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Aggressive but humorous marketing of low cost commercial printing

Issue #1111 – As companies fight to gain business in a tough environment, one commercial printing company is taking an aggressive stance in its targeting of new customers, deliberately hoping to discredit its competition as committing price-crime.

Commercial printing is not normally within the remit of TCPglobal but, when an interesting story comes to light that links any form of printing with cost, it requires consideration. In this case, it is the approach taken by the company in question that immediately catches the eye, draws a print buyer towards the programme and perhaps also raises some questions.

Printing crimes courtroom

While not directly claiming to be independent, printingcrimes.com gives the impression of being an independent watchdog helping to protect print buyers from less than scrupulous print providers – much like the BBC’s Watchdog TV program provides assistance to consumers against rogue traders and suchlike. Claims like “The only voice of the UK’s wholesale printing industry”, “The online voice of the UK’s wholesale printing industry”, “The UK’s only print pricing court room” and “Plenty of print for everyone” adorn its leaflets and website.

In fact, printingcrimes.com is just a website/service belonging to Print Hut, a UK design and print wholesaler, based in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.

So what of the aggressive marketing approach taken by Print Hut?

Leaflets and the website, printingcrimes.com, invite print buyers to check out their latest quotation for letterheads, fliers, leaflets or brochures with the ‘court’ for a verdict on whether the job is overpriced, about right or competitive.

Printing crimes call now

Buyers are asked to submit a brief description of the print job they are planning by web form or telephone. Print Hut then assesses the price quoted for the job and determines whether it can undercut the competition or not. ‘Verdicts’ are promised within 2 hours – i.e. fast enough to prevent the job being placed with a competitor if a better price can be offered.

Verdicts are given initially in terms of:

printing crimes nay
We find the defendant guilty – In our considered opinion you are not getting value for money. We shall call to address the situation immediately.

{in other words: “we’ll undercut the competition”}

Printing crimes jury’s out
After examining the case for retail printing crimes we are unable to prosecute due to insufficient evidence – We shall call to collect further information. We hope to reopen the case very shortly.

{in other words: “not sure we can undercut the competition but give us a chance and we’ll try”}

Printing crimes yay
We find the defendant not guilty – In our considered opinion you are getting value for money. You have our backing to proceed.

{in other words: “we can’t undercut the competition so you may as well place your order with our competitor”}

This is certainly a clever approach because it offers buyers an immediate indication of whether a better price might be available but also because it allows Print Hut to collect a considerable quantity of data on their competitors’ pricing structure without any commitment to beat it but allowing the company to cherry pick the jobs it can benefit from most – and all with the minimum of effort.

There is no link on the printingcrimes.com web site, or mention on the leaflet, to the company’s primary web site. The only indication is small print saying ‘Powered by Print Hut’.

Once the primary Print Hut web site is found, there are number of other alluring offers and promises together with advice, tips and fun information.

For instance, Print Hut is prepared to bet that print buyers are ‘missing a trick’ and promises 250 free business cards if a 30-minute investigation of the previous 3-months’ print spend does not reveal savings that could have been made.

On the fun side, there are links to audio files covering topics such as psychological sales strategy guidance, links to video files about printing crimes and events hosted by Print Hut and a Twitter feed that announces orders won.

Quite clearly, this company thinks outside the box. Its marketing messages are uncompromising and play on the ‘Desire for gain/Fear of Loss’ balance in their potential customers’ phsyche.

Printing crimes checklist

Is it fair to present itself as a printing crimes court with the goal of discrediting its competition? I think the verdict should be ‘Jury’s Out’.

Perhaps there is a bit of a misleading message there and the messaging is certainly aggressive but all of the company’s marketing message is presented in a light-hearted manner with no serious attempt to deceive print buyers into thinking the company is not a print provider competing in the market.

So, all-in-all, aggressive as it is, the marketing approach taken by Print Hut is progressive, innovative, contemporary and reasonably transparent.

At least the underlying desire appears to be to save customers money and provide value for money!

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