Let’s talk metal.
Not Iron Maiden (although we’d love to do that, too), but printing metal at your printmaking business.
We’ve been having daily conversations with printmaking companies like yours for years, and what we’ve learned is that you should not only be offering metal, you should be shouting from the rooftops about it.
We’re talking via all of your marketing channels – social media, search engine optimization, door-to-door, etc., and also telling your existing customers that they can now order metal prints from you (more tips on how to talk to your customers about this in #4 below).
Metal is the product that will take not only your business, but our entire industry from “bottom of the barrel” low cost/low margin deals, to high margins and extremely fruitful sales.
So let’s get into five reasons offering metal is critical to the success (or failure) of your printmaking business.
1. Metal prints make up an estimated 30% of the prints being sold online
This one is just common sense, right? If any substrate makes up 30% of prints that are being sold online, you must be offering prints on that substrate.
Lucky for you, this 30% is particularly special because of its high profit margins.
There’s a bigger picture, though. This 30% is currently made up of metal sales, but eventually this will change.
“If you don’t evolve, you die.”
Most photographers or artists who are looking for fulfillment partners are looking for a one-stop shop.
Part of why it’s so important to offer metal today is that you are demonstrating to your potential customers that you’ll be there for them no matter where the market goes.
2. The metal market is growing while canvas is shrinking
Canvas-focused print studios have been declining and even going out of business increasingly over the last 3-5 years. With about 30,000 print studios, photo labs, photographers, and artists making up our customer base, we have been permitted unique insight into this changing market by spending each day on the phone discussing what our customers are seeing out there each day.
What we find are more companies than we can count who have seen their canvas sales decline. Those who have not capitalized on the metal opportunity as quickly are often unable to compete with the leaders in our industry who are innovating.
“In any business, you can’t be complacent. If you do, you’re going to go backwards.”
Breathing Color is the largest canvas manufacturer in the U.S., so you can imagine how significant metal is to our industry as a whole if we are telling you that offering metal prints is more important right now than offering canvas ones.
3. Prints on metal are the highest profit margin and revenue-generating product in the industry right now
A simple Google search on a major online art gallery website will reveal that their prints on metal are much more expensive per print than prints on canvas. It’s normal to see a 200-300% increase in the price of metal prints over canvas ones.
Let’s split that estimate and call it a 250% increase. That means you could sell 30 prints on canvas at 16″x20″ for $104 each or $3,120 total. It would only take only 12 metal prints to bring you to that same $3,120 total!
As a business, you should be promoting these products which earn you the highest profit margin and highest average order size.
4. You can market to your existing audience and customer base
If you have built a business from the ground up, you know how difficult it can be to get yourself established and gain a customer base who trusts you and your products and services. Penetrating a market in this way is certainly not easy and it is not cheap.
With metal, it is simple.
The fantastic part of offering this new substrate is that you can pull in a large amount of revenue without actually adding new customers to your business. This means you can take your existing customer list and announce to them that you have launched a new exciting product. This will naturally result in new business from your existing and past customers.
So, how do you do it the right way?
- Introducing a new product with a discount is extremely effective, and one we use all the time. A 20%-off introductory rate has proven to be our “magic number” through extensive testing, so we recommend starting here. Naturally a certain percent of your list will take you up on your offer.Example sales growth from an introductory discount: +10%
- Up-selling is a strong strategy to increase your revenue and profits. If someone is visiting your site to buy a print, you should make sure that the highest profit-generating product is front and center, catching their attention. Of course, some buyers come to your site with something specific in mind, but this is where you can provide quick education or feature call-outs to them which can result in an increased order value.Example average order value increase from up-selling: +10%
- Cross-selling is another strong strategy. Anytime you sell any print on your website, your customer should be seeing information about metal prints as an add-on product.Example sales growth from cross-selling: +10%
Combine these three techniques and that’s a +30% sales growth!
If you’re selling $250,000 per year, 30% growth increases your sales to $325,000.
What else can you do?
Write blog posts. Talk about your process, why you do certain things the way you do them, why you don’t do other things. Talk about the materials you use and why. SEO these articles like crazy.
Not only will this help you to draw in new, organic traffic, it’s just another planted “seed” in the mind of your existing customers who have not yet made the jump to buying metal.
5. Minimal Investment Required to Get Started
Adding metal prints to your product offerings is likely to be quite simple and doesn’t involve much change to your website or other infrastructure. Depending on your e-commerce platform, adding metal is often as easy as clicking a few buttons.
Metal printing should also be a “drop-in” for your technical support and/or customer support staff members too. Nothing too out of the ordinary here, just brief them on the product and let them run with it.
And what about equipment costs? Doesn’t adding metal as an option entail all sorts of equipment, not least of which a new printer?
If you are familiar with dye sublimation, you know it is the most popular means to produce metal prints. This transfer process also comes with many added capital expenditures. A special dye sub ink printer and the ink to run it, a large heat press, employee training, transfer paper, etc.
By contrast, Allure metal panels are a life-saver. Using Allure, print direct to metal with your Epson printer. No special inks required.
As for additional costs, if you choose to laminate Allure, you will need a roll laminator, but many shops already have this for mounting, face mounting, etc.
Metal is in very high demand.
You won’t find another product right now that commands such high profit margin and leads to such large average order value.
Prints on metal are also becoming more and more expected by photographers and fine artists who are looking to outsource metal prints.
It’s also a great way to signal to your customer base that you are invested in the evolution of the market.
And, with Allure, it’s easier than ever to add this increasingly popular product type to your roster of substrates.
Any questions about printing on metal? Give us a call, or drop a comment below.
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