The Story Behind Vistaprint’s Rapid Business Growth and Future Plans

Vistaprint, an internet-based custom printing company, has recently found high levels of success, garnering annual revenues over $1.1 Billion. But, how does the business intend to ensure continuous future growth? We sat down with Vistaprint’s CMO, Don LeBlanc, to ask him that exact question.

Unique Business Growth Strategy

The company has achieved its current high level of success through its unique business growth strategy for discerning customer preferences, establishment of a legitimate brand, and ability to sacrifice short-term profits in the pursuit of long-term growth. Vistaprint’s growth strategy is differentiated because it is not singularly focused, but rather a multifaceted plan that emphasizes the importance of expanding in terms of product offerings, geography, distribution methods, and diverse promotion channels, rather than choosing just one avenue for business growth.

Customers & Value Proposition

LeBlanc emphasized that another key component of Vistaprint’s rapid growth is its constant efforts to identify new customer segments. This particular facet of Vistaprint’s business growth strategy, however, isn’t just focused on reaching more customers but involves discerning the satisfaction and preferences of existing customers. Vistaprint does this by conducting many in-home or in-office interviews in order to, in the words of LeBlanc, “talk to customers about what they get from us, what they get from others and how they view the value proposition.”

Quality, Trust & Great Customer Service

Vistaprint’s growth really accelerated when the company was finally able to establish a legitimate and relevant brand. In fact, Leblanc admits that when the company first began, “of course, we had a brand, but there was no active management of it or investment in it.” Now the situation is quite different, as Vistaprint has established a “strong corporate brand,” based on its values of quality, trust, and great customer service. This brand has served as both an asset and a guide as the company grows more and more.

Long-Term Thinking

When determining a company’s brand strategy, growth acceleration plan, and ideal customer segments, it’s crucial that the company focus on whether the decisions it makes are good choices in the long-term, rather than just accretive in the short-term. Leblanc asserts that this has been the biggest challenge for Vistaprint in the past years. For example, when customers complained that Vistaprint’s shipping costs were inordinately high, Vistaprint lowered them. While this action certainly led to a decrease in short-term profits, Vistaprint’s legitimate response to a customer complaint helped build long-term relationships that will be financially beneficial to the business.

Reaching Untapped Markets

Looking forward, LeBlanc discussed the company’s plans to maintain, or ideally increase, the revenues Vistaprint has captured so far. The company’s plan for the future rests on continuing its current strategy of growing and diversifying across channels, regions, and customer segments, while also adjusting slightly the focus of its global expansion and aiming for new customer segments. For example, LeBlanc mentioned Vistaprint’s plans to attempt to sell to the new customer segment of small businesses, as opposed to the microbusinesses the company usually sells to. In terms of an altered business growth strategy for geographic expansion, Robert Keane, the founder of Vistaprint, noted that “You can’t not be in the place where all the future growth is going to come from.” Thus, Vistaprint plans to focus on bringing its business offerings to the relatively untapped market of developing countries.

The Concept of Balance

Finally, LeBlanc offered some advice on balance that he has gleaned from his time as a CMO at Vistaprint. Vistaprint’s successes so far, and the anticipated success of its future business plan, are both inextricably connected to the concept of balance. Vistaprint excels at balancing doing too much with doing too little. What this means is that Vistaprint is constantly managing the tension between having a varied portfolio of business growth ideas that it implements, while simultaneously making sure it does not overextend itself. This is an extremely difficult line to toe, and LeBlanc’s tenure as CMO has been an exercise in striking that exact balance.

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