By Ben Tyndell
Fresh from our Imaging USA trip to Atlanta, we are energized for the new year. It’s always good to meet our customers face to face. What a great show!
As I mentioned in our last blog, Tyndell Photographic is committing this year to helping our customers market their business and, in particular, prints. This commitment is not only because of the revenue potential for photographers but because prints are the right products to offer your customers. This is key: Successful marketing programs and product offerings are driven for customer benefit. And, sadly, the power of printed portraits has taken a back seat to web galleries, apps, and digital files in the minds of customers. This is not to say these aren’t great products; Tyndell Photographic offers products for digital services.
But recent PPA surveys show there’s a widening gap between the number of pictures taken and the number of prints made. According to a nationwide PPA consumer survey, “42% of people (ages 30-44) will likely look back and wonder where photos of their childhood, holiday get-togethers, relatives and friends have gone decades from now. Why? They are no longer printing photographs or creating photo albums. In fact, 67% store their photos solely in digital form on a computer or phone.”
We’ve all had experiences with lost phones and crashed computer hard drives. Lost photos can’t easily replaced; even if the photos are backed up on cloud storage systems, they are still difficult to locate – and a photo that is stored but can’t be found may as well as not have ever been take in the first place.
“I think time will prove that we have gambled away our family histories – trusting too much in our ability to protect our memories on our phones, tablets and other devices”, says David Trust, PPA CEO. “It is a failed notion that we will all pay for. On the other hand, this unfortunate reality is giving PPA an opportunity to make a difference by creating a program that will help the consuming public understand the importance of purchasing printed photographs.”
Another aspect of the troubling PPA survey shows photographers are reporting clients requests for printed photographs is declining: “In 2010, 60% of professional photographers said that the majority of their clients asked them to print photos. This year, only 38% of photographers said the same thing.
“In addition, nearly 50% of photographers said ‘yes, they still print photos’ for clients; however it’s “much less than it used to be” or “rarely,” and 10% of photographers even said they no longer print photos for their clients.”
Build from the base of printing
As I read this report, I wondered how many photographers are losing business – and clients are losing memories – because the photographer is not emphasizing the value of print during the consult. Face it, selling digital files on a USB is easy and quick. The client thinks they are getting a great value (which they are), but if they intend to print images at their favorite online site or a drugstore, they are doing themselves a disservice.
It’s well known, despite best intentions, the longer it is after the time of capture, the less likely the client will print. Photos have their highest value at two times: Right at the time of capture and some indeterminate time later, when those memories become treasured. Digital files are great for immediate sharing but are less useful as memories. What is the easier way to relieve your wedding day on your 10th anniversary: Browsing through a professionally designed album printed on long-life photo paper or flipping through a folder of images on Google Photos?
Next, too often, prints are offered as an add-on, instead of the base product. Photographers should start their consultation with a print package, stressing the value of long-term memories, and build digital products on top that. This does two things to benefit the photographer:
1) This shows the client the photographers cares more about them than just this transaction. This caring attitude will influence referrals and repeat bookings.
2) Puts a proper value on the photographers work. Digital files are ephemeral, prints are important.
“Many people will find themselves with only their Facebook and Instagram pages to chronicle their life – or maybe a hard drive,” says PPA’s Trust. “We’re trying to re-instill the importance and historical value of printing photographs. And contrary to what technologists say, there is nothing to indicate that we will love our families less in the future. The idea is ridiculous. Society is going to realize this error and continue to cover their walls with images of the people they love. We are in the middle of a cycle, not the end of an era.”
Photographers who make a long-term commitment to their business should understand a strong bottom line is derived from sale of prints, not just digital files.
Ben Tyndell is president of Tyndell Photographic