping were used on pages throughout the book, as was laser cutting and fold outs.
Pacific Bindery Services took the opportunity to offer design advice as well. For example, in the embossing and debossing pages of the book, information is provided on minimum paper thickness, substrate type and embossing depth. To provide additional information, separate booklets on the Pacific Bindery Die Shop and a Designers’ Guide can be pulled from diecut sleeves. The Designers’ Guide provides general binding and finishing guidelines and a frequently asked questions section.
Targeting the audience
The primary audience for the promotional piece was the print community in British Columbia and Alberta. Distribution was accomplished through face-to-face presentations, allowing Bovay to present the features and benefits of each service in person to client groups. The secondary target audience is graphic designers, according to Bovay. “Many of these designers have limited awareness of specialty services,” she said. “Pacific Bindery is focused on raising awareness and understanding of the importance of finishing services to the overall success of clients’ projects.”
With 5,000 books printed, response has been phenomenal, both from prospective customers and from the finishing industry. “Pacific Bindery certainly has seen an increase in requests for laser cutting, which – prior to The Big Book – had a very low profile with corresponding low sales,” Bovay explained. “We’re also focusing on increasing sales in diecutting, foiling and embossing/debossing.” These are services that integrate well with the binding departments at Pacific Bindery, since a client’s project may have a cover that is foil stamped, embossed and diecut before moving on to the perfect binder to be bound with the text pages. “Brand recognition and awareness of the services we offer have increased significantly since the book was produced and distributed,” she said.
In addition to customer accolades and a bump to the bottom line, Pacific Bindery Services was recognized by its peers. The book received a Product of Excellence Award from the Binding Industries Association (BIA) in the self-promotion category, and the bindery was declared BIA’s Graphic Finisher of the Year. The recognition is simply one more thing for Pacific Bindery Services to show its customers as an illustration of its exceptional work.