Startup Warfare

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A Wise (Sales)Man Once Said:

"Most retailers follow the path of least resistance…even if you offer them the greatest product on the market, there is more than a fair chance that they will not recognize it. Don’t be discouraged … those aren’t the retailers you want selling your brand."

Seriously…its starting to really bother me: Iconic US companies aren’t making their products in America anymore. Brands like Cole Hann, Frye Boots, Hartmann, and Levi’s just to name a few. There is something wrong about this. When I buy a pair of Levi’s, part of my purchasing experience is the fact that I am buying a piece of “Americana” … or when I purchase a pair of Olukai flipflops, I want to believe that they come from somewhere in Hawaii (and unless China is now one of the Hawaiian Islands, I feel a bit betrayed). Sorry folks…”Made In America” still means something to some of us and it pains me to see that American brands don’t always feel the same way.

Seriously…its starting to really bother me: Iconic US companies aren’t making their products in America anymore. Brands like Cole Hann, Frye Boots, Hartmann, and Levi’s just to name a few. There is something wrong about this. When I buy a pair of Levi’s, part of my purchasing experience is the fact that I am buying a piece of “Americana” … or when I purchase a pair of Olukai flipflops, I want to believe that they come from somewhere in Hawaii (and unless China is now one of the Hawaiian Islands, I feel a bit betrayed). Sorry folks…”Made In America” still means something to some of us and it pains me to see that American brands don’t always feel the same way.

Entrepreneurs: Here’s a company I would avoid…. MorningPrint

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More often than not, old adages seem to always be right. In my case, the one I am thinking of is “You get what you pay for.” In the case that follows, not only is it true, but I’ve also learned how a poorly run company can make itself look real bad, real fast.

The situation: I needed business cards for a new venture I am working on. I didnt want to use standard white cards as I wanted them to have a more “natural” feel so I looked for a company that could turn the project around quickly while printing on “kraft” stock (thats the stuff old grocery boxes are made of).

What I thought was the solution: After doing some research on Google, I found a company called “MorningPrint” that had the type of cards I wanted at a reasonable price and promised quick delivery.

What I received: The cards arrived quickly (almost too quickly), so when I was about to open the box they sent me, I actually said to myself “man…this is a great way to order printing!”. Then I tore open the wrapping and found the following: business cards printed on flimsy stock AND, more importantly,  printed off center to the right. I decided to email their customer service department and see if they could help. Rather than narrate what transpired…Ill share with you the email thread:

"HI -

I have two questions.please:

1) I just received my order and the artwork isnt centered on the buisness card as in the preview thus making it look off-centered. How can we go about getting this fixed?

2) I ordered the “premium” kraft business card stock . The stock recieved was extremely thin and flimsy…is there a thicker kraft stock available?

Thanks for your help…Lee

——

Hello, Lee,

Thank you for taking your time to feedback and we are very sorry to hear that you are not happy with our product.

We have reviewed your card sample here, please be informed that the order was processed without any technical errors in the design were printed as they are in your file.

As we mentioned on our website, designs can be off center 1-2 mm due to cutting, the pressure of the blade, characteristic of stock, weather etc.  can all be reasons for this shift. Our printing industry has pretty much offset manual process after printing, it can’t be exact science. Just like other printer companies, MorningPrint also states that 1~2 mm misalignment could be possible on finishing options. It can’t be 100% perfect even though we run your order again.

And MorningPrint strives to offer the most unique products at the best quality we can produce however quality is dependent of the client’s requirements. We have many unique stocks all listed at different weights. In an effort to help our clients we list the point size as well as the gsm. We understand for clients who may not be familiar with paper weight this might be difficult to judge so we also offer a free sample kit on the website for clients to receive before placing the order so you can check the stock out beforehand. I highly recommend that before you place any orders that you receive our sample kit. If you let me know your mailing address I can send you some samples of plastic. At this time because the order was processed on the correct selected stock we are unable to replace the order. Normally in cases of stock selection we cannot do anything however in an effort to help you my team has agreed to extend a 10% off discount to you for this time only. If you are interested in accepting this offer please let me know your preferred mailing address for the sample kit and I will send you the code.

We sincerely thank you for your communication in regards to your feedback.”

OK…so let me be clear on my feelings:

1) Its my fault about the stock being so flimsy as I should have asked for samples. I guess that when they call the stock “premium”, I was expecting something a little thicker than construction paper.

2) The business cards that they produced are noticeabley off center and therefore I dont care what they consider “acceptable” to be…they look like shit.

3) Finally…to add insult to injury…do they really expect me to place another order even with that “generous” 10% discount that she had to get her “team” to approve? Clearly they are out of touch with the term “customer satisfaction”.

All in all…I wish they hadnt rushed my order and used the extra time to do some QC…but maybe that would be asking too much from a company that doesn’t value customer satisfaction.

MorningPrint’s Grade: F

Update as of 12/6/13 … Give YouPrint.com a try … much better quality and pricing. Highly recommended.

Ideas

"Coming up with ideas isn’t the problem. Everyone has ideas for business and inventions. The problem is execution. Most people lack the wide array of knowledge required to take action to build a company and bring a product to market…and then to sell it."  … Dan

"Gifting Suites"…Are they worth the effort?

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If you’ve recently launched a new product or line of products, chances are you’ve looked into participating in a gifting suite scenario or a company that runs them has contacted you. “Are they worth doing?”…is a question I hear all of the time. Here is my two cents based on the fact that I attended a few when I first launched Matte For Men:

- The “Dream”: Like everyone else, my  “dream” was to get my new product line into the hands of famous people in the hopes that they would love it, spread the word, and Matte For Men would be an overnight success.

- The fact -based “Reality”: The cost to attend the event was $5,000 for which they allowed the brand to attend the two day event, set up a table to display your wares, and they promised that your products would get into the hands of “celebrities” as they walked around the event. I cant remember what the theme of the event was…the Emmies, Oscars, or some other excuse to give away your products to actors and actresses. After doing the math and figuring out that $5,000 was way too high a price to pay for the honor of giving away my products for free…I negotiated the entry cost down to $500 (not bad…given the fact that after speaking to other attendees…they told me that they had spent at least $5k to be there). (Oh yeah…my table and location was just as good as the folks that had spent at least 10 times as much). Here’s what I experienced in a nutshell: For two full days, a number of “b” list actors from reality shows, defunct sitcoms, and their significant others, stopped by our both, feigned like they were actually interested in my products, and were non-to happy to grab as much of it as they could since it was for free. A few reporters did run some minor stories about MFM but I can tell you this: We received not a single order resulting from the gift suite.. even from the “celebrities” that “claimed that they loved the products. I can also tell you that a number of other vendors had the same exact experience.

- In summary then …while it may be fun to see some of the actors from old game shows and your favorite sitcoms and get pictures of them holding your products, I fond that these events are just a good way to give charity to actors that really dont need it. Yes…Ive also heard the stories of a famous celebrity falling in love with a new product and volunteering to be the spokesperson…but trust me… that scenario is rare and usually not derived from a celebrity gifting suite…it most likely occurred due to someone’s PR efforts.

Since Father’s Day is just around the corner…here is my fatherly advice: Use the time, money, and effort that you would have put into attending a gifting suite into more efficient avenues … like PR and advertising.

ps- If you want to see the type of photos that you are most likely to obtain from these events, please click here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.40922080931.73238.39567460931&type=3