For Michael Tilley and his team at Minuteman Press in Bellingham, the COVID-19 pandemic brought forth unprecedented challenges but also new opportunities for growth as an essential printing business. Michael says, “Early on, a lot of our clients asked us if we were open. They were happy to know we were still operating and able to help them communicate to their customers that they were open as well. We put renewed emphasis on fast turnaround and timely delivery, which really set us apart since they knew they could rely on us.”
By remaining open and operating, Minuteman Press in Bellingham supported a wide range of businesses and groups that relied on print and marketing to keep the community informed. Michael says, “The way we kept growing during the pandemic was that we offered products and services for other essential businesses. We worked with local restaurants, fire departments, police departments, hospitals, schools, and other vital organizations. They all needed signage and direct mail campaigns to promote updated guidelines for employees, customers, patients, and students. We were glad to be able to help spread the word.”
Today, as more businesses reopen, Minuteman Press is ready to help them ramp up their advertising and marketing efforts. Michael explains, “As businesses come back, we are helping them by providing fresh banners, window graphics, flags, and full-color photos on windows. We’ve also been printing packaging materials such as labels, tags, boxes, and information sheets. Another popular service we provide is dye sublimation, which enables us to produce custom mugs and branded apparel.”
Another way that local businesses can engage and connect with customers right now is by utilizing direct mail campaigns. Michael says, “Direct mail was and is getting more popular because it allows businesses and groups to reach out to their target audiences and reinforce operational updates. We’ve produced a combination of newsletters, postcards, and letters for local governments, local tribes, non-profit groups, and for-profit businesses.”
“It’s been really great to see more businesses reopen and recover, especially those that were impacted. The local economy is buzzing again and we are getting even busier.” -Michael Tilley, owner, Minuteman Press franchise, Bellingham, Washington
As a local small business owner himself, Michael can empathize with his clients and share his own insights from the past year. He says, “The most important thing to do is reach out to your current and former customers. Let them know you are there and engage with them. We have developed a multi-faceted marketing plan that includes phone calls, emails, direct mail, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Because we’ve done it ourselves and have found success, we know it can work for our clients and other local businesses.”
Print is a vital marketing channel that can be used in conjunction with digital to deliver tangible results. Michael explains, “I think one aspect of this is that the pandemic jogged us back into a physical reality. We are physical beings and we are not cyber creatures. It made people pay more attention to print and how it’s all around us. Our ability to produce tangible printed items that people can see, feel, and connect with is a real benefit to my business. The printing industry in general makes sure business customers get what they need. It’s great to be able to rely on something when the world’s a little bit sideways.”
Michael has owned Minuteman Press in Bellingham since September 2014. He shares, “Previously, I was a biology professor and I have a PhD in molecular genetics. I lived in Missouri and I moved to Bellingham to be closer to my children, which was the driving force behind switching careers. I was new to owning a business so I wanted to go into something with a framework in place. I bought an established Minuteman Press franchise and liked the potential to build on the existing customer base.”
By providing ongoing local support, Minuteman Press International helped Michael transition from his prior career to becoming a business owner in a totally new industry. He says, “The support has been really solid all the way around. My Regional Vice President Chris Jutt and Area Manager Jayson Kraus have been great. I can call them anytime and they have been a great resource. I also enjoy the fact that we are provided with marketing strategies, content, and product ideas that we are free to use but that we also have enough freedom to run our franchise the way we see fit. Minuteman Press offers a solid system with a lot of knowledge behind it.”
Michael reflects on his time as a business owner, saying, “I enjoy the fact that the work I do has a direct impact on how the company performs. I feel it’s important to have the right staff in place and to also manage the team properly. I have a staff of seven and I know that happy employees do a great job. The satisfaction I get from running my business the right way and growing a successful company is the ultimate reward.”
As for what advice he would give to other local business right now, Michael shares, “Things are opening up, and business is going to start getting much busier for everyone. Act now so you don’t fall behind the curve. Have you worked out what your marketing plan is going to be when things do ramp up? Be prepared organizationally and develop a coherent marketing strategy across all different touchpoints. From web to print, be consistent with your branding and your messaging.”
Minuteman Press in Bellingham is located at 4025 Iron Gate Rd., Bellingham, WA 98226. For more information, call 360-738-3539 or visit https://www.bellingham.minutemanpress.com.
Learn more about #1 rated Minuteman Press franchise opportunities at https://minutemanpressfranchise.com.
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