Marketing the Wrap

With competition heating up, companies that specialize in vehicle, wall, and custom wraps find that marketing is an integral part of their shop’s overall success. It’s more than creating name recognition—it’s also about spotlighting expertise and professionalism, critical elements in this sector.

Sunrise Signs, just outside of Philadelphia in Gloucester City, NJ, specializes in vehicle wraps for contractor trades and service businesses. “For these types of professions, wraps are a great way to get brand recognition and brand awareness,” says Adam Sokoloff, owner.

The company handles projects from start to finish—providing design services, printing, and installation, and is sought out by franchises and other national companies, said Sokoloff, because “we can give them consistency in branding.”

One surefire marketing method is its own company vehicle, wrapped to advertise Sunrise Sign’s capabilities. “Wrapped vehicles stand out from a crowd, and we’ve definitely gotten business from it,” Sokoloff said.

Road Rage Designs in Spring Grove, IL, has a fleet of its own vehicles that help market the company’s services. “All our vehicles are wrapped, and we ask everyone who gives us a call whether or not they’ve seen them,” remarked Mike Grillo, co-owner.

Located in the Chain O’ Lakes area in Illinois, which boasts 10 lakes (three natural) and 488 miles of shoreline, Road Rage Designs also owns two boats that are fully wrapped and that traverse the waterways. In addition to custom work, Road Rage Designs manufactures premade boat graphics that are distributed nationally through its website.

In addition to traditional marketing methods of referrals and introductions from clients, networking through the Chamber of Commerce and other networking functions, wrap shops are also relying on the Internet.

Rather than relying on basic SEO strategies, Sokoloff pursues content creation and in-bound marketing to attract business. “As we are creating projects and implementing them, I am thinking about content for the website—case studies, blogs, educational blogs—whatever we can do to get the message out, to illustrate and demonstrate our expertise and trust and credibility with visitors,” he said. “It’s not a static website; it’s not the same 10 pages just sitting there. It is always changing, we are always adding fresh content, and we distribute the info via social media.”

Over the last four years the company has become quite adept at it, said Sokoloff, to the result that creating in-bound marketing programs for other sign and graphics companies is now an adjunct business opportunity. “We have a team for the marketing side, and other companies know we know the sign industry and how to attract people to their website. They find value in that,” said Sokoloff, adding that the company is still very much a full-service sign and graphics company.

“We still have our retail business for local, regional, and national companies,” Sokoloff explained. “We leverage our expertise to help other companies, and [we] go in whichever direction it takes us.”

Also located in southern New Jersey, just outside of Philadelphia, Designer Wraps specializes in wraps, graphics, car styling, color changes, and colored chrome wraps for racing, commercial fleet, and personal vehicles, as well as wall murals and wraps.

“Our website is ranked very well across all major search engines,” explained Sean Tomlin, business owner and certified graphics installer. “I have a SEO background, so the site is optimized pretty well. We receive a lot of traffic and leads from the site. Also, we are constantly posting images on Instagram, and post regularly on Facebook and Twitter as well. Along with the Internet and social media, word of mouth is always by far the best marketing tool we have.”

Color change wraps are definitely the hottest growing trend in the industry right now, according to Tomlin. “I believe they will continue to grow and perhaps surpass commercial wraps internationally,” he said.

The reason, he added, is the size of the auto restyling market, which is a mulit-billion-dollar market. “Vinyl manufacturers and distributors are pushing their films not only onto wrap shops and sign companies, but also onto tint shops and aftermarket customizing shops, so this will continue to spread the word about the color change industry and educate the consumer,” noted Tomlin.

Wall wraps and murals also continue to grow in popularity. “The sky is the limit when it comes to creativity and design, and there are many great materials that stick nicely to just about any wall surface,” he said.

Road Rage Designs also updates its website frequently. “We originally spent a lot of money to have our website optimized, and then Google changed its criteria, so it was a waste of money,” Grillo lamented. Instead of using an outside firm to optimize its website, Grillo has someone on staff responsible for the task of staying on top of Google’s ever- changing parameters, to ensure the company pops up during a potential customer’s search.

The company also uses Facebook, which Grillo finds works well to attract business. “We just increased our likes by 500 to 9,800, by merging another company’s ‘likes’ with ours. It’s easier to update Facebook than our website.”

Like Sunrise Signs, Grillo’s business is expanding in different directions, with new types of projects constantly unfolding, pulling the company into a second location in Wisconsin. “One day we are wrapping a trailer, the next, an ATM machine. We just go with the flow,” said Grillo.

In terms of attracting new business, there’s no one secret, no one trick, added Grillo. “There are a million different things you have to do,” he said.

Kenny Miller, owner of ThumbPrint in Simi, CA, takes a different tract to marketing his company, which produces vehicle, wall, and custom wraps for its mostly local clientele. While he relies on his website and social media—Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Blogspot— to help spread the word, the company takes a consultative approach to the sale process.

“We work with a lot of small businesses, and often what is missing is consistency in their graphics,” Miller said. “We spend a lot of time educating clients on the importance of branding; even though they may be small, they need to have consistency with their image. A lot of times they have different colors for their letterhead and their website, or their fonts are different, or they don’t have a logo at all. It definitely makes a difference in how you are perceived, in helping you look more professional.”

ThumbPrint’s outside sales rep has a background in marketing, and the sales call doesn’t start with the price of the wrap. “We go beyond that, to get to know our client, what their business is about, who their target audience is,” Miller explained. “We have this conversation upfront, before any prices are quoted. And often we get involved with helping to develop the full company brand, from logo design or redesign, to business cards, letterheads, and the website.”

Since most of its business comes from local, smaller sized companies, ThumbPrint also taps into local networking groups and the Chamber of Commerce for marketing programs. “But we are now a 3M certified company, and are getting ready to go national,” Miller said. “We can now offer materials that almost double the length of time a wrap will last, up to seven years. The bigger companies want these certifications; they want to make sure they aren’t dealing with rookies.”

To launch its national campaign, ThumbPrint will target advertising agencies and marketing brokers: companies that don’t have their own equipment but that do company branding for their clients.