The saying goes that tough times call for tough measures, but in this economy and for this industry, the current time calls for better, more creative marketing.
Hopefully, you’re already invested to some degree in personal publishing, creative photo products and the social expression phenomenon, but what good is it if customers aren’t walking through your door or visiting your Web site? And if you aren’t aggressively marketing all these products and services to the customers you are attracting, chances are they don’t have a clue about the breadth of options available beyond the popular photo book. Enlighten them and watch your profits soar.
It’s common knowledge that an attractive, clean store is more likely to bring customers in and have them coming back, but today’s consumer is looking for more than just a photofinisher without dusty products on the shelf. They aren’t just dropping off and picking up rolls of film anymore. They’re looking for an experience and an outlet for personal expression through pictures. So, by all means keep the store tidy, but then dress it up with vibrant samples, fresh displays, helpful staff and smart promotions.
Pick a theme each month or so and push high-margin products through eye-catching samples. Enlist your staff to make the products and label each sample with a sticker that explains what it is and what it costs. Theme ideas might include seasonal holidays and events or something as simple as an August "Get Organized" campaign that features calendars and notepads to get things organized for the school year.
Be sure to also think out of the box when it comes to products. A 12×12 scrapbook page isn’t just for scrapbookers. These look great framed and make wonderful oversized cards and keepsakes. Make a sample that shows a baby photo with the child’s name, weight and birth date. This will get the customer’s own creative juices flowing with the possibilities.
Static displays are a step in the right direction, but many customers are looking for human interaction and come to retail for sales assistance. Involve your staff beyond samples through incentive programs similar to those common in the restaurant industry. Many restaurants have a dish on special and award points to the wait staff who sell the most of that dish. For the photo store, keep it simple. Pick one product to push—say flip books. Have your employees retrained on that product, and ask them to each create a sample for a display table. Then, talk with them about ways to sell it and tie it in with a promotion like a coupon. The winner receives movie tickets, cold-hard cash, early dismissal—you name it. You know what reward will motivate your employees the most. The point is that with product knowledge, sales tips and a clear goal, the incentive program becomes a challenge and a fun game to sell the most of a designated product.
Many retailers offer classes, but consider also offering individual kiosk appointments. Perhaps a customer comes in to simply print out a stack of 4x6s, but a sales person notices they are eyeing personalized wrapping paper on the adjacent display. If that sales associate approaches the customer, presents a business card and mentions that she’s available to walk the customer through some other projects on the kiosk at his/her earliest convenience, you’re sure to have an impressed customer, a return visit and additional sales.
Find Helpful Technology
In addition to aggressively marketing through store promotions and displays, enlist the help of smart technology partners to help educate your customers about their photo-expression options. Lucidiom’s latest kiosk software, APM 7.0, includes an upsell feature at the end of each order screen that lets consumers know what coordinating products are available. For instance, if a customer came in and ordered personalized birthday party invitations, the upsell recommendation screen might display matching envelopes or a party banner. You obviously don’t want to rely solely on technology for your marketing, but do partner with someone who understands that technology can give an invaluable boost to your own marketing efforts.
Don’t Forget the Web
Digital customers have become accustomed to anytime, anywhere access to content and today that includes their pictures. Having a clear, easy to use Web site is critical to a successful photofinishing business. Be sure to have prices clearly listed, products promoted that have sample images and fresh content like seasonal specials—you can even coordinate these with your in-store promotions.
Even though the economy is down and we’re all beyond the days of film drop-offs, birthdays still happen, school plays go on, Christmas cards are still being sent, etc. Digital means that more photos are taken now than ever. Add to that the new wave of creative photo products and social expression and it all equals more profit potential for you. Your job is to champion your business and your products. Let your customers know you are there and have the perfect products to showcase their special moments. Show, tell and partner wisely. Success will follow.
Rick Glomb is Lucidiom’s VP of Business Development and CEA’s Digital Imaging Division Chair.