Work in it AND on it

May 6, 2010: Catherine Logue, (Hutt St Photos, Training For Learning) urges retailers to find the time to market their business. Even an hour a week will reap dividends, and you don”t need a massive budget:

The underlying objective in marketing is to be the preferred supplier of the product and service; in other words, developing a product and service with a perceived value that exceeds that of your competitors.

This applies to a specialty store just as much as it does to, say, Canon when it brings out a new camera.

The three factors on which you need to concentrate are:
– Developing customer value;
– Offering competitive advantages;
– Focusing effort on profitable resources, products & services.

Developing customer value might be as simple as providing stools or chairs for customers who are working on kiosks (and express kiosks for customers in a hurry to complete a quick print order), or space for them to park a stroller safely, or providing hooks under the kiosk for hanging a bag out of harms’ way.

Just have a look around you and think, ‘what would I want to make me feel more welcome inside this store?’

We have a menswear store in our area which has taken the trouble to find out the dress codes for various local businesses and then tailored their offering (if you’ll excuse the pun!) to meet that demand.

When it comes to focussing on what’s profitable, photo retailers need to be conscious that for the most part, their client base just isn’t as interested in photographic prints as they used to be.

There was a time when 80 percent of the business was 6×4-inch prints. With cut-price competitors and a reduction in demand, this area of the business probably isn’t where marketing resources should be focussed.

Instead, customers want their images on a CD. At Hutt Street Photos we have been very successful in offering scanning services for people wanting to digitise all or important parts of their photo collection. People also want all those digital files on their hard drives gathered together and burned to CD or DVD.

Scanning is a valued service to the customer and, as it only costs time and the price of the blank media, its valuable for the business as well.

We have also developed a relationship with the local funeral parlour. We offer a service where we take an old image, scan and restore it and put it in a frame for the funeral day. We sometimes then sell extra copies to friends and family. We can also put together a CD of memories in pictures of the loved one for sharing with friends and family.

The main focus in marketing is attracting and retaining a growing base of satisfied customers. The procedures and systems within the organisation need to support the marketing plan.

So consider your company policies and activities, because they should be directed toward satisfying your customer needs. Your business plan should contain the vision statement, mission statement and the marketing plan which provides the overall picture of the operation.

So what do you need to do?

The simplified approach to marketing in the text Digital Guerrilla Marketing outlines 7 steps:
1.Define the purpose of your marketing: for instance, launching a new service, attracting a specific customer group eg, young mothers, growing your client base
2.Establish benefits you offer to accomplish that purpose.
3. Know your target audience:
4.Determine your best marketing weapons
5.Find your niche in the market
6.Define your business identity
7.Make a commitment to invest in marketing:

‘We can’t afford it’ is simply a cop out.

Whatever you do to market the business incurs a financial investment. Not just the advertising space that is booked and paid for, or the promotions and mail-outs that are printed and distributed, but also the cost of the human resources.

Everything that is utilised in the name of marketing must work in harmony with the business and all marketing efforts to maximise the return on the investment.

So when you do something in the business you should know why – not just do the same thing you did last year.

You may, for instance, have run a camera promotion last Mothers Day – but before doing it again, ask yourself, did it work? I recently saw a catalogue produced for Mothers Day. While it did have a picture of a kiosk on the front, other than that wasn’t really much more than a camera catalogue. With the market for cameras in Australia almost saturated, that might not be where profitable demand lies. It didn’t really have a lot to offer someone wanting to use cherished memories as a special gift for their mum – like a photo book with added text, for instance.

Marketing weapons might be surprisingly inexpensive and easier to access than you think. Wallet stuffers certainly still work – when I visit clients I regularly see ours on their pinboards. You can use short-dated paper to create them at little expense. Produce postcards and mail them out.

Don’t do everything via email – it’s too easy to overlook. Mail can be an effective alternative and it’s worth going to the extra time and expense to get hard copy materials to customers.

Be generous with your time. Offer to be a guest speaker at schools or community groups. Share some of that hard-won knowledge you probably take for granted, but others will find illuminating.

There’s a real resurgence of black and white photography in the schools right now. Produce a Tips Sheet on black and white and supply it free of charge – just remember to give your store a credit on the bottom.

When you make a donation to a local charity or sporting group, make it in the form of a two-for-one offer or redeemable via a voucher in store.

Develop a promotional calendar, otherwise those important occasions and seasons will be upon you before you have time to plan properly.

And catch up with important clients – this will also require some pre-planning in your diary.

Customers need to know what you do, and the benefit in your service for them. Remember if you are a member of PMA you can tap into the promotional material, saving you time and energy.

What is on your promotional calendar this month? How are you going to let your customers know about that promotion? Planning is important. You can make things happen, so put those ideas to work.

Just do it! Even if you can only afford one hour a week it will count. Get into the store early if you are always busy during opening hours.

Even if you can only find the time to do one thing for one group of customers, you are better off than if you are just ‘bumping along’.

– Catherine Logue

(In addition to her involvement with Alan Logue in the successful Hutt St Photos specialty store in Adelaide, Catherine is principal and owner of The Training for Learning Company, which has been in operation since 1995 offering training in trainer education, retailing and photographic minilabs.)


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