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Opinions Wanted "Branding" Advertising

Tim da Prez

Just curious as to the type of advertising you framers find successful. I have typically designed what someone termed "branding" advertising -- talking about our longevity, good reputation, attention to quality and craftsmanship. I have never run a "SALE!" on framing services...I try really hard to have all my markups and margins set correctly and fairly, and I think my clientele gets it. But regarding cultivating new clients, an advertising rep for a local magazine recently told me that "branding" is not going to bring new people in the door -- and that I need to offer incentives or give-aways. I feel like that would "cheapen" my brand. Thoughts?
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Cliff Wilson

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I found that the traditional "branding" ads did very little to bring in new traffic.
I do not do "discounts" that effect my gross margin.

I DID start putting my Frugal Framing (Package Price System) prices right in some ads and that made a difference.
People actually brought the ads in although there was no coupon or need to do so.


P.S. I am teaching the Package Price Class in Vegas this year again.

Paul Cascio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I've heard good things about Cliff's class. I also think package pricing should be a part of every framer's offerings -- no sticker shock, and people know they can afford it before they walk through the door.

CB Art & Framing

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I think marketing for a framing business is challenging mainly because we service niches or segments within a very small potential market.
Until we (myself included) really break these segments down, we have no place spending time or money trying to attract new customers.
I understand the 2 general groups to be 'wants' & 'needs'.

A Need customer might be:-
-An artist or photographer who plans to display or sell their work. They might require framing.
-An interior decorator.
-A new homeowner or business.
-Someone celebrating or remembering an important person or event.
-A vacationer returning with some art.
-A collector.
-A gift buyer.

A want customer might be:-
-Someone who sees some of your incredible work and is sparked to get something framed.
-A Groupon purchaser.
-A passerby by your retail location (if you have one).

So there seems to be way more Need customers.

Well if they are already having this satisfied, we would have to make them switch.
That's a challenge.
Why do they use their current framer - convenience? friendly service? price? old habit? nowhere else to go?

bruce papier

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
This one's a tough nut to crack. We've been trying to come up with some type of advertising to bring in new customers for 33 years now and I can't say we've ever succeeded other than some TV ads when we opened our store in 1991. We have settled for brand advertising and referrals from current customers.

I think some of the ideas that failed for us may have something to do with the customer base we draw from. We've found that no discount less than 50% off has any impact and, in fact, leads to customers bringing in other shops' (and I think you know who I'm talking about) coupons and wanting to use them here. One year around Christmastime, we gave away small prints to anyone who stopped in. The public was outraged! We clearly were just giving them away to force the consumer into having to buy framing. We have tried holding drawings to give away framed limited editions. We never really got much of a response and, in one case, the winner tried to return the prize for cash.

I'm a little scared to try package pricing. Here are the problems I think I would run into with my customers if I ran Cliff's ad- nice as it is. "You mean because my piece is 23 x 25 I have to pay the higher price? It's just barely bigger. It should be the 22 x 24 price." "How much less is it if I don't get the hinge mount?' "This moulding (not one of the package priced mouldings) looks the same to me. Why can't I use that one?" "I want the fancy gold frame in the ad. The gold frame you're showing me isn't nearly as nice. You say it's the same frame? I don't think so. It looks more like this one over here." "How much less is it if I buy two at the same time?' The list goes on.

Cliff Wilson

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
... "You mean because my piece is 23 x 25 I have to pay the higher price? It's just barely bigger. It should be the 22 x 24 price." "How much less is it if I don't get the hinge mount?' "This moulding (not one of the package priced mouldings) looks the same to me. Why can't I use that one?" "I want the fancy gold frame in the ad. The gold frame you're showing me isn't nearly as nice. You say it's the same frame? I don't think so. It looks more like this one over here." "How much less is it if I buy two at the same time?' The list goes on.
I've gotten similar if not the same questions. The package is a special deal. It doesn't get less if you "take things out." The Mouldings are a special buy, in many cases closeouts. Yes, some others look similar and in fact some of the Package Mouldings would be more than them if they weren't a special buy. See what a fantastic deal you are getting!? These prices are already aggressively low due to volume buys, there really isn't any way to discount more. ... and the answers go on. I've found that people DO try things, but a firm answer stops the discussion pretty quick. It only becomes a problem if you are tentative and wishy washy.

Cliff Wilson

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
What I didn't show was an Ad I ran in a Glossy Quarterly put out by the Worcester Art Museum. Much more of a Branding Type Ad and it worked. (At least people buying framing mentioned seeing it.) Know the "Fish in the Pond you're fishing in, and use the right bait."


Grey Owl

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Package pricing is what our customers are seeing when they shop on the internet. Package pricing is what is posted in some of the box stores. Package pricing is what helps answer questions and makes custom framer easier for new customers. And I make higher margins and dollars on package pricing!

Package pricing does not mean less dollars of income. I make more because I buy moulding and mats in quantities.

I have two package pricing groups, the 'Artist Package' which is higher than what Cliff offers, ($119.95 for 16x20) that I sell very little of, and the "Collector Package' which is a high end (starts at $160 for 10x12 and $220 for 16 x 20) and has a choice of 40 different 100% solid cotton rag mats).

As a subset of the Collector package, I also have a matted package only, for some of my collectors that don't frame. A 16x20 matted package starts at $116.00 and includes two rag window mats, a rag mounting mat and mounting with corner pockets or edge mounts. My COM percent on the 16x20 mat package is around 10%, as I buy in quantities of 25 rag mats at a time. And I charge slightly more for the mid and darker mats.

I tell my customers, the problem with the Collector package is limited color selection, but if we can find colors that work, their pricing will be better than my regular alpha mats. A great value. And if they find a $20.00 a foot frame, I simply adjust the price for the more expensive frame and they are still getting the value in the mats.

Consider package pricing, and if you are in Las Vegas, consider Cliff's class as a must!


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Just a thought - instead of thinking of "sale" or "brand" ads, maybe think about saturation ads. That is, running an ad in one well-exposed place for a long period of time. Whether that's the local newspaper, radio station, TV, etc. you will need to figure out. But it's about being "top of mind" when potential customers decide they need framing. So not so much about driving them to your shop just from seeing the ad once, but more about them seeing the ad so often that when they want framing, you're the the first one they consider. For example, think about the local funeral parlor that runs a constant ad in the obituary section of the newspaper (morbid analogy, I know). They aren't running "half-off" ads. They just want to be fist on people's minds when the time comes. So maybe you run a constant ad in the local arts section of the newspaper, or local magazine, or during he 6:00 news. But the key is longevity. I believe that ad "campaigns" that only run a few weeks never lead to great long-term results. You need a constant - a heartbeat - out there working for you over and over. Think of a constant-running ad as employee doing work for you. Put it on the payroll and let it work. Don't scrutinize it's productivity every day, but maybe look at it every quarter and decide if it needs changed.

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
For example, think about the local funeral parlor that runs a constant ad in the obituary section of the newspaper... They aren't running "half-off" ads.
If they did, I wonder if it would be half off if you only want to be 3 feet deep.
:rolleyes: Rick

BTW, that is what I do too. I run an ad every month in the local b&w "Living" magazine that goes to the very upscale community not far from my location. I don't change it too often. It's there for the reason you described, to keep me on their radar for when the need arises.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have used branding advertising for a long time. I believe if you "offer" a discount (like 10% off even) that it will pale in "comparison" to the 60% off + 10% off discounts which the BB's pretend to have. So, essentially, I just don't speak that language. And you can come up with a slogan which discusses price if you want to. I once ran a full page glossy magazine ad which read "0% Off Custom Framing" because I wanted to take on the BB's in an unconventional but direct way.

I think running an awareness campaign focusing on the shop owner individually is what gives personality to a business, and that is one thing the BB's can't advertise.


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
If they did, I wonder if it would be half off if you only want to be 3 feet deep.
:rolleyes: Rick.
Within 5 seconds of reading this post, I thought to myself the best way to advertise for them might be showing their nicest casket, and the phrase "Take it with you".


I have noticed that this industry isn't very good at building a "brand" on social media. We are a local service that needs local customers. Facebook and Instagram are a great way to show off your work, engage customers while they sit on your couch, and most importantly, market to a very very targeted audience. I'm a new framing service, but I use social media almost exclusively as my avenue to find new customers and build a presence that people recognize. I spend money occasionally, but it is always with a purpose. I don't cast a wide net. I drop a very specific lure in the water. I also use may targeting differently between Instagram and Facebook. I'll share my new guy strategies below. Let me know what you think.....
Facebook: this is a higher age, higher income, and more widely used form of social media. When I boost a post or run an ad, I try to target specific audiences that will be looking for a frame during that time of year. At Christmas time, I may want to showcase a cute family portrait with a trendy frame and cloth mats. I mention that there is still time to get your portraits framed before Christmas, but space is running out. I spend $10 on the ad and ask Facebook to market to moms with an income over $50,000. In April, I plan to run an ad with a pre-priced college degree framing package. I can have Facebook target new college graduates. I can set an age range. I can decide how many people I want to reach or how much I want to spend. In the fall, I'll frame a jersey and market to male sports fans. For every $10 I spend, I reach around 1000 people and get 50-60 page clicks and a few post shares. I'm sure these numbers will climb as I figure out the art of building an engaging post.
Instagram: This version of social media is simpler, and has a younger audience. Artists and photographers are all over Instagram though. I use this as a way to be fun an engaging while showing off my work, but more importantly, I use Instagram as a way to engage artists. Many artists post daily, and want as many followers as they can get. I use my business account to follow local artists. About half of them follow me back, which means I now get to show local artists what my shop can do. When I run an ad, I usually target interests instead of market segments. I target art lovers and more wish washy things like that. I do periodic giveaways on Instagram too... I've started using scrap to frame little things like fortune cookie fortunes or cute postcards. I give them away to people who follow my business and comment on the post. I do a live drawing to pick a winner. I try my best to hand deliver the prize... because I focus on artists, I have a chance at a face to face with a local artist with a sample of my work handed to them. I have 2 local wedding photographers outfitted with a set of 10 corner samples and a handful of mats because of Instagram promotions followed by face to face meetings. Those samples won't ever generate huge volume, but they'll make a few sales for me without any effort on my part.
I offer a 10% discount on a customer's first frame if they follow me on either Facebook or Instagram. If they follow both, they can get 20% off. I now have a customer that I can engage any time I want from my couch. If I post a picture of their job, they get excited to see it and I can tag them so a bunch of their friends see the work too. I just got my business on Yelp and Google Maps yesterday and am considering a similar discount on a customer's second frame in exchange for a yelp or google review.
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