Profit Prospects: Let Your Customer Dream Her Dream

Profit Prospects: Let Your Customer Dream Her Dream


Why are some retailers painting a bull’s eye on their toes? Our industry is poised for the best year in recent memory. Nikon just covered the country with their Z mirrorless launch event at 50+ locations. It’s a dynamic marketplace.

The exciting news from Nikon and Canon—and others—has created visions for customers of what they’ll be able to do with these fun, new cameras. This is a HUGE opportunity.
Initial comments reflect either wild enthusiasm or negativity.

It’s not a function of age or even experience. George Haddad (PROCAM, Livonia, Michigan) has been around retail for decades. Third-generation Robby Yankush (YM Camera, Youngstown, Ohio) is a digital native. Both are wildly excited about the next year’s potential and the concept of new products, not just from Nikon and Canon.

They believe other manufacturers (Sony being most obvious, but don’t count out Fujifilm, Panasonic and Olympus) will present marketplace innovations with new offerings as well as aggressive marketing of existing products, driving significant traffic into the stores. Customers want to see, touch and feel new products. Brick and mortar must create positive impressions for first-time store visitors while selling new lenses, flashes or other accessories to those who are happy with their current systems.  Profit-Prospects-10-2018However, others bemoan that a potential initial lack of lenses for a new mount at launch time or other perceived ills will block customers’ dreams and their cash registers. Many have a bias against the specific brand involved because of delayed rebates, unpaid spiffs, product allocations, or other noncustomer issues. Their prejudice denies customers’ dreams about the new products. Should customers’ buying choices be censured because of a retailer’s frustration with a manufacturer’s policies?

Customers will be seeking accurate information, often to ratify the decision they’ve already made to invest in the newest technology. The customer has a dream of what they want to buy and use. Why thwart their natural desire? One answer resides in the ancient myth that salespeople are little professors who should tell customers everything they know. That’s continually proved unsuccessful.

The sales process should allow the customer to dream, as long as it’s realistic. If you knew the customer was going to take the camera underwater, you would ensure it is waterproof. That’s different than talking a customer out of a newly introduced camera by focusing on one irrelevant feature due to your bias against the brand over some policy dispute. Get over it!

Some retail salespeople bemoan one specification or another about the new cameras without understanding the customer’s need for the equipment.

The Nikon Z has “only” one memory card slot. When salespeople bring up this so-called “lack of features,” I ask them, “How many customers in that price range understand and use two memory card slots?” I get a blank stare. “Have you discussed that customer’s picture-taking needs to learn if this is an important feature?” The answer is usually no, but the salesperson’s ego causes them to put their opinions before the customers’ needs.

When a customer comes in predisposed to buy something, it’s arrogance at its worst to determine, consciously or subconsciously, you’re going to talk them out of it—or even bring up irrelevant information. One retailer describes this as “background noise,” distracting the customer from making a decision. The customer has a vision for the product. Don’t spoil that dream. Listen aggressively to what the customer wants to achieve and help her achieve it.

Based on 20 years of marketing history, “The Jam Study” (check out the Harvard Business Review) proves too many options lead to customer confusion and, therefore, no purchase. Often salespeople think they’re doing the customer a favor spewing everything they know. Wrong! The customer who makes a purchase and enjoys it is a happy customer. The confused customer feels unable to make the “right” decision and so buys nothing. Why? They feel inadequate, even embarrassed, because they sense an inability to properly evaluate all the multiple options.

In this critical season, with more traffic and curious customer opportunities than we’ve had in years, retailers and manufacturers should rejoice. Moreover, they should focus on the old saying: “Give the Lady What She Wants!”

Allowing customers to dream also means recognizing their changing tastes. We bemoan the lack of printing. Fujifilm recently announced their Dash “uncomplicated photo printing” with the tagline “go print happy.” Some are deriding this self-service, phone picture printing device because it allegedly cuts out retailers. Get real!

The Dash could help sway customers back into hard copy. Fujifilm’s blown us all away with the continued success of Instax. It lets more people feel the benefit of prints they can touch and hold in their hands. Don’t condemn the Dash system until you’ve understood the beneficial impact it can have on our overall industry.

Let your customer dream her dream!

Note: Opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Digital Imaging Reporter or its management. Bill would love to hear from you with questions, comments or ideas for future columns. Please contact him at or (609) 688-1169.