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Making Your Mark Online

(February 2011) posted on Thu Feb 03, 2011

How a strong Web presence can give print providers a competitive edge.

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By Paula Yoho

At last count, Google listed more than a trillion – that’s a one with 12 zeros after it – URLs in its index. That’s a lot of competition for shops to differentiate themselves amid a sea of virtual competitors. Add to the mix a difficult economy that has customers feeling a bit gun shy when it comes to investing in print campaigns, as well as the pressure for companies to “see and be seen” brought about with the emergence of social-network websites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and it’s easy for print providers to feel overwhelmed by the challenges of carving out an effective niche in cyber space.

Within the challenge, however, lies a huge opportunity. A solid, professional website design doesn’t cost a lot of money and is an excellent forum for showcasing a company’s work. The Internet has opened the door for smaller print providers to position themselves as on-par with their large counterparts with an investment in a professional-looking website. What’s more, print shops that devote the time and forethought into developing a social-media marketing strategy, and who maintain a consistent and professional appearance on the popular networking sites, can build a low-cost, word-of-mouth marketing campaign with relative ease.

Here at The Big Picture, we haven’t yet found the time to visit all trillion sites on Google, of course. But we have taken the time to comb through websites of quite a few shops and have compiled a list of 10 print-shop sites with some specific features we think you may want to emulate in your own online presence.

Keep in mind that we’re spotlighting various features and individual online pages, not highlighting any company’s entire website for the purposes of this article. Nor are we focusing on e-commerce or directly deriving commerce via websites (we’ll focus on this in an upcoming article). In addition, note that our editorial team looks at dozens of print providers’ websites each week throughout the course of a year, but we know there are many more out there. If you feel your shop’s website has a unique feature or is tackling an online challenge in an interesting way, please drop us a note with your URL and we’ll follow up.