This year, the IPI Member Network’s conference was moved from its traditional Las Vegas venue to the Omni Fort Worth Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas. IPIC 2023 (International Print + Imaging Conference) saw 310 total attendees, including 11 from Canada, 22 from Australia and 6 from Europe
IPIC 2023: Group Performance Report
To begin, IPI’s marketing director, Erin von Holdt, reported on the group performance of IPI members who participated in the review during 2022. She noted that 87% had higher sales than during 2021, up by an average of 15%. Moreover, 77% had higher sales during 4Q.
Which products were the most profitable? Film processing and scan & archiving were the highest. Both were very profitable and trending. These categories were followed by prints, wide-format and video transfer.
How will they generate more revenue in 2023? She reported that 62% said they are raising prices, and 45% are adding new products and services. Further, 39% are marketing to a new audience, while 38% are purchasing new equipment.
In addition, von Holdt reviewed four customer age categories—gen Z, millennials, gen X and baby boomers—for the likelihood of outputting their images. Websites and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) were considered in the survey as the most important marketing tool. One of the most important platforms to post social media, often overlooked, is Google. She suggested posting once a week. Bing from Microsoft is also important for listing your profile to boost your SEO.
How do you best reach new customers?
Typically, e-mail and social media are selected. However, the people you reach are often following you already. You can also target your search on Instagram and Google, maybe within a certain radius of your store. Direct mail is still a viable option. von Holdt cited an example of one member who created an attractive mailing piece and sent it to 75 local religious organizations. The cost was $150 to print and mail. This produced one $12,000 client and opened discussions with a potential $150,000 client.
This year, IPI created a SMS Text Marketing program—sending text messages to customers’ phones. They found that 96% qualify for “open rates” versus 21% for e-mail. Also, 46% of people make impulse purchases through text. The system was explained by Tracey Stewart from ShareMe Chat. A Chat Box is added to your website so that customers can ask questions and receive automated or “human” answers by text or voice. You can also include short videos in text transmissions. One IPI member reported a substantial business increase after sending customers a short video about video transfer services.
Text marketing should be used for important or last-minute communication. It’s not like e-mail or social media. One IPI member uses a text message broadcast every two weeks. The message requests the recipient to text back a keyword they will use in the store for that specific promotion. Moreover, when a person in the system purchases something at the store, a thank you text is sent containing a request to please review the experience along with a link for Google or a preferred site.
Additionally, while text broadcast is a little more expensive than e-mail, 95% of recipients open a text message. Further, you can set the hours when text messages are accepted individually, by day and hour, for any employee. Each customer profile can include fields such as birthdays, or the telephone number at the specific location where the customer shops. You can also include low-res photos. Keywords, such as acrylic or lenses, can be recorded so you can track customers by their interests, then send texts to customers with specific interests. For example, those customers with Canon camera equipment aren’t interested in a Nikon promotion. The Text Widget directs specific questions to the appropriate team member.
Geo-Targeting & Supporting Tools
Hite Photo & The Print Factory tried a limited time 30% off promotion. They received a $10,000 order as well as other lesser amounts within 30 days. This was marketed through geo-targeting on Facebook and Instagram to businesses and trusts. With an ad budget of $100, the promo pushed the “local” aspect within 45 minutes from the store.
Another marketing project sent an e-mail to 2,600 customers, with an “open rate” of 51%. But this was complemented by a banner on the website, signs in the store and other “supporting” tools. Julie Hite has her whole team involved in marketing. They have a small 12-inch display on the counter that “invites” inquiries from visitors. Moreover, visitors are all informed about sales that the store is running. This is followed internally by a results tracking review.
Consumer Education Classes
Kathy Baldridge from the Photo Gym in Missouri is a professional photo master who runs a print lab. She created a consumer education class for beginner archivers who usually have large collections or very targeted projects. Baldridge found that talking about digitizing and other processes sells the store’s services. She also has a handout that includes her slides and checklists to guide people through the archiving process. Besides services, she additional offers memberships, which allow members to use the store’s equipment.
Baldridge also presented “The Archiving Boom Continues.” Here she discussed what we can learn from big-box transfer houses. For starters, many don’t offer file or folder naming, just numbering. So how do future generations know the content? Additionally, she noted, it is hard to find equipment for audio transfer.
Also, she said people put everything in a box and don’t want to ship it. Instead, they prefer to bring it to a local store or have it picked up. The local store provides personal service. Besides providing someone to talk to, the stores give careful attention to details of the order. Baldridge gets tapes that were originally returned “unable to transfer.” Yet she can transfer them without difficulty. Give your customers the confidence that they won’t lose their memories, she added. And when discussing transfer services with potential customers, explain your personalized approach, and the pricing becomes less important.
Furthermore, there are three types of add-on services for archiving, for which she charges. Printing photos is first. It can include organization; storage and display; plus, retouching and restoration. Second is digital photos, with organization (software); smartphone transfer/backup; facial recognition/tagging; software education; and retouching/data recovery. Finally, video and audio services may include file naming; video editing; tape repair; sticky-shed repair (breakdown of the emulsion layer); and display options.
Summary of Fujifilm’s Review of the U.S. Photo Merchandise Market
In addition, Walt Parsons, vice president, Regional and Professional Market Sales, Fujifilm, reviewed the state of the U.S. photo industry. He noted that, according to Fujifilm’s research, people remain engaged with the photo output category. Revenues are increasing year over year, and photo merchandise accounts for the majority of the revenue (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Photo Output Market Size and Growth Revenues in Billions – Consumer Market
© 2023 Fujifilm
What’s more, personalized products and wall décor continue to have the strongest year-over-year growth (see Figure 2) in key photo output categories. While print revenues are declining, they are still projected to account for 18% of overall revenues in this group. They are predicted to see a combined growth of 3.4% CAGR from 2022 to 2025.
Figure 2: Expected Growth and Value by Key Photo Output Categories
Photo Products Consumer Retail Revenue 2022–2025
© 2023 Fujifilm
The Independent Photo Imagers additionally reported that the 2024 convention will return to the Las Vegas area. They will hold IPIC 2024 at the Red Rock Resort in Summerlin, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.