Magazine Article


Marketing Ideas: Great Concepts That Work

Gary Grinaker’s full color postcards
The Photo Express’ Gary Grinaker’s full color postcards are a great way to get out his marketing message.
David Guidry—Lakeside’s own brand of hot sauce
A hot idea from Lakeside Camera & Imaging’s David Guidry—Lakeside’s own brand of hot sauce.

The brightest thinkers in the photo/imaging industry get three good ideas before breakfast. At least, they get those three ideas before breakfast every Thursday morning—when they subscribe to the McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange, an online newsletter that’s been spreading the word since 2002.

The concept began when Bill McCurry, a perennial favorite at industry events, hosted a Marketing Roundtable during the 2002 DIMA Conferences. From attendees clustered around the tables of a packed room, came a variety of great ideas. I was there myself and was dumbfounded at the great concepts Jim Schwarzbach freely shared with the rest of us. Jim talked about everything from giving away rubber duckies to his Drive-By Photo Contest.

Soon everyone was jabbering, sharing great marketing ideas, and McCurry couldn’t throw candy bars fast enough! (Yes, Bill rewards you for your contribution, in the belief that “behavior which gets rewarded gets repeated.”)

Nobody wanted to leave the room when the time was up. It was suggested the banter be kept up by e-mail, and the crowd went wild! Bill volunteered that if we could send him more ideas he’d send them out by e-mail, and thus was born the McCurry Marketing Idea Exchange or MMIE. Credit for the genius behind all this goes to Chad Munce of DIMA/PMA, Martin Feldman (Light-Works, Burlington, VT), Michael St. Germain (Concord Camera, Concord, NH) and Bob Banasik, founder of The Best Photo List.

I’d been putting out a dealer-oriented website called for several years at that point, and volunteered to copy each Idea Exchange and archive them on the website. Quite honestly, I figured that after a few issues people would run out of ideas and it would die a natural death. Wrong! You can’t kill the MMIE by driving a stake through its heart! Specialty photo retailers ate it up like candy bars.

About Issue 83, I took over editing it and have done so ever since. Think Outside the Norm for Media Distribution and Printing Options. This idea is from Gary Grinaker, The Photo Express Cleverly Hidden in Kirkwood Mall, Bismarck, ND (

“We had great success using our Noritsu 2901 to create 4x6 full-color postcards. We’ve promoted our new digital services by offering each of our customers the opportunity to make 25 4x6 prints from their digital media during the following week.”

“Being cautious, we mailed batches of 400 cards at a time until we hit our entire mailing list. This kept the redemptions down to a reasonable level for any one week. It also allowed us to refine the postcard as we received feedback from our customers. We had excellent redemption rates.”

“As a follow-up, I was going to do a direct mail of the digital trial postcard inviting all the local businesses to try our prints from digital media in July.” “Then I discovered that for a fourth of the cost of mailing them, I could insert the cards into the Enterprise Connection, a monthly newspaper for local businesses. Inserting my piece is a fraction of the cost of placing an ad in the same publication.”

“The problem with great promotional offers is most people come in the day the coupon expires. Having new customers lined up out the door on the last day of the month just wouldn’t do. But what to do with 5,500 postcards all being delivered at once?”

“Duh, digital printed coupons are easy to alter. So print batches of 600, each batch with a different expiration.”

Hottest Imaging Center in the South. A hot idea from David Guidry, Lakeside Camera & Imaging, Metairie, LA (

“It never hurts to keep your name in front of a potential customer even while they are dining.” Lakeside Camera and Imaging, the hottest imaging center in the south, uses a common household condiment in New Orleans, LA as an opportunity to get the word out about many of their services and products. Lakeside Camera Hot Sauce is produced by Hot Concepts in Metairie, LA. “Decision makers at universities, corporations, government agencies, and even the many tourists who travel in and out of our city remember our name because of our own brand of hot sauce, which displays our logo and list of services available as well as contact information.”

(Editor’s Note: David Guidry gave a bottle of Lakeside Hot Sauce to Bill McCurry. Bill took it to audiences around the country to share this idea. Bill first showed it in New England where the audiences felt it would be a good investment since a bottle of hot sauce would last 6 - 18 months in the average New England kitchen. Bill then took the bottle to a seminar in San Antonio and told the audience, “This will keep your name in front of your customers for about a year.” At that point, a deep southern drawl from the back row said, “Boy, you sure ain’t from ‘round these parts... That tiny thing won’t last a week in Texas.” However long it lasts, its unique enough that everyone who has a bottle remembers Lakeside Camera and Imaging.)

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