What Have You Printed on Lately? Surviving in the Shifting Creative Retailing...

What Have You Printed on Lately? Surviving in the Shifting Creative Retailing Market Space

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During PMA in January and WPPI in February,

it was obvious that companies embracing the new “creative imaging boutique” model are becoming well positioned to take advantage of this fast-growing market space. Conversations during and prior to the shows confirmed that consumers are demanding new, different and beautiful—even if they don’t know what that new, different and beautiful is.

One product category enjoying booming popularity—wall art—is flourishing in creative imaging boutique retailers. Canvas is no longer king when approached in a traditional way. Today’s customer wants canvases with borders and other design enhancements so their image no longer stands alone. Metal is coming on very strong. As professional photographers embrace this new medium, creative retailers will discover tremendous artistic and financial incentives in this fast-evolving market. At Fullerton Photo, metal is the new canvas!

Time for a Big Change
Throughout the industry, we know that a lot of what we’re doing isn’t working. The ground is continuously shifting. Regaining our footing means becoming more nimble and tireless. We have definitely had some home runs, some things that have been great, but keeping our businesses alive is an ongoing effort. It’s no longer business as usual. For many people, their businesses are slipping away from them faster than you can imagine. It’s very scary and it’s very true.

At Fullerton Photographic, we’re working harder than ever. I’m trying to understand what’s driving business today from a 50,000-foot view, so I can bring a little of that down to Earth to make it relevant in my company. One thing I’ve learned is that social networking is a huge part of making a change. Challenging for traditional marketers, which describes most of the industry, there’s a big barrier to entry and a key area of concern for independent retailers.

Some cool things are happening in the social media space. One site I’ve begun to explore is Pinterest, a place to organize and share images that you find interesting and inspiring. Users create boards categorized by the topics they love. My daughter introduced me to Pinterest. She showed me a picture of our metal art2, which someone else had posted. When she clicked the photo, it took me to the original source of the image, my website, showing the retail potential of Pinterest. As my daughter clicked further we discovered many of our products that other pinners had pinned, unbeknownst to me. I stepped up my research into Pinterest the next morning.

Pinterest-ing Discoveries
How can Pinterest help retailers?

According to Compete.com, Pinterest had a six-month growth rate of nearly 900% as of January 2012, making it the fastest site in history to surpass 10 million visitors. Most important for retailers: Pinterest recently surpassed LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ in retailer referral traffic. More visitors equal more opportunities for conversion.

Savvy Pinterest users can spot boards that are overly self-promotional and are less likely to revisit them. Weave in theme-based articles and content from other websites for a better chance to attract followers. Pin your best-selling products to your board or divide your boards by product line to attract users.

Online retail marketers know that engagement is the key to online marketing. Encourage your followers to interact with your brand by opening up your board to their contributions. Reciprocate by re-pinning content or leaving comments about other users’ pins. Adding mention tags (using the @ symbol) to captions lets users know you are re-pinning their content and will drive them to follow you.

To help grow your company and connect with your customers, feature your business name on your profile, add an “about us” paragraph, connect with your Facebook and Twitter accounts, tag other users in your pins using the “@username” in your descriptions, comment on others’ pins, pin your own blog posts, pin videos, use your business name in the description when you post your own products, create seasonal boards, add the “Pin It” button to products on your website, follow those who pin your stuff, create a testimonial board, promote other people’s boards on your site, find the popular crowd by the number of followers they have and follow them.

Remember: The prettier the picture, the more it will be pinned.

Create a coupon or special offer board, leverage your Facebook and Google+ audience by running a contest that points to your Pinterest page, consider a “Best Use of Our Product” photo contest with entries being pinned to your Pinterest board.

Ready for Pinterest?
Pinterest is driven by beautiful imagery, which makes it a natural for our industry. If you’re looking for a way to kick up your marketing and sales efforts, and want to develop a presence on Pinterest:
1.    Select a user name. It’s okay to use the graphics and profile from an existing Twitter or Facebook page.
2.    Bring your brand alive by showcasing your products with beautiful photographs.
3.    Leverage themes by creating “mood boards” that convey an image, not your products.
4.    Include prices and show price changes when items go on sale.
5.    Use hashtags because they offer organization support.
6.    Add the “Pin It” button.
7.    Engage and listen to the community; don’t just broadcast your brand.
8.    When you use images from across the web for commercial purposes, discuss legal liabilities with counsel.
9.    Sign up for an invitation on the site—prepare for a wait—or find a pinner you know, who can send you an invitation.

Remember that creating a beautiful image is everything. Whether it’s for a new product or the newest social media powerhouse, beautiful is better.

Resources
Retail Customer Experience.com, “Eight Ways Retailers Can Leverage Pinterest,” by Cherryh Butler

Copyblogger, “56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest,” by Beth Hayden

Accelerating Commerce: The Fifth Gear Blog, “Pin to Win—Why Ecommerce Retailers Need Pinterest,” by JB Smith

Mashable Social Media, “8 Strategies for Launching a Brand Presence on Pinterest,” by Charles Nicholls

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