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: You don’t care

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Business Success LogoWe’re all familiar with the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” But what if we aren’t aware of what our actions are telling other people? Most of us care about doing our jobs well, and about the relationships we have with clients and coworkers. But your actions might be sending the opposite message, according to Jon Gordon, author of The Carpenter: A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All.

17 Things You (Unknowingly) Do at Work That Say “I Don’t Care”

You care deeply about your clients, employees, and coworkers. Of course you do. But if you’re like most people in the workplace (be they leaders, front line workers, or someone in the vast middle ground in between), you may occasionally do (or not do) things that send the wrong signal. And that signal is, “I don’t care.”

This accidental carelessness is not surprising.

Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon

We’re all so busy these days. In fact, we’re overwhelmed. And when we’re trying to survive, sometimes even the most well-meaning among us don’t realize how we’re coming across.

The good news is that the more you care (and show you do), the more you stand out in a world where many don’t. Caring is great for business. The even better news is that by making, say, one percent more effort and paying attention to the little things, you can transform your relationships and see your overall success skyrocket.

First, of course, you need to know what you’re unknowingly doing wrong. Here, I shine a spotlight on 17 things that say to others, “I don’t care”—and offer advice on how you can reverse that perception:

You fail to touch base on projects. Sure, you’re busy, and sure, teammates and clients can always call you if they need an update. The problem is that when people don’t hear from you they naturally assume the worst: “I just know he hasn’t done what he said he’d do.” Or, “I bet she’s only doing the bare minimum.” When you don’t proactively reach out to provide information and updates, it seems as though you don’t care about others’ concerns.

The solution is simple: touch base often. Don’t force your colleague to ask if you’ve finished compiling those statistics, for instance; send an email saying you’ve done so. Actually, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of sending daily or weekly updates not only to team members, but to clients, too.

You wait too long to respond to calls or emails. (And sometimes you don’t respond at all.) Often, hours or days pass before you reply to a colleague or client’s questions. (Hey—you have about 200 more important things on your to-do list!) And sometimes, enough time passes that responding completely slips your mind.

You may not think a slow response is a big deal, but the other person probably does. Even if you truly don’t have time to deal with the matter immediately, it’s easy enough to send a text or email saying, “I got your message and will touch base later.” Whenever possible, try not to leave any unanswered emails or voicemails overnight.

You forget customer preferences. Part of providing good service is remembering that Mr. Smith dislikes being called on his cell phone after 6:00 p.m., and that Mrs. Jones always wants to work with a specific vendor.

When you don’t keep records of these things, customers will conclude that they don’t matter to you. Keep a file on each client, and take a few moments to record their preferences after each interaction.

You nickel and dime them. Yes, you and your customers know that your relationship is based on an exchange of money for goods or services. And of course you shouldn’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of. But obsessively keeping track of every minute and every coin doesn’t sit well with clients. It makes them think your first priority is not taking care of them, but getting everything that’s owed to you.

Try to balance the bills you send against the long-term value of your client relationships. For instance, if you spend an extra hour or two outside your contract, consider not itemizing that time on your next bill. The customer will likely sing your praises and send you plenty of referrals.

You “hand off” customers to an employee and never personally contact them again. Sure, if you’re the owner of the company or the leader of a team, you can’t personally take care of every single client’s needs. But you can call or email each of them from time to time to let them know they’re still getting your attention. This is especially important if you conducted the initial meetings or signed a contract with a certain client.

In my business, I make it a priority to respond personally to readers who ask me questions via email, Facebook, and Twitter. While I could hand these tasks off to members of my staff, I truly do appreciate that readers care enough to take the time to contact me—and by engaging with them individually, I am showing them that I care, too.

You wait till the last minute to ask for what you need. Say a project has been on your desk for a week—but you don’t ask your subordinate to make revisions until a few hours before the deadline. This puts the stress burden on the other person, and makes him feel that you don’t respect his time. (It doesn’t do your in-office reputation any favors, either.)

When a project requires a group effort and you’re a part of that group, never forget that your time management should take into account their time, too. Show others the consideration you yourself would like to receive.

You rush through projects and leave loose ends. The world is filled with those who get things done the fastest and the cheapest, but it needs more artists, craftsmen, and craftswomen. When you become a craftsman in a world of carpenters, you will stand out, and people will clamor to work with you.

When you put forth the least amount of effort and do only the bare minimum, someone else will have to come behind you and make improvements—that, or you’ll have provided an inferior product. Both tell people that you don’t care enough to do the job right.

You miss deadlines. We all know that missing deadlines is a bad thing, yet many of us persist in (often creatively) figuring out how to buy more time for ourselves. Every once in a rare while an extension may be necessary; say, if too little time was initially provided to do a good job or if an emergency pops up in the middle of the project. Usually, though, the extra time you spend gets taken away from someone further down the line.

Missing deadlines is another way of conveying to others that you don’t respect their time. Do as much as you possibly can to stick to the agreed-upon schedule.

You stress people out right before vacation. Leaders and supervisors, take note: An employee’s upcoming vacation shouldn’t give you license to demand Herculean feats from her right before her absence. You know she needs to pack, board the dog, and (ideally) get a restful night’s sleep before hitting the road or flying the friendly skies. Making her work till 8:00 p.m. the night before she departs shouts, “Work is more important than your family time!”

Vacations should be something your people look forward to, not something they semi-dread because they know the days leading up to a getaway will be horrendous. Part of being a caring leader is planning ahead with each employee to ensure that essential tasks are completed without last-minute hassle and headaches.

You neglect to say “thank you” or “great job.” Even if someone is “just” doing what’s in his job description, and especially if he has gone above and beyond to help you, take a few moments to verbalize your appreciation.

Often, we don’t express gratitude not because we aren’t thankful, but because we’re busy or have already shifted our focus to the next thing—however, the other person doesn’t know that. Saying “thanks” takes only a few seconds of your time, but can do wonders for your professional relationships. When people feel valued, noticed, and appreciated, they’ll be motivated to do better work. It’s that simple.

You don’t take care of the “little things” that make work flow smoothly. Broken equipment, outdated computer programs, no coffee cups, burnt-out light bulbs, even office furniture that’s seen better days—all of these things send employees a message about how much you don’t care about their comfort.

Your employees get that you don’t have the resources to provide expensive, cutting-edge gadgets and an in-office spa. But when you fail to provide basics that are within the budget, especially when it’s clear that you and other leaders aren’t going without, you’ll cultivate a “haves vs. have-nots” attitude that fosters disengagement.

You listen with half an ear. You know how this goes: You make the appropriate noises during a client call (“Mmmhmmm…I understand…No, that won’t be a problem…”) while simultaneously typing an email to someone else. You may think you’re getting away with multitasking, but the other person can usually tell that your attention is divided, and will feel unimportant as a result.

Giving a client or colleague your full attention is so meaningful. Being fully present says, “I really care about you and what you need. You are my top priority right now.”

You’re curt or disrespectful with people. Everyone has feelings. Take care not to bruise them. Even during disagreements or when negative feedback needs to be shared, there is usually a way to say what you need to say without crossing the line and hurting someone.

In my experience, most people don’t mean to be hurtful. Rather, their tone reflects their own high stress levels, or their blunt speech is a product of their attention being focused elsewhere. This is why it’s so important to be fully present when you’re interacting with someone else—you’re more able to consider your words and gauge the impact they are having.

You gossip or make snarky comments behind people’s backs. You may think, “Well, she’s not here so it’s okay,” or, “Everyone gossips at the water cooler,” or even, “He deserves to be taken down a peg!” Wrong. Uncaring words have a way of getting back to the other person—and even if they never do, they cause the people with whom you’re speaking not to trust you.

Tempting as it may be sometimes, make it your policy not to say bad things about your coworkers when you’re on the clock. If you simply must vent, wait until you can do so outside of work with a family member or friend.

You neglect to ask about things going on in their personal lives. Whether you’re interacting with a colleague or a client, you may think that keeping the conversation focused on business is a sign of professionalism. But actually, it can paint you as a rather callous individual—especially if the other person is going through a difficult time.

Ask others what’s going on in their personal lives, and follow up. Express your sympathy when a client’s parent passes away, and your willingness to help when a colleague is dealing with a health crisis. It’s so easy to spend five minutes making these connections before getting down to business—and it means so much.

You hijack people’s stories. In the course of conversational “give and take,” it’s fine to share when you have a related story. But resist the temptation to make everything all about you. When you forcibly take the reigns and steer a conversation in the direction you want it to go, you send others the message that you don’t care about or value what they have to say.

Nobody appreciates “that person” who always manages to turn the spotlight on himself or herself. In general, it’s wise to listen more than you speak. Not only will you learn a lot through listening and observation; when you do contribute, others will be more receptive to hearing what you have to say.

You ignore important milestones in people’s lives. It only takes a few seconds to say, “Happy Birthday,” or, “Happy Anniversary.” And while you can’t always attend every colleague’s child’s birthday party or every client’s retirement party, go (or a least send a card) if you possibly can.

Your presence means a lot. People are surprised and pleased when you acknowledge important milestones in their lives—precisely because the assumption today is that most people don’t care about what’s going on outside their own bubbles.

Most people don’t intend to be uncaring or inconsiderate. Actually, I believe that the busy, stressful nature of modern life forces us to spend too much time looking out for number one and too little time looking out for others. We need to make a conscious effort to reverse that behavior.

So take a few moments and evaluate your behavior and habits. What messages are they sending? What small changes can you make to show others that you care? I promise, the effort you put forth will energize you and others, and will lead to mutual success.

PMA and PPFA welcome new members

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PMAlogo_CMYK_smallJoin us in extending a warm welcome to all new members of PMA and PPFA, including these great companies!PPFA_RGB_150

Wisching You The Very Best Photography, San Diego, Calif.

GoodShots Photography, Balmain NSW, Australia

Johnson Photography, Baton Rouge, La.

Lamote Inc., Ansonia, Conn.

Momento Pro Pty Ltd., NSW, Australia

Panasonic Australia, Macquarie Park NSW, Australia

Print 2 Metal, Malvern, Victoria, Australia

Tony Color Lab, Haryana, India

PMA refines mission statement, sets new goals

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PMAlogo_CMYK_smallThe Board of Directors of PMA has refined the PMA mission statement and set new objectives for member services, resources, and support. The new mission statement, which expands on the previous mission, “Promote the growth of the imaging industry,” now details specific areas of focus:

“Evolve the imaging business community worldwide by promoting innovation, marketing, technology, and passion for photography.”

The refined mission statement arose from the work of a committee comprised of key industry members: Gaby Mullinax of Fullerton Photographics in Fullerton, Calif.; Marsha Phillips of F-11 Photographic Supplies in Bozeman, Mont.; Jerry Sullivan of Precision Camera in Austin, Texas; and chaired by PMA past-president Allen Showalter of King Photo/Showalter Imaging Group in Harrisonburg, Va.

Along with the refined mission statement come a number of plans for new, additional ways to help PMA members grow their businesses and to advance the industry as a whole.

Included are the continuation of the consumer facing Big Photo Show in various formats; the development of a Big Photo Show kit, which would help photo retailers host their own Big Photo Show events in their local markets; continued support and development of certifications; social media programs for members; additional promotion of National Photo Month and the establishment of a National Photo Store Day; continued legal support; and ongoing work with other industry groups to help market and promote revenue generating aspects of photography.

“Our mission and focus must be clear and targeted to the industry needs of today. We recognize that the basic motivation in our industry is the passion for photography. Photography is not going away because technology has caused a paradigm shift; in fact, the passion is stronger than ever, because it’s more convenient to capture and share images than ever before in human history,” said PMA President Bill Eklund of Sharp Photo & Portrait, Eau Claire, Wis. “PMA, as the industry’s worldwide photo association, needs to help its members evolve by promoting innovation and technology; providing networking events like the PMA Conferences and PMA@CES to help our members with idea sharing and marketing their products and services; and fueling consumer passion for photography with information and education events like the Big Photo Show. We are excited to unveil our refined mission statement, and to offer these new and expanded resources and tools to our members.”

MMIE: Take part in Save Your Photos Day

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MIME Logo PMANMcCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #567 – July 29, 2014

Remember those movie trailers, with the spinning newspaper front page, and the voiceover “Ripped from today’s headlines” . . .? Well, here’s something that is, indeed, ripped from today’s headlines, and with a natural connection to your business.

It’s called “Save Your Photos Day.”

“The Save Your Photos Alliance has started a grass roots initiative called Save Your Photos Day, Saturday, Sept. 27, an international event for those who appreciate that every life is a story worth preserving and sharing. Thus, this is a perfect fit for all photo retailers/labs. Please join us,” says Cathi Nelson, alliance founder, and founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. mmie 567

Every year there are hundreds of disasters throughout the world – fire, flood, earthquake, mudslide, tornado, war, theft, technology crashes – with family photos and historical memorabilia among the worst things to lose.

The alliance is a diverse group formed to address ways to educate people on what to do before a disaster strikes. You can join in by going to the alliance’s website and clicking on “Get Involved.” You can also listen to a webinar for information.

Save Your Photos Day is an international event with presentations and hands-on workshops to provide education and tools for collecting, organizing, and safeguarding  photos, documents, videos, and other memorabilia. There’s a free kit you can get from the website, with all the information needed to host two types of events, either a one-hour education seminar or a community event that includes other local businesses. The kit includes logos, a sample press release, event check list, educational presentation, and fact sheet.

As Nelson notes, there are five ways you can get involved:

1. Hold your own event at your location.

2. Team up with other professionals in your area and plan a community event.

3. Participate in an event already planned – for example in Hartford, CT there’s an event planned at the CT Historical Society.

4. Provide a subject matter expert for an event already planned in your area.

5. Promote an event in your area even if you aren’t participating.

Seems like a natural. Get your free kit today and start your customers acting to saving their photos.

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

Focus on: Ina Hilker, Felix Schoeller Group

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Ina Hilker

Ina Hilker is Director of Business Research for Germany’s Felix Schoeller Group.

Founded in 1895, the Felix Schoeller Group is a family business with worldwide operations producing specialty papers. With around 2,290 employees, the renowned Osnabrueck-based company produced and marketed almost 296,000 ton of specialty papers in 2013, and posted a total turnover of 695 million euros. The company produces and markets specialty papers for photographic applications, digital printing systems, the packaging market, self-adhesive applications and for the furniture, wood-based products and wallpaper industry.

In addition to its Osnabrueck main site and headquarters, the Group has four other production facilities in Germany. It also has production facilities in the USA and Canada, and is involved in a joint venture in the Russian Federation. In addition, Felix Schoeller operates sales and service centers in Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and Prague.

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The Felix Schoeller Group produced nearly 300,000 tons of specialty papers in 2013.

Ina joined Felix Schoeller in 1987 as photo market analyst and has been researching the global photo output market as well as other specialty paper markets, such as decorative paper, for over 25 years. She is a well-known speaker on imaging market dynamics at international trade events and is one of the few analysts today covering the global consumer photo industry as well as commercial digital printing.

After attending her first PMA Annual Convention and Trade Show in Chicago in 1988 – which was also her first trip to the USA ever – she has not missed a single annual PMA event. “PMA is essential for my work,” Ina says. “It is not only a great platform for networking with friends and colleagues from across the world, it also provides great opportunities to see new technology and hear about market trends.”

When Ina is not absorbed in analyzing paper markets, she loves to travel with her family and is an avid rower.

 

Amazon opens 3D Printed Products Store

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BobbleWhole[1]Today, Amazon launched the 3D Printed Products Store, which it calls “a marketplace that gives customers access to more than 200 unique print on-demand products, many that can be customized by material, size, styles and color variations, and personalized with text and image imprints.” The store features products like jewelry, toys, home décor and fashion accessories.

“The 3D Printed Products store enables every customer the opportunity to be a product designer. From pendants to decorative vases to bobble head figurines, the new store features a broad selection of items to foster creativity. The store includes modestly priced customizable items sellers are currently offering for under $40, including cufflinks, bobble head figurines and funky wine glass holders. In the $100 price range, customers can design customized fashion accessories like pendants, earrings and necklaces,” Amazon said in an announcement.

Liberty marks 30th anniversary

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libertyLiberty Synergistics is celebrating 30 years in business. Ron Green founded Liberty in 1984, initially as a supplier of plastic and stainless steel ball bearings to the photo and motion picture industries. Over the past 30 years, Liberty has grown significantly to meet the product, parts and accessories needs of wholesale and retail image processing companies across the USA and internationally. In recent years, Liberty added a fulfillment division, ivoke, making millions of personalized products. ivoke is a production and fulfillment powerhouse, working behind the scenes of many companies, brands, photographers and artists.

“We are continuing to realign our product offerings to include all the new innovative products that allow us to personalize our lives through imaging,” comments Green, CEO.

As a testament to Liberty’s commitment to the evolving imaging and personalization industry, the Company is launching a new website, www.Liberty2Create.com, in August. Using the latest web and e-commerce technology, the new site offers a broad array of products to help imaging and personalization companies grow their revenue. From wide format printing to sublimation, direct print and mounting, Liberty2create offers a broad line of products to help labs increase their revenues and provide new and differentiated products to their customers.

Check back often, as the site will continually be updated with how-to videos, new products, and more.

Fotofast makes a move

DIMA President Phil Gresham was honored with a 2010 PMA Australia Distinguished Service Award
DIMA President Phil Gresham was honored with a 2010 PMA Australia Distinguished Service Award

Former DIMA President Phil Gresham

Our friend and past DIMA President Phil Gresham‘s been quite busy lately, moving his business to what he calls “the gateway to the affluent western suburbs of Brisbane” — and in doing so, achieving a staggering 90 percent reduction in rent. Look for more on this story coming from us soon, but in the mean time, be sure to read more about Phil and his shifting business in the new issue of Photo Counter.

Business success: Beware the oxymoron

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Business Success LogoIf you’ve forgotten from your grammar lessons a few(!) years ago, an oxymoron is two words used together that, separately, mean the opposite of each other, like jumbo shrimp, cruel kindness, same difference, deafening silence… a word geek like myself could go on and on. But instead, I suggest we consider a phrase not typically included in a list of oxymorons: “strategic planning.” Do these two words really contradict each other? Mark Faust, founder of www.EchelonManagement.com and author of Growth or Bust! Proven Turnaround Strategies To Grow Your Business, says they do.

“Strategic Planning’ is an Oxymoron

mark-faust-gobTo say, “strategic planning” is a call of management and board, is to ply an oxymoron, or at least refer to a practice for the moronic.

There is strategic thinking and there is planning and implementation. Strategy is the framework within which decisions are made which set the nature and direction of an organization. Planning has to do with implementation and tactics and tactics are what it takes to implement the strategy.

People claiming to be consultants who facilitate “strategic planning” probably don’t know many of the rudimentary aspects of strategy nor management. Beware of the “Strategic Planning” expert.

Rather than “strateegery” and the latest management fad mumbo jumbo, board members must hold leadership accountable to making sound decisions around the strategy to compete and position in the marketplace but this process is more about assessing your potential and position in the marketplace from the perspective of the customer than “strategic planning.”

The more apt term for the process an organization needs is that of self-assessment and it begins with your marketing and market-related objectives, which can be determined by questions like these:

  • What is your decision on concentration? What is your competitive advantage, and in what areas of the market can you be most successful? What differentiates you from the competition, how do you prove it and how clear is this to your best customers and non-customers? What are the different activities we’re performing that our competition is not? What are the similar activities we’re performing in a way that differs from our competition?

Answering these questions accurately helps to ensure that your market focus and positioning strategies are most effective and thus helps you to win what to your company will be the lowest hanging fruits.

  • What is your decision on your ideal market standing?

There can be great dangers to having an 85 percent market share, just as having too small a market share could be proof of gross ineffectiveness and lead to great vulnerability. It is better for you to have 50 percent of 250 than 85 percent of 100. Companies that are near monopoly face significant growth pressures and usually cannot effectively innovate. Choosing the most market share is not the objective; choosing the optimal market share is your objective. Boards must ensure leadership is determining the optimal.

Only after answering the above can leadership most effectively set Innovation objectives which can be determined by asking questions like these:

  • What is your business, and what should it be? What is the result that customers buy from you, or what is the job they want accomplished?

These questions can be an opportunity of great innovation and repositioning for you in the marketplace. GE Aircraft Engines made a significant leap in the marketplace and in profits when they realized that rather than selling engines, parts and services that what the customer would value more would be “power by the hour.” This all in one offering at a unified price empowered airlines to better align costs and gain a new advantage.

  • What areas might you not be adequately serving?
  • What businesses, products, or practices, if you weren’t in them today, would you still choose to get into? Which ones would you not enter, and thus, what markets might you need to exit, or what practices might you need to abandon?
  • How do you prioritize potential new markets, and what are the triggers that signal that you should enter them?
  • What are all of the potential distribution channels you could employ? What are the advantages of each, and where might you consider changing your distributive organization?
  • What is your customers’ perception of your service, and how do you compare to their alternatives? What is the optimal service standard and performance you need
 to aim for, and how do you best leverage this strategic choice in the marketplace?

Ensure your leadership begins a process of ongoing self-assessment and refinement of the above and other questions behind the process and you can transform the opportunities and growth of your organization…but whatever you do, don’t fall for strategic planning!

PMA/PPFA welcome new members

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PMAlogo_CMYK_smallWe are happy to welcome all our new members, including: PPFA_RGB_150

Bush Mountain Stitchery & Framing, North Brookfield, Mass.

Colonial Custom Framing, Williamsburg, Va.

Double Diamond Technologies Inc., Ocean View, N.J.

Kevin Gillentine Gallery, New Orleans, La.

Night Owl Photo Cinematography, North Hollywood, Calif.

Paoli Fotobar, Paoli, Penn.

PhotoTek of Lake Charles, Lake Charles, La.

RKO Custom Framing, Charleston, S.C.