In the great flick Field of Dreams Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice in his corn field tell him, "If you build it, they will come." He interprets this message as an instruction to build a baseball field on his farm, upon which appear the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the seven other Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. When the voices continue, Ray sets out on an incredible journey to help him understand the meaning of the messages and the purpose for his field. We as an industry could maybe borrow this message when it comes to marketing digital output services to customers and clients: "If you promote them (digital services), they (customers) will come."
Current industry info is telling us that more and more consumers and businesses are coming in and outputting their digital images at retail and commercial locations but still more education and promotion needs to be done and, in particular, with the consumer. I know it might sound crazy but there are many people out there that still don't know they can make prints at retail.
Although numbers are beginning to show that digital output at retail is picking up, it's not replacing money lost on decreasing roll counts. The other major problem we are facing isn't just people printing at home, it's really people not printing at all. Digital is allowing them to take more images but they are emailing them and sharing them on computer screens and in camera phones and not with hard copy prints. Across the country, computer hard drives are crammed with memories that are one crash away from being lost.
We need to tell these people that they are in danger of losing those memories forever. We need to do more than what we are currently doing. Its true that PMA and a few grass roots organizations are campaigning to get printing at retail in the public's mind but we still need to do a lot more. We need to promote this on a bigger level. Something on the national scale of the "Got Milk?" campaign. How about "Got Digital Prints?" I know that takes quite a bit of money, but what if every manufacturer and every imaging business kicked in some cash?
As you will see in this issue, lab owners that are aggressively promoting their digital output services to their customers are having great success with them such as Camera Stop's Jeff Goulston.
There is an old adage that goes ‘if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem.' So as we enter our summer selling season we need to keep a few things in mind, we are still one of the few industries that manufacture the products that document the lives, the loves, the remembrances and the travels of all consumers in the world. We are also a very creative and innovative industry, as many of our products can attest to. Now is the time to see if we as an industry can channel some of those creative juices and work together to promote the fun and excitement of digital photography and printing at retail.
It's true that times are tough now and they have caused many in our industry to turn into pessimists. But we are in a dynamic field, one that will bounce back and still become and important part of better times ahead. Keeping support digital, keep an open mind to the changes and how they affect your business, and, most important keep an ear to the ground for what's coming. And you may well turn out to be an optimist as well. It does wonders for your attitude and we help create positive energy that we badly need at this point in time. We would really like to get your opinions on this topic. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think.