There’s money in them pictures. In 2010, Instagram reported more than 100,000 users; by year’s end 2012 the photo-sharing app had warped speed to 15 million users. Where there are photos there are custom photo products—already big business. InfoTrends, in its 2011 Photo Merchandise...
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There’s money in them pictures.
In 2010, Instagram reported more than 100,000 users; by year’s end 2012 the photo-sharing app had warped speed to 15 million users.
Where there are photos there are custom photo products—already big business. InfoTrends, in its 2011 Photo Merchandise End-User Study, projects that revenues from the sale of photo merchandise products, including photo cards, photo books, and photo calendars, is poised to reach $2 billion by 2014.
As far as revenue opportunities for printer, the consumer photo merchandise market is already flooded with competition. Large operations such as Shutterfly and Snapfish dominate, bolstered by brand recognition and marketing spends for customer acquisition that top out at $20 per customer annually.
Fortunately for print service providers, there is another route. InfoTrends places the market for photo rich documents for business applications at around $12 billion, a much bigger pie for sharing.
“There is an opportunity for digital printers to identify photo rich products,” says Chris Harrold, VP, business development, Mohwak Fine Papers. The paper company launched Pinhole Press in 2010 to serve the photo product market, selling the enterprise in October, 2012 to liveBooks, Inc.
“At the end of the day, photo apps are where it’s out, because there are so many images captured on mobile today,” says Harrold. It’s explosive; any one with new ideas might want to keep photo in their vision. Figure out a way to turn those images into a product.”
“Digital printing systems in general lend themselves to this on-demand, short-run, customer application because of their ability to literally take digital files and print them with a few basic steps in set up,” says Ed Wong, Product Marketing, Ricoh Production Printing Business Group. “Further, these systems can be configured with in-line finishing to result in booklets without any further manual intervention.”
Brian Segnit, a marketing manager and resident photo publishing expert for Xerox, notes “The genre is bigger than just consumer photo books; it’s almost like self-publishing. You can really do almost anything.”
Rather than take on industry giants like Snapfish, Segnit advises targeting business-to-business applications. Success in this market demands creativity, and innovative marketing and sales strategy. It isn’t as simple as posting on your company Website that you offer the service, even if you have the digital print, workflow and e-commerce software technology.
A good place to start is to demonstrate your capabilities with your own photo book or calendar. “If I am in print for pay, I want to be able to show my printing pedigree and print my own custom photo book so
customers can see firsthand what I can do,” says Segnit. “Tell customers ‘this is the press that I have—it’s the same press that you will find in major photo labs, like Snapfish. But I can take these photo rich pages and help you promote your business.’”
Perhaps you have a client that is a real estate agent, looking to sell $2 million lakefront homes. To appeal to her high-end clientele, she puts together a bound custom book digitally printed on high-gloss photo paper, showcasing all the lakefront houses available. She will need to continually update this book, as houses are bought and sold.
Look to the community you serve, the customers already using your digital print services. Are there local charities that sponsor golf outings? Suggest a photo book commemorating the event that the charity can give to all the premium sponsors. Perhaps they can sell advertising in the back of the book to generate revenue.
“Look at your existing customer base, and see where offering a custom photo product fits,” says Harrold. All kinds of small businesses—from contractors to interior decorators to restaurants can benefit from custom photo products. Colleges and universities and healthcare facilities are in fiercely competitive markets that require innovative marketing solutions.
“Think of ways you can help them market their services with a photo-rich product,” says Harrold.