MMIE 611: See the world with Paul’s Photo

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McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #611 – August 7, 2015

McCurryIdea_200x139Typical reason why photo retailers got into the business? Because they liked cameras and taking pictures. Mark Comon of Paul’s Photo has nailed it. Not only does he run a successful photo store, but he also gets to go on these fabulous trips all over the U.S. and the world, leading a small group of picture-takers who have shelled out big bucks for the opportunity. Better yet, he gets to help them improve their photography. Even better, they buy all sorts of stuff from his store in preparation for the trip. And the pièce de résistance, he has opened the bookings to other retailers.

Mark was just back from an Alaska safari with seven students when we caught up with him. He was tickled because half of the students had already started posting pictures to their Facebook pages. “They’re selling next year’s trip.” He was even happier because “everyone bought a new lens for the trip, most bought a new bag, four bought a new tripod, and all bought memory cards and batteries. And all from us.”

This web page for The Creative Photo Academy of Paul’s Photo notes the store has been offering photo adventures for 30 years.

This web page for The Creative Photo Academy of Paul’s Photo notes the store has been offering photo adventures for 30 years.

Those purchases are “the whole reason for doing the trips.” While the enrollment cost to go is high, it’s not enough, says Mark. The whole reason for the trips “is to bring customers into the store and give them a reason to spend money. And it keeps them shooting.”

The store has opened the trips up to other members of PRO. “We encourage other members to link to our trips.” The benefit to them is they don’t have to organize the trips themselves, “and we commission the sales. On top of that, the other retailer gets the revenue from the sale of the accessories the student purchases at their store.

Mark notes each trip has an equipment list, items each participant is recommended to have, “and most of the time we sell what’s on the list to them.”

For participating retailers, it’s a turnkey deal. They don’t have to assemble the expertise or do all the arrangements, and that includes some “pretty stringent requirements,” including permits. Paul’s has it all taken care of.

We have our eye on the trip to Japan that’s coming up in February. Or maybe Tanzania in March. Oh, the choices!

So what’s your idea?

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

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

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

• Send your ideas to editor@McCurryAssoc.com.

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

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

On the PMA Podcast: Changes in the interchangeable lens camera market

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infotrends study

The distinction between SLRs and competing compact interchangeable lens cameras is disappearing, reports research firm InfoTrends, “given recent camera introductions and their positioning in the market.”

“2014 represented a year of change in the digital camera market, with significant decreases in unit shipments and sales across multiple global regions,” the company says. “Nevertheless, InfoTrends expects the ILC market to remain profitable for innovative imaging companies that continue to introduce new products and respond to consumers’ needs.”

Ed Lee, Infotrends

For more on this report, we interview InfoTrends Group Director Ed Lee. “Opportunities still exist in this market,” he says. “Smartphone owners are now the breeding ground for first-time DILC camera owners. There is a segment of smartphone owners who are graduating from casual photographers to photography enthusiasts and are beginning to seek out education opportunities to learn more about the art of photography.”

You can download the audio episode or subscribe to the podcast here.

Or you can tune in now with the player below.

MMIE 607: Give it away

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MIME Logo PMANMcCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #607 – July 7, 2015

Gabe Cano, Color Services, Santa Barbara, Calif.

The headline probably made you ask: “What the heck have those McCurry guys been smokin’?” Rest easy, we’re not suggesting you give away the store. No, but how about your Instagram account? Check out what Gabe Cano has to say about Color Services’ idea:

For one week at a time we invite a photographer to take over our Instagram account. We’re calling this the Photograph Your Love Instagram Takeover. Basically we give them the login information for our account and they post on our behalf for the entire week. Each takeover starts on Monday morning and ends on Sunday night. We want to spotlight and feature a series of photographers who we’re inspired by and we feel embrace the meaning behind our tagline, ‘Photograph Your Love.’ Because we’re a company that processes and prints photographs, we believe it’s our job to encourage our community to create and share meaningful photos. mmie 607 (2)

Although my business partner Glen Hodges and the rest of our staff may highlight individuals they think I should consider, I’m the only person deciding. The criteria? 1. Are they a customer? 2. Are they creating work I think our community would be interested in? 3. Photographically speaking, do they have a voice and are they passionate about taking pictures? 4. Could they inspire our customer base to take their picture taking to a higher level? 5. Does their work serve as an example of what it means to ‘Photograph Your Love’?

The photographer gets exposed to the rest of our followers, but more than that, the way we’ve crafted this, its validation for them. We get an opportunity to connect with our customers in a very cool way. Asking them to become a participant has really transformed our relationship with many of our clients. Also it helps with the constant need for content. They’re providing it and we get to sit back for the week and enjoy it along with everyone else. It’s truly been a wonderful community building project.

In addition to that we make it a point to create a blog post for each takeover participant once their week is over. Usually it’s a quick recap of their takeover week. We’ll then share that blog post on the various social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Again more exposure for all.

We all know by now that every company has to be it’s own media company as well, and this helps create a steady stream of content that’s needed for that. We are far away from reaching that goal of being our own media company however we feel this helps our the entire marketing ecosystem. Of course we follow up with a nice thank you card which includes a gift certificate for Color Services.

Have we gotten any new customers from this? Yes. We’ve had a few new faces show up in our lobby and may have found us because of our Instagram takeover. Online it’s so important to establish some credibility as a legit company. What each participant is actually doing is giving us that credibility and needless to say, in a way they’re endorsing us.

I think we started this in the late part of January. So it’s been about six months now. It was actually one of employees that came up with the idea. I thought it was a great idea, so we ran with it.

We started off with 186 followers and now we’re at about 560. We’ve seen some other business accounts grow at much quicker pace than ours but for us, this seemed like the right approach for us. We don’t see this project as any sort of growth hack. It feels honest to us and what we represent as a company.

[Editor’s note: Gabe and Glen are always breaking new ground building community. Unless you know your customers like they do, if you try something like this your best bet is to have log-ins which are random number/letter combinations that no one could guess, and you may want to change your log-in ID/password each time you pass it from one customer to the next. Never know when someone with your log-in information might decide to do something beyond what you expected.]

So what’s your idea?

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

  • Got a promotion that worked? An idea generated by a staffer? Something that’s exciting and/or motivating the crew? Doing something that’s bringing customers in, got customers buzzing, got them buying? Tell us.
  • We’d appreciate getting pictures to help illustrate the ideas.
  • Send your ideas to editor@McCurryAssoc.com.
  • Don’t worry if you’re not the best writer; we’ll be happy to tidy things up for you.
  • And if you want to take a look at more than 1,000 marketing ideas, the archived editions of the McCurry Marketing Ideas Exchange are your resource: www.TinyURL.com/McCurryIdeas

Photoflex bought by Promark

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photoflex

Lighting manufacturer Photoflex reports it’s been acquired by Promark International.

Photoflex had all-but gone out of business earlier this year. (See previous coverage here.)

“Together, Promark and Photoflex will focus on delivering high quality, industry-defining lighting solutions for photographers of all skill levels,” the two companies announced.

Photoflex says “business will go on as usual” now, as it develops photographic lighting tools.

 

Printicular prints instantly in German retail

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printicular

Mobile photo printing service Printicular launched in Germany, saying customers can now send photos from phones to kiosks in 1,600 stores.

The company says it’s working as part of the Kodak Photo Service program to broaden its distribution.

Printicular adds that it’s already printed more than six million photos in the United States at thousands of retail locations.

Here’s more information.

Canadian retail chain Blacks closing

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blacks

All 59 of the Blacks Photo chain’s stores will close, Bloomberg reported.

The Canadian photography stores were owned by Telus, the country’s second largest wireless carrier, ironically, which commented that “Technological innovations have changed the way Canadians take and share photographs, with fewer of us using retail photo outlets.” In other words: smart phones with cameras.

The 485 employees may seek work in other Telus business areas. Telus has 220 of its own stores and more than 500 partner locations.

PMA CEO Georgia McCabe responds to Bloomberg Business “Fastest-Fading Business” article

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PMA CEO Georgia McCabe

It is interesting that on April 30, Bloomberg Business posted an article entitled Twilight of One-Hour Photo, America’s Fastest-Fading Business. Of course, those of us who live in the photo business know that far from being, dead, consumers today are taking more pictures than ever before. In fact, just last year consumers captured and shared more than 10 times the number of personal images than were taken at the peak of the analog photo business, back in the early 1990s. Clearly the consumer’s “love for photography” today is stronger than ever. Personally, I believe that the opportunities in photo are actually greater now than they were back in the late 1800s, when George Eastman first evangelized photography to the mass market. Eastman had to educate the consumer about the value of personal photography. Today, that is a given – and photography pervades all aspects of everyday life. Posted personal images are by far the largest source of traffic in the exploding world of social media. Our challenge is to make it possible for consumers to enjoy connected photography and at the same time, preserve and celebrate their special images with a wide variety of exciting digital photo output products. The problem has been that while many of the new players in digital photography understand the tremendous appeal of personal imaging, they often have little knowledge or concern for the responsibility of capturing and storing those most important moments of everyday life. That is what real consumer photography is all about.

But don’t just take my word for it; here are excerpts resulting from discussions with knowledgeable imaging industry analysts.

Hans Hartman, President of Suite 48 Analytics and Chair of Mobile Photo Connect, sums it up rather succinctly:

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Hans Hartman

Really it’s quite simple:

  • Thanks to smartphones…people take more photos than ever before
  • Thanks to smartphones…people are engaged in photography at an earlier age than ever before
  • When offered innovative photo products and easy apps, smartphone photographers often order photo products. Major photo retailers, such as Shutterfly and Walgreens in the US, and CeWe and Photobox in Europe, all report double digit percentages of their orders coming from…smartphone users!

Frank Baillargeon, President of F/22 Consultants offers his own unique take:

Frank Baillargeon

Frank Baillargeon

We are living at a time during which mass market photography has gone from the occasional (8-10 times per year) purchase of a roll of film and a bag of prints, for those with the means, to an ever-present part of the lives of virtually every adult on the planet. Photo is central to the business models of the new titans of enterprise (Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon, etc.). As consumers, we capture with ease and no cost, share instantly with family and friends, edit creatively as we choose, (increasingly and most importantly) save and organize our precious images in the cloud to enable us to create and order fabulous new products from online retailers, and, yes, from tens of thousands of traditional brick and mortar photo retailers as well.

And then there is this statement, from Vint Cerf, Google VP and “father of the internet” (really!):

Vint Cerf of Google

Vint Cerf of Google

Our life, our memories, our most cherished family photographs increasingly exist as bits of

information – on our hard drives or in ‘the cloud.’ But as technology moves on, they risk being lost in the wake of an accelerating digital revolution.

I worry a great deal about that, you and I are experiencing things like this. Old formats of documents that we’ve created or presentations may not be readable by the latest version of the software because backwards compatibility is not always guaranteed.

And so what can happen over time is that even if we accumulate vast archives of digital content, we may not actually know what it is or where to find it.

Photo printing is far from dead. It is staging an exciting rebirth, born on crests of both product and manufacturing innovation, advances in mobile technology, and software innovations that connect us instantly and intuitively with create and order capabilities directly from our connected devices to product solutions from scores of retailers, both online and in-store. Simply stated – printed photo output matters to all of us. Not the bag of prints that were our only way to preserve and share, but exciting and valuable new products that tell and preserve our stories in a richer, more personalized fashion. The end of film processing is hardly the end of the photo output story. It was simply an important chapter in the continuing effort to preserve and share what’s most important to all of us.

As Mark Twain so aptly said, “the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Those of us who have spent our careers in photography refuse to break our sacred pact with the consumer…this is a challenge that we at PMA understand well, and intend to continue to make good on.

Georgia McCabe

CEO, PMA

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

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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, natlphotomonth.org, 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 MailPix.com.

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:

  • Collages.net
  • 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.

Hashtags:

#celebratephotos

#nationalphotomonth

On the PMA Podcast: Bright future for retail

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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.

MMIE 598: Who gives the best advice?

Testimonial ads have been used successfully by many companies, as this screen capture from Google images shows.

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McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange #598 – April 28, 2015

MMIE’s Editor, Don Long, went online in search of a lens, encountered lions and tigers and bears (Oh my!) along the way, leading to an idea:

Testimonial ads have been used successfully by many companies, as this screen capture from Google images shows.

Testimonial ads have been used successfully by many companies, as this screen capture from Google images shows.

This past December I bought a new camera and a couple of lenses from a very reputable dealer. I’m getting ready to head off an a major trip and need another lens. While I’m borrowing one from my brother, I decided to look online to see what I could find, just for the fun of it. To keep this short (my wife heard the long story yesterday and said she hadn’t heard me talk that much in years), I’ll focus in on one particular character and the advice he offered.

Are you familiar with KenRockwell.com? The site offers all sorts of advice, primarily on Nikon and Canon products, but also wades in on other gear, too. Some people love Mr. Rockwell’s advice, others hate it. He doesn’t have any advertising on his website, but he does get paid for the links and click-throughs to retailers such as B&H and Adorama. (“I’m completely independent. I have no camera companies as advertisers,” he says on his site.)

mmie b

How do you respond to something like this from kenrockwell.com? Testimonial ads, perhaps.

So it was with a raised eyebrow that I read the following on his site at the end of March:

“Retail stores are mostly gone the way of the horse and buggy, as obsolete and unnecessary hassles, as I’ve been saying for years.

“No one needs them, their attitudes, high prices, lack of service, salespeople driven by commission and not customers, lack of selection and lack of full cash refunds.

“I haven’t bought cameras or electronics at retail since the 1970s. I’m surprised anyone still does; mostly the ignorant or those without computers or phones.

“If you’ve got a great local, single location walk-in store with the owner on-site like Adorama, B&H (or OC Camera), great, but otherwise, especially with people being more environmentally conscious, retail has got to be stamped out. No one needs retail (except the retailers themselves), and keeping them open creates traffic and pollution that hurts everyone. Pay more to get less? Not me.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had bad retail experiences. I’ve also had great ones. Mr. Rockwell must have had an entire series of really bad ones. But what has me concerned (other than worrying about the state of retailing), is Mr. Rockwell’s influence. He purports to be “the world’s largest independent source of photography information. Even the world’s largest printed photography magazine has less readership than this website.”

During my online lens research I encountered a number of people who took exception to Mr. Rockwell’s advice on particular products. But one individual who posted on the digital-photography-school.com website under the moniker “The Solitaire” said something which warmed my heart:

“If I have the time I really enjoy browsing KR’s website, Thom Hogan’s site and photozone.de, but I am normally not the kind of person who blindly orders a lens from an online seller based on a review I read.

“The main source I rely on when shopping for a new lens is the camera store where I can stick the lens on a camera and give it a try.

“In this case the most fascinating thing for me was to see a hype being created, people jumping in on that bandwagon, prices for used 70-210 lenses go up, some kind of general disappointment sets in, a counter movement swings up, people jump the new bandwagon and in the end all that fuss about a lens that now is pretty much forgotten again.

“All of that got me curious enough to see what’s up with that particular lens. . . .

“It’s not stellar in any respect but it’s a lot better then [sic] about half of the user reviews found on the internet suggest it is.”

Given the major influence peers have on purchasing decisions, all this leads me to suggest a specific kind of advertising might be in order. Is anyone doing, has anyone considered testimonials? This means getting your customers – people who have bought from you – to feature in your store’s advertising. Let them tell the world how great you are, what super advice they got, how helpful your sales staff is, what a great deal they got. And get those customers to talk about how beneficial it is to get the product in their hands. Then pass it around – on Facebook, Twitter, store cards, stuffers. Peer influence, a major purchasing factor, is one you can’t afford to ignore.

So what’s your idea?

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

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

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

• Send your ideas to editor@McCurryAssoc.com.

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

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