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A Mission in Motion

By M. Diane McCormick

May 17, 2024

Two AICC members highlight the value of telling their stories through video

In a world where packaging is the consumer’s first see but, often, the brand owner’s last spend, boxmakers are stepping up their marketing games, using the power of digital communication strategies to promote the power of corrugated.

Consider the example of the “Thanks, Domino” videos from Domino, which harness diverse and unique industry voices. Any respectable video can help recharge branding and engagement, but a video made with high production values and industry players up and down the supply chain touches the hearts and minds of viewers.

Independent II was Domino’s first corrugated digital printing press client in North America and is now a partner in the familiar “Thanks, Domino” series. “It’s a little bit of a lightning bolt, and a greeting,” says Finn MacDonald, president of Independent II. “It’s a visual invitation to excite the viewer about who we are.”

Origins

In 2012, Bill Myers joined Domino, based in Gurnee, Illinois, as marketing manager for digital printing solutions. He was charged with raising the visibility of Domino’s brand. Label converters were his target audience then. As he got to know them, he noticed their willingness to share information among themselves, “even when they competed against each other.”

That led to Myers’ “lightbulb moment,” when he realized that raising awareness of Domino didn’t mean talking up its machine specs but capturing the voices of customers addressing the advantages gained through Domino’s solutions. “If these individuals know each other, trust each other, and have credibility with each other, why not have them tell their story?” he says. “Let’s give them the spotlight and let them tell their story, and as a byproduct, they’re helping tell the Domino story.”

That was the beginning of the “Thanks, Domino” videos. Small and medium customers lacking in-house marketing were especially receptive. Myers offered to be “an extension of their company,” heightening their visibility through news releases, public relations, case studies, and professionally produced videos. It would all be financed through Domino’s marketing budget.

The customers involved tell him they expected the highly professional aspect of the experience but were surprised by the fun they had. “We view our customers as our business partners,” says Myers. “And we enjoy providing this value-added marketing for them. These videos are not something they soon forget.”

When Domino entered the corrugated arena, the same approach still made sense. The videos help position Domino digital printing as an industry thought leader while they also build trust.

When Independent II installed the Domino X630i digital aqueous inkjet corrugated press, MacDonald immediately grasped the significance of the videos. The meticulous process of filming, writing, and producing forces a deep dive into the key questions justifying any company’s existence, he says. Who are you? What do you do? Why do you love what you do? What makes you stand out?

“The videos really force you to answer those questions quickly, with some enthusiasm,” he says. “The whole goal is engagement, even among your own people, in the way that you see yourself and want to be seen.”

Choir of Voices

With Domino’s experience in making voice of the customer videos, asking Independent II for a testimonial was self-evident. MacDonald had been a Domino advocate, and he was—and is—open to letting any converter see the press at work.

As they were shooting video, MacDonald wondered if some of his own customers could be featured. That idea brought “the voice of the customer’s customer” into play. From the Independent II perspective, the videos tell stories of productivity, efficiency, and speed in manufacturing, made possible by the Domino press.

Then comes another layer. Brand owners share how digital printing transformed the plain corrugated of the past into a package projecting stories of recycling, company history, and customer interactions.

MacDonald remembers when he was assigned to rebranding Independent II without touching the third rails of highlighting customers, showing finished products or the plant floor, or divulging any corporate secrets. But as he puts it, companies worried that a video would empower competitors to pilfer their customers that “have more problems than just marketing.”

“I was pretty comfortable early on saying that if we have great relationships and we are doing a good job and our customers will speak to this, then why don’t we post it?” he says. “Why don’t we make use of what’s good and let others see that?”

As new technologies such as digital printing revolutionize the boxmaking industry, parallel innovations in communications are vital to spreading the word up and down the supply chain, MacDonald says. “If you go to a customer and ask them to block out a day to discuss what they’ve experienced through our solutions, they’re enthusiastic about it. They’re kind of shareholders in the digital printing technology. It’s helped them get further faster than they thought they would. I think they really feel like if it helps us, it helps them,” he says.

Some businesses, understandably, remain reluctant to reveal their secrets, says Myers. Those who agree to the videos have been impressed with the professionalism of the process and in the results. “The ones that say yes seem to be the ones that want to take their companies to the next level,” he says.

Myers preps the video participants on what to expect from a full day of shooting video, including stand-up interviews and b-roll background shots of the facility and machinery in action. The company chooses the interviewees. Myers likes a versatile selection of spokespeople from the C-suite, sales, operations, and production, giving every viewer someone to relate to.

The Domino videos even have a tagline so recognizable that people sometimes approach Myers at industry events and say, “Thanks, Domino.” The line originated with a customer who said it during filming, and Myers realized he had a hook for future videos.

Making a Good Video

The latest Domino-Independent II collaboration, released early this spring, demonstrates the following principles the partners deploy for effective videos:

  • Voice of the customer: As MacDonald talks about Independent II’s “incredible changes,” they are made visual. Exterior drone shots show the 340,000-square-foot facility. Interior drone shots—yes, interior—illustrate MacDonald’s news that productivity has skyrocketed since construction of the state-of-the-art facility and installation of the Domino press.
  • Voice of the customer’s customer: Officials from three highly reputable but contrasting businesses address the difference that digital printing has made. Rev-A-Shelf found that digital printing changed the way it does business and services customers. Rabbit Hole Distillery can efficiently modify its ship cases in real time. Small Pet Select can make changes on the fly. “It has really elevated our business to the next level,” says Small Pet Select Product Buyer Josh Price.
  • Varied voices: Independent II team members deliver the message from their perspectives. The digital manager hails the instant gratification of digital printing and calls the demo process “easy peasy.” The senior sales partner addresses speed to market, and the director of business process notes the simplicity of processing customer orders. A digital operator lauds the high-definition printing and easy-control colors. All are smiling, spontaneous, and comfortable in front of the lens.
  • Animation: It’s a whole new ballgame in visualizing the power of digital printing. There’s a voiceover of Small Pet Select’s Price, discussing the power to seamlessly enhance packaging with colors, stories, and breaking news. At the same time, viewers watch the transformation of a Small Pet Select box. It starts as its old tricolor before flipping to a multicolor box, still printed in Small Pet Select’s signature green but deftly touched with blue, black, and gold. The box continues flipping to show the company’s story of family ownership on one panel and a Newsweek “America’s Best Petcare Brands” badge zooming in on another.
  • A consistent message: The video ends with all five Independent II interviewees saying, “Thanks, Domino.”

Strategic Rollout

Slick videos and podcasts can make a splash when unveiled at conferences, but the return on investment demands strategies to attract viewers and compel them to action. Myers posts the videos on YouTube, and he drives audiences there with news releases and ad placements in industry media, LinkedIn posts, showings at events and in the Domino trade show booth, and industry e-newsletters. They are easy to find on Domino Digital Printing North America’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/DominoDigitalPrint, and website, dominodigitalprinting.com.

He also prepares a version for the featured customers, capped with their contact info, including logo, web address, and phone number. In turn, they apply their own distribution strategies, sharing the videos through websites, distribution channels, and industry events. Posting on company websites creates a succinct, visual tool for sales teams to use.

“It’s almost like we’re providing this window for other companies to see into their company,” Myers says. “It’s taking what we love as humans, which is very visual, and bringing it to life. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I feel like a video is worth a million. It really takes it to the next level.”

The videos are in-house morale boosters, adds MacDonald. Team members accustomed to watching YouTube videos see their work and their colleagues featured there, and they are “proud to see a product like this in a platform they watch all the time.”

In a high-tech age, production quality matters. Morning Time Productions has collaborated with Domino since the dawn of the videos, operating as “truly a business partner,” says Myers. The process is hands-on, with multiple revisions until the message and look are honed for impact and promise lasting relevance.

Morning Time’s knowledge of the industry provides context for the videos, allowing the subjects interviewed “to feel comfortable and expand on what they want to say,” says MacDonald. A dynamic conversation helps them “get to the point faster,” and a filming process that the customer might have dreaded as tedious becomes fun and productive.

“I can’t tell you how natural it’s been,” MacDonald says.

A Compelling Future

Seizing the power of digital communications reminds Myers of a favorite quote. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” said the great poet Maya Angelou. Connecting with people in a way that touches the heart, beyond demonstrating what a press can do, is “the most powerful form of marketing.”

“That’s why I love utilizing voice of the customer,” he says. “It’s one person on camera who’s sharing their story. You can relate with them. How did this make me feel? What did I learn from that?”

MacDonald advises that any boxmaker purchasing a new machine should discuss the mutual benefits with the manufacturer. Use the time to talk about marketing tools and strategies. Capture content such as videos along the journey, “so when it’s done, you have narrative and talking points. If you seek to increase your brand awareness, that is a very efficient way to do it.”

He also advises tuning in to AICC’s website and AICC Now (NOW.AICCbox.org) for its growing portfolio of resources where members share information and find inspiration. As younger people who grew up talking and sharing in front of cameras enter the industry, the time is here to continue putting resources into 21st century communications tools that “educate and inspire and inform.”

“We love what we do,” MacDonald says. “We love to talk about it. As we move forward, we will continue to push our brand and story out using a combination of print and video and podcasts that everyone can access and enjoy. I think our best years are coming, and these digital platforms allow us to grow our business, our brand, and our connection to the marketplace.”


M. Diane McCormick is a freelance journalist based in Pennsylvania.

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