The Stationers Guild

Think Local and the Big Things will fall in Place

Many people accuse me of looking only at the “dark side” of fine stationery industry.  Like most paranoids, I may often appear to be somewhat delusional, but I see no merit in engaging in the “happy talk” that currently surrounds our industry.  Let’s face it,  the stationery industry is in crisis and in desperate need of inspired leadership.  (Actually, I would settle for “competent” leadership.)

“Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder,” but comparing an engraved invitation on 100% cotton paper to the dreary outcome of a flat-printed web template design is like comparing “apples and oranges.”  Nevertheless, the “new demographics” gurus would like the consumer to do precisely that.   Personally, I think the consumer needs a “real” choice.

As I have stated previously, I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know that unless you have an active and targeted online presence you will fail.  This is as true for bricks-and-mortar dealers, our vendors and  home dealers as it is for online re-sellers.   The value proposition that a bricks-and-mortar dealer (and some home dealers) provides a prospective client is that you are seeing “the real deal”:  real paper, real colors and three-dimensional printing.  None of these distinguishing features are available on the internet.

The selling argument is quite simple:  Why should a smart consumer short-change themselves on quality by basing their purchasing decision on a low-quality facsimile and limited experienced service?  Julie Holcomb says it best when speaking to a consumer buying wedding invitations:

If you are like most people, you have never ordered any kind of custom printing prior to ordering your wedding invitations. You can benefit a great deal from the experience of your local stationer, who orders all kinds of custom printing, from many vendors, all the time. They’ll help you make sure you’re covering all the bases and making decisions you’ll be happy with for a long time.

If you are a local business, you can position yourself to attract that smart consumer in your neighborhood.  This is the consumer that wants to get it “right” by making an informed decision based on the price/quality trade-off.  In fact, Google makes it easy for you to be featured on the first page of Google if you make a minimum effort to CLAIM and PROMOTE your business.

Best of all, it is FREE (or mostly free if you decide not to engage some of the paid services).  Just think, Wedding Paper Divas is spending hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars to be featured in your zip code and Google is giving your local business Prime Space on the first page of Google for FREE.

If you want to find out how search relevant your business is, simply enter the name of your company and zip code into http://getlisted.org.  If your business is not over 45%, you probably have some serious visibility problems in your market.  Personally, I don’t find the search results nearly as accurate as they were before GetListed.org was acquired by SEOMoz.    In any event, it is easy to start improving your ranking by claiming your businesses on these various local search engines.

Stationers would be silly if they failed to avail themselves of this FREE service.  This should be your number 1 priority!

Richard May
Discouraged but not despondent.

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One Response to “Think Local and the Big Things will fall in Place”

  1. Joseph Smith Says:

    Excellent column! We have used the GetListed.org site and our search engine listing position went up almost immediately. Of course it helps that we are in a small town so it’s not hard to stand out. Just today, we had a wedding invitation customer come in and say that they found us on Yelp. They said that they couldn’t find anything closer and have already made an order with us.

    We have also supplemented our stationery business with a variety of other stationery-related gifts, artwork, and full-service graphic design. You just can’t rely on solely retail anymore.

    Glyph Art and Design/Fine Press
    Havre de Grace, MD

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