About Jennifer Kruger

Jennifer Barr Kruger is Director of Communications for Photo Marketing Association International and Publisher of PMA magazine. In addition, Kruger is editor of PMA Newsline and PMA Newsline Weekly, and was previously the editor of several other industry publications. She is a contributor to both the DIMAcast (www.DIMAcast.com) and the Imaging Executive Podcast (www.imagingexecutive.com). Kruger is a 2010 ADDY Award winner for podcasting. She joined PMA in 1994.

Business Success: Partnering provides plenty of questions

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Business Success LogoIt’s one thing to list all the qualities you need in a partner — it’s another to accurately ascertain when you truly need help, and how to invite someone into your business.

Attorney Malte Pendergast-Fischer advises on how to make that call, and what to do before formalizing the relationship.

 

 

 

Bringing on a partner is an exciting endeavor that can take your business to the next level. But be aware that with the opportunities for growth comes challenges and different approaches, ideas and concepts that you might not want to consider or feel ready to consider. Planning, prepping, negotiating and being very good at compromise will be key to a successful partnership.

When you need a partner

When starting out in business for ourselves, we all have a vision or idea that we think will work. For some it is very clear. For others it starts as a hobby and evolves over time. That vision or idea is what drives us every day.

As any business owner can attest, the reality of running your own business requires more than that initial great vision — it also requires a huge amount of diligence and hard work. It demands that you be constantly on top of the minutiae, while never losing sight of the big picture. For it is often the minutiae that derails the train before the final destination is reached.

Add to these challenges of business ownership ensuring the calendar is filled with appointments or bookings, and the constant chasing of the next job never ends…

The sacrifices can be enormous, but equally so can the rewards.

But after all that hard work, one day you may wake up to find your business is thriving and you are having to turn people away because you simply cannot get to them. Maybe at that point you begin to specialize because these opportunities allow you to do so. Or if you no longer have to take any job you can get your hand on, perhaps you find yourself running faster because you don’t want to disappoint anyone, and hate to turn away business, so you decide to hire another assistant as a way to expand your business.

The last two options are often referred to as temporary band aids. In other words, they will keep the ship temporarily from taking in water, but eventually it will likely sink.

The other option is to take on a business partner. Opening the door and letting another person in to sit next to you on projects and decisions for the short term and long term benefit of the business requires a lot of trust. How do you trust someone to do as good and thorough of a job as you are doing?   If you find the right person with complimentary qualities, it can be the step that takes the business to the next level.

Who to partner with

What are some of the things one should consider in bringing on a partner?

Does it make sense to do a trial run prior to getting completely in bed with one another?

Say you have narrowed it down and found the person you feel would be great for your business. Do you jump in right away and go full speed ahead? An often-used technique that allows both sides to get a better feel for each other is to do a trial run: Try working on a few projects together to get a sense for the other’s working patterns. While this will not reveal everything, since everyone will be on their best behavior, it will give some indications as to competencies and experience.

There is no question that a level of disruption will come with the introduction of a new partner. Anytime a new person enters a business, the normal flow of things will be upset.

But with disruption comes new qualities, new ideas, and new approaches.. Expecting and accepting that this will be a time of flux until everyone has acclimated to the new situation will go a long way to ensuring its success.

Protection from your partner

How can you ensure your business will be protected against disruption not only in the short term, but also in the long one?

It is extremely important to have everything in writing. The handshake, the gentlemen’s agreement are important to establishing the initial bond, trust, and rapport, but ten years from now that will not carry weight in a court room; only a written document will.

No one wants to go to court and, while that is a last resort option, doing the work up front and having the uncomfortable conversations in the beginning will go a long way to setting your business up for success (and avoiding court) in the future.

As someone who advises businesses on these matters, we have seen some very ugly scenarios play out years down the road because of a lack of planning at the beginning. These are almost always lose-lose situations. What I always stress to business owners considering taking on a new partner is, “Always put it in writing.” Creating a document that the partnership can live by has in many instances been the most important step a business owner has ever taken.

A critical part of the partnership agreement is the buy/sell provision: How much has each partner put into the business and what can they expect to get out should he or she decide to leave prematurely?

In general, the four “D”s should be addressed in connection with a breakup of the partnership or due to certain life events: death, divorce, disability, or departure. These are the questions that often go unaddressed at the onset of a partnership, in favor of seemingly more pressing pursuits related directly to the business. These are also the questions that come back to bite you. If someone leaves of their own volition or based on common understanding, what are the rules around working in the community doing the same thing? How will the book of business be split if that is allowed?

Not a fun conversation granted, but an extremely important one to have prior to getting going, because trying to tackle this when the partnership is breaking up is often a nightmare.

Partner’s piece of the pie

At what level is the new partner brought in? As a 50/50 equity partner, or at a minority level?  How does the buy in work — lump sum, loans, deferred comp, share transfers?

In general, most advisors suggest you be as stingy with shares as reasonably feasible, because equity is always at a premium. This is also where it becomes important to consider your future business partners financial situation. A messy financial private life could give indications as to how the individual deals with finances professionally.

Know your numbers and what your short and long term strategies and plans are for the business. Many business have created advisory councils consisting of their CPA, attorney, insurance agent, and financial advisor to help navigate the waters around their business. Aligning yourself with a business advisor and or planner is very important.

Another important question to consider when drawing up your partnership arrangement is dealing with conflicts. When conflicts arise, how do you go about resolving them? Does one of you have overriding power? Do you bring in a neutral third party to help resolve the issue? If so, how do you decide who that person or persons should be? There will be times when bringing in a third party will be advantageous, but in general we suggest trying to sort most things out amongst yourself. Assigning areas of responsibilities to each partner for decisions in the event something is disagreed upon is useful option.

Divide and conquer

How will you define roles and responsibilities? Two sets of eyes, ears, and hands can do more than only one could previously. Finding a partner who adds a new dimension to the business is important, invigorating and can certainly be prosperous.

Dividing up and conquering is now an option.

How will the customers and the community be introduced to the new partner? Bringing in a new partner is an opportunity to rebrand and reeducate the public about your business. Many business are started overnight, and the chance to now change things based on lessons learned is another opportunity brought about by adding a new partner.

Malte Pendergast-Fischer

Malte Pendergast-Fischer is a lawyer, financial planner, and managing partner at the Green Ridge Group in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

 

MMIE 579: Read this social media how-to

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MIME Logo PMANMcCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #579 – October 28, 2014

Afraid to jump into the social media marketing pool for fear of drowning? Already put a toe in the water but worried about getting fully immersed? In the pool but fearful of heading for the deep end? Uncertain which ‘stroke’ to use? Or have you been blissfully splashing in the social media marketing pool for a while and just now wondering if you’re actually wearing your bathing suit? mmie 579

If you are for any reason swimming in a sea of confusion and doubt about social media marketing, then we’ve got something for you.

It’s called “The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Marketing.” And it’s free.

The quick-read guide is the creation of Barry Feldman, Feldman Creative, and offers insights we’re sure you will find useful.

So what’s your idea?

We’ve given you hundreds and hundreds of marketing ideas, now it’s your turn.

• Got a promotion that worked? An idea generated by a staffer? Something that’s exciting and/or motivating the crew? Doing something that’s bringing customers in, got customers buzzing, got them buying? Tell us.

• We’d appreciate getting pictures to help illustrate the ideas.

• Send your ideas to editor@McCurryAssoc.com.

• Don’t worry if you’re not the best writer; we’ll be happy to tidy things up for you.

• And if you want to take a look at more than 1,000 marketing ideas, the archived editions of the McCurry Marketing Ideas Exchange are your resource: www.TinyURL.com/McCurryIdeas

PMA Australia Specialty Industry Conference focuses on moving to the consumer

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1451PMA Australia is holding a Specialty Industry Conference, Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Sydney, with the theme of “Moving to the Consumer“. Providing education to consumers is one of the primary ways PMA is helping its members grow their businesses.

“The recently held Educational Expos in Brisbane and Melbourne clearly demonstrated how PMA can co-ordinate retailers, suppliers and consumers in a very cost effective event, which can now be replicated in markets across Australia. The positive consumer, supplier and retailer feedback we received following these events give us real enthusiasm to launch a further four events in 2015,” says Peter Rose, PMA Director of Australian Activities. “Camera House, Teds and other major retailers were instrumental in supporting this program with financial underwriting from APCI, which was co-ordinated by our Chairperson, Paul Atkins. Canon and Nikon agreed to sponsor the program. This co-operative approach was key to their success and will be a major factor in deciding where events will be staged next year. The overall objective is to make consumer photo education easily accessible and affordable, with the close co-operation of PMA members in those areas.”

Peter adds the program of speakers, panels and workshops for the 2014 Specialty Industry Conference is our strongest yet. “If you are serious about the future of your business,” he states, “you should be there.”

 

MMIE 578: Looking for more revenue? Try this

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MIME Logo PMANMcCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #578 – October 21, 2014

Steve Biggs, Biggs Camera, Charlotte, N.C.

Looking for another revenue stream? Have you considered equipment rentals? Steve Biggs was one of three retailers who took part in a PRO Convention discussion on the subject, and he is quite positive about  what the rental business is doing for his bottom line. mmie 578

He notes the photofinishing business has “gone away,” and rentals have brought in-store traffic up. Not only that, offering equipment rentals brings into the store “ideal customers.” These are the weekend warriors, the pros needing backup equipment, the hobbyist who isn’t going to buy but who wants to try out some piece of gear, and the parents who have a special event to photograph, such as soccer games (long lens) and school plays (fast lens).

Biggs doesn’t have a huge rental inventory, and over the course of a half dozen years has found out what items need to be inventoried in depth. Inventory includes camera bodies, lenses, flash, and lighting gear, all of which can be sold off at a decent price after bringing in constant rental fees.

For more on the subject, keep your eyes out for a major story in an upcoming issue of PMA Magazine.

Now it’s your turn

• Got a promotion that worked? An idea generated by a staffer? Something that’s exciting and/or motivating the crew? Doing something that’s bringing customers in, got customers buzzing, got them buying? Tell us.

• We’d appreciate getting pictures to help illustrate the ideas.

• Send your ideas to editor@McCurryAssoc.com.

• Don’t worry if you’re not the best writer; we’ll be happy to tidy things up for you.

• The archived editions of the McCurry Marketing Ideas Exchange contain more than 1,000 marketing ideas as a resource for you: www.TinyURL.com/McCurryIdeas

On the PMA Podcast: Get on board with Save Your Photos Day

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PMApodcast_icon_sqOn this episode of the PMA Podcast, Jen Kruger, publisher of PMA Magazine, talks with Cathi Nelson, founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) and the Save Your Photos Alliance. The Alliance held its first annual Save Your Photos Day for the first time on September 27. Listen in at www.pmapodcast.org, or using the player below, as Cathi discusses the concept behind the event, how the idea spread to four different countries in only 90 days, what imaging businesses did to make the most of it in their communities, and how you can get involved next time around.

In memoriam: Chuck Lynch

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Chuck Lynch

Chuck Lynch

Charles Edwin (“Chuck”) Lynch Jr., age 64, died unexpectedly from a heart condition on Oct. 10, 2014 while visiting family in Georgia. Chuck was born on March 30, 1950, in Richmond, Va., and grew up in Camden, South Carolina. Following graduation from Camden High School, he attended Georgia Tech University, where his love of photography and technology began.

He began his long career in the photography industry in 1981 at Meisel Professional Lab in Atlanta, and continued with the Hamlin Photo Co., also in Atlanta. In 1989, he and his young family moved to Minneapolis for his work with Lucht Engineering, and five years later they moved to North Carolina for Chuck’s employment with Church Impressions. In 2002, he joined Inter-State Studio in Sedalia, Mo., where he worked until his death.

Chuck is survived by the love of his life, Karen Bradford Lynch; son, Charles Edwin Lynch, III; daughter, Jennifer Jane Lynch; step-daughter, Valerie Lynn Roper; and sister, Jane Lynch Coghill..

To honor Chuck and celebrate his life, family and friends will gather at McLaughlin Funeral Chapel on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, at 1:00 p.m. A reception will immediately follow at Inter-State Studio. Memorial contributions are suggested to the American Heart Association or the Sedalia Lions Club in care of McLaughlin Funeral Chapel

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MMIE 577: Celebrate with video

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MIME Logo PMANMcCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #577 – October 14, 2014

Neil McBain, McBain Camera, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada;

What’s the best way to celebrate a milestone . . . or two? For McBain Camera in the western Canadian province of Alberta, the answer is a video.

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One of the McBain Camera storefronts.

McBain has been in business since 1949 and is still under original ownership, with five stores in Edmonton as well as one in Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Red Deer, and Lethbridge. The company employs more than 95 people.

To celebrate the company’s 65th anniversary and founder Ross McBain’s 90th birthday, the McBains decided to get on the YouTube bandwagon and create a video.

“We tried to create something that was fun and entertaining as well as let people know a little bit of what we do,” says Neil, owner, and second generation McBain, and along the way, have a bit of fun making it.

Check out the video here.

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Video still: Two generations of McBains, Ross, left, and Neil, right, sandwich Ron Neumann, buyer.

McBain is part of the Foto Source buying group, and as Neil points out, it was Foto Source TV which did the filming and post production, including finding the musicians. Neil created most of the script.

Filming took about three days, off and on.

McBain Camera is currently in the final stages of preparation for its sixth annual Edmonton Photographic Trade Show, which occupies a major chunk of real estate in the University of Alberta Butterdome.

 

Now it’s your turn.

• Got a promotion that worked? An idea generated by a staffer? Something that’s exciting and/or motivating the crew? Doing something that’s bringing customers in, got customers buzzing, got them buying? Tell us.

• We’d appreciate getting pictures to help illustrate the ideas.

• Send your ideas to editor@McCurryAssoc.com.

• Don’t worry if you’re not the best writer; we’ll be happy to tidy things up for you.

• The archived editions of the McCurry Marketing Ideas Exchange contain more than 1,000 marketing ideas as a resource for you: www.TinyURL.com/McCurryIdeas

Business Success: Wait, mental telepathy isn’t perfected?

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Business Success LogoBeing in charge carries many responsibilities — including directing the overall goals of your company. In this week’s Business Success column, Eisen Agency CEO Rodger Roeser tells us how running your own firm means you must take the reigns when necessary.

Thought Leadership and the Big Tuna
By Rodger Roeser

As the big tuna for a content development firm, we are often asked to craft and conceptualize thought leadership campaigns for our clientele. We also often practice it ourselves, as we believe it is a critical component of any good content development and brand development program.

I am the CEO of my firm. Key word: Mine. And with that comes unique insights and expertise that other leaders in other industries may not have. So, as a thought leader I believe it’s critical for the actual thought leader to pen the piece — Not the marketing team.

While I do believe it’s important for the marketing and content development team to review and edit, it’s critical that leadership is constantly looking both introspectively and externally at factors and ideas affecting their business and their industry – and get it down on paper, tape or video. Thought leadership need not be limited by medium, and certainly should not be limited by leadership.

A CEO or other executive, it should be expected, has their finger on the pulse of the industry, and is able to take their knowledge, background and expertise to bring perhaps disparate ideas and concepts together that should objectively push forward an idea or ideal. Thought leadership is exactly what it sounds like, taking the thoughts of leadership and sharing that information. Leaders must lead and, until mental telepathy is perfected, that content must be captured and shared.

And in truth, thought leadership should be simple for an executive, even if they can’t write. For starters, as the CEO, you should have some grasp of the expertise or knowledge you’re sharing — it shouldn’t involve exhaustive research, but instead be unique insight based on your expertise, and where you think things are going. Of course, adding in industry research to back up your thoughts, or real world examples, is helpful. And instead of writing, leaders could do a podcast audio interview, a video, or even a voiceover for an animated piece. I personally love sitting at the computer and penning my latest masterpiece, but as a former journalist I have an advantage some of my C-Suite brethren may not have. But that’s no excuse not to get your ideas down in some form.

Charge your marketing team with forward thinking by reviewing and presenting editorial calendars on topics leadership finds interesting and items you believe will enhance and bolter both engagement from your varied publics and make you look like you know what you’re talking about. Get these editorial calendars from both industry media outlets and other well known outlets that tend to share bigger thinking to get ideas as to the topics industry, mainstream and other business media is interested in. Oh, you don’t have that? Talk to your PR person (or hire a smarter PR firm).

From those topics (and there will be many), review the ones that you believe are going to give you the strongest possibility of sharing content that would be valued by those you wish to digest your content (a la, analysts, potential customers, so on). Waxing poetic about how smart you are, while you’re mom may love that, my not engage potential clients – so whatever you write, write it for the objective benefit of your audience. Thought leadership pieces can be short, with some quick pieces of expertise and advice you wish to share. Lists are popular, such as “The Top Five Things That Will Affect Our Industry Next Year,” or incredibly detailed and research oriented. It all depends on your goals, the time you have to invest (you should invest at least 10 hours a month on development of thought leadership pieces) and what you personally wish to achieve – not for the business, but for you.

You see, most B2B and B2C customer and client engagements are indeed influenced by the Big Tuna. If “they” don’t like or trust or value the leadership, most won’t buy – whether that product is diapers or stocks. Reputation is important. And, as a leader, that reputation can be built, maintained and shaped by quality thought leadership and content development. Once crafted, work with your media relations team to get those published and share them with the world.

You’ll increase your personal stock, help your business and hey, people will think you’re smart. And that, is good for everyone.

Rodger Roeser is the CEO of The Eisen Agency. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, the award-winning public relations and content development firm specializes in marketing communications strategies for professional services organizations. More information is here.

Focus on: Raj Patel

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In this week’s “Focus on” column, we invited Raj Patel, from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, to tell his own story.

Raj Patel photo Oct 14I started my career in Nairobi, Kenya, fresh from school,and worked my way up from junior assistant to General Manager of a well-known retailer before leaving to emigrate to the United Kingdom in 1992.

During my 21 years there, I gained invaluable experience of their successful multi-channel business, and the new minilab business in particular, which was especially helpful when I later joined one of the main processing businesses in the U.K. and took over the running of one of their minilab businesses.

However, I had always had the ambition to run my own business, and when the opportunity came along in 1999, I did not hesitate to open my own new minilab business in Welwyn Garden City, with the support and assistance of my wife Urvi who still works alongside me today. I have also benefited both from being a member of PMA and having access to other members and colleagues who can offer advice and support when needed.

So, fifteen years later, despite many changes in our industry, my business continues to provide for me and my family, and by embracing the changes that have come along and by providing our customers with excellent service and quality products, we continue to grow stronger. Long may it continue!

MMIE 576: Make it a treat

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MIME Logo PMANMcCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #576 – October 7, 2014

Hallowe’en is on a Friday this year, which means more kids coming to the door because there’s no school the next day, and more parties, ‘cause there’s no work the next day . . . except for those of us in retail.

So, expect more to be made of, and from, this Hallowe’en. How can you get some of the action? mmie 576

We’re of two minds about having the staff dress up on Friday in some kind of costume. On the pro side, it’s fun. On the con side, it’s not professional. Mind you, our family doctor and his staff have always costumed up on Hallowe’en, and if there’s anyone you want to be professional, it’s your doctor . . .

So here’s three ideas which could work for you this Hallowe’en, all designed to get people into the store:

1) Offer a prize for best costume. Come in to the store and let us see your costume; the staff will choose, at store closing, the best costume. The winner (runner-ups . . . that’s up to you) gets . . . well, again, up to you. This is something which could really be promoted on social media, with Twitter feed, for example, hyping the costumes as they come in the store.

2) Come in and have your costume photo taken. Do a special promo.

3) Another contest idea, offer prizes for best DIY Hallowe’en image printed using one of your kiosks . . . a post-Halloween contest, but promoted before, again using social media.

Is there a coffee bar or similar purveyor of hot drinks near you? Maybe a discount coupon from them might generate business for your neighbor while making you into a really good guy. Just steer clear of handing out unwrapped or gummy candy; sticky fingers and lenses just don’t get along!

So what’s your idea?

• Got a promotion that worked? An idea generated by a staffer? Something that’s exciting and/or motivating the crew? Doing something that’s bringing customers in, got customers buzzing, got them buying? Tell us.

• We’d appreciate getting pictures to help illustrate the ideas.

• Send your ideas to editor@McCurryAssoc.com.

• Don’t worry if you’re not the best writer; we’ll be happy to tidy things up for you.

• The archived editions of the McCurry Marketing Ideas Exchange contain more than 1,000 marketing ideas as a resource for you: www.TinyURL.com/McCurryIdeas