Printers Are in Consumers’ Blind Spots

I can’t remember why I asked my friend Phyllis where she gets her business cards printed, but it turns out she goes to Staples. Phyllis is a mortgage attorney who has her own business.

That led me to ask if she’d ever heard of some of the online printers, like Vistaprint or 48hourprint. Nope. Nada. She didn’t know what I was talking about.

There’s such a widespread lack of knowledge—let alone appreciation—among consumers when it comes to printing. It’s been this way ever since I started in the business over two decades ago, and I think it’s never going to change.

Now that so much content has gone digital (Did you know that 12 percent of U.S. households have at least one eReader?), it’s less and less likely that consumers will develop any appreciation of what it takes to put ink on paper.

So I started to tell Phyllis about online printer sites, and how you can order all kinds of printed materials for your business (and family) 24/7. She was dumbstruck.

It’s not that I’m against Staples’ Print & Copy Centers. I just can’t help myself when telling someone how to get things printed. Oh, the choices!

Opportunities for online printers are endless, it seems to me. Prospects include:

  • Small business owners.
  • Independent professionals like Phyllis.
  • Associations.
  • Professionals in transition (i.e., between jobs) who need not just business cards, but also letter-perfect resumes and portfolios.
  • New college graduates looking for their first jobs.
  • Middle-aged entrepreneurs following their dreams and launching a second career.
  • Tutors and dog-walkers, aspiring actors and personal trainers.

In my mind, every businessperson and independent professional could use personal printed materials. Online printers are the natural go-to resource, but so are small commercial printers—if they have Web-to-print capabilities.

P.S.—I discovered that Vistaprint was one of the sponsors of the national Zumba Instructor Convention in Orlando this past weekend. Not just any sponsor, either—it was at the Platinum level. How interesting is that?

Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched her new business in 2013 as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. Now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content.

You may know Margie as the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference. Although she’s exited the event production business, she’s still publishing her Print Tips newsletter. She looks forward to helping companies create and style all of their content so their potential customers sit up and take notice. For details and to sign up for her Print Tips and new marketing blog, visit or e-mail Margie at
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  • Linda

    It is always best for (each of our) local economies if we can steer people to ‘shop local’. The printer down the street may not appear as flashy as an online retailer but if you spend your printing dollars at your locally owned print shop $68.00 out of every $100.00 purchase dollars will stay in your community – by clicking the ‘send’ button on an online site – you send your dollars out of your community. The closer (to home) that we can spend our money – the more impact it will have in our own community.

  • TAD

    The majority of printers are family-owned businesses. Pushing buyers to on-line giants like Vistaprint simply commodotizes our product even further. Not supporting your community printer does nothing for local economies. No different than sending our hard earned dollars overseas for oil. Support your local printer who will give you better service than any online vendor and most likely that printer will support your local charities and non-profits.