Marvelous Magnets Can Open Up New Revenues from Tradeshows to Vehicles

What do you get when you combine magnets with vinyl? Some marvelously magnetic creations that demand attention.

Flexible magnets are opening new marketing doors for companies large and small. In fact, the possibilities are virtually as endless as your imagination.

Indeed, sign shops that understand how to combine magnet sheeting with vinyl applications are finding new revenue streams. From creative car magnets to trade show displays to point of sale materials to commercial graphics and beyond, magnets offer your customers a cost-effective means of marketing their good and services.

“People absolutely love magnets. They are kind of mysterious,” says Craig Meyers, a sales manger Adams Magnetic Products, a Elmhurst, Ill.-based magnet manufacturer. “The printing technology is in place to do large format magnetic and vinyl applications. Some people print directly onto the vinyl-lined magnet. Others mount the vinyl to the magnet. Either way, it’s easier than ever to work with magnets.”

Tradeshow magnetism
Magnets can be expensive in oversized sheets. But that’s not stopping vinyl pros from finding creative ways to use them in trade show applications. Magnetic strips, for example, are offering a cost-efficient means of displaying vinyl banners on aluminum frames at trade shows.

“We use hollow aluminum frames and put metal tape on them so the magnetic strips will stick to the frame,” says Mike Benti, president of Dynamic Display, a full-service exhibit and display company in Long Island, NY. “These frames could be the size of a door. So the magnetic stripping goes around the perimeter. Then we attach magnetic strips to the vinyl graphics and adhere the graphics to the frame.”

The magnetic stripping also makes installing the graphics a snap because the magnet on the aluminum attracts the magnets on the graphics. When you have to install large banners that hang above the booth, the magnets draw each other so there’s no struggle with clamps or other tools.

On the ultra-creative side, some trade show exhibitors build large booths with the ultimate in flexible magnetic sheeting and vinyl. General Motors, for one, printed all its latest vehicles on magnetic material. The trade show rep could walk up to the display and peel off the magnetic image of the newest Chevy pickup truck, point out some features to the customer, then walk back to the display and place the vinyl-covered magnet back on the wall. That eliminated the need for Velcro and picture hangers – and it was lighter to ship than a steel display.

Magnetic-receptive signs
Beyond tradeshows, retailers can save a bundle on signage with magnetic receptive materials to create what are called interchangeable graphics signs. Here’s how it works: The sign shop creates large signs out of magnetic receptive materials, such as paper steel. The sign has large blank spots carved out of the middle.

“Instead of creating a new sign for each promotion, the retailer just has a smaller sign printed on a magnetic material that fits into the blank spot in the middle of the larger sign,” Meyers explains. “The retailer attaches the smaller, magnetic sign to the large, magnetic-receptive sign and suddenly you have an entire new promotion.”

Meyers points to The Gap as an example. When the retailer has a promotion on zip-up vests, a magnetic sign with an appropriate image and marketing message is placed on the large sign board. When the promotion changes, the sign changes in a matter of seconds without the need to build a new display. The Gap doesn’t have to ship heavy signage or spend additional dollars on creating an entirely new promotional vehicle. It’s plug-and-play with maximum magnetic flexibility.

An alternative to vehicle wrapping
Imagine a magnetized poster that could take the place of a truck wrap for a quick, low-cost highway campaign for budget-conscious customers. Those are the types of flexible magnet applications New York City-based C2 Media is offering.

“We create everything from giant magnetic calendars or laminated posters mounted on magnetic materials,” says Amanda Davenport, an account executive with C2 Media. “But our biggest demand for flexible magnets is with vehicles. We did an event recently where we created little magnets to stick to cars. People pick them right off the cars and take them home.”

Benti does plenty of vehicle wrapping. But he also creates plenty of magnets that add to the vehicle wrap’s allure. Like C2 Media, he prints business cards on magnetic sheeting. His clients stick them all over their vehicles so people interested in their products and services can pull them off and contact them.

“We are always looking for new ideas,” Benti says. “I put these magnetic business cards on my own tailgate and I notice that people take them, so I grab another handful and stick them to the back of my car again. If there’s just one, people hesitate to take it. But when they see the cards all over the car, they get the hint.”

Benti has also seen people using vinyl-covered magnets to cover up the bumps or crevices on a car wrap. Specifically, the installer first affixes the magnet to areas of the car that aren’t smooth. Once the magnetic sheeting is wrapped over flexible magnet, the printed vinyl is installed. The result is a smooth look.

Vehicle magnet caveats
There are some caveats with magnet-vinyl combinations on vehicles, though. If the flexible magnet is too big, you may lose it on the highway, according to Chris Diamond, production manager at Creative Sign and Graphics in Washington, D.C.

“Larger magnets do have a tendency to come off a vehicle when you hit a decent rate of speed,” Diamond says. “That doesn’t happen with vehicle wraps. Once you get up to about 18 inches by 30 inches the flexible magnetic sheeting tends to peel back in the wind and fly off.”

There are some precautions to give your customers to preserve the life of their vinyl-decorated magnets. For starters, sign pros say you want to attach the magnet to a smooth area of the vehicle as opposed to curved surfaces and make sure there are no air pockets between the magnetic sheeting and the vehicle’s surface.

The trick is to align one edge of the magnet to the vehicle and release the rest of the magnet slowly so it attaches itself without stress. If the magnet winds up in the wrong position, remove the sheet and start over. You’ll get the best results when it’s not too hot and not too cold, and by applying the magnet to an area of the vehicle that’s not exposed to direct sunlight, like the hood.

By the same token, the customer needs to keep the vehicle and the magnet clean. If dirt gets between the magnet and the car’s surface, it can cause the adhesion to fail or damage the car’s paint. Instruct your customer to remove the magnets every day to clean them. Cleaning the magnet every day also prolongs the magnet’s life. Tell your customers to avoid putting vinyl-decorated magnets on newly painted or freshly waxed cars. Again, the magnet won’t adhere to the substrate.

No matter what the application, Meyers recommends professional signmakers to remember one rule: the thicker the metal, the stronger the display. “Thickness relates to strength,” he says. “Thin material may be fine for little fridge magnets, but it won’t hold up in professional applications. Go with professional grade materials. Your clients will be happier.”

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