When your customers hold you back

Pf1606Ten or twelve years ago, I used to buy stuff from Paper Direct. They sell preprinted sheets that you run through your laser printer to make brochures and business cards and such.

In those days, when laser printers were still a little rare (and only printed in black toner) this was a neat way to make a sole proprietorship seem a little more professional.

I got their catalog in the mail today and browsed through it. I was stunned. The stuff they sell is exactly the same. The same pastel colors, boring designs, slightly cheesy look and very cheesy fonts in the examples. The market has changed radically but the products haven’t changed a bit.

Today you can print astonishing color on a $200 printer. You can do professional short run printing on an Indigo machine. But Paper Direct is still selling design from the 1980s. It sort of screams, "home office!"

My bet? I think that every time they try to introduce something more hip or effective than "PC1606 Tropical Fish Postcards", their audience doesn’t buy any. As a result, they slavishly serve their existing audience. Which is no doubt profitable, but how can they grow?

The organizations that have the most impact and grow the quickest are those that frequently alienate their existing customer base.

Hundreds of designed printable border papers, brochures, certificates at PaperDirect..