Quark has announced the launch of QuarkPromote.com, a new online service aimed at promoting QuarkXpress 8 and creating new business for printers. The special website service is expected to help entrepreneurs and small businesses in the U.S. easily create their own high-quality, professional marketing materials that can be picked up at a neighborhood printer or received by mail in just a few days. According to the company, the service allows people with no previous design or printing experience to customize professionally designed templates for business cards, postcards, flyers, brochures, appointment cards, coupons, letterhead, and envelopes.
Quark hopes it can promote business for printers who use QuarkXpress 8. The customer using the service can opt to have the templates forwarded to a local printer for easy pickup. Quark has partnered with franchises such as Allegra Network, AlphaGraphics, PIP, Signal Graphics, and Sir Speedy as well as independents.
In addition to printers, QuarkPromote.com will also include a free directory of professional graphic designers that customers can use to find a nearby designer should they need other types of specialized materials. The designer and customer can then work together to create a logo, advertisement, or other items that go beyond the QuarkPromote.com templates.
The new program looks similar to the now defunct Microsoft Publisher Service Provider Program (PSPP). Printers who use QuarkXPress 8 can list their name and address on the site and if a customer orders a template, he can see a list of printers in his area who use QuarkXpress 8. He can download the template, make the changes, and send the file to a printer who supports the program, or he can have the template sent to a participating printer who will make the edits and then print the job. It doesn't look like there are any guarantees that the template will go to any specific printer. I anticipate customers sending the file to several printers and seeing which one will produce the job the cheapest.
It looks like the program may give printers a reason to upgrade to QuarkXpress 8. If the templates are created in version 8, then a customer will have to find a printer who supports that version. It looks like Quark is trying to create a need by helping designers who are using version 8 sell design and templates, and getting more printers to buy Quark 8 in the hope that they can support Quark 8 users.
Is the program a good deal for printers? If Quark pours money into advertising and marketing to consumers, then printers may see new customers trying to find someone who can output Quark files. If you are already a QuarkXpress user, you will want to sign up since it is free and it might drive a customer your way. If you aren't a QuarkXpress 8 user already, it is going to cost you for the upgrade. The question becomes is it worth getting the upgrade if you aren't guaranteed work?
Printers using QuarkXpress 8 will want to market the service locally and then convince the customer to send them the print job.
Quark already offers printers and service bureaus the QuarkAlliance Community Output Provider program. The service helps printers keep current with the latest software as well as offering access to first-line technical support.
To apply, go to www.quark.com and visit "Partners." The higher version of the QuarkAlliance authorized partner program has an enrollment fee of $495. As a partner, you can use the Quark-authorized partner logo in your marketing collateral and on your website. You will also benefit from co-marketing opportunities and a shared booth presence at trade shows when available. In addition to technical and marketing support, members receive complimentary software of selected programs and software discounts. The company also offers a complimentary version of the program at no cost.
If a printer wants to provide higher-end design services without a designer, he should look at the templates from Stocklayouts.com. The company offers a free trial for printers at its website. The templates are available in popular formats, including QuarkXpress and Adobe InDesign.