When Mele Printing, a New Orleans-based commercial printer and Kodak customer, set its sights on generating new business growth, the company decided to develop a customer open house that was unlike any other. “Mele Printing’s Krewe of Kookies and Kakes” is an annual event that utilizes the company’s unique on-site bakery and features both a baking class and a complete print shop tour. Mele Printing cleverly showcases its extensive printing capabilities as delicious Louisiana-style king cakes bake in the oven. The combination of both local traditions and live printing demos has helped Mele Printing reach new markets and stand out among its competition.
“We’re in the people business. We want to let people know who we are, how we work and what we can really do for their business through our printing services,” said Mallery Mele, President and Owner of Mele Printing. “This is a fun event that helps increase the likelihood of them coming to us for their print needs. At the end of the day, they leave with a freshly-baked king cake and a number of high-quality collateral materials they saw printed right in front of them. It’s an experience that carries on. They eat the cake at home and hang the posters at work; Mele Printing always stays on their mind.”
This past January marked the tenth year for the popular event. Inspired by his brother-in-law, a local professional baker, Mallery Mele came up with the event to bring in potential customers. This year, the classes included over 150 people from 40 different corporations. More than 80 percent of those attendees were visiting Mele Printing for the first time.
“The first year we held the event we started out with just one baking class and shop tour, inviting a small group of potential customers. Once we did one class though, we realized we just had to let everyone do it because it’s so much fun,” said Mele. “The next year we expanded to three classes, then five classes, and one year we even held 10 classes. For 2013, we decided to do seven classes on seven consecutive days leading up to Mardi Gras. It’s evolved into a combination of both our current customers and new business contacts.”
Mele notes that the company invites anyone who may be thinking about doing business with them, and that the class reservations fill up well in advance. The guest list includes marketing professionals, CEOs, insurance companies, manufacturers, municipalities, and even print groups.
According to Mele, it’s not your typical baking class. Every step is timed out perfectly to ensure that both the cakes and print jobs are completed between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Attendees start by posing for a group photo that is later used in the product demos. Then they proceed to the bakery to create their dough from scratch, even following through with the Mardi Gras’ tradition of including a plastic baby inside the cake. While the dough bakes, attendees head off to the print shop where they witness firsthand how Mele Printing produces a number of print applications utilizing their entire equipment portfolio. After lunch, attendees return to the bakery to finish decorating their king cakes with glazed topping and colored sugar. Mele completes the day with a demonstration of the KODAK INSITE Prepress Portal System in the bakery, showing how easily his clients can access and manage prepress workflow anytime and anywhere via the web.