Thriving Through Word-of-Mouth on Wheels

Case Studies

How an uncluttered vehicle wrap built buzz—and led to a spike in inbound calls—for this plumbing business.

Aside from a website and a few directory listings, such as Angie’s List, Jim Thompson never did much advertising for his company, St. Paul, Minnesota-based Pro Master Plumbing. Word of mouth had always been the company’s main source of new business.

But in spring 2015, Thompson decided it was time to get a new look for his van, which simply had the company’s name and number on the side. He reached out to Nick Lowry, owner of Brand Ink, a St. Paul graphics company that has done many vehicle wraps.

Lowry and his team immediately went to work on design, going back and forth with Thompson to ensure that the look was exactly right. They chose 3M’s Scotchcal™ ElectroCut™ Graphic Film 7725 and electronically cut the faucet and flowing water and other graphics. Lowry chose the 7725 product because of its many vibrant colors, which would pop against the van’s white background. The back windows were wrapped with 3M’s Scotchcal™ Clear View Graphic Film 8150 with white ink to create a one-way window film that shows the brand in a striking way.

Putting the message first

One thing that Thompson and Lowry both knew was that they didn’t want the van’s graphics and text to look crowded and have the message get lost. Lowry says he often sees customers who want to do that, and he talks them out of it.

“They think, ‘Wow, it’s 53-feet long and nine-feet tall; we could put everything under the sun on it.’ But if you take that same image and print it off on an 8.5 x 11” piece of paper, that’s probably what it’s going to look like from 100 yards away,” he says. Taking a minimalist approach, Thompson’s vehicle has clear, clean text that can be easily read whether the vehicle is at a standstill or cruising down the highway.

Thompson knows this is true because he’s seen a significant increase in callers who mention they saw his van. More than once, he’s been parked in the Home Depot parking lot and gotten a call from someone who just saw his van there. It’s increased the buzz about his business, as people both comment on his van and are reminded about his company when someone they know needs a referral. It’s one of the best marketing tools he’s ever used for his business, he says.

In addition, the van gives him a level of professionalism that many other contractors don’t have. By showing that he has made an investment in his brand and in making his business easily recognizable, he shows customers that he is serious about his business and its reputation.

“I can’t think of a reason why a wrap wouldn’t be worth doing, because it’s advertising; when you’re out there, it’s getting attention. I can’t imagine anybody not wanting to invest the money to do it, because it pays for itself in very little time,” he says.

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