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Reach Out to Your Customers WithE-mail Marketing
Looking for a new way of marketing your business-one that speaks directly to your customers? Want a turnkey solution that's easy to run, affordable and direct? E-mail relationship marketing may be the solution. Merchant Internet Group offers a turnkey service-specifically designed for independent photo specialty retailers-and they do all the work.

Conn.-based Milford Photo keeps the E-mail sign-up cards by the cash register.

Not only does E-mail Relationship Marketing provide a forum for delivering information and coupons to customers as well as notification of up-coming sales, but because it's a "two way street," you can learn more about your customers' needs.

Since the service was launched at the start of 2000, MIG has signed up more than 30 independent photo specialty retailers and more than 200 Kodak Image Center retailers.

Jon Walker, regional vice president of MIG explained how the program works. First, retailers gather e-mail addresses from their customers which are then entered into a database. Each retailer retains control of his or her database and no names/e-mail addresses are sold to third parties. Walker noted that Kodak doesn't use, or even have access to, the databases of KICs retailers in the program.

Reps are provided to help create e-mail content, which is formatted in HTML, Text and AOL formats. The software is intuitive, sending the correct type of e-mail to customers so their e-mail systems will be able to view the messages without problem. For those retailers with websites, a hyperlink can be added to the e-mail. Customers are provided with a profile which they can update. The retailer can send custom e-mails to their customers based on birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions as noted in the profiles.

An example of a Milford Photo E-mail sent to customers in the program.

Photo Mission, a photo specialty store in Manhattan, NY uses Merchant Internet Group's services. Photo Mission employs eight staffers, offers one-hour processing, premium processing and is on a first name basis with most of their loyal customers.

"Initially we were skeptical," said Joe Arcabascio, Photo Mission's owner, "But we decided to give the service a try and we were pleasantly surprised with the results." Photo Mission has signed up a couple hundred customers, representing approximately 60-70% of their steady customers. According to Arcabascio, only one customer has opted to discontinue the service and she still shops there.

MIG offers extensive support to retailers who sign up for their service, including copy writers and reps who check in on each retailer every month. Photo Mission then changes the message of their e-mails each month, offering seasonal or holiday specials when appropriate.

Walker explained that building a base of computer savvy customers through an e-mail marketing relationship should be the first step before a brick and mortar retailer ventures onto the Internet with a website. "Once your customers are used to being contacted through e-mail, directing them to your website becomes natural," he said.
For more information about creating an e-mail marketing solution for your business, visit www.MerchantInternetGroup.com or e-mail jon.walker@MerchantInternetGroup.com.
-Diane Berkenfeld


Lexar to the Rescue
Authorized Lexar Media dealers can now offer their customers

What makes Image Rescue different from other such programs is that Image Rescue goes to the root-level of the data structure to retrieve the file unlike programs that only repair the problem without being able to access "lost files."

Image Rescue also offers a secure erase feature which permanently removes all data from the CF card so files that are secure erased can not be found by Image Rescue.


Passport/ID Photos Go Digital from Olympus
Olympus America has created a complete solution for retailers to offer passport/ID photos easily and quickly with the Olympus TruePrint Digital Passport/ID Solution ID-200. The Olympus Digital Passport/ID solution combines an Olympus C-3030 Passport Version digital camera; 8MB Olympus SmartMedia card with included passport template; and the Olympus P-200 Passport Version portable dye-sub printer.

Simply photograph your customer with the camera, preview the images on the LCD screen or on a TV monitor, and print only the best shots. Two photos can be printed on a single sheet for passport photos or four on a sheet for photo ID shots.

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