How to beat global online printers at their own game – Part I

22/12/2006

You probably all heard about VistaPrint. You must have, if you ever searched for some kind of printing in a search engine. VistaPrint usually comes on top. If you are lucky enough to be from the Antipodes (that’s us, Kiwis and Aussies) there is a chance you heard about TheOnlinePrinter. These two pay anything up to $14 per click in Google to be at the top of the search, but their prices are hard to beat.

They know how to do printing business online. VistaPrint is listed in Nasdaq and seems to be doing well. The OnlinePrinter is a more modest operation, but looking at the resent revamp of their website it cost them a few dollars. Money well spent.

So, they have the money, they are at the top of Google Ads, their prices are unbeatable and they take orders online. This is just the right mix to attract a small business for something like business cards or a small promotional item. Do small local printers stand a chance there?
Not the way they operate at the moment, but not all is lost.

First of all, let’s look at the weak spots.

VistaPrint weaknesses

Awful designs
They must be paying their designers peanuts coz they obviously got monkeys. All designs look the same with very small variations. They are quite bleak and unattractive.

Limited number of designs
There are 28 business card categories totalling approximately at 1,400 designs. Sounds like a lot, but in fact it’s not. I would have real troubles choosing anything decent there.

Questionable quality
As a consumer, how do I know what it’s going to look and feel like on paper?
How would I know the difference between 200gsm and 350gsm?
Most people won’t even know what that means!
The site looks cheap, the designs look cheap, the price is low … what shall one think? The card will look cheap as well.
This may not be necessary true because I heard they do really good quality on good stock. Never seen that myself, thou.
Their strong point here is giving away free business cards. It’s an awesome word-of-mouth advertising aproach.

So, we got VistaPrint on 3 points.

The OnlinePrinter

This website has a lot of promises, but is similar to VistaPrint in style. They offer approximately 120 business card designs that looked even worse than Vista’s. Then I had to use Flash plug-in to customize it like in a desktop publishing application. Hang on a minute, mate …. I’m a plumber. What do you want from me? If I could do designs I wouldn’t be a plumber. I don’t want and cannot customize and align and do what you ask me to do. Just can’t be bothered!

So, we got The OnlinePrinter on a few points as well.

Now it’s time to exploit these 3 weaknesses to your own advantage. More on this in Part II.

And while you are waiting there is a little bit of screen printing. Not for faint-hearted! :-)

[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4GHON9KHZU”]

I like the application of AmericanExpress there :-))

One Response to “How to beat global online printers at their own game – Part I”

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