Kodak’s Ed Monahan talks about capturing the digital mom at PSPA/SPAA 2013 Conference

Ed Monahan

When it comes to selling portraits to moms, a lot has changed in recent years. But one very critical thing has remained the same.

Kodak’s Ed Monahan began this afternoon’s PSPA/SPAA 2013 Keynote Address by pointing out changes in consumer buying behaviors.

Moms no longer want yearly portraits that simply chronicle a child’s life; moms want images that help her understand the life of her child, and that capture those things the child participates in and achieves. Most critically, moms want to be able to share those moments – instantly, easily, with anyone, at any time, and from anywhere. “It’s all about connecting,” Monahan said.

“The consumer we’re chasing is smarter and digitally adept. She’s more informed and enabled than ever before. Mom wants more for less – more content, in more places, and at less cost and less effort to get it,” he added.

An added challenge is the fact that moms are more concerned about instant sharing than they are about picture quality.

But there is that one critical thing that has remained the same. What PSPA and SPAA members provide touches moms’ hearts. “You create original content that makes moms cry,” Monahan says. “You just need to do that using a different delivery system. Simply handing mom a disc with thousands of images on it doesn’t help her do what she wants to do.”

Immediacy is key, he adds. “Is mom able to use what you provide in real time, all the time, anywhere, right from her smartphone or tablet? Can mom blend the media – still, video, text and graphics? Can she take your stuff and put it with her stuff and make better stuff? Can she personalize it to her satisfaction? Can she share it easily and instantly? That is what she’s asking of us,” he explained.

How do you do it? Start the memory process with the origination of professional content that is better than what people can get on their own, Monahan says. Then add access to socialization and personalization. “If it doesn’t tweet, follow, pin or share in real time, from anywhere, at any time, it won’t work,” he said.

“You have to meet mom where she is. You have to design a portfolio that leverages your content into an experience that is fun and emotional,” he explained. “Deliver value through content, context and curation.”

There is still a very important place in this business for prints, but they will never again be sufficient on their own. Instead, prints need to be part of mom’s package, which must also include pages – things like photo books, calendars and cards – as well as screens.

Monahan said there are three common myths in the business world:

  1. Customers want a relationship with your brand.
  2. Interactions build relationships.
  3. The more interaction, the better.

Instead, you should focus on:

  1. Leveraging the emotional index of portraiture/imaging in the relationships you build.  Don’t become a discount brand, but offer economic promotions and bundles to give moms an incentive for purchases, and for building the relationship.
  2. Combining the value of imaging – memorializing children and life stages – with the value of socialization.
  3. Providing meaningful and relevant interactions; be accessible, rather than proactively bombarding them with news, offers and updates.

Monahan also gave the audience a technology challenge: By next year’s PSPA/SPAA 2014 Conference, determine how QR codes, augmented reality, green screens, multimedia and parallel publishing fit into your work – because all these technologies will soon be mainstream.

“We originate something mom wants. There is tremendous opportunity here, but it’s not enough to change the what, you have to change the how. There are products and services that follow from your content that will cause consumers to spend money in this market,” he said.

It comes down to simultaneously giving moms prints, pages and screens – but Monahan warned against allowing pages and screens to cannibalize your print market; they have to be offered together. Screens are a necessary part of moms’ digital lifestyle, and pages are imperative. But prints are eye-readable and always on. No app or power source is needed. They are physical and real; they evoke emotion. Prints are a permanent archive and pass from generation to generation. Prints are valuable and important, but converting a digital file to a print takes time and effort – which Monahan called “friction.” So take that friction out of the equation for moms.

“Sell the emotion. You make brilliant content that makes moms cry, and she will get out her credit card. Children are the sweet spot – you just need to market and merchandise in a way that connects the dots for her. Preserve milestone memories for permanent display. Sell her wall art and home décor. Help her tell her story her way,” Monahan concluded. “Help her share pictures with friends and family. This is what she wants to do. Sell her what she wants, and you will succeed.”

 

PSPA/SPAA 2013 Conference begins with Welcome Reception

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It was great to see some old friends and make some new ones at the PSPA/SPAA 2013 Conference Welcome Reception last night. Here’s a look at a few pictures captured by photographer extraordinaire (not to mention one of my best friends) Laura Covey:

Bill Freeman elected President of Professional School Photographers Association (PSPA)

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The Professional School Photographers Association (PSPA), a PMA member association, elected officers for the 2013-2014 at term at the PSPA/SPAA Keynote Luncheon held January 6, 2013, during the PSPA/SPAA 2013 Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.

Bill Freeman of Freeman Photo was elected President. President-Elect is Ed Sanders, Inter-State Studio and Publishing Co.; First Vice President is Brian Fox, Foxmar Photography; Second Vice President is Courtney Lutz, Visual Image Photography; Treasurer is Kevin Jardina, Lifetouch National School Studios; and Director is Bill Glover, Strawbridge Studios. Jim Esp of PMA is Secretary, and James W. Pool is the group’s Technical Advisor.