Using Online Marketing to Grow The Print Business · Will Crabtree · Owner ·

Will Crabtree has been featured earlier on INKISH, and we are always happy to meet printers who experience growth. Not only has expanded its premises, but the number of printing units, staff, and foot space have increased since we last met Will Crabtree and his team.

What we like about this story is how online marketing and SoMe presence supports the printing industry. This should inspire all printers globally to use all kinds of media to grow your business.

TampaPrinter and Will Crabtree is an amazing example of how growth is more a matter of will than anything else.

See you sometime in the future.

The last time you were here we were talking about opening another location, but we had a lot of issues with-

Hey boss, are the fast ND rack cards supposed to be single sided or double sided UV code?

Double side, UV two.



And I guess that ever since you moved, you’ve been quite busy. Haven’t you?

Yeah, it’s been pretty crazy. A lot has gone on. We’ve been through a lot. We had to deal with the electric company and have a complete service upgrade, so new electrical pole, new transformer. Dealing with electrical engineers and the city and everything else. So we brought in, I think, eight, nine new pieces of equipment. We went from 1,200 square feet to 3,000 square feet. So it’s a big jump.

I’ve always been driven and focused on online marketing and using, you know, sort of a combination of gorilla and mailing and various different things. But we’ve taken that same philosophy and just amplified it. So we’re doing a lot of organic search engine optimization. I’ve started spending a lot of money on Google AdWords. We’re also doing Google display ads. We’re doing retargeting with video. Our social media presence is huge.

But if you do a search for anything print related in Tampa, I mean we come up on the first page and not only on the first page once, but in the maps, in the paid and the organic. So we’re in pretty much all three spaces.

The growth speaks for itself. I mean the more money I spend and the more efforts I put towards those things, the higher our sales go. I mean it’s, you feed the beast and it continues to grow.

There was definitely a chasm in the beginning. I’m kind of getting caught back up. I have more money in the bank now than when I started, but that’s because of a little deal that I worked. But yeah, I mean the growth is there. And the other thing is is, you know, we were doing a lot of brokering, so we were sending a lot of work that we weren’t capable of doing in-house. So the equipment that we’ve brought on has increased our capacity and our ability to keep that work in-house. So not only are we getting new business, but we’re also able to get better margins on these things that we already had existing.

I think the employees are enjoying it. You know, there was definitely a hump that we had to get over of stress and anxiety of moving and dealing with the city and me probably just not in a great mood or a great guy to be around ’cause I was so stressed out. But we’re over that hump. I think we’ve got a great team, we’ve brought on a lot of new guys and they fit right in and, and you know, the community, I think, our presence is much bigger with the signage and the appearance of the store and everything else. We’re definitely getting more of a reputation than we already had and more presence in the market.

Well we’re definitely kind of growing and we’ve got some room for expansion within this space. I’ve kicked around the idea of maybe purchasing some other print shops in the area. We also do have a national brand that we are in the process of marketing and launching, which is So I bought about 15 different variations of printing gorilla or gorilla print. The website’s already up. We’re taking some of the same philosophies and the methods that we use at a local marketing and doing it in Orlando. So the last like month and a half has kind of been laying the foundation to create that presence in the search engines locally and to kind of use Orlando as a test market cause it’s, you know, just kind of right down the road.

So if that goes well, we’ll duplicate the same thing city by city, by major Metro and the possibility of opening up clones of Tampa Printer in other markets is not out of the question.

Hey Will, this is somebody’s book, should I print it on the 71 or the 91?

Do it on the 91 so it can go on the stacker.



Thank you sir.

And then you got to get it on the perfect binder first thing Monday morning.

Got it.


Are you always interrupted like this?

Basically, yeah. The manager Alex actually earlier was like, “Why are you asking Will questions?” He’s like my filter, my buffer.

You have to be willing to invest. You have to be willing to take the risk of spending money on marketing. I know a lot of printers and a lot of people that I’ve talked to in the industry, they’re gun shy about spending marketing dollars. You have to market, you have to advertise yourself and you have to go after new business. The other thing is creating an experience for the customer. So a customer can go online and they can place an order and they can have it delivered to their house and it’s convenient and it’s easy, but they don’t get to feel the paper. They don’t get to see samples. They don’t get to interact with someone. Some people don’t want to. Some people do. You know you have your FedExes and your UPS stores and your places like that that create a little bit of an experience but it’s still very sterile. The quality isn’t great and the pricing isn’t very good.

So kind of finding the middle point of being a better price than the other retail shops but maybe still being a little higher than online. But the value is that you create that experience for the customer. So when they come in they can see samples, they can interact with a graphic designer. And that’s totally our model.

Well the customer experience is more, not from the online standpoint, but from the in store standpoint. You go to a lot of either small mom and pop copy shops or even commercial printers, they’re usually dingy. They’re usually not very clean or inviting. It’s not a positive experience to go into those places where, you know, we have a nice clean, it looks nice, you can come in and talk to-

And new.

Yeah. That’s one thing is, you know, creating the experience when the customer is here. The other big benefit that we have is speed. So we, we boast that we’re the fastest printer in Tampa so we can turn around books and magazines and banners and signs. And that was another reason for the growth and to kind of steer away from being a broker to be able to have more control over that and to give that instant gratification so someone can literally walk in and walk out with a set of business cards. So we save a lot of people when they forget stuff or you know, stuff doesn’t show up that they ordered online.

Being a small local print company, I feel that we’re capable of competing with some of the bigger shops. And I mean we get people that know about Vista Print, they come in, they talk about Moo, they talk about these national companies where you can go and order online and design it yourself and we still get orders from those people. So there’s definitely room to compete. It’s not one thing or the other.

And that’s not to say that a customer doesn’t come in and order a thousand brochures that they need tomorrow from us and then order business cards off of Moo. You don’t have to get every print job for it to be beneficial. Having the growth that we’ve had and the experience that we’ve had, it’s definitely possible if you do the right things and you do the marketing and you offer a whole gamut of products. That’s really the key.

I think price is always a driver, you know? And we have clients that will beat us up on price and ask us to price match. And then we have some clients that don’t and then we even have clients that want us to price match and the price isn’t that much lower than what we’re already offering. So they’re getting it from like a Sir Speedy or something, you know? So there’s no real set like this is what a business card costs or this is what a brochure costs.

There’s such a chasm between all the different methods of have ways to print it, all the different paper types. Really printing is still kind of the Wild West. There’s nothing that dictates this is what products should cost, so price it however you want. Really, that’s all I do. I don’t like, there’s no method to how I price my stuff. I figure, okay, this is what my cost of material is. I kind of buffer in some operating and then I just double it, you know? For the most part.

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