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Des Moines Commercial Printing vs. Vistaprint

Commercial Printing is an industry that has unfortunately been comoditized over the years resulting in closures of numerous local businesses. We see it every day as people constantly try to get their commercial printing done as cheaply as possible.  Notice I said, "cheaply", not "cost effectively" as there is a big dfference.

A "Cost Effective" purchase is one in which you are receiving a premium value for your money while "Cheap" simply means purchasing at minimum cost and can actually also be defined as "of lower quality." When customers are only interested in the "cheapness" of their printed materials, just remember, you get what you pay for. Expect as little effort as possible with regards to customer service, quality, and any post sales assistance needed should a problem arise.  

I've always found it interesting that some local businesses choose the "cheap" online route rather than finding a "cost effective" option buying local. If you actually look, you will find pricing to be quite similar and in most cases the local option would actually be less. I use Vistaprint as my example because the only way they can sell product is to talk about their "cheapness". They have based their entire advertising campaign solely on the fact that they are cheap. They have played a major role in the commoditization of commercial printing simply through their marketing efforts. In reality, despite what their commercials say, ordering from Vistaprint saves little if any money over using local print vendors.  

Let's just think about Vistaprint's model for a second and apply some common sense. Vistaprint consistently offers "free" business cards.  How many businesses do you know of that survive giving away free product? The answer is there aren't any and VistaPrint is not an exception.

Vistaprint's offer of "free" business cards isn't exactly free.  That is unless you want the phrase "Build your business at" on the back of your cards, want to use one of their standard templates, and can drive to the Vistaprint location and pick them up yourself which I'm not even sure is allowed. Nothing screams, "I'm a real business" like a Vistaprint marketing message on the back of your business card! If anyone wants "Build your business at" on the back of your cards, I'll offer you the same deal!

In order to get 250 "custom" (still limited on paper stocks but with your own artwork) business cards printed 4/0 and receive them in 3 days (our standard is 2 days) it will cost you $42.32. Again, I'll match that deal all day long.


Here are the calculations taken straight from the Vistaprint website...

Total product cost of Free Business Cards $20.47 (cost of Free Business Cards = oxymoron)

Shipping and Processing Costs:

Rush+: 3 Business Days $21.85

Priority: 7 Days      $11.54

Standard: 14 Days           $6.93

Quantity: 250
Delivery Country: United States of America
Customization: Yes
Color Options: 4/0 - Full color front, blank back
Paper Stock: Glossy Stock
Foil Accent No


Read the fine print.  This is also taken directly from Vistaprint's website.  Funny, their definition of "free" is apparently different than mine. 

Are your free product offers really free? Yes! You only pay for the costs actually incurred in taking your order and ensuring your product reaches you and for any product upgrades that you select when you customise your product. If you want to get your free product faster, expedited delivery is also available for an additional charge. 

To clarify, they just said their products are free (which they aren't as shown above) but you have to pay them for taking your order.  Feel free to facepalm yourself, I just did.

The example of VistaPrint's deceptive advertising on business cards is just one reason you shouldn't be using online printers.  Here are a few other reasons to avoid online printers...

1) Online printers are cookie cutter shops. When you want custom work done, they are not set up for it.  While they may be able to do it, any efficiencies they have created to keep prices down go out the window and your price goes way up.

2) Nearly every job is run on a gang meaning it is nearly impossible to get consistent color.

3) They will try to sell you approximately 20 different items before you are finally able to check out. It's pretty annoying.  Feel free to see for yourself.

4) If you don't believe me just read about them on consumer affairs. 1049 Complaints and Reviews - 7% 5 star, 72% 1 star!

5) They sell your customer information to other businesses. Hey, they have to pay for all those commercials somehow!

6) The biggest reason you shouldn't be using online printers is because you have great local options...

At Blue Frog we take a great deal of pride in being exceptional at providing cost effective commercial printing solutions to our customers.  Not only do we work hard to give our customers competitive pricing, but we also put a big emphasis on customer service.  Our best customers view us as partners who provide a valuable service to them and not simply as a vendor providing a commodity item. Our customers appreciate us and we appreciate them. 

We, like many other local printers, also support local charities and not for profit organizations through in kind donations.  We even make an effort to highlight a different local charity we work with in each of our monthly email newsletters. Additionally, our business as well as our employees buy goods and services from businesses and individuals in our community and that's good for Des Moines businesses as well. 

So, next time you need something printed, think about buying local instead of from one of those online vendors. Even if it's not Blue Frog that you choose to work with, do what you can to work with your local Des Moines printers!

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