What Have You Printed on Lately: WTF—What’s the Future?

What Have You Printed on Lately: WTF—What’s the Future?

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I’ve always thought of Fullerton Photo as cutting edge. I like new, fresh, innovative products and ideas. I also like getting them to market as quickly as possible. Some people might say I’m impatient. It’s true. But I’m learning that new products and services take time to resonate with consumers.

Without significant leadership in this industry, any message we try to communicate takes much longer to be delivered. I forget this sometimes, and want to keep moving on—but patience is a virtue. And now, finally, I think things are brewing in the marketplace. Following are the areas where real opportunity is taking shape.

Archiving. Have you noticed how this concept is beginning to matter with the consumer? Are you ready for it? Several years ago, we created and implemented a Shoebox Scanning campaign. We packaged the concept in an easy-to-buy solution (brown box) and gave it prominence with our in-store displays and marketing messages. “Buy a box, fill it up with 1,000 photos and receive a digital archive disc of your memories.” Today’s customer is finally starting to get it. Consumer awareness is ramping up, and the whole category of archiving and scanning is catching fire.

Online retailers are getting into this space, but we have the advantage. Now is the time to get focused in this arena. Consider your target market carefully when determining how to reach them. We must talk to them “where they live.” Many retirement-age archivers still read newspapers, are probably not yet on Instagram—still Facebook-ing with the rest of their generation—and would probably love to hear from you in person while attending your featured presentation in their retirement community.

This area continues to grow into one of our most important service mixes. Moms and singles in their forties and fifties scan prints to make enlargements for home and office. More and more they’re making photo books and other keepsake products. They’re also digitizing slides, negatives, videos and 8mm movies to preserve and share their favorite stills and motion pictures with family and friends, online and offline. Archiving continues to grow into one of our most important service mixes.

Wall Art and Home Décor. This market is growing in new ways. B2B applications are arising from innovative products that the B2C customer fell in love with first. We were attracted to metal early on and believed in it enough to cover our walls and store in “everything metal.” Today, our customer is moving from metal art in their homes to metal art in their offices, and the B2B opportunities are only just beginning to take shape.

It’s up to us to lead this charge. What I love about being a small-business owner is that we have unique personal relationships with our customers, who are just waiting for us to show them what’s possible. Invite some of your VIP customers in for lunch and talk about what you can do for them. Beautiful wall art will always be relevant, and making that art personal is the new demand in the marketplace in homes and offices across the country. Watch our customer reaction video at http://tinyurl.com/fp-delight.

Social Media Presence. Have you taken on the challenge of a social media presence yet? It’s time. I’m a student of marketing. I love to follow trends and see what the world is doing. Actually doing it and understanding it is another story, however. At FP, we decided we needed to just jump in.

Recently, we enhanced our online social presence with a paid Yelp business account page. Each week we are continually surprised by the traffic and call results the service generates. But not all social platforms are as simple as a Yelp profile. You need a content curator to create and share on a daily basis.

Last week, a young lady walked into my store for the first time. I listened as she told my staff how delighted she was to discover us. We were nothing like she expected—and everything she had hoped to find. Coincidentally, she is exactly the target market I dream of connecting with and haven’t come close to reaching: a 32-year-old college graduate and photo-loving mother of a three year old. I asked her what she knew about social media, loved what I heard and hired my first Social Media Marketing director on the spot!

Our first challenge is to create a presence in all areas where our customers live. That means reviving the blog we started two years ago, finding our password to the Twitter account we created 18 months ago and becoming much more active on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

My goals are consistency and developing a unique FP voice. Talking to one of my favorite industry colleagues and friends, it’s become very obvious that we have no choice but to become our own media companies. Don’t waste another day getting started!

Gabrielle Mullinax, president of Fullerton Photographics, in Fullerton, California, has owned and operated this specialty photo retailer since 1999. With a strong background in retail and marketing management, she transformed a traditional photo-processing lab into a digital destination that is in the vanguard of creative product collections. She is the senior vice president of PMA and a past member of the board of directors for the Independent Photo Imagers.

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