Much more can be said of the newest selling channels: internet, big box stores, auctions, and more. But most significant is the revolution in the rapid product developments, which shorten the life cycle of all new products to months instead of years.
And thus, we will forever have to be young and aggressive and tuned to the future to participate in this exciting imaging world.
A Changing Business Model
By Ray Ohannes, Industry Statesman
While there are many in the imaging industry far more qualified to address technical changes, I am in a unique position because of my length of service to talk about the people within this industry.
The first, and the one that has had the greatest impact, is the diminishing importance of the personal relationships between the buyer and the seller. A contract was signed, sealed, and delivered via a handshake. In the past, when interviewing a person for a position with your company, you asked them who they knew and if they had a good relationship with them. This has fallen by the wayside as most important accounts are handled by key executives who may have seldom met the buyer that has the ability to make decisions on the spot.
Many major camera companies such as Honeywell, Bell & Howell, and Ansco held training seminars to teach salespeople the science of selling, but alas, this has also come to pass because of the importance of price.
The other significant change has been the elimination of price controls, which didn't occur until the late '60s and brought an upheaval to profitability, which caused many to close their doors and others to expand.
The consumer expected to receive service; however, many were able to forgo this if the price was right.
When Ricoh started marketing in the U.S., it was quite evident that the dealer did not want another SLR to lose money with, so we at Ricoh took a rather unique approach and limited their distribution to the camera specialty dealer. This was supported enthusiastically for over 10 years and is looked on with a great deal of nostalgia by many dealers.
Three trade publications existed, and they still do, but in a much different format. , which was run by Rudy [Maschke] and Ed [Wagner], was a bi-weekly that dealt with how-to articles; Photo Weekly, edited by Sophie Smoliar, was published weekly and focused on the people in the industry; and Photo Marketing magazine dealt with in-depth issues.
Finally, the changes that occurred over the years have been significant; some of the major companies have lost their grip while others invaded the photographic field with impunity and are doing quite well.
These are exciting times, and companies that are willing to make the changes will grow and prosper, while those that don't will ultimately fail.
The overriding thought we must never neglect is that people want pictures in whatever shape or format and will pay to satisfy their desires.
If I may editorialize for a moment, and this may sound strange coming from an individual who represents PNY: All of us are guilty of not paying attention to what we were selling, which is the joy and rewards of photography. Note I didn't say "imaging," since Xerox machines create images also. I hope we are familiar with the difference.