The holidays are the most important sales period of the year, historically accounting for nearly 20% of annual retail sales. Professional photo labs, photo retailers and photographers prepare for the holiday rush in various ways; they increase staff, add creative gift items and offer holiday specials to generate excitement and new customers.
Creative Photo Products for the Holidays
Nations Photo Lab, based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, advertises limited-time, early bird sales for holiday cards, prints and also creative gift items. They encourage customers to place their orders quickly, before they lose interest. Last year, the company published an “order by” chart that listed the latest possible dates customers could place an order and still meet “Santa’s Christmas Eve deadline.”
H&H Color Lab, located in Raytown, Missouri, published holiday marketing tips for professional photographers to boost sales in its online blog. The post includes ideas for holding holiday workshops, participating in community fundraisers and tips for generating orders from existing clients.
White House Custom Colour (WHCC)
Based in the Twin Cities area, WHCC typically increases its staff to 500 people, working 24/7, nationwide during the holiday season. Their most popular seasonal product is their foil pressed card. The two-sided 5×5- or 5×7-inch card is embossed on one side with red, silver or gold foil. “We offer more boutique shapes and a wider variety of paper types than any other lab,” says Lacey Turcotte, marketing specialist, WHCC. In addition, “some of them can even be displayed as ornaments.”
Accordion mini books, boutique frame ornaments, wood boxes and small, framed prints are also popular. They’re just a few of the creative photo gifts WHCC encourages its professional clients to promote all year. “Make your artwork see its full potential,” advises the company’s marketing booklet, Family Pro Guide. “You get the privilege of preserving special moments for your clients that are passed down for generations.”
WHCC’s Family Pro Guide is one in a series of four professionally printed sales and marketing guides it offers clients. They also provide accompanying Inspiration guides that clients can hand out to portrait customers. The four themes include newborns & babies, high school seniors, weddings & engagements, as well as family guides.
Each 28-page booklet offers decorating ideas for consumers, explaining how they can fill a home with prints, books, photo cubes and other gifts to make it look personal and warm. The booklets are linked to an unbranded website, acuratedhome.com, so portrait clients are never linked directly to WHCC.
“Our Inspiration guides were created to educate photography clients about the importance of the print,” says Turcotte. “They display WHCC products in real home settings so consumers can envision how images can be displayed in their homes. They’re a wonderful resource filled with tips and inspiration on how photography should live on in one’s home.
Professional photographers can access the guides at whcc.com/inspiration, or they can order five or more printed guides for $1 each. A Family Pro Guide is included with every order.
Bay Photo Lab
Bay Photo Lab, in Scotts Valley, California, is anticipating a successful holiday season with gift-worthy products ranging from festive stationery and ornaments to innovative wall displays. “We’re really excited about our offerings this year,” says Glen Clark, sales manager at Bay Photo. “Everything from small improvements made to our core product line to exciting new items, like the cost-effective Xpozer™ wall display and naturally elegant wood boxes. We expect to see a spike in both of these for the holidays.”
The Xpozer is an attractive, easy-to-use wall display that appeals to studio, business and consumer sales by combining high-quality satin prints with a lightweight, interchangeable hanging system. Images are printed on vivid satin material using a 12-color ink system. A patented aluminum tension bracket on the back assembles quickly and easily, resulting in a borderless print that floats away from the wall like a gallery print.
Customers can order additional Xchange prints at any time and switch them out with the patented hanging system.
Xpozer complements Bay Photo’s existing intensiTiles™ wall display, which features swappable image tiles floating above a printed graphic background. “People love the three-dimensional intensiTiles because of the assortment of options,” says Clark. “Creativity is only limited by your imagination.”
Traditional Photo Products
More traditional products, like holiday cards, bamboo and metal photo ornaments and personalized calendars are always well received. “There’s also a big demand for metal prints as luxury gifts, because they create such a stunning luminescent effect.”
Furthermore, Bay Photo reaches out to its clients throughout the year. They partner with a team of professional photographers to sponsor pro workshops, develop creative products and enhance marketing efforts. “We are always looking at ways to improve and expand our partner and affiliate programs to create stronger synergies within the photography industry,” Clark says.
A global company known for its unique personalization and also presentation products, Unibind introduced two photo products that are perfect for holiday gift sales—UniPanel mounted photo panels and UniClamp PhotoBooks.
The UniPanels are a self-adhesive mounting product that photo labs as well as retailers can assemble without binding equipment. Available in wood or molded plastic (4×6-, 5×5-, 6×6-, 6×8-, 8×8- and 8×10-inch sizes), each UniPanel is coated with an adhesive resin and covered by a protective sheet.
“The sales associate simply removes the protective sheet and lines up the photo on the panel,” says Jeff Atkinson, senior vice president of Photo for Unibind North America and Australia. “A little over an inch thick, the finished panel can be mounted on a wall or displayed on a coffee table.” UniPanels are sold at Bartell Drugs, Bi-Mart, CVS, Discount Drug Mart, Sam’s Clubs as well as photo specialty stores.
UniClamp PhotoBooks are packaged for behind-the-counter and direct-to-customer sales, making them ideal for both lab and retail businesses. Each UniClamp PhotoBook has an easy-to-use clamp that slides out of the spine for loading customers’ prints. It then slides back to its original position. Available in six sizes—4×6, 5×7, 6×8, 8×10, 8.5×11 and 11×8.5—each book holds up to 20 prints.
“UniClamp PhotoBooks evolved out of the company’s MyBook collection, which uses staples to secure the pages,” adds Atkinson. “The clamp solution is much easier to use.”
UniClamp is sold through several drugstore chains, including Bartell Drugs, Bi-Mart and Discount Drug Mart, as well as PRO Group members.
While promoting existing product lines is important for boosting holiday sales, retailers should also consider adding unique gift items that make them stand out from the competition.
This online/catalog retailer specializes in unusual and creativegifts not available through other suppliers. Based in New York’s historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, 40% of the company’s products are handmade by independent artists.
Among UncommonGood’s high-end creative photo gifts are two heirloom glass vases handmade by Jenny Gaynor. The Los Angeles-based artisan studied glassmaking in Murano, Italy. Gaynor applies either 15 color or black-and-white image transfers to a handblown glass vase, creating a “memory collage” of people, places and events special to her clients. The finished product is kiln-fired for a full day to create a one-of-a-kind gift designed to last for generations.
In addition, more whimsical gifts, like Ronda J Smith’s custom pet pillows, should appeal to “Couch Pet-atos” everywhere. A professional food and still life photographer based in Brooklyn, New York, Smith transfers her clients’ favorite pet photos to a cotton twill material. It is then cut, sewn and stuffed to create a pet-shaped pillow. The finished product averages 16x10x4 inches.
California-based textile artist Amitie Tofanelli offers a slightly different approach to pet pandering at UncommonGoods. She creates a stylized reproduction of a pet’s photo and prints it on a 16.5×15.5-inch cotton twill bag. The finished product features a cutout image as well as the pet’s name.
Additionally, UncommonGoods is a founding member of B Corp. The business standards group rates its members on social and environmental performance, accountability and also transparency. For information on UncommonGood’s affiliate program, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s one of many online businesses photo retailers can partner with to offer unique photo gifts for the holidays.
Holiday Marketing Tips
• Reach out to customers with a newsletter that promotes new products as well as highlights exciting gift ideas.
• Repackage year-round products to reflect a holiday theme. For example, switch out sample product photos with seasonal pictures.
• Update your website, Facebook page and also online blog for the holidays. Include seasonal photography, sales or marketing tips, or link to helpful articles.
• Search for business planning and support materials online. The National Retail Federation offers the downloadable Retail Holiday Planning Playbook at nrf.com.