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Singing Social Media’s Praises

Facebook and instagram help sell signs for local ‘American Idol’ star.




LEAH MARLENE, the third-place winner of “American Idol Season 20” and a local artist from Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, made waves in her hometown with a concert and parade before the singing competition’s finale. Her high school, Normal Community West High School, approached The Great Display Company in Bloomington, Illinois, with several print needs.

“First, they needed life-size, stand-up cutouts,” says Aaron Hambleton, owner, The Great Display Company. “The next day, a few different ones. The next day, they needed thousands of stickers with her logo on them. The next day, they needed 100 two-sided yard signs to help celebrate the festivities. Quick turnarounds are key here.”

The team used an Epson SureColor S80600 large-format printer onto Orajet 3641 Soft Calendered PVC film for the signs, cutouts, and stickers.

A Seal 62 PRO D laminator was used for mounting media to 4mm corrugated plastic, and Oraguard 200 Matte Economy PVC laminating film was used for the stand-up cutouts.

As soon as the local community saw the signs on social media via students and faculty at Normal Community West High School, they started to reach out to The Great Display Company on Facebook and Instagram. “So, I requested permission to sell them individually to everyone in the community and formed a partnership in which we would compensate the local artist per each sign sold,” says Hambleton. “We were given the go ahead and began posting on our social media and had a good response.”

Normal Community West High School requested four stand-up cutouts of "American Idol" singer Leah Marlene that were then posted on all social media platforms with #blonolovesleah.

Normal Community West High School requested four stand-up cutouts of “American Idol” singer Leah Marlene that were then posted on all social media platforms with #blonolovesleah.

The Great Display Company shared a video on Facebook of the signs being printed with the caption “Who in BloNo needs a sign for the parade and concert!?! Order here: and pick up today! #blonolovesleah.”

A parade and concert were held in Uptown Normal for Leah Marlene. “Everyone in our community came together to celebrate this local, young, talented artist’s great success,” says Hambleton. “The Great Display Company signs were featured on ‘American Idol’ in front of several millions of people!”

“It has been a good experience for all. Leah, her family, the Bloomington/Normal community, The Great Display Company, Select Screen Prints & Embroidery, and Normal West High School. Someone just ordered a stand-up cutout today because they saw the Leah Marlene stand-up cutouts.”

From the Brain Squad


Digital marketing includes email, social media, and web-based advertising, as well as text and multimedia messages. How are you using these tools to gain new customers?

  • Google Ads, posting on Instagram, and following customers and potential customers [on social media]. — Pete Brunner, Full Sail Graphics & Marketing, Huntington Beach, California
  • We use a full suite of digital marketing from the services of a full branding firm to independent means of our own. — Derek Atchley, Atchley Graphics, Columbus, Ohio
  • Our marketing team in conjunction with our CRM software target both existing and prospective clients with information about our core competencies. — Kristi Duvall, The BoxMaker, Kent, Washington
  • Our website now has a tracking phone number that records every incoming call from that number and captures analytics. We also can categorize whether the call was an actual opportunity or what actually happened to that call. We plan on integrating a CRM with our POS system. We have not started using text messages to reach our clients; I think just because we can’t figure out what would be relevant and not obtrusive because most of our clients are needs-based. — Linda Fong, Fastsigns Oakland; Fastsigns Hayward, Oakland, California
  • We employ these areas as part of our overall marketing mix. Primarily they serve to raise general awareness. We have schedules set up for each and are cautious not to overdo it. We’d rather do less and have impact than to do more and become an annoyance. — Jim White, Go Graphix, East Longmeadow, Massachusetts
  • Reposting stories on Instagram really creates a ton of crossover exposure. — Jon Sherman, Flavor Paper, Brooklyn, New York
  • We use Google My Business with posts and pictures. — Tim Roe, Outspoken Signs, Marietta, Georgia
  • We employ a fractional CMO that handles our social media and web advertising. We try to send at least two social updates per week. It’s important for us to keep these posts informational and not design them as a direct sales tool. They’re more about sharing project spotlights and a vehicle to show what is new at ER2. — Gary Schellerer, ER2 Image Group, Hanover Park, Illinois
  • We have a fully scheduled and topic-planned program for marketing to all media. Mostly telling stories of benefits and not “selling” we can do this or that, though our capabilities are weaved into messages. It’s more about customer-received benefits and results. — Brian Hite, Image Options, Foothill Ranch, California
  • We use social media to highlight our customers’ work, which makes customers feel special and share, which in-turn markets us. — Kelly Mank, Time4Printing, Windham, Maine
  • Well, of course search is an important online marketing component. We rely heavily on targeted organic search optimization to drive new clients to our website for information. We use social media to announce our presence, but mostly to promote our clients’ shows, sales, new work, etc. We can’t succeed if they don’t succeed. — Jim Dittmer, JDA Creative Color, Gresham, Oregon
  • We send email newsletters to educate our customers. We don’t use any other electronic media to reach out to customers. Like us, they’re getting so many electronic items sent their way; we hold it to a bare minimum. If we have anything else, we generally demo it or talk to them in person. — David Kaiser, Digitype Design, Tualatin, Oregon




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