Layman SpeakObservations

How to charge MORE without being the best

By April 8, 2015 September 27th, 2017 No Comments

Say what?! I trust the title has gotten your attention.

You see, the common lament in many business has been something like this; “Very competitive market”, “Undercutting”, “spoil market”. This post is not all about perceived value, which is a very common topic and knowledge.

Allow me to share this first hand experience when i was sourcing for a name card printing service.

Do hang in there. There’re 3 powerful marketing lessons at then end of it.

This week I was set to meet at least 4 potential clients to advice and consult on their marketing work. Being a delusional perfectionist, I fervently went to try to perfect my website and it’s backend system even before my name card is designed.

Till the very last minute, like 2 days before the meeting.

Within 2 hours I came out with 2 different designs to choose from, based on some sketches I did while having a family outing.

I needed the cards printed and collected on the same day, so off I went pounding in the keywords ” Singapore instant name card printing”. After skipping past the first few sponsored results, I zoomed in on the next 2 organic search results.

The finalists

Company A promises express printing, while company B shouts one-day print.

Company A’s site shows a wide variety of print services and products. Its like a mega mall for printing. Every banner is screaming for attention. Just like a mall. During the Great Singapore Sale.

Company B’s design looks like a 15 year-old website (really) BUT it shows me right at the home page what are the steps to send my file to get it approved, bank transfer the fund to their account (not paypal nor credit card), and go down to collect the cards in one hour!

The supposed express printing from Company A? They feature a ‘fast turn around’ time of 4days, no doubt its offset printing. I was looking for instant printing so I won’t care if it’s digital or offset.

I really want it now.

The Thought-I-found-a-good-deal-until…

I called Company B to confirmed that it’s $23 for full color (4C) PER SIDE. Thinking that I am desperate, $46 for 100 cards 2-sided print, in one hour is bearable, painfully bearable. The average market rate for digital print ranges from $23 to $28 for 100 pieces on a normal art card. And it takes at least a couple of days, usually on the condition that you are a regular.

But wait. There’s more.

I was an art and design school grad, so naturally I know where the printers congregate. Googled for their contact and called them up.

Get ready for this.

Company C sells at $28 for 4C both sides… in 20mins!  I just need to bring over the softcopy files to them! And there are at least 5 of such shop in that building.

I took the offer.

The morale of the story (for business owners)

It’s definitely good to know your supply options well. However, since this is about marketing I’ll be talking about Company B (one-day print) and how we can learn from it. Ignoring the 15 year-old website design of course.

Company B’s design, I believe, has left a permanent mark on my organic visual storage system. Can’t un-see it anymore.

Power lesson #1

Company B (one-day print) understands and picks on the desperate need of people like me and tune their SEO as such. They are at the top of the list after the ads. Not only that, their URL spells their exact selling point to reaffirm the quick service. Upon inspection, it’s actually a one-hour service! What a bonus!

For a customer who is desperate and clueless, most would gladly take up Company B’s offer.

A premium of $46 over $28 (100 cards, 4Cx4C, full colour on both sides) for a one hour turn over time, versus the 4-day traditional offset print. Worth it right? At least on the surface until you compare the quality of digital and offset printing.

Summary: Know your customer’s problem, make good use of that fact and market the company as the solution provider of such problem. Even if you demand a premium price, many will still gladly pay for it just because you recognize the consumer’s pain and made it obvious that you do.


Power lesson #2

Company B (one-day print) is actually 3 times slower than Company C (1 hour vs 20 minutes), but still many times faster than its peers.  ( 1 hour vs 4 days )

Focus and strategise well around your strength even if you may not be the best around. Execute your marketing plan, making sure that your strength is emphasized on your website, SEO, online ads, Social Media, everything!

There are (ill under-informed) customers who are willing to pay that premium you command, simply because they couldn’t find the others in Google.

 Summary: Invest time and money to focus on presenting your strength, market it so that it speaks to your customer’s desire. Premium price is always possible.


Power lesson #3

Company A’s (express) website no doubt look much better than Company B (one-day), however it has way too many distractions. The poor  visitor have to spend a great effort to find what he needs. Where as Company B designs the home page with the customer in mind. How to get your printing done so you can get it within an hour… or a day.

Summary: Focus on one main thing and as much as possible, make sure it shines thru all communications, especially your website. The clearer the focus, the easier your customer can see it and come to you for your problem-solving solution.


Have you figured out your strength and market it? The one that solves your customer’s problem? Lets link up and we’ll get it figure out together for you.

1. I have no stake in any of the print shops stated in this post.

2. I still believe there’re always up to 2 choices out of the fast-cheap-good options. I only wanted fast and cheap name card this time round. The story will be different the next time when I’m going for quality. Perhaps 360 gsm or thicker card stock with rubbery texture.

Kok Wai

Author Kok Wai

Kok Wai is a content producing marketer, media trainer at Kelvin Sng Productions, a dad of two and photography contributor to multiple magazines. A sponsor of B60 Charity Run 2017, Kok Wai's goal is to help busy and ambitious business owner focus on running their business even with their limited time and lack of marketing know-how. He especially loves kids, playing the guitar, and exploring with software. You'll find him pondering on the exhilaration of securing two more good clients on a retainer basis. Connect with him on Facebook (thePF)

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