You know the digital revolution is serious when business cards go high tech.
London-based Moo.com, a mail-order printing company, is chiseling out a compelling small-business niche: customized business cards and other marketing material made in small batches. You can run as few as 50 cards, each printed with its own image or information.
I tested the service. Our resident technophobe, Nick, and I designed and created a set of cards. My verdict? Moo.com cards are perfectly reasonable. But expect a reasonable-quality hit compared with high-run, traditional, custom-designed and -printed cards and collateral.
In other words, Moo.com can work if you don't ask too much of it.
If there is one thing that drives small-business people nuts, it is wasted marketing collateral. As much as I love what my designers create for my business cards, stationery, letterhead and the like, the practicality of printing has traditionally meant I had to order far more of these things than I ever could use.
Most quality printing -- not the stuff from FedEX Kinko's (STOCK QUOTE: FDX) or UPS (STOCK QUOTE: UPS), but printing processes that add real value to your business -- still relies on some form of offset print technology that is centuries old. Either through the use of movable type, by hand, chemical etching or other means, one part of a hard surface is raised or lowered, ink is applied to that surface and paper or fabric is pressed on the whole mess.Whatever sticks to the paper is what gets printed. The result can be elegant. No business can succeed without great printed material. But there is no getting around the time it took to make the plates, push in all that gloppy ink and roll it on all that sill paper.