What Have You Printed on Lately? PMA@CES: Magic at the Intersection of...

What Have You Printed on Lately? PMA@CES: Magic at the Intersection of Art & Science


It’s an amazing time to be in the imaging industry. Exciting and challenging. As Steve Jobs once said, “Technology married with the humanities will yield that which makes our hearts sing.”

This convergence of technology/science with the humanities/artistry is the force that drives the photo-imaging and consumer electronics industries. That convergence of photography and innovative technologies, that intersection of art and science, is often where the magic happens.

Technology gives us new tools and expands our capabilities for delivering new products and opportunities to customers. Artistry is the wellspring of ideas and inspiration that comes from within photographers and cutting-edge photo retailers. From this synergy flows endless possibilities and innovative solutions.

Source of the Synergy

Let’s look at the organizations powering these two intersecting “rivers”: the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

PMA helps the worldwide photo-imaging community achieve business success and adapt to new technologies, connecting photo-imaging businesses to a network of knowledge and support. With members in 100-plus countries, PMA represents photo retailers and processors, manufacturers, commercial imaging labs, sports and event photography, custom picture frame shops and scrapbook retailers—helping to increase their profitability and expand their consumer, commercial and industrial markets.

CEA offers its 2,000 member companies, from all sectors of the industry, a vision, leadership and unified voice on public policy issues, free access to cutting-edge market research, savings on essential business services, technical standards, training and education programs, peer events that keep them connected and promotional opportunities. Technology-driven CES has a new Innovation (i3) initiative that “celebrates entrepreneurial spirit in the inventions and start-ups that drive the market, as well as the ideas, strategies and leadership skills that make the CE industry exceptional,” says Cindy Stevens, senior director of publications at CEA.

When timing, technology, innovation and inspiration come together, a brand-new creative solution is born.

Magic in the Marketplace

We are now capable of producing so many unique and beautiful products, many of which consumers never dreamed would exist. Through certain technologies, they now can see these products “being built” right before their eyes. Creative retailers are combining brilliant new software with innovative products and design to attract today’s consumer in these and other ways.

The art of presentation is an essential element of selling and winning at retail. It is all about attraction. And it is the retailer’s job to attract with imagery and magnificent displays. Picture, if you will, a wall of traditional photo prints in various standard sizes versus a wall of metal art in those same standard sizes. Which image is more appealing? No question—the metal! Presentation is a critical ingredient of market magic.

Presentation is critically important online, as well. You’ve seen the sites that stand out and those that are lackluster. You don’t have to look far to see the convergence of art and science in this industry, as evidenced by some of the brilliant online photo companies. While it can be challenging for smaller retailers to keep up, product innovation can begin at the ground level.

Metal Holiday Cards: Who Knew?

A good example of ground-level convergence is what’s taking shape at Fullerton Photographic. Creating new product ideas and listening to our customers always lead to innovation. Profitable opportunities emerge as we go deeper and broader within our product lines. For example, as we’ve explored and expanded our metal art product line, new product ideas and new ways to create fabulous new offerings have emerged.

From one piece of metal and a little “think on my feet selling,” we came up with 250 5×7-inch metal holiday greeting cards. A client whose business had evolved—from face-to-face with local consumers to a broader market with company investors they’d never met—wanted to set her business apart with a phenomenal card this holiday season. I showed them metal and the magic began.

We created metal holiday cards with a photograph of their seven key execs holding up cards with the numerals 2-0-1-3 along with the message “Wishing you much success in 2013.” The seven each signed the back of the 250 cards.

Thinking of new ways to drive sales is always top of mind for me. In 2012, as we created our Holiday Photo Shoot event calendar, I wanted to offer something so different that even those who thought they’d skip a year of family photos couldn’t resist booking this.

We sold out two days of our Hip Holiday Portrait event by finding a new way of looking at the same thing. Instead of using stools or a bench to pose people, we rented a vintage red sofa and placed it in the middle of our local park. Our customers loved the idea, and sales were greatly enhanced, all because of one out-of-the-ordinary prop!

Experiencing the magic at PMA@CES this year may very well make your heart sing.