Thursday, July 31, 2014

How Does it Feel

Smartphone in Audience
Smartphone image by Mark Mueller
The photo industry is changing and most acknowledge that the primary reason is the ubiquity of smartphones. Everyone has a camera with them all the time and there are more images captured than ever before. The images are shared with friends and family via Facebook so there is no need to share prints. And why even make a print when the phone also serves as a storage and display device.

With less demand for prints, what opportunities exist for those of us in the photo industry? One answer is revealed by the nature of the smartphone itself. Take your phone out of your pocket or purse and open up one of your pictures. How does it feel?  What is the emotional response to a smooth, flat, shiny screen?

If we want to interest people in doing things with their images, we need to emphasize products that are not smooth, flat and shiny. Interesting products, presented in a fun way, and manufactured on beautifully textured, ultra-thick stocks feel completely different than the phone screen. And they evoke a much stronger emotional response.

Memory Game by Pinhole Press
Memory Game by Pinhole Press
One of my favorite companies that does this particularly well is Pinhole Press. The Memory Game shown here is a perfect example. Twelve photos turn into 24 beautiful cards in a game that teaches memory skills while preserving memories through the photos chosen. And the cards are printed on an ultra-thick, luxuriously textured eggshell finish so they feel as nice as they look.

Notebooks and Journals by Ann Page
Notebooks and Journals by Ann Page
Another favorite is Ann Page whose notebooks and journals in the back-to-school collection highlight that fact that personalization doesn't always require a photograph. And the growing list of retailers who carry the brand proves that you don't have to sell online to be successful.

Building on the positive response to it's LOFT ultra-thick cards, Black River Imaging recently introduced a new variant that feature a core of color to spice things up a bit. ColorTHICK business cards and greeting cards come in a variety of sizes, colors and thicknesses.  Of course, I have ordered my own business cards made on the ColorTHICK stock.

ColorTHICK greeting cards and business cards
ColorTHICK greeting cards and business cards by Black River Imaging
What are you offering that makes both a tactile and visual impact?

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Learning Experience

Sam Walton, Made in America
I am currently reading Made in America, the autobiography of Sam Walton. Although it is an old story, it is still a good one and explains step-by-step how he got started in retail and built Walmart into the largest retailer in the world.

The first store that Walton owned was a Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas. After running the store for five years and growing it into the largest Ben Franklin in the six state region, he lost the store because the landlord would not renew the lease. He described his feelings this way: "It was the low point of my business life. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. It really was like a nightmare."

The following year Walton opened his store in Bentonville, Arkansas. He looked back at his experience in Newport as a learning opportunity noting that he read his leases a lot more carefully after that. We all know how the story turned out.

In the early 1980s, I experienced a setback in my personal life that generated feelings of loss, fear, and the pain of rejection. I couldn't see much point in doing anything. At the time, I had just been assigned my first sales territory and was studying to learn as much about the sales process as possible. The book I was reading was How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins.

In a chapter titled Learn to Love No, Hopkins lays out this creed:
"I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed, and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying."
He recommended copying this down on a piece of paper, along with the five attitudes below, putting in them your wallet and reading them every time a risk or move results in less than a win. As corny as it sounds, I did. And it worked. I was able to put my life back together, go on with my work and things turned out pretty well.

Here are the five attitudes toward rejection and failure that Hopkins identified:
  1. I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience.
  2. I never see failure as failure, but only as the negative feedback I need to change course in my direction.
  3. I never see rejection as rejection, but only the opportunity to develop my sense of humor.
  4. I never see failure as failure, but only as an opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance.
  5. I never see failure as failure, but only as the game I must play to win.
Tom Hopkins, How to Master the Art of Selling
Hopkin's book is 34 years old and it has been almost that long since I last looked at it. In glancing through it this morning to confirm the wording for these principles, I believe it is worth reading again soon.

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