Strategy Session: Forever Connected Yearbooks

Strategy Session: Forever Connected Yearbooks

Bringing Yearbooks into the Digital Age

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We’ve all been through the high school yearbook phase of our lives. Geeky portraits signed by some people you never even spoke with, wishing you a great life. We then pack them away and never view them again. Well, times have changed with the emergence of Forever Connected Yearbooks. Fanny and Robert Davidson created this unique take on yearbooks.

Forever Connected takes the common yearbook and offers an add-on benefit. It makes it available on a student’s mobile device and enables friends to digitally sign the portraits in a personal, one-to-one way that will live forever.

Just imagine that along with your printed yearbook you can have a digital version as well on your phone or tablet. Moreover, you can have your portrait signed, send a short video and/or send a sticker for your memory. In addition, it’s only a two-way interaction. You have your own private yearbook, filled with messages and videos from your classmates that live in the cloud forever.

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Fanny and Robert Davidson

“We’re inventors. We get things built. And we wanted to make the yearbook business better,” said Fanny Davidson, an entrepreneur who “grew up” during the dot.com boom. “A lot of the inspiration came from watching how our kids live their lives. Yearbooks at younger ages are for moms, not for kids. But when my son got his preschool yearbook, he doodled on the pictures. Moreover, in some cases he crossed out the kids he didn’t like. I couldn’t believe it; it was one of those moments when you wanted to hit the ‘undo’ button!”

“We watched our kids using their iPads and thought there might be a way to create a new yearbook experience—a digital yearbook as a companion to the printed one,” added Robert, a self-taught programmer and entrepreneur with experience building enterprise projects for large corporations. “We didn’t want to give up on the printed version. But we thought it made sense to live in the world where kids live today. So we created an interactive digital experience to enhance the old yearbook model.”

The digitized version is not just a PDF of the original; it really takes it to a whole new level. Moreover, from a business standpoint, it creates a margin-building opportunity for yearbook publishers, schools, and even professional photographers and photo retailers.

ForeverConnectedYearbookWhile much of the yearbook business is still controlled by a few large companies, there are many yearbooks that are being produced with the help of local photographers. “The best thing that happened to our business is that Shutterfly bought Lifetouch,” said Robert, “because it made the rest of the industry say, ‘Whoa, I wonder if I can do this better?’”

Our whole business model is predicated on boosting other people’s business,” added Fanny. “There may be a photographer who has a relationship with the school. Now the photographer can create the yearbook using templates and local printing facilities. There are new ways for them to get into the business in their local communities, where they might have relationships.”

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Forever Connected Yearbooks makes a digital version available on a student’s phone.

“The larger players have been losing elementary and middle schools to independents,” said Robert. “So working with on-demand printers is a great opportunity. And for a photographer who has never done a yearbook, we work with Pixami and PLIC Books. They specialize in yearbook software and can provide templates to thousands of schools.”

After the books are produced, Forever Connected creates a digital version of the book that can be up-sold to parents, or included in the price of the yearbook. “In some cases, the schools use the extra margin from the digital version to make a charitable donation back to the school. It’s a win all around,” said Fanny.

Forever Connected, Securely

Forever Connected also takes the security issues involved with children communicating digitally seriously. “There is a log-in and password for each student, which they can provide to their family. There are many rules concerning child data protection. For example, if the child is under 13, their parents must enable messaging. In addition, there’s only one copy per family, and none if you’re not in the book. “You can’t get a copy of the digital yearbook if you don’t have a portrait in it,” said Robert.

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Friends can sign portraits and add stickers

This isn’t a replacement to the printed yearbook; it’s a perfect companion. And it gets kids excited. The notion of digitally signing your yearbook in the digital version on your phone, and attaching it to another person for eternity, brings the yearbook into the digital age.

Moreover, this isn’t just a pipe dream for the Davidsons. “We already have thousands of yearbooks adding Forever Connected versions. We’re looking to double our numbers each month in 2019,” added Robert.

The Davidsons will soon be announcing a unique way their technology can work with photo books to increase print revenue.

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A short video can be sent to augment memories.

For those who thought they could never get into the yearbook business, times have changed. Local photographers, printers and photo retailers can become the hub by which school and community yearbooks are created.

Moreover, by adding a digital dimension, it offers the opportunity to create an ongoing financial stream for years.

Check out the Forever Connected website at foreverconnected.co to review the video tutorials and truly understand the power of this idea.

Then think about how retailers might team up with local photographers to explore this unique business opportunity.

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