In an era of comparison and price shopping, album companies must understand what it takes to cultivate and maintain customer relationships if we are to continue to thrive. In a recent blind telephone survey, we questioned photographers from across the country about what an album company needs to do to ensure their loyalty and continuing business.
Interestingly, the top wedding album companies have managed to create lasting relationships with their professional photographer clients by maintaining the highest level of quality, customer satisfaction, and product diversity. But those relationships are not monogamous.
Of the photographers surveyed, nearly 70 percent indicated they did business with two or more album companies in order to provide their clientele with a broad selection of contemporary and traditional choices, as well as specialty items, in a wide range of prices.
As Judith Shindle of Creative Moments of Westerville, Ohio, explained, “We treat this as a consultant service for our clientele. Just as an interior decorator would present from a wide variety of sources, we offer a top-notch, varied selection then narrow down the choices after the initial consultation with a client. It’s all about creating a personalized, one-of-a-kind album.”
The top utilized suppliers in the survey—Capri, Art Leather, and Leather Craftsmen—were often mentioned in the context of history and longevity, quality and service. Clearly, professional photographers have opted not to jump from supplier to supplier in search of a lower price, preferring to stay with the company or companies with whom they have developed relationships and friendships.
“I have been loyal to Capri for many years,” indicated Shlomo Cohen of Shlomo Cohen Photography, in Baltimore, Maryland. “They are outstanding and provide me with the quality I want and need.”
Overwhelmingly, 100 percent of the photographers surveyed said service is first and foremost in the development of long-term relationships.
“I want to work with a company that acts as my partner and takes care of me to make sure all is perfect,” said Joseph Scollo of Joseph Scollo Photography, Inc., of Nanuet, New York.
Needless to say, as competition increases in the industry, album companies feel the need to find innovative ways to attract and retain business. Successful album companies have learned that a key to longevity is the ability to be a helpful and supportive partner to their photographer customers.
To grow their customer base, as well as show appreciation for business, leading companies have implemented a variety of approaches.
One common approach involves offering product discounts, sample albums, or cash-back bonuses to help promote specific products. Another way companies work to support their customers is by sponsoring educational seminars on various topics.
For example, Leather Craftsmen offers seminars on creating business plans and album design, while Art Leather holds seminars on sales and marketing, photographic techniques, and so on.
Capri Album has chosen a different approach. In addition to providing photographers with money-saving promotions and online product specials they can put back into their business, this past April, the company launched a program called CAPRImium Rewards. The first and only program of its kind in the industry, the CAPRImium program rewards customer loyalty by pairing the album company’s products and services with the benefit of earning points for purchases, redeemable from The Sharper Image.
Mindful of the fact that relationship, service, and quality are the most crucial factors to maintaining customers and ensuring a company’s longevity, CAPRImium was added as a personal touch to show customers how much their business is valued.