from tickets and napkins to labels and wristbands, printed products within the entertainment events and supplies industry are clearly abundant. Yet, they are products people easily take for granted. Even distributors in the print industry may overlook their obvious need. But, a few manufacturers of such items are urging distributors to open their eyes. The potential for prosperous sales exists at the party, so why not join in? Here, the following manufacturers discuss the entertainment events and supplies industry:
• Erik Covitz, president, Worldwide Ticket/Ticket Craft, Deerfield Beach, Fla.
• John Shanley, president, Labels West, Woodinville, Wash.
• Beth Fleming, marketing manager, Carlson Craft, Mankato, Minn.
BFL&S: Tell us a little bit about your company and the products you provide for the entertainment events industry.
Covitz: Worldwide Ticket/Ticket Craft has a production plant in Florida and another in New York. We primarily manufacture tickets and wristbands for the entertainment events industry.
Shanley: Labels West is located near Seattle and we’ve been in business since 1978. Basically, we produce a wide variety of printed products, with labels being our specialty. We also provide variable imaging tickets, tags, plastic products, digital on-demand printing and one-to-one marketing services, which are used often for event products.
Fleming: Carlson Craft is a wholesale printing company that’s been around since 1948. We do everything from wedding invitations and birth announcements to holiday and greeting cards. We have a network of distributors who sell to the end-consumer.
BFL&S: Just for distributors’ knowledge, what types of form products exist in the entertainment events and suppliers industry?
Covitz: At Worldwide Ticket/Ticket Craft we produce season ticket booklets, coupon books for discounted admission or concessions and pin-feed forms for season sheets used within the theatre, at NASCAR and at college football events.
Shanley: There are a couple different marketing angles to consider when talking about products for this niche, since opportunities exist before, during and after entertainment events. For starters, there are products—or teasers—used to excite people about events and generate traffic ahead of time. They could include labels stuck to an invoice or statement sent prior to a Trademart event or seminar.
There are also products, such as postcards, with information on events. Postcards might include peel-off labels to be put on a calendar to remind recipients of an event. In fact, we are doing some personalized types of communication designed to be inserted into envelopes that might say, “Mr. Smith, we know it is 300 miles from Poughkeepsie and Sagenaw but we think it’s worth your time to drive to this event.”
We also provide event invitations and raffle tickets requesting recipients to bring the ticket with ID number to see what prize they’ve won.
Fleming: Distributors and their clients can get creative and request custom-designed napkins for parties, weddings and grand openings. We get that a lot.
BFL&S: Do you find that distributors tend to overlook these products and if so, why? Or, do you find this is a popular product niche for distributors?
Covitz: We find that many distributors tend to avoid this market because of the detail in seating charts, bar codes, direct thermal paper and ink compatibility and special packaging requirements.
Fleming: We do have a lot of distributors that work with our company who don’t necessarily overlook these products, but they have such a wide variety of products to offer that event items are accidentally overlooked. In the past year, if distributors attended a wedding or holiday party for a company, they may recall printed napkins being distributed. And, if they visit the grocery store and see someone handing out a new product along with a printed napkin, they will realize how much potential event products can have. Opportunity is constantly there.
BFL&S: What benefits do distributors experience by selling into the events industry?
Covitz: This is a niche market, so margins tend to be higher because there is more hand-holding involved. Second, several of these clients need many peripheral products, such as envelopes, brochures, magazines, posters and promotional products.
Shanley: I agree. I believe it also comes down to the fact that distributors would be selling a whole package of things. In a way, they have the advantage of being a single source that clients can rely on to provide products when promoting events and following them up. Distributors can go to clients and help them coordinate all the printing while making sure they are on time and correct. Event planners are busy. The last thing they want to think about are printed products [which creates a vacuum for the distributor].
Fleming: Probably the potential for profit is one of the primary benefits. Typically, whenever a business is ordering napkins or coasters for an event, they are not ordering a quantity of just 50. They will order larger quantities, so the potential for profitability is very good.
BFL&S: What types of companies invest in entertainment event products and why?
Covitz: I think most businesses fall into this market because they work in trade with local sports teams, theatres, symphonies, museums and the like. It promotes good will and generates more of their core business products.
Shanley: Absolutely. Companies that do tradeshows whose preferred method of selling is through exhibits and companies that have new locations and want to promote through an open house are companies distributors want to target. Also, companies that put on events and whose job it is to coordinate everything from food to seating and entertainment are other prospects. Just look at our industry, for example. Labels West will do 25 trade shows this year, which means whatever printed products we use at the shows will repeat 25 times.
Fleming: It’s true. There are a wide variety of potential clients. Recently, we’ve done napkins for soft drink companies and professional sporting teams. Really, any company having events for which they want brand recognition.
BFL&S: Are there any trends or changes occurring within the entertainment events and supplier niche?
Covitz: Definitely. I see more items going short-run digital and more emphasis being placed on security and counterfeit features.
Fleming: We used to sell so many white napkins, which was the standard not too long ago, despite all the colors we offered. But now, we see customers choosing colors that complement their brands, logos, themes or events. As a result, the amount of colors currently available is greater than ever.
Shanley: I see a lot more personalized materials. Instead of an invitation saying, “Please come to our event,” the message is much more targeted now due to the newer technology. Personalization is available at low costs these days.
BFL&S: What types of ideas should distributors suggest to clients when educating them about entertainment event products?
Covitz: Don’t wait until the last minute to choose a vendor. Design for specialty items takes time and many large events are done by committee. Promoter, venue, corporate sponsor, etc.—each has its own graphics department or company so distributors may receive artwork from numerous sources to prepare one product.
Shanley: Distributors should sell the fact that they are taking pressure off of their clients. Find chaos and go to end-users and figure out what is causing problems and then, tell them how to make their lives easier and how they can save money. Saving time is the biggest thing distributors have to offer.
Fleming: When selling to end-users, distributors should remind them not to look at the event in the moment, but to plan for the future. Ask them what gatherings they will have where napkins are needed. Emphasize that the cost-per-thousand goes down.
BFL&S: What advice do you have for distributors looking to sell into this industry?
Covitz: When it comes to the types of products we offer, understand this is a niche market with lots of pitfalls. Start with one small order and learn about the product by answering the questions the vendor will ask. Many tickets are printed from various ticket machines. If distributors do not ask the right questions, they will not work, and they will be stuck in the middle.
Shanley: Go in armed with the right knowledge. The best way to get educated is to talk to manufacturers. Ask them, “What do you offer that fits that niche?” If distributors do this with seven suppliers, they would have enough knowledge to prosper from this type of work.
Fleming: Be very open to any request no matter how unusual. Even though distributors may not know for sure if all requests can be printed, they can simply call us and we can let them know if we have the capability to do any job.
'This is a niche market, so margins tend to be higher
because there is more hand-holding involved.'
– ERIK COVITZ, WORLDWIDE TICKET/TICKET CRAFT