On the PMA Podcast: President Jirair Christianian on the future of DIMA

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PMApodcast_icon_1024What are the goals of the Digital Imaging Marketing Association? What can DIMA accomplish? Listen in to this conversation with DIMA President Jirair Christianian, and then let us know what you’d like to see DIMA do for our members. Jirair  runs the family-owned chain of Mike’s Camera stores in Colorado and California.

Listen in at www.pmapodcast.org, or use the player below.

Business success: Photos are memories… But what else boosts recall?

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We often speak of photography being all about capturing for posterity the big events, beautiful locations, and our closest loved ones and friends  — and how we as an industry must do our best to help customers preserve their precious memories.

But while photography is great for memory (so much so that I am writing a book on that topic!) it’s not the only tool available to us — and in many ways, a powerful memory can boost your overall success in business, and elsewhere in life.

This week we present information and tips from Chester Santos, an actual recognized “Memory Champion” — yes, they have competitions!

Memory Exercises + Brain Fitness = Success

Chester Santos

Chester Santos

By Chester Santos

I am a memory expert: I help people to realize the benefits of an improved memory and sharper mind.
In order to win the USA Memory Championship in 2008, I practiced simple memory-building methods that can help anyone.
Wouldn’t it be helpful in your career to remember the names of everyone you meet, and to give a presentation or speech without notes? I teach that and much more.
My entertaining, interactive presentations and workshops provide my clients, from Fortune 500 companies to Harvard graduate students, with the tools to perform their functions at the highest level.

In any profession, you seem like much more of an expert in your field if you can recall important information rather than having to always look it up. If you have mastered your field and you are the expert, then you shouldn’t have to rely so much on reference — that makes you seem like a novice, not an expert. Another thing to consider: Whether or not there is a connection between memory and intelligence, there is definitely a perception: People with a razor sharp memory are perceived as more intelligent… and we always want to hire the more intelligent person.

My clients include businesses and organizations from various industries, including finance, technology, medicine and law. Many trial attorneys take my workshop because when they lose eye contact with the jury, they’ve lost the jury’s attention. You aren’t going to be as persuasive if you are always pausing to look through a mass of notes. Even the Harvard Graduate Council recognized the value of memory skills for students, and I conducted seminars for students from all thirteen of its graduate schools. “After listening to Chester, I realized the possibilities,” said Pukar Malla, President of the Harvard Graduate Council. “In a short span of time hundreds of students were using powerful memory techniques.”

I believe that memory techniques are especially important now in the technology age where people are less reliant upon human memory. The brain is very trainable. The more you have your brain do something over and over, the better it gets at doing it. The opposite is also true: The “use it or lose it” principle is definitely applicable to the brain. We all used to be able to remember the phone numbers of friends and family — Now no one knows anyone’s phone number. Things have gotten so bad that a lot of people don’t even remember their own phone numbers.

I engage my audiences and motivate them to memorize in the age of technology by demonstrating what is possible for all of us with just a little training: skills like remembering the names of one hundred people in the audience that I met right before the event, and memorizing a random list of numbers the audience created only a few seconds prior. I also can memorize an entire deck of cards in 90 seconds, or remember a sequence of 100 numbers in just five minutes (all challenges I performed in the USA Memory Championship). I never tell people that everyone is going to achieve my level, but what I do say is that everyone can dramatically improve their memory. My presentations are interactive, with audiences actively practicing memory exercises.

Most of the techniques I teach originated with the ancient Greeks. One of the core methods is known as the Method of Loci (“loci” meaning location). The Roman orator Cicero used this technique to give lengthy speeches from memory without any notes, and it was known then as the Roman Room method. This technique involves using a familiar venue such as your own home to create visual imagery that represents things you want to remember. In order to memorize a speech or presentation you choose several locations from your own home, and then link images that remind you in some way of each topic or section in your presentation. When you want to remember the topics you just take a mental walk through your residence, and “see” the images that you placed at the different locations.

These techniques magnify anyone’s memory many times over because you are using more areas of your brain. Scientific studies support that notion: When I appeared in an October 2012 PBS Nova ScienceNow segment, “How Smart Can We Get?” I trained the host of the show, David Pogue, how to use the Method of Loci memory technique. Pogue memorized 40 words in approximately ten minutes by using images connected to his own living room. In order to remember some of the words, I told Pogue to imagine that on top of this piano there is a monkey dancing, and this monkey picks up a giant iron. I later told Pogue that we tend to remember things more if there is something interesting actually happening, rather than just a stagnant object. Neuroscientist Dr. John Golfinos of New York University Langone Medical Center explained during the segment that memory champions can remember large amounts of information with these techniques because they are using the parts of the brain that process language as well as images, so employing other parts of the brain makes their memories stronger.

Since I know the importance of scientific support for my memory training, I offer programs along with Dr. Adam Gazzaley, Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Gazzaley explains the science of memory, and then I discuss the practical benefits of memory training in any career.

Clearly, memory techniques can help boost productivity for anyone in their business or personal life, and recently, I discovered that corporations might also want to get into the memory game. I brought the first-ever US corporate team to the USA Memory Championships. I do one-on-one memory coaching for Mike Faith, the CEO of Headsets.com, and he saw the benefit of memory training in his career. Faith believed in the value of memory training so much that he asked me to train his employees to compete in the USA Memory Championship this year. I started a trend: other corporations have already entered for next year.

Memory is fundamental to learning, so memory training and brain fitness are invaluable tools in the workplace — and who knows where the next corporate memory champion will come from? But it’s not all about competing against others… When you can improve your personal memory you are a winner in any arena. Just follow these basic and specific memory training tips to jump-start your memory.

Basic Memory Tips

1. Attach vivid visual images to information that you want to remember.

2. Establish a connection between new information and a familiar location, such as your home or office. Use this for remembering lists, presentations and speech topics.

3. Involve additional senses, including hearing, taste, touch and smell to assist in committing facts to memory. This aids in the process of encoding information into your brain.

4. Practice relying upon your memory and not technology, to recall telephone numbers and other information. This will help to re-program your brain to become more accustomed to remembering.

How to Remember Names

Everyone likes to hear his or her name, and it’s a great way to get ahead in business. Try these techniques and names will be more than just on the tip of your tongue:

Associate an image with the name of someone that you want to remember. So if someone has the name Jill, imagine a hill and someone jumping up the hill. Try linking another sensory cue to names such as sense of smell or hearing. When you meet someone, notice the scent they are wearing or the tone of their voice. If anything stands out, link it with the name. For example, if a woman is wearing a sweet-smelling perfume, link the word sweet with the name, “Sweet Sue.” If someone has a nasal voice use that with the name, “Nosey Jim.”

How to Remember a List

Imagine that there is a grocery list that you need to remember. Some of the items are milk, eggs and cereal. The best way to remember these items is to visualize them, but in an unusual way. For instance, think of a carton of the milk the size of a building, with eggs flying out of the windows. When the eggs splatter on the ground, cereal pours out of them. In order to cement the list in your mind, create a story surrounding the images and repeat it to yourself several times.

How to Memorize a Speech or Presentation

In order to memorize a speech or presentation you can use the same techniques for remembering a list: Connect an image with each topic or point in your material. For a particularly long speech or presentation, the Method of Loci works well. Just select a familiar location such as your home or office, and attach visual spots in that location to each topic. Picture your living room and take a walk around it in your mind, linking each piece of furniture, art and other objects to the points you want to make. It’s best to use vivid imagery when making these connections so that you have the best chance of remembering the information.

For more information on Chester Santos’ presentations and training go to www.InternationalManofMemory.com.

 

Focus on: Karsten Peters, ifolor

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C. Karsten Peters of ifolor © Manu Friederich

C. Karsten Peters of ifolor © Manu Friederich

Karsten Peters is a long-time member of the marketing department of ifolor, which is a Swiss based company operating internationally in the online personalized photo products market aimed directly toward end consumers (B2C). Its product range includes photo books, calendars, greeting cards, wall decorations, photo gifts and, of course, digital prints.

Ifolor AG is a family-owned company, founded in 1961 as Photocolor Kreuzlingen AG. It was one of the first photographic labs in Switzerland to focus on mail-order, and has operated that model successfully since 1968.

The company extended its position as a market leader in its home market of Switzerland after the acquisition of Fotolabo Club SA in 2006. At the same time, ifolor’s European expansion was pushed forward with the acquisition of Ifi OY in Finland and Fotolabo GmbH customer base in Germany.

The company has two manufacturing sites equipped with state-of-the-art technology, one located at its headquarters in Kreuzlingen on the shores of Lake Constance in Switzerland, and the other in Kerava, near Finland’s capital. Ifolor is currently operating in six markets: Austria, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

In October 2007, the company is has operated under the umbrella brand of “ifolor.” The focus on a single brand name made ifolor more competitive and increased the speed of innovation for new products.

Karsten Peters joined ifolor as Head of Marketing in 1994, when its operations were entirely analog and the major shift to digital was completely out of sight. Together with his management colleagues, he managed very successfully the transition into the digital world, boosting ifolor into an even stronger position as market leader in Switzerland, and as an important brand in Europe.

With rare exceptions, Karsten has regularly attended the PMA Conferences and trade show ever since joining ifolor, taking advantage of valuable sessions, great contact opportunities and networking events. Karsten says he is convinced that there is no better way to receive an annual update on where our industry is about to move, and to benefit from a mutual exchange of expertise, than at PMA.

PMA Podcast launches with new ideas to grow your business from the McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange

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PMApodcast_icon_1024The brand new PMA Podcast is here! On this inaugural episode, listen to a great McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange interview.

The PMA Podcast is the podcast for anyone whose business revolves around imaging and pictures. We’ll cover topics like increasing sales, new imaging technology, the latest in picture framing, business management tips, advances in photo output, high volume photography, and much more. Designed for members of PMA and its international community of imaging associations — AIE, DIMA, NAPET, PPFA, PSPA, and SPAA — the PMA Podcast is your weekly source of information to help you grow your business. If you’re a fan of the DIMAcast or the AIE Imaging Executive podcast, you’ll find all the great content you’re used to and lots more, now all in one place, on the PMA Podcast at www.pmapodcast.org.

And now, on with the show!

When the landlord wasn’t cooperative to renew their lease, Calagaz Photo and Digital Imaging found a new location, remodeled it, fixtured it and moved in — all within 30 days. Most impressively, they changed the ambiance and tenor of the store to attract more female shoppers with bigger budgets. Pauline McKean shares how they escalated the “Wow!” factor to delight their customers. The microphone then switches to Alex Christianian of Mike’s Camera, who shares advice on setting realistic expectations for satisfied customers. Mike’s displays and training help ensure the customer understands what they will get for their money. Two progressive retailers share philosophies and strategies you can use during the inaugural episode of the PMA Podcast.

Welcome, new members of PMA and PPFA

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PMAlogo_CMYK_smallWe are so pleased to welcome these, and all our new members! PPFA_RGB_150

Art Masters, El Paso, Texas

BGA Videoproduktion AB, Sweden

Brother International Corp., Bridgewater, N.J.

Central Trading Co., Fitzgerald, Ga.

Chandler Gallery Custom & Museum Framing, Jupiter, Fla.

Cyrus Custom Framing, Canton, Ohio

da Vinci Frames, Sierra Vista, Ariz.

ECO Framing, Oakland, Calif.

The Frame Gallery, Holmen, Wis.

Framewrights Art Framing, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Franklin Picture Framing, Franklin, N.C.

Gallery Framery, Jacksonville, Fla.

Light and Magic, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Looking Glass Photo and Camera, Berkeley, Calif.

Magdalene’s Custom Framing, Washington D.C.

Morpeth Gallery, Hopewell, N.J.

Osorio Art & Framing, North Miami Beach, Fla.

Pegasus Gallery Framing, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

Picture This of Westport, Westport, Conn.

PortraitEFX Southeast Florida, Wellington, Fla.

Red River Paper, Dallas, Texas

SNAP Photography, Harleysville, Pa.

Studio Gallery, Niles, Mich.

Vandeuren Galleries Inc., West Hollywood, Calif.

Winnicky, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

WM Quigg & Assoc., Phoenix, Ariz.

The new issue of PMA Magazine is here

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Magazine_issue092014_700x388I’m excited for you to see all the great articles in the new, September/October issue of PMA Magazine – Connecting the Imaging Communities, which is now available online. In this issue, you can read about PMA’s newly refined mission statement, and discover new and continuing ways we will bring you the tools and information you need to keep growing your business into the future.

You will also learn the fascinating story behind Orms, a whole community of imaging businesses in South Africa, which all began in a Cape Town garage. It’s truly a remarkable story that you won’t want to miss.

Also in this issue, be sure to check out:

  • The sweet spot – With a small-town, big-heart philosophy, Picture This Jackson deserves its great success
  • Bringing photo chaos to order – How APPO members are helping consumers get organized – and find those “printworthy” pictures
  • Calumet makes bold moves – Thriving in four European countries, Calumet sets its sights on more markets, including a return to the U.S.
  • Deep dive into social imaging – A new report from InfoTrends makes an in-depth examination of consumer imaging behaviors
  • Easy, beautiful, archival – With its simple subscription print model and unique packaging, timeshel’s time has come

Business success: Rock on

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Business Success LogoIt’s been a while, but a few years ago I used to see the saying everywhere: “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten.” Rodger Roeser, APR, president of The Eisen Agency, has a little twist on that idea. Everything he needs to know about marketing and PR, he learned in a rock ‘n roll band.

On that note (ha!), take it away, Rodger…

Rodger Roeser, APR

Rodger Roeser, APR

Those that know me know that I speak allegorically – I have a penchant for using nickel words and often turn to analogy and allusion to make a point. I have always found that it makes complex issues more personal and enables someone to better understand and appreciate an issue or an argument. My favorite analogies and stories typically tie in my experiences as a working, and often times starving, musician. Even as a suit and tie running a successful boutique agency, I am still that same wannabe rock star who practiced public relations and marketing before I even understood the so called “right way.”

There are literally endless ways businesses, personalities, civic and social leaders, and others utilize marketing and public relations in their efforts. In offering some practical and useful advice that I often learned the hard way, created as I went along, or simply worked harder than others would be willing to to make the seemingly impossible happen, understand that everything involved in good marketing and PR can be distilled into a story about rock and roll.

1. Play With Your Heart, Not Your Head

Too often, I see practitioners, either the so called professionals or internal teams, over thinking, over analyzing and over just about everything in an attempt to implement or develop a given marketing or public relations program. We’re likely all familiar with the term “paralysis by analysis,” but in marketing, it seems to be a rampant virus. So often, organizations and practitioners will laboriously fret (get it) over every conceivable outcome and focus on tactical minutia rather than looking at the big picture or worse, failing to see something beautiful in its simplicity that would actually work. Achem’s Razor: All things being equal, sometimes the most obvious is the right choice. Stop over thinking and DO SOMETHING.

I find too often that most would rather talk endlessly about ideas and theories and outcomes instead of finding a simple E chord that would crack someone’s ribs and really have an impact. Yes, it’s important to be prepared up front, but in looking at your organization, find what will make your customers (the listening audience) passionate and want to sing along to your tune. Stop focusing inward and think outward and let yourself be creative and passionate about what you do and how it makes a difference, solves a problem and tells a beautiful story. Because, as you talk with your customers, they’ll know when you’re playing a song you really love or just going through the motions. Marketing is not about keeping quiet in the cube: Shout it out loud.

2. The Show Must Go On

Things happen. It’s marketing, not rocket science. No matter how much you plan for an event, a grand opening, publicity or even desired outcomes – rarely does everything go exactly as planned. You can plan and you can spend head time on creating desired outcomes and what you believe is every possible contingency, but it will happen that the drummer is going to show up late (trust me), six people and your mom will be in the only ones in attendance, or the fact that you’re lip synching will be exposed on live national television. Things happen, it’s inevitable. How you recover, roll with the punches, and still make everything seamless is the mark of a true professional.

A good pro is prepared when something outside of their control happens. Last I checked, even the best agencies are not the magazine publishers, nor do they tell CNN upon what they should report. Businesses must understand that fact. It can rain. So as opposed to getting electrocuted when you plug in your amplifier, you are ready in advance for such unexpected opportunities to shine. You’re drummer fails to show up, time to grab the acoustic guitars and go “unplugged.” Whatever happens, have a back up and be prepared because the event or the interview or the program is in motion. As Frankie says: Relax. Do your job, and be the professional.

3. Know When To Hire a Manager and Outside Professionals

Sometimes, being a good musician (having a great company or product) is simply not enough. Hiring outside marketing professionals, just like hiring a lawyer or accountant, is a prudent move. You play your music well, we’ll show you how to take it to the next level and market it accordingly – that’s why all the great bands have great publicists. Over my 20 years in this marketing and PR business, I’ve seen, witnessed, created or otherwise had some involvement in just about everything at one point or another. Not much would shock or surprise me. I’ve made more mistakes over the years and learned from them than anyone else should have to go through. I taught myself how to play guitar, instead of hiring a teacher – which caused me to fire myself after I discovered guitarist after guitarist was so much better than me. I had a basic understanding, but these guys were good and better than me. They made the entire band (your business) better and I could focus on being the consummate front man.

I see the same thing in business. They “try” to do their marketing and public relations, but trust me, people like me know a heluva lot more about this than you do – it’s all we do. I see unintegrated programs, poorly written and self centered articles and press releases, websites developed by your cousin Tony’s high school son yet you’re a “high end” retailer. A good agency will save you money, not cost you. A good agency will bring hard work, fresh ideas, creativity and also bring to bear all these nifty tools and expertise not afforded to most businesses – particularly small or medium sized ones. And, if you are an internal marketing and public relations pro, don’t think that hiring outside expertise makes you look bad; rather it’s quite the opposite. A good producer can make a good song great. Bet you can name 20 rock bands (you, the client), and not 20 producers (me, the agency). Count on the experts and let them do their job. It will save you time, money and give you a competitive advantage. If you make widgets, make them great – just let someone else market it.

4. So, You Broke a String During the Song

Remember, it’s only one song of an entire set, an entire show, and possibly even an entire tour. Put things into perspective and refer back to rule #2. Just grab your second guitar or replace the string while you’re drummer does his solo (it’s called a distraction). Rarely will one single instant or tactic that may have to be changed or altered affect the overall outcome.

Also, keep in mind that sometimes hitting the “wrong chord” or playing the “wrong note” can lead to a much better song or outcome. Serendipitous mistakes have made for some of the most memorable songs – “Just Look Over Your Shoulder’s Baby” – was a mistake by Michael Jackson in a Jackson 5 hit. Never be so rigid in your thinking that you believe there can’t be a better way or that a serendipitous mistake can’t make a program as a whole even better. A good marketing professional must have the ability to improvise on the fly – and with the good ones – you’ll never even notice.

5. We’ve Got To Play These Kinds of Places First

One of the most amazing things I see in marketing, particularly in public relations and publicity, is how centric most companies and CEOs see their importance in the marketplace. No matter the size of the company or the arena in which it plays, all too often, I see them act and even expect to be on par with the Microsoft’s, IBM’s, or Procter & Gamble’s of the world. They are amazed that CNN is not interested in devoting 30 minutes to talking about how amazing and brilliant this company or this CEO are – and the fact that they’re not in the paper or on TV is because we simply haven’t called the media. They refuse to do interviews in the Cincinnati Enquirer because they’d rather hold out for USA Today. FastCompany is the only magazine I’ll be interviewed in, they say. I hope that one interview that may never come is a damn good one.

You see, you have to play a lot of dirtball clubs and bars before you get to play Madison Square Garden. I suppose you could rent out MSG (advertising), but who would come anyway? It takes time to build a solid following and also takes time to develop and create programs that will be most attractive to a journalist and media outlet – hard working people that are NOT on MY payroll. Although a good agency would have strong relationships with many journalists and reporters, good reporters have a job to do as well.

A good agency or practitioner can work with an organization or entity and find what is most likely to peak the interest of the media and how they can most likely secure coverage – regularly. Because, one show at a club doesn’t mean you get to play MSG the next night. It takes time, takes consistency, and takes tenacity. You must be able to put yourself and your organization on context and be willing to commit to a longer term program.

6. Good Publicity Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Good Attendance

Trust me. Most of the bands in the Cleveland area were not real big fans of my group because we were so media savvy (they had a great PR guy). We were on the cover of music magazines, newspapers, did live TV and radio interviews and performances, had press kits, did video and photo shoots, saved whales and still found time to throw TVs out of hotel windows – but that didn’t guarantee a packed house. You know what did? Hard work, practice and a heluva show.

In business, nothing is going to make up for a bad experience by the customer. I call it Brand Operational Dissonance (BOD), where the ads and smarmy PR guy say one thing, but the person behind the counter is rude, disinterested or your coffee is cold. Operations and your customer service, and honestly, the expertise of your people or the novelty of your new product is still going to be key. Find good insights. Test and retest with marketing research and secret shoppers in your specific target audience – and remember, you’re mom doesn’t count. If she likes your songs, you’re doing something wrong i.e.: ask your target and don’t be afraid of honesty. Use that information to refine and make your service, your product or you better. This is why good brands are always cautious of what appears in the news media or new media – and are protective of those things. Spin is exactly that. You don’t have to spin a fantastic new restaurant.

7. Passion Can Make Up for Talent

Just ask KISS (Sorry, couldn’t resist throwing that analogy in there). They have never claimed to be great musicians, but they are certainly amazing entertainers and you can feel the love for what they do, witness how hard they work, and experience the passion they have for their fans (your target audience) and their music (their product). They are second only to The Beatles in number of albums certified gold.

I am not the greatest public relations practitioner that ever lived. I’m not the smartest, I’m not the most creative – but I am the hardest working. I have the pleasure of having the best job on earth. I LOVE what I do and, ask my team, it can be sometimes all consuming and often times a challenge for others to keep up. I work late. I work weekends. My mind is always going, looking for other ideas and better ways of going about something. Do I get up at four in the morning to deliver cheeseburgers or flowers or coneys to the news media – yep. Pass out coupons or deliver hot coffee to the homeless in the dead of winter –  you bet. I stuff press kits, lick envelopes, make cold calls and entertain complete strangers at events. I’m not too proud to do anything that has to be done for the good of my clients or the good of the company, and sadly, I don’t see that very often.

This job is a paycheck. I’m too good for that task – it’s not my job. That kind of attitude is a killer in business. Again, people are smart and know when you’re faking it. Not that every program is perfect or every idea a winner, you just have to practice your passion and not be afraid to surround yourself with great people, talented people – if only they would learn how to play with their heart and not their head (refer them to rule #1).

8. Practice

There is no substitute. They say amateurs practice until they get it right, but professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong – it just becomes second nature. I can stand out on stage, play a killer bassline, belt out my song, jump up and down, press the button for the fog machine and point to a “fan” all at the same time without even thinking about it. So, too, must business. You must work with your team over and over and over again. Rehearse your speech, your movements, your key messages, your interviews.

A good agency has, as I’ve mentioned before, been there, done that with so many different programs – we’ve practiced. Marketing is not a good place necessarily for trial and error. During the show is probably not the best time to try out your new flaming guitar trick. Keep things simple and do what you know and do it better than anyone within the context of what you’re trying to do. Should you shred a lead guitar solo during a slow ballad just because you can – clearly not. Understand how you and your expertise fits in to make the whole greater than the individual parts, then work together in the many facets of your organization or your marketing program to create a comprehensive and leveraged program. Need help? Rule #3.

9. What Comes After 4?

One. With marketing and public relations, it is a process that involves upfront research, assessment, strategic communications and implementation, and finally an evaluation. Many of us are familiar with R.A.C.E. Again, if you’re not, refer to Rule #3. But, I’ve always felt this left something out of the equation – Continual Process Improvement. A good business and a good marketer will constantly find ways to make something work better, work smarter and more efficiently. If what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t keep doing it because ‘the plan’ says so. If the strategy is solid, but the tactics are not working as expected, don’t be afraid to improve upon that process if you’ve given enough time for the tactics, or personnel, to do their job.

Constantly measure and evaluate based on set key performance indicators, such as traffic, impressions, sales, leads and a host of other measurable objectives. Use unique URLs to track the efficacy of a given advertisement, direct mail or publicity endeavor. Utilize your tracking services and survey programs with clients and customers – items like surveymonkey and zoomerang have made this process simple and efficient. Set your benchmarks at the beginning, run the program well, evaluate then make it better.

10. Turn it Up!

“If life is a radio, turn it to 10.” Turn it up. Have fun and enjoy what you do and do your best on each program, each event, each time. Look for fresh ideas and never be afraid to get a “no” from a client, a reporter or a sales prospect. If you never give someone a chance to say “no,” they’ll never have an opportunity to say “yes.” Said another way: “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Soak things up like a sponge and take time to learn and be positively influenced and impacted by everyone around you. 10 is sometimes analogous to perfect, but understand that rarely will everything be perfect – marketing and public relations is a process and should be treated as such.

The number ‘10’ also makes me think of surveys and research, which are keys at the beginning of a program and also the rule of thumb as to the percentage of your total budget you should spend on research – competitive, demographic, segmented and the like. Doing your due diligence and investing in that research at the beginning of a program will save time, money and a lot of headaches.

11. There is no eleven in music. Unless you play for Spinal Tap. Rock on.

Focus on: Atlantic Photo Supply

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logo-aps-red-croppedv2Atlantic Photo Supply, Halifax, Nova Scotia, operates out of two locations, one on the Dartmouth side of the harbor in the Burnside Industrial Park and the other in downtown Halifax in a small retail mall, just off busy Spring Garden Road.

The company was founded in 1942 and was purchased from the original owners in 2001.  Until 2012, the store operated as a single, stand-alone retail outlet on Spring Garden Road.  The primary business of Atlantic Photo Supply has always been photo retail and photofinishing, but in the mid 1980’s until 2000, the business also offered a large selection of home electronics (TV’s, stereos, etc).

When new ownership took over in 2001, led by managing partner and company President Brian Giffin, the company decided to refocus on photography and exit the consumer electronics market.  This new direction was implemented at the same time as digital photography was becoming mainstream and consumers were slowly moving away from film and beginning to print less.

Atlantic Photo Supply looked on these changing consumer trends not as a serious blow to its business, but as an opportunity to reach new markets.  Over several years, it invested heavily in new printing equipment that including Fuji Frontiers, Epson wide format and a Chromira wide format silver halide printer and targeted a segment of the market that was still printing – professional studios.  Over four or five years Atlantic Photo Supply became the primary print house for most of the established professional studios in Atlantic Canada.  Revenue from printing and related services has almost doubled over those years.  Staffing levels grew from 9 in 2001 to 17 in 2012.

The Company at the same time was also looking for other parallel revenue streams and capitalized on Brian Giffin’s interest in astronomy and added telescopes to its product offerings.  They started small, with just a couple entry level scope,s but listened to their customers to learn what they were looking for.  Atlantic Photo Supply is now the largest telescope retailer in Atlantic Canada and one of four Celestron Premier Plus dealers in Canada.  Working closely with the local chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society they now offer a number of different brands of scopes, host educational sessions  on astrophotography and at least once a year hold a “star party” or public observing session in the front parking lot of their Dartmouth store.  In February of this year they had between 100-150 people on a cold winter night in the parking lot looking at Jupiter, the moon and several other night sky objects.   Microscopes were added a few years later but did not have the same success with them as they did with telescopes and have since stepped back from the microscope market.  More recently, Atlantic Photo entered the flying camera, UAV market and has had some early success marketing drones.

In late 2011, the company decided that they could no longer operate from their location on Spring Garden Road – the 110 year old building they operated out of had become too crowded.  The lab, now operating at busy times 16 hours a day, was split between two floors and very inefficient.  It was decided to find space where more suitable facilities could be located to support the growing printing business while at the same time leave a retail store close to the old one to service 70 years’ worth of customers.

A new lab with a retail store front was built in a retail plaza in the Burnside Industrial Park in Dartmouth while at the same time a new retail store was built just 88 steps from the old store in downtown Halifax.

Atlantic Photo Supply now serves a professional market that has matured and most likely peaked – the older photographers that value delivering printed photographs are being pressured by younger photographers’ content to deliver the finished job on a CD and leave the printing to the customer.  In response to this Atlantic Photo Supply is putting additional emphasis on its’ always held belief that consumers should print them precious memories.  A year ago it moved to a new partner for its’ on-line printing and is working hard in the local market to deliver the highest in quality and service as an alternative to the “big box” printing option.  Atlantic Photo has fully embraced the photo/personalized product market as well and produce everything from coffee mugs to metal prints on site.  The biggest problem with this market is getting the message out to consumers that it is done by them right here in Halifax and not sent away to a lab somewhere else in the country.

Over the past several months, as some of the big boxes have exited the film processing and printing business, the company has seen a spike in film sales and in film processed.  It is now the one remaining lab in Halifax to process film on site, a service it expects to continue to offer for many years to come.

Atlantic Photo Supply believes in the printed photograph and delivers that message at every opportunity – at photography club meetings, consumer and professional seminars, in advertising and social media the message remain constant – “Print Your Precious Memories”.  The industry as a whole has done a poor job delivering this message, content on selling hardware at low margins and waiting for the next big thing to come along.  The management and staff of Atlantic all believe that if you delivery a quality product and do so professionally price drops back in importance; after all they still get $.49 for a 4×6 print and it is still their best-selling print size.

Retail analytics for small business

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Swarm might sound like a horde of bees from which you should be running away, but it’s instead a system for tracking foot traffic in a store that can help with staffing and sales, the New York Times reports.

San Francisco-based Swarm says it does not “just give raw data back — we give insights.”

The developer, whose parents “lost a lot of money in their first year owning a country store,” says there were no such tools specifically for small businesses —  those available were aimed at businesses of all sizes and were too expensive for small companies.

Here is the full story.

Coming soon: The new PMA Podcast

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PMAlogo_CMYK_smallI’m excited to announce that we will be launching the new PMA Podcast in September!MIME Logo PMAN

The PMA Podcast is the podcast for anyone whose business revolves around imaging and pictures. We’ll cover topics like increasing sales, new imaging technology, the latest in picture framing, business management tips, advances in photo output, high volume photography, and much more. Designed for members of PMA and its international community of imaging associations — AIE, DIMA, NAPET, PPFA, PSPA, and SPAA — the PMA Podcast is your weekly source of information to help you grow your business.

If you’re a fan of the DIMAcast or the AIE Imaging Executive podcast, you’ll find all the great content you’re used to — including our friend Bill McCurry‘s monthly McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange podcast and transcripts — and lots more, now all in one place, on the PMA Podcast.

Look for the first episode on September 8, followed by a great new interview every week.