Why Printing Companies Need to Think Like the Travel Industry When it Comes to Websites

Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant
       Blue seas and sun-drenched beaches.
       Luxury accommodations and mouth-watering food.
       Rugged scenery, action and adventure.
Have you been online to choose a holiday destination recently?
If so, during your research you may have noticed that most travel companies focus completely on you. Their website concentrated on the experience you could expect from your holiday retreat. The messaging was catered to you and how this could be the vacation of your dreams. And let’s be honest: I’m certain that approach truly resonated with you. It got you excited! You could actually envision yourself sitting on the beach soaking up the sun.
Of course the travel company could have used their website to talk about themselves. They could have talked about how they choose which destinations to promote. They could have told you about the quality-control standards that they expect their affiliates to stand by. And they could have included a section on the outstanding customer service they offer to those booking vacation packages.
I think you will agree that this sort of information is not going to sell many trips! Most of us don’t care about these subjects when we choose our perfect vacation package. We care about what is in it for us.
However, many printing companies have websites that follow this pattern.
The majority of print websites do not focus on the customer
Instead, the focus is all about their own company. The website talks about the company history. It is full of information about equipment. You typically find information about their quality control and customer service procedures. To really inspire you, there are also lots of pictures of printing presses.
As a buyer, these websites don’t tell me why I should engage with the company. They don’t show me how that company is going to help my business. All they do is encourage me to think about print as a manufactured product. In the buyer’s eyes, a manufactured product is a commodity product.
But there is another way.
Let’s look at an alternative approach
Have a look at this website by Stevens Integrated Solutions.  This printing company has taken a refreshingly different approach. As soon as you enter their homepage, a potential customer is greeted by a great portfolio of inspirational printing. They immediately get ideas on what they can do to improve their marketing.
That’s a fantastic start. However, there is more. If you go to the “Services” page, you’ll find something a bit different. There is no boring company history or standard comments about price, service and quality that you find on most printing company websites. Instead, there’s an analogy with baseball that will mean far more to most prospects.
Finally, there is a blog with information that is genuinely useful to a customer. I particularly liked the post about which doughnuts are most acceptable to printing companies!
Try as I might, I couldn’t find a picture of a printing press. In fact, there were hardly any technical printing terms mentioned on the site at all.
This website comes much closer to recreating that personal, intimate feeling that most travel websites inspire. What can you do to make your website more customer-focused?
To follow this approach, here are three action points :

  1. Make sure you keep an eye out for the next blogs from me. This is the beginning of a mini-series about developing effective websites for printing companies.
  2. Review your current website copy. Is the messaging focused on your company or the prospect? Here’s a handy little tool to help you determine just how customer-focused your messaging is.
  3. Start to look through your website and make note of any pictures of print machinery. You’ll want to replace them with imagery that truly inspires your customer.

You want your website to be right up there with the travel sites. Will your site visitors’ experience match those standards?
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on getting the most out of your website:

Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site. Download his e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” for free here

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  1. Katherine January 16, 2014 -

    That’s so true, it’s rare to see a printing company site that engages the end user with appropriate messaging. I really like the example you chose. As soon as I saw their about page, I hit the follow button on their Twitter widget. I only wish they had a more active blog.

  2. Sticker Printing January 24, 2014 -

    very nice post i like this

  3. Diana February 10, 2014 -

    Very interesting article that made several valid points, but the example you gave for a good website was horrible.

    The logo and website for Stevens Intergrated look like they were created from a very poor (cheap) template design. If the company doesn’t have high standards for itself, why would I think it would do anything else for me?

    There is noting in the name or home page that tells me what this company is selling. You forgot one very important point of advertisng 101, which is if I don’t know who you are within the first 5 seconds of hitting your ad (or site), I’m gone, especially in this day of ADD addled 30 somethings.

    Lastly, the copywriting was cleartly not done by a professional. The tittles (they certainly can’t be called headlines), do little to pull the viewer in. Why do I care about, “Barran Liebman holiday card.” Too late I’m gone. Better to say, “An innovative 3D card draws the client in with its interactive Q&A.”

    There must be better examples out there.

  4. nnenna June 1, 2014 -

    I have a job interview with a printing company soon.really appreciate all I read here.

  5. Matthew Parker June 2, 2014 -

    Nnenna, good luck with your interview!

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