Mar 4, 2014

Primo Cards: Reshaping Traditional Markets With Technology

Even if your industry is in decline you can still rise above the fray and grow a brand.

The print industry used to be a very lucrative and entrepreneurial market. It was dominated by private, mid-size companies serving a variety of niches: direct marketing, magazines, advertising, corporate, financial reporting, and so on. But industry consolidation and advancements in printing technology have taken a bite out of the print business.

The traditional business models for printers and print brokers are over saturated and driven on price. And this is evident even to consumers. You can buy a box of 1,000 premium business cards for less than $50.

The question is how you will respond to these forces. Will you get dragged down with the masses, or find ways to innovate and better serve your clients?

Primo Cards has chosen the latter. They’ve embraced technology, and are using the internet and social media to rethink how a printing company can serve its customers.

Technology expands markets

Primo Cards was founded in 2006, and they provide high quality online printing services. They offer a diverse portfolio of services ranging from business cards to brochures to direct marketing pieces.

Marc Levack, CEO of Primo Cards explains, “The print industry has been in flux over the past few years. Lots of printers have gone out of business, because they didn’t keep up with technology or may have been resistant to change.”

Primo Cards has approached the industry from a different angle. They’ve led with technology, and rethought how they connect with, service and support their clients. This is evident when you look at the makeup of their team. In addition to Primo’s manufacturing and production teams, they have a team of designers, developers and customer service people. Marc continues, “In our Charlotte office our team includes customer service and management, a couple of guys in design, development people and we even have SEO people in-house.”

Primo’s team of designers, developers and search engine optimization experts allows them to embrace the internet and better serve their customers. They aren’t dependent on the local business in Charlotte and the surrounding communities. They can serve clients anywhere in North America.

This is how I first came across Marc and his team. In 2009 I was looking for a printer that specialized in UV coated business cards, and found Primo Cards’ website. I ordered a couple boxes of cards, found their customer service exceptional, and I’ve been coming back since.

Rethink niche markets

Primo Cards straddles two worlds: the traditional print world and the new digital world. The two vantage points create an interesting perspective of how print and digital collide.

For example, they are leveraging their two perspectives to reimagine the event industry. Services like Evite and Eventbrite provide organizers effective digital tools for event management, but they do not offer print services. Marc explains, “For events with 500 or more attendees there’s a need for street level promotion. Organizers use brochures, flyers and traditional tickets to market the event.”

Primo Cards is developing a niche service targeting small to mid-size event organizers such as comedy clubs and independent concert promoters. Primo is leveraging the strengths of their design and development teams to create a software as a service to manage the online portion of event management, and combining it with their print capabilities to fulfill the street level printing needs.

The combination of perspectives enable Primo Cards to question how both printing and technology are used in a niche market, and ask if they can create an even better solution.

Traditional doesn’t die, it shifts

Lots people like to proclaim, “Print is dead.” But it’s not. We use paper every day, and that’s not going to stop anytime soon.

The challenge for printing companies is how they will engage and serve their customers. The competitive forces have become so great that many of the traditional business models are no longer viable.

Primo Cards demonstrates that when a company challenges convention they can find new opportunities. They look for opportunities to blend internet technologies with print services, and the combinations are paying off. They’re growing rapidly while their peers struggle to survive.

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