From: Paul Cascio Email:email@example.com For the past month, I’ve talked about the need for change in our industry. I’ve posted numerous messages expressing my personal opinion that our industry has failed to mount an effective response to what I’ve referred to as our “Always –On-Sale” competitors. And, I’ve suggested some possible ways to improve our ability to compete. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to provide you with a fuller description of my plan. Now I can. There were good reasons for my secrecy, that you may already, or will soon, understand. As a result of that secrecy however, I’ve had to endure the slings and arrows of numerous personal attacks, some direct and some of the passive-aggressive variety. I chose to mostly ignore these and consider the limited viewpoint of the posters. By the time you read this however, chances are you will have already learned something of the project I’ve been working on and my plan for an effective advertising program for independent picture framers. However, I promised you that I would have a major announcement today and I am here to deliver on that promise. Yesterday, in Sarasota, Florida, I unveiled a cooperative marketing and advertising campaign that I hope you will embrace with the same enthusiasm and support that it was met with yesterday in a room of more than 70 people, most of whom were independent picture framers. For more than a decade, our industry has faced an onslaught of coupon, and coupon-like, advertising from large competitors - and in some case small ones - claiming to provide enormous savings to consumers. Unfortunately, the consumer is unaware that the value they are seeking is already available in many cases from an independent picture framing business in their neighborhood – yours. But as we all know, ignorance is bliss and everyone wants a bargain, even if it’s only an illusion of one. This needs to change. For the sake of our future, independent framers need to recognize the critical importance of joining together, as other industries have done, to become a force in the marketplace. It’s time for us to enlighten the consuming public, make them aware of who we are and what we offer, and build a positive identity for ourselves and our services. At the same time, we also need to encourage the consumer to ask tough questions about our competitors’ offers and enable them to reach the same informed conclusions we have reached. Unfortunately, none of us has the resources to do this alone. Individually, we cannot speak loud enough, or often enough to change the public’s perception of us as, “The Twice as Expensive Framers.” Nor can we create the awareness that the “Great Sale” is really not such a great sale, or possibly not even just a good value. To do this, we need the clout of leveraged advertising, more commonly known as Co-op advertising. Part 2 to follow.