Ryan: Considering more printers are getting into the W2P market on a daily
basis, what is your competitive advantages or differentiators?
Andrew: W2P is just a tool, a means to get a job plugged into your workflow maybe a little faster. Building a library of their projects and making it easier to order locks them in a little bit more. But it still boils down to customer service and the skill of the digital press operator. It doesn’t matter how well your W2P system works if you can’t color
match to a proof or communicate with the customer as to why their work isn’t being done correctly or in a timely manner. Yet, we run into it every day when we go to meet with customers getting work done elsewhere. Customer service is king.
Ryan: What is the plan for competing with the established W2P sites such as Vistaprint, Printing for Less, etc?
Andrew: No interest in competing with them. Business cards for $9 has no profit model for us. But ask us to print on plastic, and we can do what they can’t. We’re also being selective in who we do work for. We don’t want to chase payment. We don’t want to be priced down, and if it means we do less work, at least it will be at a higher profit margin. Think about the numbers. If I sold $500K in printing with a 10% profit margin
vs $150K with a 35% profit margin, look how much less work I had to do to make the same amount of money. We want to partner with the right companies.
Ryan: Are you expecting a huge amount of Printelope’s traffic to come via social media outlets? If so, which platforms are you most focused on and why?
Andrew: Social media is really about building the brand, and not so much about trying to sell through it. We drive a lot of eyeballs to our SPE site through Twitter but it doesn’t translate at this point into hard sales. The two platforms I’m working with are Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m not much into Facebook, it so far has not been a success for us yet.
Ryan: Do you think the concept and business plan can be carried exclusively through social media marketing?
Andrew: No. The social media is part of our toolbox, but it’s not going to replace the feet on the street; the conversations in real-time with potential customers/partners. I spend as much time cold calling as I do building our social media presence.
Ryan: After four months since going live what have been the biggest challenges and successes?
Andrew: The biggest challenge is keeping our sanity in that tiny 300 foot production space we have. There are three of us there sometimes, and we’re tripping over each other trying to produce work. (We’ve actually been looking to make a move to a slightly larger place in the next 60 days).
The other challenge is time. To create the video we do on the experiment takes about 12 hours of work, piecing everything together. Add to that a few hours each night for the social media strategy; a few hours for cold calling and appointments; and pretty soon you’re running out of time. We need more people to help out, but we can’t make that leap to our first full-time employee until the work starts piling up.
For the success, it’s seeing all of this data we are collecting on every experiment we’re doing within the SPE. Finding the right customers, and which ones to avoid like the plague; what social media strategies are working, and which ones just suck; and of course, meeting customers and working with them to solve a problem that their own original printer never saw (or thought to discuss with them). They’re baby steps, but at the end of the Experiment, hopefully the data can help other printers in the same dilemma that we started out with.
Ryan: Any final thoughts?
Andrew: I hope that other printers will look to our site as a resource for what works, and what doesn’t (or maybe what we should do different), and can apply these same principles to their own business. It doesn’t have to be a replicated idea, like purchasing the same press as we have – any press will do, just some do things better. I’ve spoken to a great many printers who love this concept and share it with their friends, and I would encourage the so that we can build an even bigger group of people who can help us all to figure it out through consensus, and use it to
profit from their own implementation of it, as we do.