Cheap Canvas Prints are all well and good. But not if it comes at the expense of quality - and it usually does.
Don't get me wrong - I know how important price is in the competitive marketing mix. And for the quality and standard of our work, site and service, I often think our canvas prints are way too cheap.
You see, as even Ryanair have now discovered, you simply can't compete on price over the long term. Sure, you'll get a bounce. Sales may go up initially. But as the saying goes - "Even dead cats bounce" and if you're not making a sustainable profit, you won't be in business for very long.
When I set up The Canvas Works, I had just left a 10 year career in advertising so I knew a few things about marketing, branding and the importance of carving out your space in the competitive landscape. Let me tell you - it's much harder in practice than it is in theory! The reality is that when the worst economic recession in 50 years hit Ireland and the world, all I was concerned about was staying afloat. My "brand values" were way down the list. Competing on price became very attractive - and necessary.
But what I reminded myself was that I personally, didn't get into this business just to knock out the cheapest prints I could. I wanted to make the best prints I could - for my market. I wanted to do the job right. I'm highly educated (like most Irish people) and I've got a lot of pride in what I do. I just don't think competing on price alone is compatible with being motivated by quality.
Take our stretcher bars. Over the past 8 years, I've worked with a local supplier here in Cork to manufacture these bars. He had never made one before in his life until he met me. He now makes the best stretcher bars in Ireland and probably further afield. We've gone through about 3 or 4 different designs, refining these bars and getting them right.
And they are not cheap. I could go out and source cheap stretcher bars tomorrow from China. They'd significantly reduce my input costs. But I'm just not going to do it. Maybe we'd sell more prints but I don't think I'd be happy making them anymore so what's the point?
No, we want to make great value canvas prints. Canvas prints that many, I hope, would in fact describe as cheap! But we want to continue to do it right. And that means having an unrelenting focus on quality. How can we improve the prints, improve the site, improve the service - even improve the packaging? That's what drives me personally and motivates me to keep working at the business and trying to take it up a notch or two.
Cheap canvas prints will get us some business. Quality canvas prints (or framed prints) will keep us in business.
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