May 12, 2012

Why Branded Websites Don't Work With Any Business, Especially with Local Printing

Several of the larger trade printers will provide their customers with somewhat sophisticated websites for them to call their own.  There are several problems with these which are listed below.

1 - When there are more and more websites, especially websites that are both functionally and visually identical, the net result is noise in the market place (web market place).  The only people that are going to find these sites are people that the local printer tells.  This is a big negative in my mind as the job of the local printer is to service the local customer; sending the customer online is reducing service levels and introducing your customer to the online competition.

2 - Maintaining the website (just the prices) is a job in and of itself assuming the branded site allows you to determine prices.  If you have the time to spend on this, you may already be out-of-business.  My most commonly used 'line' for printers that say "We already have a website" is "how many orders have come in from your website" or "Have you ever had ANY order from your website?"

3 - Limited Product Line - Typically limited to the trade printer providing the branded site.

4 - Getting Traffic - As was pointed out in the first problem, you do not want to send your face-to-face customer to your website (EVER IMO).  SEO is a very very expensive process as it is a job, not a task - don't be sold SEO by the "expert around the corner"; in my opinion, 99% of the people that sell SEO are fraudulent and don't know the meaning...  Just my opinion ... as a friend of mine says, "tell me how you really feel...!!"  The other way to get traffic is Pay-Per-Click which is expensive, but very real; you will be competing with the big boys and you must position your products against the big boys to convert that click into an order.  Just a note, we estimate the cost of a converted lead in the printing business to be about $150 - How does anyone make money at it?  They do - maybe for some future blog entry.

Finally, I ask,  does anyone know a local printer whose website (branded from a trade printer, or their own home grown) makes them money?  I don't.  All I ever hear is people complaining (always off the record) about Vistaprint - sometimes they will spend 20 - 30 minutes telling me how Vista doesn't effect them - touch a cord..!!

What makes different?  Follow me.

I need to start talking about the business rather than the business plan - soon.