Dan’s Camera City Mixes Business With Business

Dan’s Camera City Mixes Business With Business


The whole concept of adding revenue by tapping into the local business community is certainly not a new one but at least one photo retailer we know of has taken the idea quite seriously and with amazing results.

We examined this category up close in last month’s Picture Business but felt this story out of Allentown, Pa. deserved to be told as well as you simply won’t find a better example of how to approach the local business community than what you’ll read below.

Nobody in this business sniffs out a good story at retail like Bill McCurry and we’d like to thank him for first bringing this one to our attention. We’ll let Lauren Oujiri of Dan’s Camera City tell the story here, as she first did with McCurry last year.
We decided to host a mixer as a very inexpensive and very effective way to get business people into our store to promote to them – our store and our staff are the best marketing tools we have! Most Chamber of Commerce Mixers are pretty dry affairs, in my experience, and it’s clear some people just go for the alcohol. So often at these mixers, people are just crammed into a small room or foyer with cheap crackers and a cheese tray, and the host business truly doesn’t get a return on their investment.
We designed an interactive mixer plan instead: Chamber guests received a “Passport to Dan’s” at the registration desk, and were directed to six areas of our operation we wanted them to experience. Our six areas of promotion were:

• DigiPrint Lounge and HP Studio
• The Studio at Dan’s
• Dan’s Photo University
• The Photo Lab
• Custom Framing
• Business Products Center

Once they got their passport filled out, visitors were eligible for over $1000 worth of prizes, for which they had to be present to win.

We worked with our vendors and received a free DSLR (thanks, Olympus) to give away, and the money to bring in upscale refreshments from a popular local microbrewery and restaurant, the Fegley Brew Works. We spent staff meeting time preparing staff members for the evening, and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned – guests would be in most areas of the store, not just the retail floor, so it had to sparkle.

The staff threw their enthusiasm behind it 110% as usual. The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce was thrilled with our concept and promoted the mixer well, and we soon learned over 110 business people had signed up to come to our mixer. Usually mixers draw about 50-70 people, so we were thrilled. We did indeed get 100 plus business people in the store!
Many had never been in the store, so we gained new customers – they had no idea a camera store did so many things and were very excited. Many hadn’t been to the store in a long time, and were amazed to see the changes and growth. Many were loyal customers who practically did our promotions for us to the newbies – that’s the best marketing of all.

The buzz of good energy around the store during the mixer was palpable. Visitors gushed about being able to tour our lab, and were thrilled with a free 5×7 HP booklet that they made right on the spot (with their own images that they were asked to bring along). They enjoyed seeing our classroom, and were very impressed by the sample banners and print products other businesses had us print for them. Staff had a blast and promoted their particular spot in the store with gusto. The Chamber staff told us repeatedly that members were telling them this was the best mixer they had ever attended. Our own staff expressed how much fun they had and hoped we would do it again.

We sold several classes the next day. We got numerous calls from Chamber members over the following days asking more questions and expressing their thanks for our mixer. We sold hardware and got calls about banner stands by people identifying their connection from the mixer. We have gotten orders from them for banners and banner stands, business cards, posters and more in the month since the event.

We had never had such an event in our store before so it was an exciting new challenge. Our thorough planning prior and coordination that night made it work flawlessly, and we are very pleased with the results. We would do it again – it’s easier to bring the people to the mountain than bring the mountain to the people.

This piece first appeared in Bill McCurry’s McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange and is reprinted here with permission.