Info’tography all about sales, says PMA

PMA’s ‘Info’tography’ seminar and workshop┬ároadshow kicks off next month, featuring one of Australia’s master photographers and educators, Dr Les Walkling.

By any measure, Les Walking Les_Walkling_2008(pictured right) walks the walk as well as talking the talk. His photographic work is held in elite collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, the National Gallery of Australia, and the National Gallery of Victoria.

He is the former Program Director of Media Arts at RMIT, currently holds senior research fellowships in the School of Art, and regularly sells out courses he has been running for several years at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. In short, he both knows his stuff, and he knows how to communicate.

The Info’tography roadshow travels to Sydney (March 15-16), Adelaide (March 18-19), Melbourne (March 22-23) and Perth (March 25-26).

‘Sales in Sydney and Melbourne are going quite well – though we have room for more,’ said PMA Australia executive director, Peter Rose. ‘However Adelaide and Perth are slow, with more marketing to come from retailers in those cities.’

The format is an evening seminar ($69) on the first day for those who are capable photographers but want to get to grips with Photoshop editing and image enhancement techniques.

The full-day workshop ($299) on the second day showcases sophisticated Photoshop editing techniques, production strategies and visual problem solving. Click here for more information.

We asked Peter Rose what was the rationale behind the Info’tography initiative and how and why PMA members should get behind it:

‘These events are designed to assist our retail members in increasing customer knowledge of photography which will in turn, lead to greater sales,’ he said.

‘We are therefore asking all members to promote the events to their customers by whatever means they have available. For instance, the Camera House group, Ted’s Cameras and Digital Camera Warehouse, among others, are all promoting Info’tography via their customer databases.

‘It’s easy when chatting over the counter to refer customers to http://www.pmaaustralia.com.au, where full details of courses are available as well as registration details.’

He emphasised that PMA is acting in partnership with its retailer members. ‘We do not have access to consumer names (apart from those who have attended past Photo Shows) so we are totally reliant on major groups and independents encouraging their customers to be involved.

This puts PMA in a different role in relation to retailers than Canon with its Canon Academy and and Nikon with its Nikon School, which are being sold direct to consumers without retailer participation.

‘The creation of these events came out of meetings and guidance from the management team at Ted’s,Camera House, Paxtons and Digital Camera Warehouse and we will continue to take advice from these organisations to ensure we are delivering what they need for their customers.

He said that camera clubs across Australia have also been very helpful in promoting the events as well as photo enthusiast magazines and trade publications.

There’s been complaints from some retailers who conduct their own educational programs that the Info’tography roadshow cuts across these activities, but Mr Rose regards what PMA is doing as complementary, rather than competing with these local initiatives.

‘Our program is not huge, so we do not feel we will impact sales of courses that are already being held. There are one or two retailers I have met with who are not overly happy that we are holding these events, however the majority of our members are not as well-resourced, and they will certainly benefit from the added sales that lead from a better educated camera user.

‘Just ask Glynn Lavender what sales result following one of his courses!

‘It also supports PMA’s worldwide goal of “growing the imaging industry”. Hopefully education of consumers will become a major income source (if not in registrations, then in added sales) for all specialty stores. If that eventuates we may have helped in some small way.’

He said that ‘PMA in the future will do whatever it can to help our members connect with the end user.’

‘Some of today’s consumers are researching, sourcing and even buying without ever making contact with a ‘bricks and mortar’ retailer,’ he said. ‘We cannot stop that, but if we can encourage them to seek training to better understand their camera, we have a chance of gaining and keeping their business.

‘It is one of the most powerful weapons a specialty store has to offer,’ he added.

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