We keep hearing that the promotional products business is changing, but for established distributors, fully grasping all of the implications hasn’t been easy.

Understandably, when you’ve been doing something with great success during most of your business life, it will be hard to accept that you have to change into something completely new and unknown. You just can’t see it. Having gone out of business myself when the printing business went through major changes, keeping your eyes open to see what’s going on, and an open mind ready to embrace the new is indispensable if you want to live through – and thrive – through the business evolution process.

We’ve seen how new companies have popped up in the promo world in the last 10 years, with new -online- business models. They are growing like wildfire. Even if you are not interested in changing your model to theirs, it is very important to know your competition.  You want to know their strengths, weaknesses, and also their markets, so you can identify your opportunities.

That’s why I want to share this fantastic article by Mark Graham, owner of distributor company Right Sleeve in Canada, about his visit to a Vistaprint brick-and-mortar store in Toronto. From his first impression to his experience as a potential customer, he describes the store concept in detail and provides valuable insights.

To me, it reminds me of a franchise that I consider purchasing when I first opened my business, that provided complete marketing services in a retail store type setting. At the time, it was very much they type of business model I had in mind.  I thought done this way it would attract too small businesses with much smaller budgets than what I wanted to target. Since it has just come into the market it didn’t have any track records to show that it worked, so I passed. I decided to rent office space that was a lot more affordable, plus there was no franchise fee, nor the cost of all the furnishings they required.

Turned out, the franchise as a whole failed a few years later for that very reason.

At any rate, I highly recommend your read his article and afterward, take the time to make notes of your own strengths as compared to this big competitor, your weaknesses, and the changes you can make in your business this week, that will help you modernize your operation.

Here is the link.

Let me know what you think.