By Bill Schiffner
At PMA 2004, Kodak is introducing its new Pro Lab Resource Center. It will provide professional labs with greater access to Kodak’s lab products, services and support. To get the scoop on the new service, we spoke with Nick Parsons, worldwide marketing, Professional Lab Output and Christopher S. Van Zandt, U.S. & Canada regional manager, Professional Output Digital & Film Imaging Systems at Eastman Kodak Company.
Tell us a little about Kodak’s Pro Lab Resource Center.
How does a lab join?
Parsons: The Kodak Pro Lab Resource Center (PLRC) is a global, service-based program that provides marketing support, business services and technical support to labs that serve the professional imaging market. Some of these services are currently offered to our customers and are being placed within the PLRC to make them more visible and easier to access. Other programs and services are new initiatives that can efficiently and effectively deliver value to pro labs and customers that they serve. As professional imaging labs seek opportunities to better serve their markets and further differentiate themselves, the Pro Lab Resource Center provides a focal point of awareness and access for these value added features. So, in effect, the PLRC is a marketplace for Kodak services to pro labs and a way for pro labs to showcase the scope and uniqueness of their offerings to their customers.
Labs will be able to join via the Web (www.kodak.com) or by working with their local Kodak sales representative. Access to content and the extent to which an individual lab is featured/promoted to photographers, studios and end specifiers of Pro Lab services are predicated on the level of membership attained by an individual lab. This is defined by the number of Kodak-delivered services/products/solutions in use by a particular lab.
How will labs find out about the service? Is it only available to Kodak labs?
Parsons: Initially the PLRC will be rolled out to professional imaging labs at PMA in Las Vegas, and then communicated via our Kodak sales representatives, who will work with individual labs to populate the Pro Lab Resource Center Locator. These charter members will then be featured via the Web as a way to communicate to a broader pro lab audience and invite their participation as well. With a critical mass of valuable content, the Pro Lab Resource Center will then be promoted to studios.
There is something for everyone within the PLRC. A wide range of broadly available content and information can be accessed merely by logging on to the PLRC site. Additional content is available to members who register and agree to participate as pro labs identified in the Lab Locator feature of the site.
Can you elaborate on marketing support and technical
Parsons: It is our intent to build and populate an online locator of pro labs that will enable lab customers to list/promote the services they offer within the professional imaging market. Once populated, this online locator will be broadly promoted by Kodak to end users of professional imaging services. Sometimes this will be promoted in a general way for customers to identify labs offering services that they are interested in, and at other times it will be linked to specific promotions based on the use of Kodak Professional Imaging solutions.
As the program expands, other marketing tools will be provided to help pro labs continue to differentiate themselves from other forms and channels of output. These may include direct marketing tools, PR resources and guidelines, and opportunities to benefit directly from national promotions from Kodak. The Pro Lab “Experience the Difference” tag line is intended to be the rallying cry for these communications and provides a comprehensive umbrella under which individual pro labs can promote themselves and leverage this category-selling message.
With Technical Support, Kodak initially will assemble a range of existing services—such as software downloads and upgrades, color profile building and workflow advice—and provide them in a more logical and readily accessible fashion via the PLRC. Much of what we offer today is not broadly visible across our lab and studio customers, and this provides an efficient way to organize and communicate this valuable content.
In addition, we intend to offer new services such as online process monitoring for E–6, C-41 and RA-4 processes. The current highly acclaimed Q LAB Auditing program will also become part of the PLRC. Again, as the program expands, other services appropriate to supporting our pro lab customers will be added to the portfolio of offerings. These may include things such as workflow consulting services, engineering support and other new applications that are currently being developed.
What are some of the benefits of the service? Which labs will
Parsons: All pro labs, large and small, portrait, social and commercial, will benefit from:
1) Being positioned by Kodak as one of a key set of customers offering truly professional output services and quality to a broad imaging market.
2) Promotion by Kodak as a category of labs that are unique and differentiated from alternative output providers.
3) Participation in specific end user promotional activity to drive customers to pro labs.
4) Help in streamlining production operations to be more efficient in the highly competitive digital imaging markets.