PMA’s new National Photo Month site offers free promotional materials, photo contest and much more

NationalPhotoMonth_FINAL-04We have some exciting news to share. We have launched a compelling new website to promote May, which is, of course, National Photo Month!

At this site,, you will find a constantly-growing supply of free tools, marketing tips, and downloadable marketing content for you to use to promote your business all throughout the month. They include National Photo Month logos, customizable posters and signs, and ready-to-use photo tweets and social media posts. (While this is a US-based campaign, there are  also tools here that can be used to inspire photo consumers worldwide, and to promote photography year-round.)

In addition, the site offers a wealth of information for your customers, and a photo contest with very valuable prize packages – people can enter at either the professional or hobbyist level.

There are many prize packages, including the Grand Prize in the professional category: an Apple iPhone 6 Plus, a Fujifilm X-T1 Mirrorless ILC, and a Focus Pyramid Autofocus Lens Calibration Tool. The Grand Prize in the consumer category includes: an Apple MacBook Pro 13″ – Core i5, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD; a Canon Rebel T6i DSLR; a Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens; and a 20×30 Canvas Certificate from

There are many, many other impressive prizes, too. We’d like to offer a big thank you to our wonderful contributors, who have donated very generously to support the contest and the website. The growing list includes:

  • Creative Live
  • Design Frames
  • Fujifilm
  • Fullerton Photo
  • GoPro
  • H&H Color Lab
  • Cristina Photography Tools
  • LumiQuest
  • Macphun
  • MailPix
  • Nationwide Studios
  • Nikon
  • Panasonic
  • Precision Camera
  • Sony
  • Sunpak
  • SYNC
  • Tamron
  • Teddy Bear Portraits
  • ToCAD
  • WinkFlash

We encourage you to join with us, and all of our sponsors, in promoting photography, your business, and National Photo Month! Be sure to come back to the site often, and encourage your customers to do so too, because new resources are being added all the time. Also, be sure to visit and like our new Celebrate Photos Facebook page.




On the PMA Podcast: Bright future for retail

lucinda daltonWhen new people enter a field, they don’t always know what can’t be done — so they charge forward proving the establishment wrong. That’s been the history of Digital Camera Warehouse, now with four Australian super store locations. While many are retracting their retail footprint in favor of e-commerce Digital Camera Warehouse is doubling down on their physical store locations.

On this episode of the PMA Podcast, Bill McCurry asks Lucinda Dalton how and why she sees a bright future for retail and specifically for Digital Camera Warehouse as it expands its footprint and offerings in Australia. With a common sense approach, Lucinda and her team are finding commitment pays off.
You can download the audio episode or subscribe to the podcast here.

Or you can tune in now with the player below.

Use Twitter to attract new customers for National Photography Month

Bernard Perrine is the CEO of Twitter marketing company SocialCentiv

Bernard Perrine is the CEO of Twitter marketing company SocialCentiv

Business Success Logo

May is National Photography Month. Since receiving that designation from Congress in 1987, it has been marked with festivals, photo contests and other celebrations nationwide.

Of course, the business of photography looks much different today than it did in 1987. After decades of growth, the camera market spiked late in the last decade and has been contracting by double-digit amounts every year since.

Some in the industry blame this fall-off on the emergence of the smartphone, some on yet other factors. Regardless of what is causing the problem, it is imperative that photo retailers, professional photographers and others in the field use events like National Photography Month to remind consumers about the fun and the benefits that cameras can bring to their lives.

Ironically, one of the best avenues for using the beauty and power of pictures to generate photography-related business is a social media network that originally was a text-based medium: Twitter.

By limiting users’ posts to 140 characters, Twitter has perfected what’s known as “intent-based marketing,” meaning delivering advertising messages to consumers who have expressed an interest in a product or service.

Consumers use Twitter to express their thoughts and feelings in real time, something no other social media outlet delivers to marketers. People announce on Twitter that they are getting married, having children and a host of other important life events that can create business for people in the photo business.

Listen and engage

While Twitter represents a vast marketing opportunity, it can be intimidating for the uninitiated. Some 288 million monthly active users send out 500 million-plus Tweets daily.

Understanding the difference between how people use the service compared to other social media and search engines is the first step in sifting Twitter for business.

Twitter is all about conversation. A user who is announcing that her boyfriend had proposed might Tweet, “I am getting married!” But that same woman could use different language in employing, say, a search engine, where she might use a phrase such as “marriage photographers in Dallas.”

Finding business opportunities like this on Twitter entails monitoring what people are talking about – a process called “social listening” – and then moving quickly when good fortune arises.

An important element of a good listening effort is choosing the best “keywords” for a given business. Keywords are words and phrases that marketers seek in Tweets.

For instance, two of the most commonly used phrases on Twitter are “I want” and “I need.” Easy tricks can help narrow the list of Tweets to a geographic area. Searching Twitter for the keywords “I need photographer near: Dallas” provides a list of people in that Texas city who may require a studio’s services.

After picking keywords, the next step is gently joining the conversation that the person who could turn into a customer is having.

The “engagement mechanism” a marketer uses could simply involve sending a Tweet to the individual with a message that is relevant to what he or she is talking about.

For instance, if a Dallas resident announced her engagement on Twitter, a photo studio could reply with an offer of a 10-percent discount on its services for her wedding.

That discount offer is what’s known as a “call to action” – a reason for the bride-to-be to act immediately. Any outreach a business does on Twitter needs a strong call to action, because opportunities – in the forms of weddings, births or bar mitzvahs – can pass quickly.

To better catch a Twitter user’s eye, it always helps to include some of the photos one’s business works so hard to produce.

One study of Tweets by news organizations, for instance, found that adding a picture increased the percentage of Retweets by 27 percent.

While it’s important to know what steps to take in conducting a successful advertising campaign on Twitter, sometimes the best move is the one that a marketer does not make.

In this regard, it is best to avoid the use of software known as “auto-responders” to Tweets. Always have a human examine Tweets for relevance before replying to them.

After all, there is a big difference between a Tweet that proclaims, “The photographer took some sick photos at our wedding,” versus one that says, “The photographer took photos of someone getting sick at our wedding.”

Why not Instagram or Pinterest?

Twitter is not the only social media network that has attracted advertisers’ attention in the photography business. A pair of Twitter competitors, Instagram and Pinterest, has raised marketers’ antennae, largely because both focus on images and video.

To be sure, both of these platforms offer advantages that are hard to ignore. Pinterest should have close to 47.1 million active monthly users by the end of 2015, with about 83.3 percent of those users female, according to a recent eMarketer study. In December, Instagram eclipsed 300 million active monthly users, and a recent study says 53 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 use the service.

On the other hand, both Pinterest and Instagram pose challenges for marketers, especially for small and mid-sized businesses.

For Pinterest, part of the issue is how much growth it has in store. The site’s central function, which is acting like an online pin board, may not mesh with what large numbers of people enjoy doing, the eMarketer study noted.

The study also knocked Pinterest’s advertising products, saying they are “fairly limited” for now.

Instagram has several times more users than Pinterest. The problem, in the eyes of some observers, is that Instagram is becoming overly pricey to advertise on, much like its corporate parent, Facebook.


In my book, the best bang for the advertising buck on social media remains Twitter. No other outlet provides a window into people’s purchasing sentiments that is both real-time and so cost-effective, especially for small and mid-sized photo businesses.

And if that isn’t a pretty picture, then I don’t know what is.

Bernard Perrine is the CEO of Twitter marketing company SocialCentiv. He can be reached at

Business Success: Turning On for your customers

You can’t always be “On” — or can you? Consultant Tom Shay argues that to succeed in business, we must indeed turn On for our customers.

A fun flight

After speaking at a recent trade show, I flew Southwest Airlines from Las Vegas to Tampa with a stopover in Nashville. The flight from Las Vegas to Nashville was the type of flight I enjoy, and that I expect to experience from Southwest: flight attendants and crew members conversing with passengers, telling jokes, tossing bags of peanuts to passengers, singing, and other various forms of engaging the passengers.

At the end of the flight, this announcement was made, “Thanks for flying our airline. If you had a good time, this was Southwest flight #157. If you did not have a good time, this was Delta flight #1.”

In Nashville, all but five passengers got off. Oddly enough, the five all sat in the same area. There was a discussion among us about our flight as the Nashville to Tampa flight was quite different from the first one. The pilot, the same on both flights, was “matter of fact” with his comments in the only time he spoke. The flight attendants, while also the same as the first flight, gave the type of service that is usually experienced on planes. They served the customary drinks and snacks, but something was missing.

Passengers were not given the individual attention that we had experienced in the first flight. The fun was gone, and now the Southwest flight attendants were performing the job in the same manner that other airlines do.

Our seating group of five commented to each other about the differences in the two flights. One passenger commented, “They are acting like the Delta crew they were just making fun of.”

As we got off the plane, we watched the flight attendants and crew stand in the usual place in the front of the plane with the traditional meaningless comments of “thank you” and “good night.”

As a couple of us would be among the last to get off the plane, we decided to inquire as to why the difference in the two flights.

The response by the Southwest flight attendant, while lengthy and filled with a combination of explanations, could be summarized by the last sentence she gave: “Hey, we can’t always be on.”

Off Days

Of course, anyone can have an off day; a headache, a cold, a problem at home with the kids, or dealing with personal finances. Almost everyone has the occasion where they have gone to work with less than an ideal personal situation. However, when it comes to interacting with customers, co-workers, management, or even the delivery person from UPS — being “on” is not an option.

If you are truly a professional at what you do, then your job requires you to be “on” when you perform your duties.

How many times have you worked with someone who always has a smile on their face? The person who always has a kind word for their co-workers and at least two kind words for each customer. These are the staff members that customers ask for by name.

The pleasant disposition is not something that can be taught. More simply, it is a situation that can be pointed out to a new staff person as they observe a co-worker who is enjoying their work or their interaction with the customer.

Of course, there are just some people who are not suited to work in situations where they are to interact with customers.

I once spoke to a group about this issue — and six months later, one of the attendees said that as I spoke, she knew exactly the person in her business that I was talking about.

While her business rarely had a customer issue a complaint, she was surprised if the complaint was about anyone other than this one staff member. She went on to say that she had a restless night thinking about the situation. And when she went to work the next day, the first thing she did was to terminate that employee.

Hearing that story, I gasped and asked what happened next. Her response was, “That was the best thing I ever did for my business. And I felt a lot better afterwards.”

Turn On

I am not recommending this as a cure all for any business, but there are two other points that need to be made:

1. The person who is not “On” is indirectly working to cause all of their co-workers to not be “On” as well. It is like algae in a pool: It spreads, and it spreads rapidly. Like the algae, it does not just go away on its own. It has to be treated.

2. A manager who is “On” can do more to get the rest of the staff in the “On” position than the lowest ranking staff person can do to get their “On” position to filter up through the business.

Undoubtedly, you know the advantages of you and your staff being “On.” The disadvantages of not being “ON”? Most likely, your customers will tell others about their experience. Much like this writer told of his experience of a Southwest Airline staff that decided to “not be On.”


tom_shay_av_shadowTom Shay is a fourth-generation small business owner providing proven management and business building ideas through his Profits Plus Seminars and Profits Plus Solutions coaching.

Business Success: Baker Street Irregulars

Fans of Sherlock Holmes might remember the occasional scene in which a scruffy urchin appears out of nowhere, speaks briefly to Holmes, and then disappears again. Holmes then solves the case, and explains to the stunned Watson that he cultivated the urchins as sources of information. They are his “Baker Street Irregulars.”

For those who prefer a more recent image, fans of James Bond movies will remember the endless parade of agents who show up long enough to give Bond some critical piece of information or equipment. Unlike Holmes’ informants, the mortality rate amongst Bond’s “irregulars” tends to be awkwardly high. Star Trek, of course, was famous for its “Red Shirts,” the red uniformed security officers who would always die within minutes after appearing on camera.

In all these cases, the character shows up on camera just long enough to move the plot forward and then disappears. In a very real sense, they have no existence before they are needed and no existence after their function is fulfilled. When they are present, they exist only to meet the needs of the story, or at least of the hero.

Playing Games
Of course, these examples are all fiction. What bearing could they possibly have on reality?

When I run predictive scenario management training exercises, a type of serious game, I find the same behavior manifests: many participants tend to assume that the other players in the scenario are only there to support their goals. They don’t quite recognize that each participant has their own goals and their own needs that they are trying to meet. As a result, conflict often erupts between different individuals and groups who each assumed that the other individuals and groups were present only as “red shirts.”

Now, it might be argued that I was still talking fiction there. After all, this was an exercise, not actual performance on the job. However, the way people behave in a predictive scenario is a fairly accurate prediction of how they will behave in the workplace.

Candid Camera
Even outside the gaming scenario, I observe that kind of “off camera” behavior quite frequently in a variety of organizations. It occurs when each department treats the others as existing only to fulfill their needs. Each group becomes completely occupied with doing its own job.

This may seem like a good thing, as they aren’t being distracted by anything else. Unfortunately, they are also not considering how their actions might impact other departments or the company as a whole.

In one company, the engineering department so focused on itself that it never considered how its insular approach to the job was making it impossible for the tech writers to produce accurate documentation, or for customer service to provide useful assistance to the increasingly irate customers. At another company, attempts to identify the root causes of problems in the production process were frequently ignored by one department whose manager simply couldn’t see why she was constantly being bothered when she was clearly busy and, moreover, doing her job.

In each of these cases, the environment was intense and the pressure to work rapidly was extremely high. Unfortunately, such constant pressure leads to narrow perspectives and a decreased willingness to work with others. Although the pressure appears to be increasing performance, it does so at the cost of also increasing friction: in other words, increasing the performance of a single group decreases how well different groups work together. Instead of operating as a unified, coherent team, each company was functioning as a collection of uncoordinated groups all moving in generally the same direction. The lack of coordination led to a significant waste of time and energy and a significant increase in failure work.

Teams succeed because the members work together smoothly and well, maximizing resources and time — not by having each member duplicate the work of the rest, or treat the others as bit players who only matter when they are on camera.

Starring Rolls
The key to preventing your organization from turning into a collection of Baker Street Irregulars is twofold:

First, you need to make sure that each department and each person understands the big picture. What is the flow of information and production in your company? What does success mean, not just individually but for the company as a whole? While people do not need to know how to do one another’s jobs (nor is that necessarily a feasible objective), they do need to understand how those other jobs fit into that big picture. They need to understand how their actions and decisions affect other people, other departments, and the company as a whole. If you can’t convey that information, you will also find it extremely difficult to convince your employees to take pride in their work or in the company. People who don’t feel pride in their work or the company are also less likely to work hard, and are more likely to leave.

People also need to understand that when something goes wrong, it isn’t about fixing blame; rather, it’s about fixing the problem. What are the feedback mechanisms within the company? How are failure points identified and corrected?

Second, you need to slow down. It doesn’t help to move fast if that means errors are increasing faster than useful productivity. Coordinating different teams in a company doesn’t happen over night. Creating a loosely coupled organization — in which the different groups are cognizant of one another’s goals, and understand how to help one another — is a process. It pays to start slow, and build up speed as you go. If you start running into problems, you slow down again until things are working. Then you identify what went wrong, strengthen the weak areas, and build up speed again.

Know where you’re going. Help each person and each team know how they fit in. Start slowly. You’ll be amazed at how fast you end up going.

Stephen BalzacStephen Balzac is an expert on leadership and organizational development. A consultant, author, and professional speaker, he is president of 7 Steps Ahead, an organizational development firm focused on helping businesses get unstuck. For more information, or to sign up for Steve’s monthly newsletter, visit