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Opinions Wanted How to combat the recession!

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by joeylowe, Feb 13, 2009.

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  1. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    Hi all,

    My name is Joey Lowe and talk about irony! First please allow me to introduce myself. I'm a 7th generation woodworker from Texas. I've built everything from Timberframe homes to fine furniture in my time and my wife and I have owned a frame shop for the past 5 years.

    Like most of you, our business has experienced some ups and downs in the past year. Last night she and I are sitting in our office after hours discussing closing the shop on the square and moving our shop back to our old place which is paid for. It would save us about $3k a month in overhead, but we would lose some visibility too since we are currently located directly on the square adjacent to the courthouse and of course, corporate customers.

    While sitting there, I noticed a 3 ring binder on one of my bookshelves and pulled it down. Just as I thought, it was the Ultimate Marketing Plan for Cabinet Shops by Chris Whamond. I thumbed through it and remembered back when I first bought it. The initial course was around $300 and then I could step up to a more intensive course that cost $1500. I did that too and later on I even invested in their back office support that cost me $2500/mo. The back office support basically took care of all the cold calling and marketing. Anyway, let me get to the point.

    I got to wondering what ever became of Chris and Marty who was my actual rep. So like every other person today, I googled him and was led to this site and specific post titled the Ultimate Marketing Plan for Framers. The post went all the way back to Jan of 2001 and was basically a negative series of articles on Chris and his program.

    Apparently, someone here inquired about the program and the resident experts at the time beat the program up as a scam. What surprised me is that Chris himself actually replied to the posts one time and then disappeared. Based on what I read after his post, that was his ultimate undoing because many of the contributors ridiculed him for disappearing. That was too bad because his program was actually a pretty good program.

    So, I continued my research and saw that Chris has actually moved on to other industries and is actually providing marketing for the karate industry now. So why am I taking up your time with this now.

    After all, it's been 8 years since this subject was last broached on this forum. Well, let me explain. When I bought Chris's program for Cabinetshops, I was just establishing my own shop and wanted a shortcut to success. His program delivered everything he promised and then some. In fact, his techniques were so effective I actually sold the shop for a considerable profit less than 2 years after starting it. In other words, my return on investment was incredible. So in Chris's defense, I wished he had taken the time to engage those posters then. He may have been able to help.

    So let me cut to the chase and tell you why I even bring this up now. After I found this forum, I spent a little time this morning reading this section and like in most industries, I saw the same issues. People are asking for solutions on how to solve their recessionary problems they are facing. I would daresay the problems are almost identicial to the same problems faced in every other industry in the world right now.

    How do I justify my price? How do I attact more customers? How can I stay in business? These are legitimate questions and I won't pretend to have all the answers. But, I think I can help if any of you are interested.

    There is a lot to be said for emotional response direct marketing. It has worked for over 150 years and works today if applied correctly. I won't promise that you will get rich or even keep your doors open, but I can share with you my experiences, tactics, strategies and even specific techniques that I have used successfully as recently as this morning. And best of all, my advice won't cost you a dime. I'm feeling a little philanthropical today, especially when I see the type of questions asked here.

    So if you are wondering what is the best way to advertise your frame shop or how to generate more business, I will gladly share with you what I know works and you can take it from there. Who knows, you might make some money. On the other hand, if I have overstepped any boundaries in my first post, I sincerely apologize.

    I do understand forum protocal and I realize that some might take offense at my forwardness. Please understand I'm a forthright kind of person who believes in getting right to the point. Thanks for reading and have a great day!
    American Picture Frame Academy 1-888-840-9605

    The American Picture Framing Academy Learn Picture Framing Now
  2. janetj1968

    janetj1968 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hi Joey

    That was a pretty selfless post. Wanting to give others advice, just for asking. Thank you for doing that and I hope maybe a few here will take you up on it.

    Many people, including myself, don't always thinking about having effective marketing until there's a crisis, like now. And then many people, like myself, are caught between saving money for the ride or for investing it to attract customers. Last year, I spent a bundle on advertising...and this year, just can't. This area really isn't one that advertising works well. Instead, I'm working on the things I can control that focus on quality, customer retention and waste prevention and good old customer service.

    I think if there's points you can offer that come without a lot of expense, then I'd like to hear it.
  3. mikki

    mikki MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    If you want to share that is great!! I am sure even the most experienced shop owners could use a boost right now and since I am six months into a retail adventure I know I could!!!

    Welcome to the G!
  4. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Welcome to the Grumble Joey.

    So I would be interested in hearing what you have to say here on this open forum. So if you care to post some advice for us, go for it.

    (It might be the skeptic in me, but when reading your post, it sounded somewhat like an infomercial and I am waiting for you to tell us to contact you privately and then we will get hit with the real cost. ) Again though, if you are willing to share what you've learned post it please and I am sure there will be a good interchange of thoughts.

    Is this you, Joey
  5. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'm with you j Paul. I read the first pot and wondered how my e-mail got in here! Feels like either a scam, a pitch for coop advertising or this person is really a great guy that wants to help us out.
  6. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    Welcome to The G!
  7. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Joey,
    Welcome to the G.
    As you see, we are all open to advise. I don't think anyone will contact you directly though, just because you're new, we don't know you and scams have been thrown at us left and right.

    I think it's great that you are willing to share what worked for you. Please post some more direct, specific advise, I'm sure that will bring more reactions.
  8. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    It will also help us if you would fill out your profile.

  9. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Go for it.
  10. HangingAroundHoover

    HangingAroundHoover MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Looks like Joey Lowe should be on the up and up from what I've gathered reading his posts on some wood working forums.
  11. janetj1968

    janetj1968 PFG, Picture Framing God

    :) I think its a nice thing to do. I'm just waiting on him to come back ;)
  12. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    Hi all and thanks for the warm reception. I do understand the skepticism by some and that's okay too. When I re-read my post, I have to agree. It does sound like an infomercial (too funny) and yes, I am the same joeylowe that has haunted woodworking forums since they were nothing more than bulletin board services. That brings back memories. I also apologize for not taking the time to complete my profile. I'll get that done first and then I'll engage your minds with what I know. And, to put everyone at ease, you will never receive an e-mail solicitation or private message asking for money! That's not what I came here for.

    First things first as Stephen Covey used to say. I'll get my profile updated and then I must tend to the honey-do's since it is Valentine's Day. I'll be back later to offer some insights on marketing in this recession.

    Just to tease you a little bit, did you know there are only three ways to make money in any business, but especially retail? What are they? You can add a new customer. You can increase the average transactional value. (This is a fancy way of saying you can charge more or sell more frames to the same customer). And finally, you can increase the frequency of purchase. I know this sounds corny and lame, but I really suggest that you wrap your minds around these three principals because they form the basis to growing any business.

    I will also address the issue of emotional response selling. We all know that custom framework can be expensive. Heck any form of custom work is expensive. In order to mute that complaint, you have to shift your perspective to that of your customer. This will be hard for some of you to do, but it does work. I'll explain more about that too later today.

    Oh and before I forget, I do intend to upload some actual examples of things that have worked for me and I need to know if that's possible on this forum or do I just redirect to a link on my server. Either way works for me too.

    Thanks again for the warm welcome and I sincerely hope you can use some of these ideas and make money with them. Oh, and in the interest of stimulating thought. Last Thursday, my wife stopped by the high school coaches office and offered to donate a custom frame for the head coaches' photograph to be hung on the brag wall. It was a free offer and the high school readily accepted it. She made note of all the other frames already hung and made sure to provide a much grander frame, but in the same genre. She delivered it yesterday and even stayed to help them hang it. When done, the coach loved it and because it looked good, he wanted all the other ones done in the same frame stock. She gave him a per photo price, knocked 10% off as a sign of good will. Total invested was less than $200.00 (including her time). Total order was $5800.00 less 10%. She will order her stock already chopped and mats precut and will walk away with a tidy profit of $3200.00. They paid her in full upfront. Her focus was on her customer, not making a sell. But now for the best part. She extended an unconditional no questions asked service policy free of charge. If there is ever a problem with any frame, for whatever reason, she will fix or replace free of charge. I'll explain how to make that work to your advantage too.
  13. Natalya Murphy

    Natalya Murphy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2


    Welcome to the Grumble -- I look forward to reading more of your advice. Yes, you can post pictures, documents, etc. with your posts. When you create your post, scroll down farther on the web page, past the "Submit Reply" and "Preview Post" buttons, down to the Additional Options section. Look for the button that says "Manage Attachments". Hopefully the rest will be self-explanatory from there.
  14. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hi Joey. Welcome. I look forward to the networking.
  15. museumquality

    museumquality Grumbler in Training


    Hello crew!

    I've been lurking occasionally, today i want to post with support. I am a huge networker, love to talk serious biz, develop plans and move on them fast.
    My business has dropped off a tad as of late, yep, there are very few exceptions to the current conditions out there and i am not one of them. However! i do plan to fight back and create healthy business during these "slow times". I want to share what i believe in and hope my "opinion" has a positive effect on you. I am not telling you something you do not already know, rather i am reminding you, assuring you, you have it in you! Find it!
    You are going to have to dial back and push yourself as if it were the first week of the shops existence. All of us business owners have it in us, however we may have gotten spoiled and softened through the good years. We now desperately need new plans, and fortunately we can build these plans from our own experience. We learned a lot the first couple of years in business, now it's time to look back, study and use it. Remember, nobody knows your local "picture framing" economy better than you! You built your business to suit your local economy , so I will stay away from the details because we all run our shops differently. But! i do want to remind you-

    - Appreciate EVERY single person who enters the door. (You know this, it's just a reminder!)
    - Make a bold move everyday. Make a strong positive change everyday. You know you have ideas, you are unique, you are a successful business owner!
    - Do not feel trapped. If you feel trapped in the shop and you are staring out the window wondering "why". Then get out! And I don't me abandon your shop, yet if it means you close shop from 12-1 then so be it, get flyers our to that local commercial complex, spread the news. Do not let depression invade!
    - Be a superstar every minute - all day, it requires discipline and focus, which in turn produces self satisfaction thus happiness.
    - Remember life is just one big adventure! If things do not work out, you can always start over! I strongly believe this, and yes, i do have wife and 3 children at home. It's a bold statement with so much at risk, but i believe if we work hard and stay focused we will be fine.

    Your business is just like a flower in blossom, we simply hit a dry spell, it's time to find water and keep the flower alive!

    Joey, i am very interested in your plan, thanks for taking the time to post it here.

    Happy to join the forums, look forward to positive discussions.
    Jim Brent
  16. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Nice website, Jim. Welcome to the G.
  17. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    O.K. am I the only one that thinks this whole thing is playing out like a Zig Zigler or Brian Tracey is coming to town thing. Are we building excitement and anticipation or just waiting till the skeptics are bored into a coma so it can continue with only those that have been hanging on with great anticipation.

    Nice story about the school and their huge budget for sports junk. Must be the last school in the country with a budget for framing sports awards and a very healthy budget at that. I think it would be more affective if the whole thing had started with we are so busy that we have to keep renting additional space for all of the work that is coming through our doors. Is the next phase where a first time poster attests to the millions of dollars they have made using this system. Just curious where this whole thing is headed but I think I've seen it play out before.
  18. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I agree with you.

    The posts are way to polished and professional. IMO

    I hope I'm wrong.
  19. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    No, you are not
  20. HangingAroundHoover

    HangingAroundHoover MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    From the post on other forums he may be pointing us towards selling more readymades and an inexpensive line of furniture. The oracle has spoken. I'm a little confused by all the mystery why not just give us your advice.

    And if you are offering free and honest advice I thank you in advance.
  21. jim_p

    jim_p SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I, too, am a bit put off by the excessively verbose and over-polished presentation. If you have good advice to give us, just GIVE IT to us already! Dispense with the extended windup telling us how wonderful it's going to be and the previews of "coming attractions".

    Brevity is the soul of wit. You could probably give us the essentials of your advice in the same number of words you've already expended...
  22. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    This Joey guy is most likely on the up-and-up about being in woodworking/framing.


    Joey's probably purchased marketing materials (and maybe even attended pricey seminars) by the likes of guys named: Dan Kennedy, Jeff Paul, Michael Kimble, Brian Keith Voiles, and the guy that spawned all these guys (recently deceased) Gay Halbert.

    These aforementioned guys took then almost-forgotten, un-appreciated marketing information and methods from these men - Robert Collier, Ted Nicholas, John Caples, Claude Hopkins - much of which is now in public domain, and re-packaged it into "Direct Marketing Systems" and re-sold it as expensive "information products" and seminars. The info is all real, time-tested and can definitely work in many circumstances.

    The intersting thing about these 'systems' is that the methods that they teach are (for the most part) the exact methods that were used to get people to buy those same systems. Neat, huh? And most of the purchasers of these systems were not as much interested in using the information to run a business in their respective industries as they were wanting to create and sell their own 'information' systems/seminars to people in their respective industries.

    The problem quickly reared its head as thousands of newly minted mail order 'Information System Copywriters' all used the same models to sell 'information products' in many small niche markets where the people wanted the information on a practical level and not as a 'model' to start selling their own direct marketing products. These people proved to be harder, more skeptical sells because they didn't look at things through the myopia of a get-rich-quick lens.

    My hunch: This guy probably went this route, and for some reason the information-selling thing never materialized. So he has this information (a lot of which is probably very good) and is probably willing to give it all out gratis, but he's presenting the material the way he was taught. And he probably is getting some level of satisfaction in return from presenting the stuff in a "guru fashion". Nothing wrong with that, I reckon.

    I say, give him the benefit of the doubt and play along. We no like? We ignore. What can it hurt? Best case, we get some free marketing info we can use. What's the worst case? The thread dies. No biggie.
  23. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    Wow! I'm a little more than offended by all this. By the way, I've been to your shop Jeff but I won't be back. Good grief. It's Monday morning and like most people, I do have a business to run.

    As for being reputable, yes I own several woodworking businesses. The frame shop, Picture This, Inc., is more my wife's than mine. Do we make millions at it? No, but she does net about $5k/mo, every month. As for buying sales courses, yes I've done that for the past 30 years, going way back to Earl Nightengale. Don't you? It is a tool just like a Morso or a mat cutter. As for the polished infomercial approach, thanks. That's a compliment I guess.

    As for bona fide money making advice, if you aren't supplementing your retail custom frame business with other merchandise or ready made frames, then you may as well close your doors now. Because you will go out of business. If you aren't approaching your frame sales from your client's perspective, then you will go out of business. If you spend all day cutting one or two frame projects and fall back on the attitude that "It's custom! That's why it costs so much.", then you will go out of business.

    As I said throughout, I don't intend to sell you anything. But I am beginning to see why Chris walked away so many years ago. If you want to learn about me, I'll make it easy. I can be found on one of my two websites at www.tradecubate.com or www.isaleswriter.com. I also have Twitter accounts at twitter/joeylowe, twitter/tradecubate and twitter/isaleswriter. Likewise, I'm on Facebook and LinkedIn and probably a couple of other places too. Oh, and my posts at the Woodweb go back probably ten years or more. No where do I try to sell anyone anything. I just offer advice and sometimes give and take a verbal licking.

    I live in a rural area of Texas. Our county population is less than 7k residents and the high school doesn't necessarily have a huge budget for framing, but that wasn't the point. What was the point? Don't rely on institutional advertising (you know the ones where you put an ad in a newspaper telling the world to look at how great you are). Instead get out there and meet people. Be willing to give a little in order to get a lot. If you are like most small shops (frame/furniture/or whatever), you spend all day in the shop waiting for someone to come in only to be disgusted when they don't buy or God forbid, they question your pricing when they can run down to Michaels, or the Hobby Lobby or in some cases, Larsen Juhl Direct and get the same thing in less than five minutes for a fraction of the cost.

    Enough tit for tat though. I started this thread (as a newbie here) for two purposes. The first purpose was to check to see if the mindset was still the same as evidenced by the posts going by to 2001 and to see if some of those old guys were still around. I promised some hard hitting tactics and strategies for growing your business. I started with Jay Abraham's premise that there are only three ways to grow your business to see just how many of you are businessmen (women) first and craftsmen second.

    If you are a craftsman, then when the economy was good, you made a lot of money and put it aside for when times are bad. You also live a meager lifestyle, because we all know that craftsmen live that way. If you are a businessman, then recessions become no different than a miscut frame. It's something that happens and you address it when it does.

    As a small shop, how do you address it? Since I doubt anyone here has the capacity to mount a large institutional advertising campaign, and since word of mouth is only as good as your last customer, you have to get out of the shop. Close the store and network. Will Chambers bring you money? Maybe so. Have you asked? What about local festivals or something like that. Here in our little rural county where we have Walmart, Hobby Lobby, MJD Designs, Target and at least two larger frame shops, we always get the sweet potato (Yam) queen frame job which amounts to about $10k worth of business every year. Why? Because my wife gets out there and asks for it. I can go on and on with a lot more examples, and I will gladly do that, but some of ya'll need to ease up a little. If you need sample ad copy that you can have for free and use to your own benefit, I'll give it to you. If you want to incorporate social media marketing (fancy way of saying get out and meet your neighbors), I'll show you how for free.

    What do I get out of it? I was hoping to befriend some other like minded people to make new friends. I've been at this a very long time and not only do I understand woodworking, I most certainly understand business. I also find myself working more and more in an office so I don't always get the personal interaction I crave. Oh and one other thing before I forget. Thanks for complimenting my writing style. I tend to write the way I think and I love spinning a good yarn if I find someone willing to listen. For now, I have to get back to work. Have a great day!
  24. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    Hi Jim,

    Advice is also meant to challenge and inspire! Would it be better if I misspelled words or used improper grammer? Brevity is also the number one problem in today's world. We live among a generation of the entitled. Everyone wants what they want when they want it and they aren't willing to wait. Kind of oxymoronic when at the same time we extol the benefits that quality custom craftsmanship which typically means nothing more than it took a long time to build it.

    I kind of liken it to the quality comparisons made between a handcut dovetail drawer and that of a pocket screwed & glued drawer. I guarantee that the latter is stronger and of higher quality, but for some uncany reason, most people think that if a craftsman took two days to make one drawer by hand (instead of 3 minutes by machine), it is of higher quality.

    My point is that value is in the eye of the beholder. I have a steady recurring stream of customers not because my products are always handcrafted, but because I always deliver on time every time and a reasonable price.

    In the interest of moving this conversation forward, may I ask a question or two to help me better understand the level of business sophistication we are dealing with?

    1. What is the typical demographic of your customer? Can you quantify your typical customer into sex/age/location/reason for buying/frequency of purchase/what was bought?

    2. What is the average acquisitional cost of a new customer? What I mean is for you to take your gross sales (mo/annual) and divide that by the number of customers that made up those sales. That will tell you a very basic cost factor that can be used to make future sales predictions. I can show you how to make that leap with prudent business decisions.

    3. How many of you are familiar with the concept of problem statements and how you can use that to your advantage?

    Didn't mean to single you out, but it looked like a good starting point. And I do apoligize if I seem long winded. I'm used to teaching and I tend to elaborate more than I should but it's a great thing when I start seeing light bulbs come on. Let me know if i should continue or disappear?
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  25. Mr.Bean

    Mr.Bean Grumbler


    So are you they same Joey that I get emails from selling Viagra?? Certainly sound like your are.
  26. RoboFramer

    RoboFramer PFG, Picture Framing God

    Sounds like some people need it!

  27. etlock

    etlock CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    " Be not the first by which the new is tried, nor the last to lay the old aside."
    Tom Pavlock
  28. troyveluz

    troyveluz MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I think you should continue.
    We all have our own prejudices on how to run our business.
    Another point of view will not hurt.
    You will probably see posts that will question your motives (as you have seen) and some that will praise you and encourage you to go on. You will also see posts that will disagree or agree with your ideas, but if you really want to help the people who will listen to what you have to say, then cointinue. I for one will listen to your ideas and investigate its viability for my business. I will implement it if it makes sense to me or throw it out if it doesen't.
    With the current state of the economy, I am open to all ideas on how to "stimulate" my business. In the end, I make the final decisions and I am the only one to blame if my business succeeds or fails.
    Just my 2Cents,
  29. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Joey, sorry your shopping experience at my store was not more enjoyable as I will surely miss your business.

    I do need to thank you for the time savings tip though. I was going to build more ready made frames to replace the ones that have sold but since I'll be out of business doing that I can just skip that step.

    Seriously though, the only person I know that could use more words to say absolutely nothing is me ex-wife. She too was a huge fan of the inspirational sales gurus. She owns somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 grand in the stuff.
  30. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    So far, we have:

    1) Networking, and
    2) Frame up something for a local school or business, and give it to them gratis, in the hopes that they will send you more business

    Nothing exactly earth-shattering yet, but the day is young.
  31. HangingAroundHoover

    HangingAroundHoover MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I am in a state under proration. Which means if a school spent thousands on framing someone is going to jail. I'll be lucky if I get the $150.00 school P.O. I've been waiting on. But I understand there is no magic bullet. As I said before I thank you for the advice you are willing to give. Give the guy a chance. And if you get tired of reading, sit back, rest your eyes, get a drink, google the big words, and start back where you left off. And I'll give you all some sage advice, bestowed on me by my dear mother. "PLAY NICE!!!!!! OR ELSE" Keep in mind the powers that be will start smoting if this gets out of hand.
  32. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm on the edge of my seat with anticipation.

    Oracle, please continue. :D
  33. CAframer

    CAframer SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Someone wise once said 'under promise and over deliver' ...

    With all the build up and drama it's sure going to be a miracle if Joey's pearls of wisdom exceed expectations!

    But please carry on, cast some pearls before us swine! I'm sure lookin' forward to finding something new in my trough.
  34. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    Sorry for delay in getting back. Family emergency here. Quickly, Jeff, please re-read my earlier post. No where did I say that selling ready mades are a bad thing. I think I said just the opposite. Maybe I need to be clearer. $50k? Good grief. I would have rather bought a car.

    Anyways, since everyone here seems to be in good humor, let me give you something that you can try right now and it won't cost you a dime other than a few minutes.

    I've read quite a few of the responders profiles and I've been to most of the websites listed in your profiles. The problem as I see it is that many (not all) of these sites are more like instititutional-type advertisements that basically tell visitors to look at all the good things we have and do.

    You guys are missing a big opportunity though and it has to do with problem statements. What is a problem statement? Let me sum it up this way. People go to the Internet because they are looking for a solution to a problem. If they have a headache and want a Tylenol, they run down to Walmart and buyt the Tylenol. They don't buy Tylenol on the Internet, but they do go to the Internet to find out if Tylenol is the best choice. A parallel can be drawn with picture frames.

    People typically won't buy a frame on the Internet unless it is incredibly inexpensive. Instead, they will go someplace they trust. But they will go to the Internet to find out about their choices. A great (and free tool I might add) is the Wordtracker Keyword Questions Tool. I'm not an affiliate and I'm not trying to sell you anything. Do a google on wordtracker. Go to their site, click on Academy and then click on Keyword Question finder.

    This is a fancy way of saying "problem statement". This little tool will tell you what your customers are searching for solutions for. But just knowing this is only half the battle. It's what you do with this information that makes a difference. Let me explain.

    You "could" take one of those questions and simply answer it here on this forum or on your website. Your answer will be indexed as a solution on the search engines and if you answer appropriately, you will most likely get a higher page rank which we all know is important.

    You could also write an ad for your local paper, that answers that question or if walk in traffic is sufficient, provide that answer in your handouts etc. My point is that you want to provide the answers to what your customers are looking for. For example, did you know that this morning there were over 490 inquiries for sources of barnwood picture frames. That's a lot of people looking for those kind of frames. Or did you know there were 60 inquiries for people looking for appropriate frames for baby's ultrasound photo. (I guess that's a new trend coming down the pipeline).

    Sorry I have to hit and run again, but others are demanding my attention. Also, never suggested that I was a guru. Go back and read my posts and you will see that all I did was ask a question and make a suggestion. To those of you that are interested, thanks. I'm all ears too and hope to swap ideas as this thing progresses.

    Oh, Hoover, I can't imagine being in a proration state right now, but my family is from Alabama and some of the largest cabinet shops are shutting down. My uncle has ran one in Goodwater, Al for the past 35 years and they shut down last week. Terrible situation. Our high school coach is a golden haired boy right now. For the past 3 years he has taken the team to state 3x and was recently rewarded with a state of art new facility for the team. The new field house is like something at a University and cost like $3 million which is probably more than what the whole high school campus is worth.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  35. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Mr Lowe,

    I think you will find the Grumble a tough audience.

    The placed is filled with smart, seasoned, cynical, stubborn and battle scarred business people and everyone is on alert for bad advice and BS.

    If you can stand the heat, stay in the kitchen because we can all learn a few new recipes for business. :beer:


    PS: The girls are a nicer than the guys.
  36. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Jeffrey Lant and some NLP too. Are we working on Outcomes now.

    Did my ex sell her collection on e-bay. Did you get the Carlton Sheets also.
  37. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have only skimmed this thread, but I do agree that finding out what your potential customers are searching for is important. We search out those stats by reviewing query strings on both our web site and blog, and we do attempt to give people answers to what they are most commonly looking for. In fact, we launched a new page yesterday with that in mind. I'll take a look at the word tracker site.

    Tidbits are always welcome in my book.
  38. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Agreed (hehe).
    Look- if you dont want to read Joey's posts, then dont read them. I personally found a few comments that reminded me of things that I did to drum up business (post 9/11), that worked for me then, and hopefully will work for me now. The high school sale also struck a cord, because something similar happened to me just last week. I delivered 2 framed jerseys to a high school and got additional business. Nowhere near what Joey's wife got, but I got it. I would think that the website tips would be of interest to someone on here?
  39. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    I typed in barnwood frames and got nothing. In fact for most keywords except frames and framing, I got nothing. How did you find 490 inquiries for barnwood frames?

    Attached Files:

  40. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    Hi again Kristie,

    I ran a quick report for you using the premium version and I used a basic long tail keyword "picture frame". I also took the liberty of clustering the first couple of hundred words as a basis of beginning the problem statement process.

    Speaking of that, and at the risk of bringing down the wrath of some for being a little long winded, let me explain the process for you. Please excuse me if you already understand this process.

    Several years ago, a bunch of people figured out that search engines do nothing more than gather words from web sites and then compare those words to search engine inquiries so as to return relevant websites for each inquiry. As is the case with most new toys everyone got on the bandwagon and really took keywords off on a tangent. Some will argue that Google played a significant role in that because of their intention of implementing a pay-for-your-keyword program called Adwords. Whole industries and specializations were formed around this, but the original premise lay dormant because people in general didn't really know what to do with this knowledge.

    The process is straightforward and no two people will ever get the same result. You start with a seed keyword. In this case I used "picture frame". The results exceeded 1000 words and I cut the list off at 1000 for expediency sake. What that means is that in the last 24 hours the phrase "picture frame" was entered into a search engine more than a thousand times (Actually it was over 15,000 times). You can take a look at the attached spreadsheet to see the variety of ways that people enter that phrase. You will also see two columns at the far right. One says search and the other says Predict. Using algorythems, the program bases the prediction of how many times that phrase will appear in the search engine over the next 24 hours. But if you stop there, you will be like most every other person on the planet.

    What you want to do is add two more columns. One called "cluster" and the other "action word". Why? You are looking to classify or cluster similar or like terms together. This is clustering is what causes the differences between people's lists. No two people will cluster all of the words in the same manner. Some will use a single high level cluster and others will use subclusters to really drill down to the root problems people are searching for solutions for.

    Action words are also important because they will tell you in what context their problem lies. Not all statements will have an action word, but many will. If the action word (verb) is missing start with substituting "how" and follow with the others like what, where, when, and why.

    As your spreadsheet develops, you will start to see trends in what people are searching for. You will also learn in what context they are phrasing their searches. This becomes very powerful when you apply it to your sales strategy.

    For example, if you sell on the Internet, Craigs List, EBay or in a brick and morter store, and you begin phrasing your ads in the same context that your market is searching, it stands to reason that you will get more sales. The premise is that this tool, uses sampling technology which is representative of about 5% of your total market. Extrapolation allows you to readily identify your market and marketshare determinations. That's a fancy way of saying, cluster your problem statements, add up the predict column and you will see a total that is representative of about 5% of the total market for that problem statement. But how do you use this?

    For starters, if you have an online presence, you could take a problem statement and write your solution to that problem here in this forum or on your own website. Other methods are a little more complicated, but are used effectively too like the use of a sales page.

    To keep this post short, I'll stop here and wait to see if you are interested and if you are, I'll show you how to apply this to online and offline sales in a method that will work.

    Let me know if this helps and let me know if you have questions.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2009
  41. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    You sure know a lot about this. I'd love to see your frame shop's website. We have so many professional consultants that are only loosely connected (at best) to this industry. I'm excited that an actual frameshop owner is leading the way. I googled “Lowe Framing” “Picture This Framing Texas” “Picture This, Inc Texas Lowe” and “Custom Picture Framing Picture This Texas”. When I think about how we both agree a web presents is, I was a bit surprised that your site is this hard to find. I consider myself rather Internet savvy and couldn't think of any thing else to search for. I'd love to see how a “pro” does it.
  42. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I didn't have much luck either. You would think such a web savvy guy would have a easy to find website?

    I found his profile on Lindedin. Doesn't mention anything about owning a frame shop.


    Also, I googled picture framers in Longview, TX, and didn't find anything either.


    Joey, I think it's time to let the cat out of the bag.
  43. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    Hi Bill,

    No cat to be let out of any bag. As I said in just about every post, I live in a rural county with a small market. Also said the name of the business is Picture This and it belongs to my wife, Anita who also sits on several community boards in our little town of Gilmer, Texas. Also said that this strategy works on and off line. Even went so far as to provide you in one of my posts direct links to my two websites, and I even believe I provided my link to LinkedIn.

    But so there is no misunderstanding. We don't have a website for our frame shop. We don't need one. We do use the Internet and we use it everyday. Come to think of it, I think I also said that people don't normally buy custom frames on the Internet. Instead, like Tylenol, they go to the place they trust. The reason so many people fail so miserably with their Internet businesses is because the Internet really wasn't designed for selling. It was designed as information resource.

    But if it will appease you, I will snap a photo of Picture This tomorrow morning and post it here. If you want to see pictures of the cabinets we've produced or the timber frame homes I've built I can post those photos too. But alas, probably won't do any good here anyway. Haven't read up on you yet, but I will tomorrow. Did do some reading on Jeff though. Very interesting stuff. Have a good evening.
  44. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm more confused than ever. All in all this is the most entertaining thread of the year so far.
  45. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Joey, it's my turn to offer you some advice. Get yourself a website. Not for selling online, but for potential customers to get comfortable with your professionalism and expertise when they are deciding where to go for framing. My web presence brought me more than $50,000 in business last year.

    If you think that the internet is only for online selling, you don't know the first thing about the internet, or marketing, in the 21st century.
  46. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    During the sport's season, I do sell directly from my website. It's not framing but soon. I wonder how many would-be print companies said “customers will never buy art online.” How many fabric companies?

    I think if you aren't planning a way to perfect selling frames online you will be going out of business in then next decade. I'm finishing up a gratis website for the photo club. Then I'm polishing off a website dedicated to framing for the rest of this week. I don't believe for one millisecond that customers aren't buying frames online because they are uncomfortable with it. I firmly believe that framers are uncomfortable with it and hesitant to move forward because of their unfounded fears. When you consider the range of items sold on Ebay every second it's sheer madness to suggest that this industry is somehow exempt from online consumers.

    It's very interesting that an Internet scientist can't envision how his business can benefit from the Internet. What's next no POS or CMC because of their obvious flaws?
  47. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    I give up! No matter what I say or how I say it, I'm immediately attacked. And it appears that no one reads what I'm writing. Instead, it's taken out of context and twisted to make yourselves appear to be more knowledgeable; almost as if you are on a witchhunt. And that's what I don't understand. I never misrepresented myself. I don't hide behind an Avatar because I'm afraid someone might "find me out". And I've responded to every comment.

    Jay, go back and read what I wrote. We use the Internet everyday and we do make sales. We just don't need a Website. It's a waste of time for us. As an example, there was one naysayer here right off the bat who attacked me. He advertises his website on everything he does here, yet a quick analytic check showed that his page rank is almost 11 million. Let's see that puts him around page 550,000 on Google. I bet he gets a lot of business that way. Oh and he's also had 2 unique visitors in the last three months. No wonder he's a grump on here.

    Paul, again, re-read what I wrote. We do use the Internet everyday but we don't need a website for the purpose of establishing professionalism. We use other more effective tools on the Internet for that and we use it well. And my customers have no problem with our reputation. You say you made $50k last year in on-line sales. I'm assuming that's gross, and if your profit margin is like most (10-15%), that means you made a whole lot less. What's your average sale? $200-$250?

    Jay, just saw your last post too. Kind of funny, but that's why I came here to begin with. I make one post about how and why someone was treated so badly 8 years ago, and I guess I got my answer. No where did I claim to be a Guru or Expert which in my opinion means nothing more than someone who has made more mistakes than the next guy and a Pro is someone who was paid for making those mistakes. As for selling anything on the Internet short of an auction site, your margins are not the same as they are in a brick and morter.

    Anyway, I attempted to start some interesting dialog and all I got was grief and I give up. So everyone can let their guard back down and go on with their lives trying to scrape out a living trying to sell a custom frame for more than what you can get the same thing from a national retailer. Some of you will be better off going back to selling real estate too. I hear it's a banner year for that industry too.
  48. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm a little confused.

    If your wife 'nets $5 thousand a month' without a website, surely with your knowledge of 'keyword tracking' she could possible net six, seven, or even ten thousand a month.

    Hey, I've got an idea. Why not sell barn wood frames?

    Maybe were you are they will sell great. Can't give them away here now. They sold good in the past. I haven't had a single soul ask about them in years.

    I really like hearing differant angles on marketing and I will have an eye out for your post.

    Hang in here.
  49. joeylowe

    joeylowe Grumbler

    Hi Jerry,

    I hate to poke sticks but I see your website is doing a wonderful job for you too. If you have the time, take a gander at www.alexa.com and enter your website address. It will give you some interesting statistics about how well your site is performing. I think you are ranked around 20,000,000 and it shows that fell 40% in the past 3 months. I know NC is going through some tough times right now. My mother lives there and I was raised in Rock Hill, SC.

    Barnwood does okay here but not as well as the gold leaf with museum glass.

    As for websites, sometimes you have to introduce a different way of doing things slowly. For too many years, people were told to go out and build an elaborate website complete with bios and galleries and the masses will come. Sad thing is that just isn't so. All it does is transfer your wealth into the pockets of your ISP and web designer.
  50. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    Here's my take, not an attack against you.

    You come here and right off the bat start to offer advice on how to make more sales/money (paraphrasing here). There are many here that could probably use the advice and there are some here that proabably do what you are going to some day tell us to to. The probalem is that you may be too polished, as in it always seems like I am waiting for that last paragraph of your post to start to push a new book written by you. (I know, I know, you don't have one to push)

    Framers are pretty clicky, as in until they know you, you may not feel very welcome. Nobody, no matter what industry, likes an unknown coming in and telling them what to do when they are not proven in that industry.

    I consider myself successful in this industry, not everyone will but I am not very open about my business and I have not tried to become an "expert" amoung my peers. If I was to post on a forum in the shoe retail industry and start to offer them advice about how to increase their business, most would treat me like you have been treated here. That's not to say that I have valuable advice, it's just because I am entering an industry where nobody knows me and I have not proven myself.

    Keep your posts a little more condensed, don't leave me hanging on the edge of my chair waiting for the next episode of "24" and tell us a little more about why you can help our industry, prove yourself. If I came to you and told you that my dad builds log homes and I can help you, you may be leery of me as well.
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