"You really need to reinvent the business," Rob says. "You have to be aggressive to establish yourself as the leader, because all the Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs are competitive in only one thing, and that's price. We have to make sure our quality is better and we do, because the pictures are important."
Or, as Ed Klaben might say, a chip off the old block!
In these days of increased competition from the big box, mass merchant, and online vendors, if you don't have a marketing strategy, you're in trouble. Click Camera has based their marketing plan around a concerted effort to separate themselves from the big guys. "We have positioned ourselves as the hometown experts," Rob Klaben says. "We can give more value than the big box stores."
Some of the "value addeds" Click offers, all of which are advertised in flyers, in print, online, on the radio, or on TV, include Click's 47-day price guarantee ("Not just 30 days like national retailers"), its offer of 65 free prints and free classes with a digital camera purchase, and its promise to match the camera price of any of its competitors.
"The problem we face is that they expect they'll pay more at our store but the price is competitive. In fact, there's no difference. There are so many options out there to buy a digital camera, so you have to get the customer into your store. Because if you don't get the camera sale, it's tough to get the print sale."
Other enticements during the holiday season include a free pair of binoculars with the purchase of any digital camera over a certain price range; a free MP3 player (via a mail-in rebate to Click) with any digital camera purchase on Thanksgiving weekend between 6am and 11am; a free talking ornament with any non-camera purchase over $50; and special product demo days with in-store seminars from manufacturers.
"We saw a 22 percent increase in sales because of our ‘Let It Snow' promotion, where customers can get their Thanksgiving weekend camera purchase free if it snows a certain amount on Christmas Day," says Rob. "You can't just be putting a digital camera in an ad and see customers flock in. Our competitors are giving away free memory cards or a 10 percent discount. That's why we need to create better offers that will stand out in a crowd."
To help transmit Click's message, Rob hired a local radio personality who ranked highly in focus groups with women to be the store's spokesperson. He now regularly appears in Click's TV commercials and other forms of advertising.
Following the lead of photo retailer Bob Hanson from Harolds in South Dakota, Click also offers a variety of specialty photo products and gifts, including mugs, mousepads, and puzzles. "Bob has done a phenomenal job with photo greeting cards and unique gifts," Rob says. "He has been inspirational. These items have helped grow our business and make up for those lost rolls that aren't coming in any more," Klaben says.
Getting involved and staying involved with his local community and with the photo industry at large has also helped Click stay on top. Rob Klaben has been vice president of the Photographic Research Organization (PRO) group and an executive committee member for the last seven years, as well as serving as its liaison to the Independent Photo Imagers (IPI) group. By working with IPI, he's been able to develop a strong partnership between the two groups, which has helped their mutual survival.
The partnership has also produced tangible results, including joint negotiations with paper manufacturers to get a better price on paper for members of both groups. The partnership has also launched the PicturesMatter campaign (www.picturesmatter.com) to encourage consumers to make prints of their digital images. To get their message across, the PicturesMatter group hired a psychologist as their spokesperson.
"His message is basically that children need to see prints," Rob says. "It's important to their development and self-esteem. According to research, there's lots of risk when they only see the images on-screen."
Brent Bowyer, president and CEO of IPI, says working with Rob has been "a pleasure." "His professionalism and industry expertise have proven invaluable both in conceptualizing new initiatives and negotiating current and ongoing programs," Bowyer notes.
Rob is also a trustee at PMA and a member of the Buck Rogers Group, which meets twice a year to exchange ideas on photofinishing industry trends.