Today (on ‘Ask Ackland’ Ep 9), we’re going to answer one question: “How can I sell 10x more digital printing through my everyday operations?”
Is it possible to increase print sales by THAT MUCH? Yes it’s possible. In the next 12 months? Absolutely. (We’ve seen it, and done it.) As signage professionals, printing is obviously one of our flagship products, so if the print business is up, everything else should be on the rise, as well. Remember – we’re MESSENGERS on a mission. We help people get more out of life through effective advertising. As you may know, expensive printers bring the cost per square foot of printing down nice and low, but if the total volume of print sales isn’t there, sign shop owners can still be left with a deficit, due to payroll costs, and print equipment lease payments.

1. Understand the Value of Media Frames (not just ours) and SELL THEM.

So what’s a ‘Media Frame’? Great question, so let’s put a definition to it for today’s discussion. Media frames are everywhere today, at:

Definition: A Media Frame is a Stationary Display Space with a Changeable Message Insert

(The picture Changes, but the Frame Remains the Same.)

Media Frames are DISPLAY SPACE, and display space is EVERYWHERE!!! Media Frames are strategically designated spaces for advertising messages. The key is to start enlightening all of your customers about the importance of having dynamic changeable message systems that get in front of potential customers.


When it comes time to change that message (in all those media frames) who are they going to come to? You, of course. Why not approach a local mall  or school, or medical center, and offer them a nice uniformed messaging plan, that will not only create a visually stimulating environment, but that can also help them develop a lucrative revenue stream. while helping their customers, students, or patients, get connected to valuable products or support services. Offering the display space to vendors or sponsors will do the trick.
We once helped a company put together a plan for a large local mall whereby the mall could develop (60) large display spaces ranging from some small 4′ x 4′ spaces all the way up to some large parking garage wallscapes. The average size display space was about 80 square feet. (8′ x 10′). Based on monthly ad rates for the (10) existing display spaces, the proposed revenue from the 60 NEW ad spaces was $1 Million, annually! Holy Billboards, Batman! The PRINT ORDER for reprints if they changed out only 2x per year would be somewhere around, well you do the math — 9600 sq ft, at whatever you can get for the printing! Plus service! Plus referrals. OH! — And don’t even get me started about what would happen if you implemented step # 2 into this equation! (I’ll tell you about that in a minute.)

I believe it was marketing guru Seth Godin who said “Don’t find customers for your products. Find products for your customers.” That is a powerful suggestion, but we can take it even a step further in that customers aren’t looking for PRODUCTS, they’re looking for solutions. It’s kind of like the concept that last year, a half million people went out and bought a 1/4″ drill, but NOBODY wanted a 1/4 inch drill. In reality, a half million people wanted a 1/4″ HOLE!  They want the solution. As much as I love our media frames, almost nobody outside the trade is out there looking for a “media frame”, because they simply aren’t aware that there is such a thing,. How many have walked into your business and asked for one? I’m guessing, with the possible exceptions of people who’ve already bought them, and a few savvy corporate buyers, very few.
But media frames do offer that dynamic solution that allows customers to be flexible and adaptable with their messages, and it allows YOU to build repeat transactions into every sale that you make. The products that sell the most are NOT always the best products. The products that sell the most are the products that are communicated most effectively. So that’s the first step. Communicate the benefits of the product to as many prospects and customers as you can. A little more up-front than a throw-away, one-time-use banner or coroplast print? Probably. A whole lot more efficient down the line, and a lot more valuable? Mos’ def’! The benefits are numerous: Better appearance – don’t blow around in the wind or become tattered or unsightly: Controlled sizes and placement, with the whole backdrop being planned and coordinated instead of just a piecework/patchwork approach. Easy to Change-Out, possibly even DIY; More “City-Friendly” (for reasons stated above). Can be painted to match the decor; Adaptable to fit the available spaces. Permanent, temporary or even portable.
It’s really that simple. When people come in or call, and ask for a banner or a yard sign or some common “one-off”, let them know the way the industry is going, and tell them why. Tell them that not only have you got a great bargain for them, but you’ve got a way for them to reach more people, and change their message quickly and affordably, whenever they want. When you Sell More Media Frames, you’ll increase print sales,  and again, I don’t just mean ours. I mean give customers different ways to hold signage that can be taken out, and put back in, and even re-used if it makes sense. Movie Theaters understand! Sports arenas are starting to get it! Catch this wave.
Media Frames are not just great sales opportunities because of the possible quantities/# of pieces. Quite frankly, media frame sales will increase print sales, every single time. They’re also phenomenal pursuits because of the sheer square footage that it takes to cover desirable advertising surfaces! In the last week, I’ve quoted the following jobs to individual customers (trade only):

  • (100) 2′ x 3′ Snap-Cap Frames for retail displays. 600 square feet. And remember, the whole reason they wanted this type of frame was because they WANT to change their messages regularly.
  • (As mentioned in the above video) (7) Box Trucks – 2800 sq feet, but only a 6-mo campaign, New graphics will be a must (but not new frames!)
  •  Qty: (8) 30 ft x 40 ft Wallscapes: 9600 sq feet of printing — EVERY TIME they change ’em!
  • Hospital Job: Wallscapes: 151′ x 7′, 12′ x 20′ , 47′ x 17, 30′ x 20′ – That’s 2690 square feet!
  •  12′ x 73′ – For a historic shipyard district’s vintage wallscape (see image below, courtesy of Chuck Heide@ VSP Graphics Group) 876 sq ft!


I hope you can see the possibilities. Step 1: Sell more Media Frames in order to sell 10x more digital printing!– Big Money,10X, easily.


This is a term I’ve never actually heard, but we’ve recently coined, and I think it fits perfectly. ADVERBRAND everything you do. It means don’t let one thing go out of your shop without your brand identification on it, to be easily read by any passerby, or any person who handles that product, after you’ve been there and gone. Make it EASY for people to find you, Don’t take it for granted that  they’ll know where to get to getmore of the same. Times change, personnel changes, people are flaky and distracted, and thousands of others are walking or driving by, who may just have a need for that SIGN PRODUCT. Sure, sometimes a client won’t allow your name to be printed on the product, but ASK,and be creative. Money talks, maybe they’ll do it for a 10% discount. If you can’t put your name and/or # on the front, put it on the side. If you can’t put it on the side, at least put it on the back! Someday, somehow, there’s a great chance someone will need to replace that product, or have it repaired or duplicated. DON’T MAKE THEM LOOK TO FIND YOU. Make it easy. (Imagine if you did this in the mall scenario above!)
I have some personal experience with this one. I owned a company called 1-800-GREAT AD for a period of time, and it was predicated on this concept. We manufactured inflatable advertising (giant balloons) as well as producing events for sales and grand openings involving banners, pennants, sign twirlers, mobile billboards, etc. We put the company name (an easy-to-remember phone #) on everything, and i really believe it’s a big part of the reason that our annual sales grew from $300K in our first year to over $4.5 Million just 5 years later! There were numerous stories about calls we received simply by people seeing work that was already in process. Almost ZERO additional cost. Free Advertising! You can print your brand, or imprint it, or label it, or paint it, or use a QR code, or a website, or whatever! Your products are being seen by vast numbers of people. Take advantage of that opportunity. Speak to that audience at every turn.

In business people say. “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.” But in the signage business, It’s NOT who you know. It’s Who Knows YOU!

We’re regularly spotlighting customers, and showcasing their work. Please email us and let us know if you implement these steps, and how they are affecting your sales in the coming year. Send images, as well. That will automatically get you a discount on your next Ackland order, and it will make you eligible to be featured as our “Sign Company of the Month“.  10x the print sales. Get after it!