by Malcolm Mathieson Published 01/01/2005
There seem to be a very few fundamental things that they do but which we do not do. Firstly for the mum, it is convenient, no appointment needed, just turn up and have the kid's photo taken. Secondly it is seen as inexpensive. We are seen as expensive.
I have said "seen as" that is not necessarily the case, but the public perception is we are expensive and at all times we must remember it is the perception that matters, not the realty. The next thing they do is not charge a fee; or if the do it is linked to an offer that is very good value for money. We often charge sitting fees. Next they pre-print a set package that is shown to the mother when they return to see the images. It is already done, take it now for a special price or perhaps you want the package and extras or lastly maybe just a couple of prints. Lastly they offer some form of payment plan so mothers can afford to take the package which is often priced quite highly, but because of the quantity of images in the package is seen by the mother as good value.
None of this is secret information, in fact all of you most likely know what you have read, what concerned me is that we as an industry have not learnt from them at all, We have not learned from them, at the same time they are making huge profits from a market that was once largely ours.
Having thought this through we decided to try and see how we went in the baby market. We knew our new business had to be "convenient", more than the Mall operators if that was possible. We had to offer a package or packages, we had to be seen as affordable and offer great value. We had to offer payment plans.
To do this we decided to firstly photograph in peoples' homes, nothing more convenient than that, mum is happy, baby is happy and you do not need an expensive studio or high street shop front. We knew we needed to pre-print a package that was amazing value for money and to offer payment plans, this meant we had to take some notice of the systems successful businesses use and to systemize our photography and packages. We asked mothers what they wanted, and listened. The answers were - something for us; something to give to grandparents and something to give to others, like the baby's aunties and so on. I cannot emphasize too much - we asked mothers, not one or two, but twenty - we did our market research. We then took the ideas and printed sample packages returning to the mothers and asking them what they were worth, in other words we asked the market what it wanted and then what it was prepared to pay.
The aim price point we had in mind for our basic package was 400 pounds so we needed to work out what to do at that price point which met the expectations of the mother and more...and to do this for every baby. We were not about to design an individual package for each and every baby, as they say "been there and done that".
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