If the past is prologue, what’s our takeaway from Q4 2015 in the photo industry? With the holidays behind us, let’s stop, reflect and take a good look at what we learned from the fourth quarter in our businesses.
We’re in the business of helping people share memories in a variety of ways. The holidays, more so than any other time of year, are when memories are made and when people think more about giving photos as gifts and archiving those photos for future generations. For many of us, this is the most profitable time of the year—and often gets us through the rest of winter and into spring.
So, what did we learn? What did consumers respond to? And what can we improve upon to make 2016 even better?
1. Learn to Love the Phone!
It may sound impossible, but we must learn to love the cell phone and the customer with thousands of photos on her mobile device who doesn’t know what to do next.
Technology has created new opportunities for us, as business owners, but it has also brought new challenges. Unless you’ve had your head in “the cloud”—no pun intended—for the last few years, you’ve realized that consumers are: a) overwhelmed by the amount of digital memories they have stored in their phones or hard drives; or b) they have them organized but have no plans of doing anything with them. It’s our job to educate these customers on the amazing ways they can transform their digital photos creatively. It is also our responsibility to provide archiving and printing solutions that will ensure the preservation of their memories.
In 2015, my store, Fullerton Photographics, implemented a solution for our customers that we knew would make our lives and their lives easier. When a customer came in to make any type of creative photo product and handed us his or her phone, we provided the option of having the phone photos transferred to a custom Fullerton Photo USB flash drive before getting started. Not only did this make it faster and easier for us to access the photos, but we were also selling peace of mind. Their photos were now backed up on another device in case something happened to their phones!
It is also a great up-sell! Adding a $30–$40 “transfer to USB” service raised our average holiday card sale by nearly 20%. If you don’t already offer this service, I encourage you to do so in the coming year.
2. Reach a Younger Audience!
It’s a continuous challenge for us to reach a larger customer base. At Fullerton Photo, we have always strived to reach the young mom who takes hundreds of photos of her cute kids every month. Surely she would fall in love with all of our photo gifts and printing solutions. Clearly, to ensure that we have a business long into the future, this 24–45 age demographic is a must.
However, every day we find ourselves greeting the 50+ customer who walks through our door. We absolutely love these baby boomer customers and their larger disposable income. But let’s be serious. How much longer is that group going to be coming around to keep our business afloat? That leads us back to why we must seek new ways of reaching a broader, younger customer base.
3. Kick Up Social Media Use
Over the years, we’ve expanded and invested efforts in social media marketing. Being active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social sites is an absolute must today in business. For Black Friday 2015, we decided to try something we had never done before. We ran an ad on Instagram through an account called @etsyelite. Etsy Elite has more than 50,000 followers, reaching a demographic comprised of women ages 18–35.
In that ad, we offered an incredible deal on a darling square pendant photo necklace, just to see what the response would be. Regularly priced at $40, we put these necklaces on sale for $19 each. The goal was to entice young moms to order through our website and leave them wanting more from us! And it worked!
Thinking back and looking ahead, we know a few things to be true:
- The phone is here to stay. We must look for more ways to embrace it. Ever-evolving technology will provide us with opportunities to build new products and services around the photo. My next article will expand on this. Be excited!
- Get onboard with social media. Be brave and innovative. For Fullerton Photo, we tried something new and it paid off. Social media ads take little investment and have the potential for big returns.
- Everything begins with the photo. This memorable photo is what’s driving the sale. For 2016 our motto should be: “The simpler the better.” The easier the process is on the consumer, the more we will reap the rewards.
Looking forward to a creative, courageous, successful 2016!