Capture Profits All Year Long

Capture Profits All Year Long

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As we entered the new millennium, the photo industry relied heavily on the winter holidays to drive year-end profits. Greeting cards, family photo calendars, prints from family gatherings, and the growth in the photo gift category drove sales from November to December.

But with digital cameras now owned by nearly 60 percent of American families, retailers can make a bigger push to extend the winter buying season all year long. Don’t wait until November to capture profits. You can do it every season, 365 days a year.

Start this summer. Organize at least one new event every other week to drive in new customers. Summer lends itself to people having more time to get creative with their photos. So help them get creative. Here are a few ideas:

School Year Highlights: Another school year has wrapped up and it’s the perfect time to create projects that highlight a child’s past school days. Advertise through the local paper and local community newsletters, saying that moms and dads can come on a certain night to create posters, photobooks and scrapbooks to capture their child’s last school year. Offer discounts on one item to help draw them in, for example an album cover to go with the scrapbook pages, or a frame to go with the poster. Make sure you have examples of possible projects placed throughout the store and in your store window. If possible, scan in local school logos and give these to your customers as art files so they can add their school’s logo or mascot to their prints and pages.

Swim Teams: Summer means pool season. Swim teams mean more sporting events for moms and dads to capture. Put flyers up at your local pools offering mid-week creative events at your store. Check with a couple of local teams to see when their meets are. In my area, swim meets are normally on Saturdays, thus I’d recommend to local Northern Virginia retailers to not hold store events on Fridays or Saturdays. If needed, partner with a local scrapbook store to bring in pool-themed pages and stickers. You also may want to offer a kick-back to the swim team of 5 percent of your sales from the event. Tactics like that help get the team members themselves talking about the event for you. Every sports team usually needs fundraising help.

Beach Parties: As you ease into the fall months, be prepared to help your customers savor their summer vacations. Plan hula-themed parties where customers are invited in to scrap their summer photos. Advertise at least two weeks in advance and use your beach-related photo art in the ads. Rent a margarita or daiquiri machine, get some fancy plastic cocktail glasses complete with drink umbrellas, and have grass skirting around your displays. Again, this is a great time to partner with a local craft store to get beach-themed pages, frames and stickers. Every printed page is an opportunity to up-sell; a page needs an album or frame. Make sure you offer a selection that complements your event.

React to Customer Behavior

When summer fades away, you’ll have had a series of events from which to learn. Which promotions/ techniques drew in the most customers? What partnerships worked the best? Which types of events led to the most repeat customers? After each event, write down what worked best and what didn’t work at all. Through your photo kiosks, also collect data on what types of prints they made and what types of images were on their data cards, especially note how long the images were on their cards before they printed them. In general, the quicker the customer brings in his images after taking the photo, the more likely he/she is to print the image.

Harness the knowledge gleaned from these summer events, and develop a series of creative events for the whole year. For example, leverage your experience from the swim team events to bridge into other sporting events – football, basketball, soccer, baseball, gymnastics – whatever sport is big in your local area. Each of these sports has a core fan base and avid families that spend their entire weekends carting the kids back and forth to games. Reach these families by helping to sponsor local teams or tournaments, buying ads in the sports program books, and placing flyers at local parks and recreation centers. If possible, partner with a local sports photographer and have photo sessions of the teams at your store.

Beyond the fall sports, try Halloween costume parties where you take photo shoots of the kids and then help them make posters – a perfect idea for scouting troops and preschool playgroups. In November and December, have card-making and gift-making parties. In the spring, cater to the dads and help them make special Mother’s Day gifts with their children. In April and May, promote your store through your local high school newspapers to bring in soon-to-be grads to make school scrapbooks, photobooks and posters.

Remember the Party Basics

Treat each event like a party, which means you need to don your party host hat. During the events, have some light snacks available – a fruit tray and some cookies at least – as well as some bottled water.

Turn on some light music that goes along with your event’s theme to keep the party humming. Possibly play a staff-made photo DVD with music incorporated into it as one of your store displays for the event. Put the DVD up on a big screen, or if you can’t add a big screen to your store, at least play the DVD on one of your kiosks or a PC.

In prepping for the event, turn your staff’s creativity loose and have them make sample projects for you to display. Once your staff is excited about the projects they make, they’ll become better educators and salespeople during the event.

After the customers at the event are settled in a bit, start off with a brief presentation (10-15 minutes max) on what they can create with their images. Offer tips throughout the event on how to take better photos for each occasion. For instance, if it’s a football party, how to shoot photos of your kid from across the field and what types of zoom lenses might work best.

Create contests for the best customer project for the month or the week, giving the winner a $20 coupon to use at the store. The contest also can give you added material for your store displays.

After the event, send customers a thank you note for coming to the party. Offer them a discount coupon on their next purchase. Take your own photos at the event and send them a party print. Better yet, create the thank you note with your own kiosk greeting card templates.

Photos are a celebration of life’s precious moments. Your store events not only give your customers more creativity, they allow them to celebrate life all year long. yy

Kesley Anderson is VP of Scrapbook and Craft Business Development at Lucidiom Inc.

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