Print service providers are always looking for ways to diversify their services and expand their customer base. For many, a great place to seek additional customers is as close as the nearest retail and commercial streets of their hometowns.
In today’s economy, it’s likely at least a few storefronts lining those streets will be vacant, and as such will offer a kind of street-level billboard space ideal for a window graphic. Other stores may be open, but hurting. The owners of those stores could be interested in window graphics that can turn heads and get patrons in through the doors.
It’s only been recently that window graphics have become a viable market for printers. But now that they are, they have begun to offer a great opportunity for boosting sales and profits.
Many companies specializing in window graphics have seen the nature of their work evolve considerably over the years. Such is the case with Inwindow Outdoor, a seven-year-old New York City-based business that started out hanging bus shelter posters inside the windows of vacant retailers in Manhattan, then expanded to other cities, says CEO Steve Birnhak. “We began just using part of the window, and then decided on using the entire window real estate,” he said. “We took this vinyl and filled an entire window, and from there we realized there were other parts of the building façade we could use. So we started creating basically billboards at ground level.”
Today, Inwindow Outdoor serves 17 markets across the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Houston, Chicago, and Miami. It has also branched out into digital campaigns that feature a cutout in the vinyl allowing large-scale images to be projected on the window glass from inside the retail space.
Inwindow Outdoor’s work appeals to customers for a number of reasons. First, the graphics are unexpected. Motorists and pedestrians are prepared to see a retail storefront, and instead view a large advertisement. Second, those advertisements are at ground level, making them more noticeable than a billboard. Third, they’re unique. By their nature, they conform to the buildings, and no two are alike, Birnhak said.
Inwindow Outdoor doesn’t design the graphics. Design teams and ad agencies handle the design work. Instead, Inwindow Outdoor works closely with its printers. “They’re pretty complicated to do, because if you’re off on just one area [of the building], you pretty much have to go back and do it all over,” Birnhak said.
The majority of business is conducted through media buyers working on their own or with agencies, who tout the advantages of using Inwindow Outdoor. “When we first started, people weren’t sure what this was,” Birnhak said. “And landlords weren’t sure this would be a profitable way to leverage their vacant real estate. But as we’ve become more established, this has turned out to be a win-win for real estate and advertising. And lastly, it’s also a win for the community, because it takes these vacant spaces that are depressing, and gives them some energy and vibrancy.”
For the most part, Inwindow Outdoor’s clients are very well known international companies. Recently, the company undertook a technology-heavy campaign for Intel, in which passersby were able to text in their thoughts about the future and have those observations instantly woven into ad messages on the building.
Another memorable project involved Pepsi’s rebranding campaign, whose large and colorful graphics “looked great on our storefronts,” Birnhak said.
Wrap It Up
Chesapeake, VA-based Action Graphics & Signs, Inc. is another company that transitioned into window graphics from a somewhat different type of business.
Owner John Hall bought the business from a member of his family, who had been marketing signs created from cut vinyl. Today, its AG Wraps division handles window graphics for clients’ storefronts, as well as wall murals and vehicle wraps.