Our Key Fundamental Strategy for Print Studio Success

Find out how our customers are using our software as the foundation for successful, thriving online art businesses.

I processed over $20,000 in orders in my first month, and my holiday season was almost triple what it was last year.

As the fine art reproduction and photography printing industries continue to evolve, it’s important to ensure your business is keeping pace.

In this post, we’re sharing what we’ve learned about successful print studios, and how approaching your online business with a few simple pieces of fundamental strategy in mind can be the key to success.


Art Storefronts now has dozens of “mom and pop,” single-printer-owning fine art print studios who will bill well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars through their Art Storefront in their first year.

The volume these print studios are processing is increasing on a monthly basis as they continue to use the software and gain a better understanding of how to get their customers to use it.

Part of this success has to do with the way B2B transactions are taking place in the modern, online marketplace.

Scott Regan at Business 2 Community notes, “B2B eCommerce already accounts for more revenue ($559B vs. $252B) than B2C and is growing faster as well. A key reason behind this explosive growth is the expectations of B2B buyers. Just as they’ve become accustomed to the ability to make retail and lifestyle purchases online, they’ve begun searching for a similar user experience when making business purchases.“

Analyzing the Data

Technology creates competitive advantage by giving companies new ways to outperform their rivals.

We work alongside hundreds of fine art print studios and photo labs who are all using our software, so we have the unique ability to analyze performance data from all of these businesses and draw valid conclusions on what is and isn’t working.

For example, we can analyze how design and implementation decisions have resulted in greater or lesser success in terms of overall sales, customer conversion rates, and customer lifetime value. We detailed some of these in our previous post, 10 Web Design Mistakes That Are Costing You Traffic and Sales.

From this data, along with interviews from some of our top performing print studios, we have been able to pinpoint something rather profound. It is a fundamental strategy that our most successful print studios all seem to be implementing while others are to a far lesser degree, or not at all.

It is so profound, that it is literally making the difference between tens of thousands of dollars versus hundreds of thousands in annual sales.

Studio Success

As a result, we believe this fundamental strategy is both industry-changing and game-changing.

The purpose of this post is to first define this strategy, and then to help all of our print studios implement the strategy in order to maximize their success.

The Strategy


Not only do companies today need to exceed customer expectations, but they need to make it easy for the customer to do business with the company.

So what is this fundamental industry-changing strategy?

Our top performing print studios are making web software the foundation from which customers transact business with them.

In doing this, they focus relentlessly on getting everyone they possibly can – existing customers and new customers alike – to use their web software as the primary way to buy their prints.

Through this, our top performing print studios have made it:

  • easier for customers to order from them
  • easier to receive, process, and communicate about each order
  • easier to acquire new customers
  • easier to retain customers
  • easier to market to all of their customers regularly

As a result, these print studios:

  • have happier customers since their lives have been made substantially easier
  • earn more referrals

Studies show that a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 people about your company.

  • earn higher profit margins on every initial sale since they spend far less time on each one
  • earn even higher profit margins on re-orders since little to no time is being spent
  • earn higher total order amounts on each sale since people tend to purchase more when the process is easier
  • retain more long-term customers (once people are set up, it’s painful to leave i.e. iTunes. Read more about Vendor Lock-In)

Customer Retention

My customer retention, reorders and overall sales increased by almost 100% in the first three months…

When your business is operating efficiently, it gives you more time to market your business and increase sales.

Debbie Dragon at BusinessDictionary.com, in Using Technology to Maximize Efficiency
  • have completely differentiated themselves from competitors and have more value to offer

Are you making web software the foundation from which customers transact business with you?

Interestingly, we’ve spoken to several customers who thought they were already implementing this strategy , but after quickly reviewing their day-to-day tactics, we found that they were not.

Approaching web software as your foundational business strategy means more than getting a website up and running. Let’s look at how to get the most out of your online business.

Web Software is Changing the World

Web software is the centerpiece of what has been changing the business world over the last decade.

Just look at a few of these incredible success stories:

  • Uber disrupted the taxicab industry. Uber is just web software. They don’t even own a single taxi cab.
  • Netflix disrupted retail movie rentals. First by offering rental delivery, and now streaming, both through the use of web software.
  • Art.com disrupted brick and mortar art retailers, by offering wider selection and options, all thanks to web software.
  • Fine Art America disrupted fine art print studios and photo labs and has siphoned away millions of dollars in printing business, all by providing websites to artists and placement in their online gallery. Fine Art America is just web software. They have a 25mb upload file size maximum (unbelievable, right?), and they don’t even own a single printer!

All of these companies have one thing in common:

They have used web software to provide a dramatically better online experience that results in higher value provided to the customer. The difference is so dramatic, these services “sell themselves.”

Companies can no longer compete on great products. Instead, create a customer experience no one else can rival.

The use of web software is now so pervasive, even a local veterinarian is using it to provide a better customer experience:

Studio Success

This veterinarian is leveraging web software to make taking care of your pet easier than ever. Customers will enjoy this convenience so much that they will ultimately become accustomed to using the software. And once customers get used to certain conveniences, it becomes inconvenient to take their business elsewhere.

This savvy veterinarian is using web software to help them retain more customers. How can you do the same?

Day-to-Day Tactics

Now that we’ve defined the strategy, and we know the financial results of properly implementing this strategy, let’s explore the day-to-day, tactical implementation.

Before we get started, you should know that this is by no means a comprehensive list of tactics. After reading, we encourage you to take some time to ponder these tactics and come up with your own that will provide the best results for your business.

1. Redefine Your Sales Pitch & Value Proposition

However they find you, every new potential customer needs to know all the new reasons why your print studio is awesome. In other words, you need to redefine your value proposition.

Creating an irresistible sales pitch is all about making your prospect acutely aware of the value that they will derive from your product or service, in a clear and quantifiable way.

Before you had web software, you probably gave a standard pitch on why a customer should work with your print studio. If you’re like everyone else, this would include statements about your print quality (everyone thinks they have the best print quality, or use the best materials), or perhaps you’re an amazing person to work with (what print studio owner isn’t?!?), etc.

But now, you should have a whole new pitch. One that should include the old stuff, but that also incorporates the new stuff – the game-changing stuff. Your print studio is awesome for a whole bunch of new reasons and you’ll never benefit from it unless your customers know about it.

Our most successful print studios make it a point to incorporate as many of these points as they can when they pitch to new customers. For example, how each customer:

  • will be able to order anytime, from anywhere, and from any device
  • will have instant visibility of every single image they have on file, including available sizes, media types, and other print options
  • will no longer have to call you to have their questions answered since detailed descriptions and specifications are available on the spot

Creating new orders and making repeat orders has never been easier for my artists.

  • will be able to obtain quotes for any combination of images and chosen print options, directly on your website
  • will be able to drop ship orders directly to customers, or submit a resale certificate and buy tax exempt
  • will be able to see their entire order history and download invoices, which will make things easier for their own accounting
  • will be able to do cool things like using an ipad on a client visit and use tools like the Wall Preview or the Zoom-In to help them make more sales

Studio Success

  • will have a presence in your online gallery of artists (if you prefer, of course) to help them sell more art
  • will get their own free-standing child website that comes equipped with all of these amazing Art Storefronts features. More on this topic later.

This software gives me capabilities that my competitors don’t have, especially in how I can give an artist their own state-of-the-art website in exchange for their printing business.

Brad Jennings of Pro Print Studio. An Art Storefronts customer

All of these benefits are huge! But are you and your employees actively communicating them to your customers? Information like this is exactly what your customers are looking for, can they find it on your homepage?

Consider your company’s value proposition and how it has evolved – if it hasn’t, how can you and your employees better communicate your value proposition?

The purpose of a business is to create a customer and grow that customer.

Peter Drucker

Chances are, you’re hiding how awesome you really are. The good news is, there’s an easy way to fix this. Stop hiding!

The more value your business can provide to each customer, and how effectively you communicate this value, the greater chance they will be willing to pay for your products and services.

86% of people will pay more for a better customer experience.

from this study conducted by Oracle

Incorporating customer experience into your sales pitch might be a good idea, then!

2. Adjust Your Website Content & Marketing Material to Reflect Your New Value Proposition

Every new potential customer that either lands on your website or reads some form of marketing material that you provide should leave with a clear understanding of your new value proposition.

Be sure to dedicate some real estate on your website’s home page that highlights this. Maybe even create a separate page that provides all the in-depth details, which should include some of the points we discussed above.

3. Guide All New Customers to Order Through the Web Software

Studio Success
Whether working with a potential customer in person or by phone, they should be given your new, upgraded pitch. After they understand how great their experience will be now and in the future, they should be pretty happy about using your web software.

..my customers have never been happier.

Mark Lukes, Fine Print Imaging. An Art Storefronts customer

Then, guide them to use the web software to place their first order. Take them to the website, and if they need a little more help than others, tell them where they need to click. You should see their order come through a few minutes later. If you don’t, give them a courtesy call and offer some help.

Occasionally, a customer will have a question or two when they use the software for the first time. After we help them, they’re good to go from there.

Furthermore, brand new customers who place an order on your website without calling or emailing should not be left alone. Give them a call and make sure they hear the new pitch about your print studio too. Or, create a nicely designed PDF that you can email them.

However you choose to do it is up to you, but make sure every new customer is aware of your new value proposition, and make sure every attempt is made to have each customer order through your web software.

Doing this effectively will result in the greatest value to your company over the long run.

4. Guide All Existing Customers to Start Ordering Through the Web Software

Maintaining and building your business with existing customers is just as important, if not more important, than your new customers.

Bain & Company reports, “It costs 6–7 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.” Marketing Metrics backs this conclusion up, stating, “The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.”

Needless to say, make sure all of your existing customers are made aware of the improvements you have made and how this software will make their lives easier and significantly improve their business.

5. Upload Archives for Existing Customers, When Necessary

This is particularly important to do with your best customers who order frequently, or those who require a lot of time.

Here is where you gather all of the files they have ever given you to print, then upload those files into their user account. If they don’t already have a user account set up, you will create one for them then provide the username and password for them to use for future purchases. Once this is complete, you will take them step by step on what they need to do to start an order.

Since repeat customers typically order more than double that of new customers, making sure the ordering process is as easy as possible is of utmost importance.

eCommerce spending for new customers is on average $24.50, compared to $52.50 for repeat customers.


This point would also be necessary whenever a customer needs a piece of artwork scanned. Once scanned, the piece should be added directly into their Art Storefronts account for easy purchasing later on.

6. When Met with Resistance, Stay the Course


If you give a man a fish, he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach a man to fish, you can feed him for a lifetime.


Bailing out a customer from using the software will not benefit you, and it certainly will not help them either. They will continue the same time wasting ordering process, therefore defeating the purpose of the software. All you have done is helped them order from you today.

The value of properly setting up your customers to conduct business with you through web software is that you will set them up to order from you for a lifetime.

In other words, once you’ve taught them “how to fish”, orders will just keep rolling in!

Needless to say, we all have customers that are allergic to technology. Some of them may flat out refuse even after you have fully explained the benefits. In these cases, you might be better off just taking their orders over the phone or email as you always have. Even our top performing print studios do this. Granted, this is always more the exception than the rule.

As a rule of thumb, you should never bail out a customer from using the web software unless it is absolutely necessary. If they don’t know where to get started, show them. Walk them through it. When they hit a stumbling block, help them. You’re teaching them how to fish so they can order from you for a lifetime – so be patient, it might take a moment before it all sinks in.

Example Stumbling Block

Here’s a common objection our customers face, and how our top performing print studio’s handle it:

Stumbling Block: File size limitation, “But I don’t want to compress my file!”

Solution: First, explain that it has been widely documented that using 92 jpeg compression will have no noticeable effect on the quality of the print in articles like this. It would even be smart to have a dedicated page on your website that covers this topic thoroughly along with references from experts and other studies.

If the customer is still hesitant, do not waste any more time. Have them send you the file via DropBox or whichever method they always use. Once you have the file, compress it and create a new user account on your website for them. Upload the file, then email them their account username and password. It is best to use a simple password that you can remember, and that they can change later if they wish. Once they login they will be able to see their image and can immediately order it any way they want.

Now that you’ve set this customer up in your web software, they’re set up to buy this image again and again.

8. Use Email & Social Marketing to Drive Sales from Customers with User Accounts

When a customer has a user account within your web software, and they have instant access to their files, this means they can buy from you in seconds without having to call or email. This is one reason why eCommerce functionality is so lucrative.

Email marketing and social media marketing are practically ineffective if you don’t have eCommerce functionality. On the flip side, these methods are extremely effective when you do.

If your ecommerce business hasn’t taken the time to adopt email marketing, then you’re leaving money on the table.

Mark MacDonald at Shopify, in Why Email Marketing is the Key to Ecommerce Success

Let’s say you launch a new media type or you want to have a sale on all 1.5″ gallery wraps one week before Christmas to drive some extra sales. How do you currently do this? Do you send out an email blast, post it to your social media account, and hope people call you?

Studies show that these promotions fall flat without eCommerce. If you’ve ever wondered why your email blasts aren’t very effective, or why you’re getting no return on your social media efforts, its because you haven’t made it flat out easy for your customers — especially your existing customers — to order from you.

Our most successful print studios are perfectly positioned to capitalize on the effectiveness of email campaigns and social media posts. This all stems from the fact that they have maximized the amount of customers that have user accounts, and they have actively worked to maximize the quantity of images in each user’s account.

They’ve done this by:

  • always encouraging customers to their website to upload images
  • uploading for them and creating a user account for them, when required
  • retrieving and uploading images you already have on file
  • uploading for them after scanning

As a result, they have established a growing channel of customers who can immediately purchase printing services from them with just a few clicks! Therefore, whenever they send out an email blast or post something to Facebook, they get immediate results. The more images each customer has saved in their account, the higher those potential sales will be.

We have print studios who can launch a new print media like metal, and bring in over ten thousand dollars in new revenue from their existing customers just from a single email blast. Results like these occur because these print studios have implemented this fundamental strategy, and therefore have a large base of customers that can immediately buy prints of any image they have on file.

When you think about how many opportunities there are to promote certain things throughout the year, and the potential sales that could come from these opportunities, you can see how lucrative this can be for your business.


Art Storefronts makes me look like I’ve got a room full of programmers.

Jim Daly at Fine Image Artistry, an Art Storefronts customer

Our top performing print studios are making web software the foundation from which customers transact business with them.

Easier Said Than Done

Before a print studio can fully enjoy the benefits we have talked about, the person in control, whether it be the owner or CEO, must fully grasp this fundamental strategy and why it is so important for the future of the business.

Only then can a print studio and all of its employees be inspired and trained to execute on the various tactics that will be needed to fully implement this strategy on a day-to-day basis.

If you’re trying to convince your own employees that they need to start communicating these points to all of your customers, show them this post. Make sure they understand that their lives will improve when the business they work for is more successful.

Even local veterinarians get it, and they’re not even serving a business to business customer!

Leave a Comment:


Sell More Art Online

If we can't teach you, no one can!