I am a lover a books with a capital “L”. I sit on the board of trustees of my library. I read about two books a week, even with 21-month-old twins. I have a few friends who are librarians and, thus far, I have been resistant to an e-reader. I like to hold the book in my hands. I like to browse library and bookstore shelves. OK...point taken.
On Facebook, I recently saw a post about a blog called “Hot Guys Reading Books”
(HGRB), and as part of their promotional efforts, the writers had created some stickers that read “Print Lives.”
“What a great tool for me to communicate with my clients,” I thought. “I’ll buy some of these stickers and give them out to clients and prospects.” Let’s all pass on the word that we love print, and believe that print will live forever, right?
So I followed the link, which took me to Zazzle.com, and placed an order. Five days later, the stickers showed up, and they were WAY out of register. I contacted Zazzle, sent them some digital pictures of the product, and they informed me that they are processing a full refund, but that the piece is designed that way, so there is nothing they can do to correct the situation.
So what are the lessons here, you ask? There are so many; where to begin?
YOUR CUSTOMERS NEED TO BE EDUCATED.
—If you are receiving files that are problematic, I HOPE that you are using the opportunity for a teaching moment: not only will you be saving the customers’ bacon from potentially expensive reprints, but you can show how you add value by being invested in your customer’s knowledge. An informed customer is a valued and loyal customer.LIGHTS OUT OPERATIONS CAN BE SCARY.
—I was SO disappointed that I will never have the product that I want; there is no solution short of the bloggers fixing the file. But how will I know that they did?
HGRB is using Zazzle as its e-commerce/print provider, but Zazzle cannot remedy the situation—or is unwilling to do so. I did write to the bloggers and told them what happened. I’ll keep you posted if there is any resolution.YOUR CUSTOMERS DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER.
—Sometimes, your print company is the best kept secret out there. And, with the messaging that companies like Vistaprint are airing (see Bill Farquharson’s blog this week
), they want people to believe that local printers are slow and make mistakes.
We all know that’s not true, but we might just have to go on the defensive, very carefully, and talk about how we as craftsmen make sure that your product gets printed accurately—the way you want it. We call it selling anecdotally, and if I were selling today, I would use my experience with Zazzle—without naming names—to emphasize why working with a printer you can trust, talk to and interact with is so vital.
Lights out operations do have their place, like for the business cards for my twins club members. But let’s face it...HGRB is now out revenue, with no opportunity to replace it, AND its brand has been damaged. That might not be such a big deal for a blog, but it would be for any company trying to gain customers and build brand recognition.
If you find out that a prospect of yours is using a lights out operation like Zazzle or Vistaprint, think about ways you can differentiate and add value. Get them to see the light!