April 10, 2012

Fixing the Local Print Business. Other Companies Solutions (so they think).

Within a Changing Print Market (and the marketplace in general) we inevitably have chaos created by the noise of so many ideas being tested.  This is true in the local print market as companies have the next best idea in fixing the business.  As in any business plan (a white paper in this case), we must have knowledge of what other companies are doing to address the same problem and issues we are trying to solve.  When there is no one else trying to address the same problem and issues, you should question the model itself. First, is there a real need?  In our case, there are plenty of people trying, thus we can more comfortably assume there is a market for what we are trying to do.

LightsOn Graphic’s objective is to provide a tool to acquire locally that share of business being lost to the online exclusive world, ie: Vistaprint as well as the McPrints - We are not just trying to move the same business from one pocket to the other.

What doesn’t work:
                 Any system that provides a web tool for simply communicating to the printer glorified email).  Your customers know you and your number – don’t move them online – printing is still a service business (and they know that).  The companies I am going to appear to pick on today are PostNet and Minuteman Press, both are franchise businesses that are locally owned and operated (the good guys).

Observe where both PostNet’s and MinuteMan Press business card pages go (the resulting URL after you click) (Just a note, we can list many other companies here using this service and ending up at the same URL):

A Minuteman Press in Austin Texas: http://www.austinmmp.com/index.iml?mdl=jobcenter/main.mdl.  This is NOT a Minuteman Press standard.  Most Minuteman Press websites actually have a pretty good online presence and tool in my opinion.

Note the similarity in the URL (resulting forwarded URL after you click); they both use the same service for the online component. The problem is, this online component is nothing more than a glorified email system for the postal store/printer.  What this allows is the PostNet franchisee to say: “Oh yea, we have an online printing component too”, or should I say, what the franchisor says to the prospective franchisee.  Try to order something (there is no way); in my very humble opinion, it has no value.  I question whether it ever generates orders. Compare that to Vistaprint, which is mult-multi click, but at least you can complete an order there.  Finally compare that to LightsOnGraphics.com where entry is real quick (few clicks), especially if you are a repeat customer.  There are no Vista distractions on LightsOnGraphics.com.

Adding one other note to this - their Alexa ranking (the print redirect page) is 239,302; considering there are about 300 PostNet’s using this (as well as a multitude of other printers, etc.) that is a pretty bad number.  That compares to LightsOn Graphic’s Alexa rating which is 317,360 which we have not rolled out yet.  Alexa is a website ranking company owned by Amazon; download their tool bar; I find it fun to see who is real and who is not.  Note the PostNet and the MinuteMan Press pages have the exact same Alexa number.

Finally, we have to also consider the McPrints in this comparison as they are local and do have very good online presence and websites.  The problem comes from expertise, knowledge and customer service that the real local printer provides; the McPrints don’t compare in my opinion (including in price).  This makes them one of the bad guys in my opinion.  As an analogy, compare ACE Hardware (a Good Guy) to the Big Box Stores (Bad Guys) – I am sure I don’t need to say any more.

So what will make LightsOnGraphics.com different?  Stay tuned..!!

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