If it seems to good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true…

Have you ever googled a product that you want to buy and had a million results for that product?

Have you ever then filtered those results to find the lowest price inclusive of postage?

It’s brilliant when you get a bargain, finding a variation of what you’re looking for at half the price and they give you free postage too, what can be better?

So where am I going with this?

Recently I had a conversation with a potential customer, after asking her initial question, we went on to discuss the product that she wanted and when she wanted it for.
This lady seemed happy with the price and terms at the time and we left it that she would be back to order in around about a week.
When following up with the customer a week later to confirm that she still wanted to order I was met with the dreaded words… “Thank you, but I’ve found it cheaper somewhere else.”

That’s ok with me, I know that The Fallen Angel Gallery isn’t the cheapest personalised gift specialist, I like to be competitive, but I also know that I charge my worth, I refuse to work for free, because after all I’m a business woman, not a charity.

This by no means is a dig or an insult to the customer, in fact our conversation resonated with me, it made me think, but it didn’t make me question myself – that said I know that it is human instinct to shop around, look for the best bargain and it’s just good sense to not spend double the money on something that you can get somewhere else for a fraction of the price.

That said it’s equally as important to know what you’re paying for, why are you paying more? What can the other company offer you that this company doesn’t or indeed what can The Fallen Angel Gallery offer you that perhaps the other company doesn’t.

A hairdresser isn’t always a Barber…

And a Graphic Designer isn’t always a printer – that is the thing to remember.

Obviously big companies have the finances to employ a large number of staff members, you can have Johnny designing, Stan printing, an apprentice packaging your orders and you need never need to speak to anyone regarding your order.

But, what happens if you have a problem? What happens if you do need to speak to somebody, you get to call a 0300 number, press option 3, 1, 5, 6 and sit back and hope that you manage to get through to the right person, in the case that you don’t you can always be transferred to the right department… After 25 minutes of telling the wrong person your problem.

Also it’s equally important to remember that a lot of major printing companies either add the exact photo you upload to your order, they don’t tweak it, you’re not going to send away a blurry old photo and get something back that looks like a professional has taken it, they won’t magically turn a landscape photo into a portrait photo to fit your product.

Although I can’t promise to do the same, I can promise I’ll try, I can guarantee a human being is handling your photo, not just at the printing process, but at the design process too. The owner of the company is printing/quality controlling your products, meaning that you, as customers, as the most important thing.

Big companies can offer you heavily discounted items, they can most of the time offer free postage, but can they offer you the customer service to go with it? Maybe, maybe not.

A ‘Graphic Designer’ and a Graphic Designer…

A mug designed with no graphic design skills VS a mug designed using graphic design techniques

When you buy a mug you aren’t just paying for the mug, the postage, the paper and the ink, you need to break it down into small segments and find out exactly what you’re paying for and I’ll tell you why…

 

  • Mug – What mugs do your suppliers use? Are they pure white? Are they cheaper because they’re not coated evenly or have blemishes? Are they dishwasher proof?
  • Ink – What ink does your supplier use? The price of the ink usually is a good indicator as to whether your images/photos will come out bright, vibrant and most importantly if they will fade sooner rather than later.
  • Paper – Many people don’t think to take this into consideration, are your printing company using cheap paper to print your images/photos on? Are they experienced enough to be printing on the right side of the paper? Believe me this happens… A lot!
  • Design – Is the person or company experienced in graphic design? Will they enhance/change your photo to look the best it can be? 
  • Equipment – Are the company you are buying from using good, quality equipment?  A lot of new printers will buy cheap equipment imported from China, these presses are notorious for uneven heat plates that will ruin any prints undertaken in them.
  • Printing – Low quality equipment can cause faded prints, as well as other problems. Also an inexperienced printer may not have the right software and settings attached to their printer for sublimation printing, which will change the appearance of the whole photo and can even cause a complete colour shift in certain tones!

Equipment and experience costs more money…

When you pay more there’s always a reason for it, you’re paying for a product, a skill and of course postage. You’re paying for a company to make you an amazing photo gift using high quality equipment and consumables – you’re paying for a skill that not everyone possesses and your paying for the person who is making it’s time.
You’re paying for their premises rent, you’re paying for their electricity, you’re paying for the blank product, ink, paper, packaging and postage costs,

This is all fair and should always be expected with small companies that cannot afford to buy in large quantities of stock. If you are buying from a small business and the prices are cheap then the chances are, they are unregistered companies, using very cheap stock, skimping on quality ink/paper/equipment/skills and maybe not even insured!

No insurance can be a very big problem if there was a defect on a product, imagine your sitting on your sofa, cuddling your little one while taking a sip of your boiling hot coffee and that mug breaks in half spilling that coffee all over your child and scolding them.
Ok, it’s not likely to happen, but it’s not impossible and if you need to hold a company liable you at least want them to be insured.

 

A close up of a low quality image added to a photo rock slate 1 without correction and with.

Above is an example of poor graphic design, poor printing and most importantly use of the wrong printing press.

The first image has been added to the slate without alignment, it has also been printed at the wrong temperature and time in a flat press. There is no image adjustments with this low quality image, it is printed as it was sent.

How can i tell it’s been printed with a flat press? If you look at the uneven edges around the slate, they are still white, this is the sublimation coating showing through, because a flat press cannot reach in the grooves to transfer the ink.

In the second photo you cannot see any white parts in the grooves around the edge of the slate, this is because it’s been printed in a 3d heat press, using a vacuum suction to pull the image into as many crevices as possible, meaning that you will not get a half printed slate. The photo has also been aligned as centrally as possible, to get as much of the child in the focal point as possible, the contrast and brightness has been adjusted and the image in general has been sharpened because it is old and has a slight blur.

I charge around about £7 more to print these photo slates than a lot of my competitors, that £7 pays towards the cost of a 3d heat press, the cost of running it and for my time when making adjustments to low quality photos – is it still worth going elsewhere because it’s cheaper? 

 

Don’t just take my word for it, listen to the customers, the people who pay me, the people who unwrap their orders, the people that are still using their mugs, admiring their slates and buying from The Fallen Angel Gallery over a year later.

When asked why my regular customers buy from me, this was their response…

 

You’re friendly and approachable. You always make me feel welcome and like you have time to actually talk to me not just take my money and send the item with no communication.. and most of all.. Your items are all absolutely beautiful and amazing qualityNatalie Clifft

Because of the service, the honesty id rather pay that bit extra and get a high quality item. Opposed to something that’s cheaper and will fall to bits a few months down the line.
You always get items out as quickly as you can. You’re always honest if you think a certain design won’t work where as other people don’t.Amanda Liddell

Friendly, fast service, different products to other sellers! So excited for my daughters pjs to arrive!Ashleigh Fawcett

Natalie has hit the nail on the head, you are friendly and even though you are busy you take time to speak to people. We buy from you because you are reliable, will do your utmost to get items out as soon as possible. Your honest too. You listen to people, you named an elephant Lenny after you heard a ladies sad news.Denise Shotter