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Turning Demo Days Into Dollars





Representatives from Mitsubishi and Unique Photo who took part in the event last month said the key to success for an in-store demonstration is to provide a little bit of both. Otherwise, Demo Days can quickly become a "Demo Daze" for customers and staff.

"This provides a hands-on setup so Unique's (professional photographer) customers can see how the product works and how it can be a profit to them and their business," said Darla Achey, Marketing Communications specialist for Mitsubishi Electric's Imaging Products Division. Achey was on hand at Unique with Art Pushkin, Mitsubishi's Regional sales manager for Imaging Products, to demonstrate the company's new CP-8000DW and CP-3020DU digital color printers. The dye-sub printers deliver high-quality, high-speed prints. The CP-8000DW produces 4x6, 5x7 and 6x9-inch prints and the newer CP-3020DU does 8x10 and 8x12-inch prints.

"At the same time as this is helping Unique's customers, it also gives us the opportunity to do training for sales staff here which is important so they can understand how the product works so they can talk intelligently about it with their customers," Achey added.

Pushkin, who presented the demo to about 10 members of Unique's staff, said that the more someone knows about a product, the easier it is to sell. "By just making this information available to them, all of a sudden a light bulb goes off and they see the value. What I told everyone today is to just tell their customers that they're leaving money on the table [if they don't invest in these products.]"

One of Unique's customers who has seen the value of adding the two printers to his business is Neil Clipper, president of the Palisades Park, New Jersey-based Abbey Creative Photography. Clipper uses the 8000DW for its speed (30 seconds for each 5x7, 22 for a 4x6) and the 3020DW when he needs a bigger size. Both come bundled with a custom Mitsubishi version of PC Event software.

"At a wedding for example, I'm going to need a lot of prints done quick and easy in a 5x7 size, and I can put it on the highest resolution mode," he noted. "However, at a corporate event, I might be doing headshots of executives and need 8x10 or 8x12 prints, for which I will use the 3020."

Clipper added that the instant gratification of using the Mitsubishi printers on a job is worth the investment alone. "It allows us to provide an added value that our competitors are not offering and at the same time, it brings in revenue for us."

Michael Green, Unique's vice president of Marketing, said his store typically does about 15 demo days a year with most of the big names in imaging including Adobe, Canon and Nikon. The spread of digital, he noted, has made the need for in-store demonstrations greater than ever.

"It's much different from selling [Kodak] Portra VC or NC," Green said. "And I think education is the most important thing we can give them. With the advent of digital, people crave knowledge and they crave where they can get it. There's a quote I use a lot: 'The wrong product at the best price is no bargain at all.' You've got to be able to sit with someone so they can ask you questions. And I often find that I ask them as many questions as they ask me. When I have a full understanding of their business, I can tell them: 'This is the way you should go.' So having a demo day like this is very important. It's what sets us apart from all the nonsense that's out there."

One of the most important things in any demo day, of course, is to attract people. To help draw customers to his store for such an event, Green promotes it on Unique's website, posts signs inside the showroom of Unique's headquarters in Florham Park, New Jersey, and sends emails to a select group of customers who might be interested in the product. In the case of the Mitsubishi printers, Green sent an email about the demo day to professional photographers in the New York/New Jersey region.

The most effective means of drawing customers though is to have a featured speaker. "When I get a speaker in, I tend to draw a crowd," Green said.

While a nasty summer rainstorm kept crowds light at the recent Mitsubishi demo, there were plenty of store staffers around to take part in the training session.

"The hands on experience [of a demo day] definitely helps us know better what the sell through is for the customer so we can tell them exactly what the product does and how it can help them make some money," said Eli Gruber, a Unique sales rep.

Scott Kearns, a technical advisor at Unique, said that as professional shooters transition to digital, their need for output grows, which is why the Mitsubishi demo was so timely. "Of the digital photographers we sell to, a lot of them have already expressed interest in some type of printer."

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