Photo Merchandise Marketing Strategies: Learn from the Leaders

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May 2, 2012

In March, I wrote about the short window of opportunity retailers of photo merchandise have to market new products and expand their customer base. One of the trends we have seen is a shift from marketing through online media channels, to a blend of marketing using offline AND online media channels. InfoTrends research has shown that there is a multiplier effect on return on investment when marketers increase the number of media channels used in a campaign. The more media channels used, the greater the return on investment. The challenge marketers face is identifying the right mix of media channels AND what marketing message or promotions to use that will capture a customer’s attention and trigger a decision to purchase.

I recently saw a direct mail campaign from Snapfish that took a unique approach of blending both the media channel and the marketing message. The direct mail piece was a US Mail Priority Delivery label with the recipient’s name and address on it. It was 14 pt. cardboard 6×9 stay flat mailer and not an envelope. The mailer did not have any marketing or messaging on it — not even a return address. It did not look like a standard direct mail solicitation, so the recipient was inclined to open the direct mail.

Once opened , the recipient was presented with very high-quality full-color cards displaying Wall Décor examples, printed on uncoated card stock, but with the corners rounded, wrapped with a strip of paper printed in color with “Wall Décor 2012” and a small Snapfish logo printed on it. The idea of using the rounded corners on the cards had a twofold effect: First, it looks more appealing and unique when compared to standard square cornered cards. Second, the cards will not get damaged as easily as square corners would in the insertion process.

Figure 1: Direct mail from Snapfish

In addition to the cards, there was an envelope which looked like it contained a “Thank You” or Invitation with the Snapfish logo on it. It actually contained both. It was a letter that contained a “Thank you” for using Snapfish (the recipient used them for holiday photo books every year) and an invitation/special offer to purchase some wall décor items. The recipient was also acknowledged as being a “top member” of the Snapfish consumer community.

The letter was addressed to the recipient (simple personalization) and was signed by the general manager of Snapfish. The cards promoted Wall Décor and provided examples of how the recipient could use Wall Décor to show off artwork done by the kids, create attractive visual points of interest using fine art, and display images of family. In addition to stimulating the creative process of “how to” use Wall Décor, the invitation/special offer provided attractive discounts for Wall Décor as well as discounts for other products offered on the site.

This approach to marketing incorporates past purchase data, consumer information, an attractive offer, and a creative approach to direct mail. While more expensive than standalone email marketing campaign, this approach was successful in capturing the immediate attention of the recipient, not only to open the mail piece, but also to consider the products. It’s also important to note that Snapfish is conducting this campaign during the “off season”. This allows Snapfish to smooth out the dramatic peaks and valleys seen in the photo merchandise market. Service providers looking to pursue opportunities in photo merchandise should focus on developing marketing strategies that capture the attention of a customer while providing an attractive call to action.

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