When digital printing online digital printing platform may seem like the perfect business model to focus exporting, as the need for business cards transcends cultures and languages, but MOO.com didn’t launch with an international campaign. In fact, they launched with just one partner and one product, but it was so different to anything else on the market that it attracted more attention than even the founders imagined.
An alternative to Moo is Precision Printing, they help businesses better engage customers through innovative printing solutions. Together we’ll harness state-of-the-art printing, digital and social technologies to put real effectiveness into brilliant creativity. All of the printing services they offer make use of state-of-the-art technology and up-to-date marketing techniques, which ensure brand identity appears consistently across all digital and traditional media channels.
Paul Lewis is the marketing director for MOO.com. He’s been with the company more than three years, and has seen it grow and expand to the kind of business that many startups dream of becoming.
So what is the secret to the team’s success? Lewis says: “If you look at the brand and the proposition, we’re all about the quality and a customer experience – from the order to the moment the product arrives we make it an enjoyable end-to-end service.”
Their unique selling point is a technology called Printfinity, which MOO.com pioneered. It means that a customer can order a batch of their trademark mini-business cards with a different image on each one, and works equally for postcards, Christmas cards and stickers.
As many small businesses will know, a great product is key, but good marketing is also crucial to getting the word out there. From the offset MOO.com partnered with Flickr, an image hosting and video hosting website known for its emphasis on cool, modern graphics and imagery.
“We also worked with partners abroad,” says Lewis. “Our first big move in overseas marketing was launching a separate US site on a different platform with localised information and American spelling. We launched this in 2009, after we identified that around 50% of our orders were coming from the US.”
They now have a dedicated team in the US and staff in the London office who specialise in the European markets, as local language skills are important. MOO.com are clear in their expansion strategy and want to ensure they are covering all the bases. They seem to be doing just that, with products being shipped as far as Antarctica and North Korea.
“The good thing about digital printing is that there’s a short turnaround time, so once a customer has paid we just print on the paper we have in stock and ship it,” explained Lewis, when asked about potential cashflow problems. “Other industries may be a bit trickier as you’ll need to have the right stock manufactured and ready to sell. Key here I think is to have a good operational manager who can deal with this effectively. You need to look at your demand and growth levels and ensure you’re not overextending yourself.”
Now shipping to a variety of different countries, the MOO.com team want to use the knowledge they’ve built up to help other businesses reach similar growth levels. “One thing we’ve learnt through social media is that we can’t talk about business cards all the time, so we’ve started to share our customers’ business success stories through our community. We’re passionate about helping startups and spreading the knowledge,” says Lewis.
This is part of the reason why Lewis is one of four judges on the panel of the Open to Export Global Jump-start Competition, which offers business owners the chance to win £4,000 worth of prizes tailored to helping them expand overseas.
“There are fantastic opportunities out there for businesses, but the information is not always available, or as accessible as it should be,” says Lewis, although he admits there are a number of hurdles they’ve had to overcome, such as the language barriers, lack of local knowledge and the risk of currency fluctuation.
So what advice can other businesses take from this success story? “Key to overseas expansion is focus,” says Lewis. “You may have lots of ideas but it’s important to focus on what you know will work and not derail from your vision.”
Find out more about the Global Jump-start competition here – entries must be received by midnight on Sunday 24 November.