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Michael's latest ad

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by Bob Carter, Oct 7, 2007.

  1. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I don't see the message itself as brilliant or powerful.

    It the size and the buying power of the messenger that's powerful.

    Their impact on the independent is huge because they have the advertising budget to get their message in front of millions of consumers.

    50% off or 2 for1 is irrelevant.

  2. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Doug-Not being argumentative, but next time you are in a friendly environment like a party ask someone that you don't know where they might suggest you get something framed

    Then after they probably say Michael's, ask them why

    Then tell me again why their message isn't powerful

    It is far too easy to not acknowledge that a competitor just might be doing it correctly

    In my market here, you just would not believe the number of people that for over twenty years have said how wrong we were
  3. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Its so effective that even my grandmother says "I just don't see how you keep going what with Super Crafty Mart having their sales all the time...."

    Its extreamly effective. I haven't found it in me to go head to head with em at their own game but it's not beneith me if I had to.
  4. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    My son in Cali told me pretty much the same thing Jay. He goes to the BB's for framing and he makes BIG bucks producing TV commercials and music videos. Boy did I let him have it....you'd think he would know better!

    Love your grams "Super Crafty Mart" designation! Crafty they are.
  5. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    My brother is growing his photography passion, and called me one day from Chicago, on his cell phone, from M's. "Do you know how much they want for a 24x36 MAT?? How much would you charge me and send it?" I told him I wouldn't do it, and to get his rear end out of M's and take it to a "real" frame shop (turns out there's one two doors down from the bank where he works) and support a locally owned and independantly operated business person. So he did, found that he wasn't paying any more, and gets great service and good quality framing, and has started selling his photos like crazy, "especially the framed ones....thanks, Sis!" He's a big banker guy, makes great money. I asked what he was thinking, going to M's and he said "I thought it would be cheaper, with their sales and all that."

    My own brother!! Well, now he knows better, but all those other folks out there that don't have framer sisters and fathers and grandsons to set 'em straight.......Sheesh!!
  6. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God


    After a steady barrage of 50% off advertising was the 2 for 1 offer really a slap-your-forehead moment?

    I didn't say that BB advertising wasn't effective, it is because of their size, and I sure don't dismiss their presence in the marketplace.

    I just don't see the brilliance of the new 2 for 1 ad campaign. I don't believe that any independent framer is better or worst off because of this weeks ad.

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say: >>you would not believe the number of people that for over twenty years have said how wrong we were.<<

  7. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Well, what do you expect from a banker??

    I know, my uncle was one....and even after he retired he was still a cheap bastid....:p
  8. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Doug-I read and re-read the ad and it was First job at full price; 2nd free. My wife, who does read the ad inserts saw it first and felt compelled to point it out.

    And, today, long term client brought in 12 diplomas from husband's office with same ad and told me she would give me first crack. Since all were using identical moulding and mats, price movement was no problem

    The point? there is no more powerful word in advertising than free and that was brought in after a steady barrage of 50% off. I am fairly certain that it is exactly that "message" sending that continues to keep them in a "top of mind" position while we continue to slide further down the totem pole of perception (nice phrase, eh?)

    You asked about clarifying my statement in my own market?

    I think way too many framers wish to attempt to denigrate others to what they feel puts that person below them instead of attempting to raise one's own above that other. Why else is there a constant carping about Michael's and Kinkade and framers that tend to do more than we? I think you know what I mean
  9. joe

    joe CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I've read all the posts for this and have been trying to determine what we as indies have in common. The one common thing I came up with, (and there may be more), is that we all have a base of repeat customers. How often do they repeat? Your records will show you.. the thing is I don't believe M has that customer base. I believe they have to advertise the 50% off and buy one get one free to constantly replenish their clients. Their business is built on price first (as in advertising) and maybe quality next, friendlieness, etc.

    I'm sure some people return to M's but not without the coupon. I think all of us who want to, should run the same advertisement M is running. This would be a marketing test.
    We know we have an established base who buy from us at regular price, why not throw a wide net to see who else would take advantage of a similar ad. I wouldn't worry about bottom feeders. Run the ad for a weekend, or a week ..you decide. These "one hit wonders" could become part of our repeat customer base.

    I think people would respond to our ad's in a manner similar to M's. It would be interesting to track the results to see how many of our repeat base takes advantage of such an ad as opposed to new customers.

    Has anyone already tried this?
  10. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Joe, how many of us independents could afford to do a "Buy One Get One FREE". If we sold at our every day in and out price. We know that for all intents and purposes the the "Always On Sale Framers" have it built into their price. They hardly ever sell at the regular price, their sale price is their real regular price.
  11. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    We couldn't, unless we jacked up our "everyday price" by two times. Which I'm not gonna do. "We never inflate our prices". Says so in that blow-up frame that's sitting on my designer counter right now (Thanks again, Jim Miller, for the idea....it's a hit!)

    What's happening at M's is customer is actually getting two custom framing jobs at "our" regular prices.....believing they're getting a "deal", when, if they came to us on any day of the week, they'd be getting the same "deal", but it wouldn't be a "deal". At M's, they're getting an illusion of a deal!

    That's the problem....we need to get the word out that we are NOT the TWICE AS MUCH framers. I hear that all the time, from people who discover my shop after going there, get a quote and ask me "Is this a sale price? "No, it's my regular price"...."Wow, that's less than their sale price was!" And they stay, and come back and tell their friends.

    Paul Cascio had a good idea with his Real Custom Framer co-op advertising campaign, and I'd love to participate in that, but no-one in my area qualifies (BB or franchise) or is interested in joining in. So....

    ....I'm getting ready to put an ad out that will say something to that effect....We are NOT TWICE AS MUCH AS THE BIG GUYS....just haven't figured out the wordage yet....Hmmm...."We never inflate our prices"....hmmmm
  12. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I hink it way too simplistic to continue the notion that there is some type of salvation in "the honorable way" of going out of business.

    Who says what a regular price should be?

    Take Jay's class on pricing and he'll tell you that the reg price should be 3x chop plus $3

    Is that a fair reg price?

    Take an everyday item from Larson like 457904

    Chop price is $5.49. Using Jays class and the established, accepted, knee jerk, we all agree as Stepford Wive's would be $16.47 (okay, in my shop that would be $17.00 and in JPauls $16.99)

    did we just mark it up or inflate it?

    But suppose you buy no better than a "Partner"; wouldn't that price be about $2.54 less whatever early pay discount you have

    So, if you ran that item at 50% off, what would your margin be for the frame? Would you probably sell more? And how about more glass and more mats and more everything at full margins

    And suppose, you sell more and can buy even better?

    So, does Jay espouse an "inflated" pricing model or do too many of u just simply buy horribly and therefore cannot compete

    Of course, look at our good friend Warren that simply buys great and marks up "fairly" with out a discount schedule. I guess he never took Jay's class, huh?

    But, I guess M's did
  13. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Bob, please clarify, as I think I am missing something here.

    Are you saying for instance, that even if we took a markup of 3x for the frame and sold at 50% off we could compete, based on the fact that other items in the frame package would be at full margins?

    Although "Always on Sale Framers" offer that promotion once in a while, there regular sale is usually like 50% off of everything in the package. So if we were going to join them in always offering some such sale, even buying right with our limited buying power as a 1 location shop, wouldn't we have to increase our regular price so we could put it on sale and maintain a margin that would allow us to remain in business?

    Do not take this in the wrong way, I am not be adversarial,I am listening to learn.
  14. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    OK Bob

    What is the magic answer?

    Most every time I have price compared with the Boxes I am under their price after their discounts. Well, all except Hobby Lobby that sells really cheap stuff really cheap.

    What we need in our industry is what most all retailers have. MSRP

    Then the consumer will know if they are paying full bore or getting a discount.
  15. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I doubt Michaels or any of the other BBs are wasting money on advertising, BUT how many people - on the Grumble or on the street - don't equate BBs (of any type) with low prices? Val's example of her brother is typical - how COULD a little independent be as cheap as a BB (in the consumers' mind)? I believe that the advertising is mostly reinforcement of what is already perceived.

    Unless a consumer is educated in the particulars of the item they are purchasing why are they even going to think it may be cheaper AND better at the independent? Since custom framing has such a low purchase rate and relative cost, most people are not going to spend the time researching the best place to buy it they way they would a 60" TV. Even when they want to research it it's pretty hard to compare anything since there are so many ways of coming up a design package; if there were MSRPs and 49 different profiles all look the same, what would it matter what the MSRP was?

    Sorry, I don't have any answers, just more questions.
  16. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Unless framers take the time to file a complaint with the respective Attorneys General of each state, nothing is going to change. There is no one thing that we can do that will have the impact of a cease and desist order from your local AG's office.
  17. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    The Michaels near my store is doing the 50% off, regardless of whether you bring more than one piece to them. I know this because my employee just came from there.
  18. Doug Gemmell

    Doug Gemmell SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    OK, time for a little optimism here.

    The BB's came into my area five to seven years ago with their big weekly ads advertising huge savings. During the next few years I, along with many others, have had customers realize that our prices are less, about the same, or not much more than the BB. These people have obviously tried them and returned to us. As time goes by, there will be a "leveling off" in that more and more people will understand this and the BB's will start losing market share (back to) the independents. All things evolve and I think the natural selection in this case will benefit us. The BB's have done pretty much all the damage to us they can and the tide is turning.

    It's the old "You can fool some of the people some of the time......." thing.

    I am certainly not counseling complacence. We should, of course, do all we can to get the customer to consider us.
  19. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree with Doug. We first had Michael's move in and then a few years later, Hobby Lobby. When they were brand new we saw a drop in both framing and art supply sales for the first 60-90 days ...after that it either leveled off to previous levels or, in the case of framing, sales increased.
  20. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hi JPaul-What I am saying, that if you use published prices from Larson and you use Jay's pricing formula (which many do) AND you buy with any level of effectiveness (I used "Partner" type pricing than you do not take a beating on the margins for the frame at 50% off

    AND THEN, if you add to that equation the typically richer margin items like glass, matboard etc you can still have acceptable margins and probably sell more product

    We get so hung up on them being higher priced than us

    Where is the valor or the honor in looking "overpriced" to the consumer?

    I have gotten to know many photo-retailers since my affiliation with PMA. No one has taken a bigger hit from "Big Guys" and the internet. Those remaining successful shops have learned to adapt to compete

    I can say without much exception that they all have some type of "matching" price concept on stuff like 39 cent 4x6 prints (or whatever the magic price is) and much better pricing on stuff where they can be higher

    Maybe "50%" is like 39cent prints for our trade

    But, I'll bet that not many years ago there were bunch of photo-retailers that refused to get "down and dirty" on prints; that wouldn't do 24HR turnaround, that were convinced their clientele would fall for that stuff

    How many do you think are still operating today?
  21. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    If I read you right Bob, you are saying that we should follow suit with the 50% off thing.

    I have had the thought. There is a Great FrameUp near me that is doing it.
  22. Maryann

    Maryann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's not only price

    One factor that everyone ignores is convenience. Michaels is open about 80 hours a week around here. Chances are when you decide to frame that print that's been in the closet for a year, you can jump in the car, go to M's and they'll be open.

    I insist on having a life...I cannot and will not be open that much. That's an area in which I can't compete with them.
  23. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    When my employee priced Michaels today, they were not twice as expensive as me at full retail. In fact, their full retail was comparable to my full retail...then they gave her 50% off. One piece only. And they didn't offer her masterpiece glass either.

    So I really wonder if this is urban legend that Michaels' full retail is twice what everyone else's is.
  24. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I've found their "full retail" to be about 60% higher than my comparison. So, yes, for what they do they are less than me for a comparable job when they're 50% off.

    What they don't do is where they can't even compete.
  25. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    I just got off the phone with a woman calling from a nearby town, Reno. A ton of frameshops up there. She was calling around getting quotes on gallery-wrapping some canvases and some other framing. I did the best I could on the phone, gave her "approximate" costs, pending actually seeing the pieces. She has made an appointment for Saturday to bring it all in...a total of 12 pieces. Curious, I asked her why she was coming all the way down to Carson City (she doesn't drive and has wait for her husband to bring her), when surely there was someone in Reno that could come close to my prices.

    She said after several calls to the local "other places", she found my ad, and my prices were "in the ballpark", but that the other people acted annoyed and like she was bothering them, and I was the only one that was nice enough to spend a few minutes to help her. She felt like her art would be safe here.

    It doesn't take much, and you never know who you're talking to, but why not give a little extra without giving up the farm?

    That's where WE can make a difference!
  26. Tim Hayes.

    Tim Hayes. SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Not that it matters or has any bearing on anything...............

    A young guy stopped by yesterday with a small poster wanted dry mount, reg glass, and simple dark wood frame. Told me M's told him it would be $200 my price no discount $130 + tax, and anybody that knows me understands I don't give things away. Of course I don't know what frame he chose at M's and I don't really care. He now knows to come here for framing.

    Nothing I did special just opened in the morning as usual.
  27. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    What kind of markups do you use?

    My experience seems to be closer to Tim's above. ^

    I'm cheaper and I get the bottoms feeders that are looking for the bottom.

    I also get a healthy share of the middle ground too.
  28. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    In another thread I stated that I thought there was a future for professional custom picture framers and small shops. However it would be necessary to continually develop the skill sets needed to survive and thrive.

    Val points out one of the most important skills which can make the difference
    and also offers a competitive edge to independent framers. IF, and that is a big IF, people develop their people skills along with other skills to nurture their customers they will garner business.

    This is still a people business.
  29. TessaE

    TessaE CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    That would be a great class at a convention, People skills class. :).
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2007
  30. ahohen1

    ahohen1 In Corner

    To my customers Michael's is just a big joke. They can't believe how many dumb people there are in this world...

    (I always joke with them with this phrase: "If you want "50% off" like Michael's let be double my price first...") lol.
  31. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    Tessa, I believe there is, but at the moment I can't remember what it is. I'm sure someone will pop up and tell us.

    You can be the best and cheapest frame shop in town, but if you're a jerk (and apparently there are a lot of jerks around here!) it ain't gonna last. I don't know if I'm the best or not (I do know I'm not the worst! Ha!) and I'm probably not the cheapest, but I'm NOT a jerk. I simply love people and framing, and my business is growing, without a single 50% off sale (or ANY sale!) since I've started, nearly 2 years ago.

    That's how I compete with the BB's around here. Customer service, customer service, customer service.
  32. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    ...and VAL could teach it!!!



  33. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Jerry, it was a poster, 14x23

    3-inch Crescent 7195
    1/4-inch Bainbridge 8111
    Conservation glass
    and what looked like LJ's Ansley moulding, 533516

    Came to about $265 before the 50% discount.
  34. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God


    My price on that would be $168
  35. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well, you are probably in a less-expensive part of the country, in terms of rent and other overhead...and I don't think that Michaels' pricing is uniform throughout the country. I'm sure they regionalize it.
  36. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    I bet they do regionalize their pricing and you are absolutely right about the cost of doing business in different areas.
  37. TessaE

    TessaE CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Where can I sign up? ;)
  38. belushis.ca

    belushis.ca Grumbler in Training

    beat michaels sale

    Why not give the customers a lower price then m's regular price and then give them an incentive on a future framing job like a discount or coupon, or offer half price on framing with the purchase of a print.
  39. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    I don't feel that the coupons bring customers to the BBs. I feel that the perception of value does. Since we know that the BB stores prices are generally a bit high, they need the coupons to close the sale.

    I don't think that even if we played their game and offered exactly the same deal, we would make a dent. It is all about perceived value. They will always have the upper hand in this area.
  40. Baer Charlton

    Baer Charlton SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Spoken like a true man.... whose wife doesn't clip coupons.

    My wife will be going to Safeway today with a fist full of coupons.

    Sunday morning I will be going to Fred Meyer's/Kroger's . . . with a fist full of coupons.

    In Southern Cal, we used to do all our shopping at Ralph's because they would honor ANYBODY'S coupon on food. They also kept a running tally on how much we had spent that year, as well as how much we had saved. It printed at the bottom of every receipt. Safeway was closer..... and Albertson's was two doors down from the frame shop.

    Relationship and service.... as well as coupons.... unbeatable combo.
  41. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Baer-In a perfect "framer's world" where service is king and price isn't, why do virtually all other sellers of mechandise seem to use these promotional tools so greatly

    Of the stacks o' coupons your family has clipped, and we will assume that 50% of the draw is the coupon and 50% is the relationship and service (the unbeatable combination), how much can the service drop still make the coupon king

    My opinion is that if the offer is sound, as long as the service is "acceptable", then the coupon wins. I'll even say 80/20 in favor of the coupon?

    Conversely, how great does te service actually have to be to trump the coupon

    I think we oversestimate the value of service vis a vis a great offer

    I'll suggest that Wal-Mart can be a great example of that

    Then, if they work on the "service" side, they can drive a marketplace. Southwest is a great example of that
  42. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I have mangaged M's framing for a # of years. Prices ARE inflated, they drill you to put the widest mats possible on orders, biggest frames, only perfect view/musuem glass, spend least amnt of time w/customers and no speciality jobs at all. Hence y I walked out one day. Started my own business. I'm just a bad liar!! I couldn't make customers put perfect view glass and suede mats on coloring book pages that their kids did. I think your business HAS to be personal and word of mouth is the best advertising. Who cares about buy one next one free- They would probably mess it up anyway! They hire employees that have absolutely no art or color background and stictly just for production! As far a x-mas rush goes-LATE every year bcause they didn't want to pay overtime to employees! Think I've been holding that back for a little while?:icon21:
  43. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Seeing these Michael's/BB threads repeatedly on this forum brings a Chicken Little..The Sky is Falling attitude to this forum. Discussion is a great thing, but this has been over discuss and as a result IMO brought an element of 'poor us' to the Grumble. I'm sure I will catch #### for my opinion on this and I really could care less. Instead of focusing SO much energy on what the BB's are doing, why not focus on biz at hand. What happened to the great discussions that use to occur here?

    Awareness of what is going on in our industry is very important, but focusing on this one issue over and over and over, till you can almost smell the rotting horse flesh is insane. Sorry, I refuse to play the coupon game.....tried it and regretted it. My energies and focus are better served taking care of my house, not Michael's.

    Thanks for letting me vent, I needed to get that off my chest. I'm out!
  44. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    Good point Steph, however, the flip side of chicken little is to just stick your head in the sand.

    That is not very productive either.

    I totally agree with you on the coupon game. I tried it and didn't like it either.
  45. Steph

    Steph SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Trust me Jerry I do anything but stick my head in the sand. I made a decision not to play that game anymore with sales and coupons...guess what, business went up, I sell more higher end mouldings and have little price resistance. That also concerned me though, so I reviewed my purchasing and my pricing and raised my prices. So far so good. You can't just look at one element, but must look at all of them. I keep tweaking as I go along.

    We all have to decide what 'kind' of frame shop we want to own. If my clients have a piece that they qualify as a job they don't want to invest as much into...well I have mouldings to offer them. It's not a poster special.....it's just a lower cost moulding (metal or basic black wood). Otherwise, its business as usual. It works for me..it may not work for someone else in a different region of the country.
  46. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm with Steph on this one!

    It's working for me, Steph, doing what you're doing, or not doing, in this case.

    As a former M's "production line worker" ("You are not a framer here", they said) I vowed not to participate in the coupon war either, haven't, and my business continues to grow. Diversity, choices, customer service. I rarely have a customer walk out without leaving their art to have framed......whether it be a mat, ready made to fit, or full-blown custom framing. I will not be a framing snob, but offer many choices for a customer's many needs.

    BlackIris, welcome to the Grumble, and welcome to the Former-Production-Line-Worker/Now-Real-Framer Club. Makes being your own boss even more special, doesn't it?
  47. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    I agree, Steph and Val. I did alot of couponing when I first opened, and got alot of price resistance. Since laying off that this summer, I seem to have a better class of customer, for lack of a more delicate way to put it. And now I have just done a 5000-piece coupon mailer, and it's brought in some bottom-feeders, people who won't even pay $150 for a custom framing job.
  48. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    BlackIris, welcome to the Grumble, and welcome to the Former-Production-Line-Worker/Now-Real-Framer Club. Makes being your own boss even more special, doesn't it?

    Thanks for the welcome Val! I can die happy knowing that I have been certified by Michaels custom framing! yay me!
    Being your own boss is great! Scary when people actually have creativity and can think outside the box!
    Still, word of mouth is the best for me so far!
  49. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    True, most of would not profit from competing with bbs in pricing wars, coupons and the like, but I think what bob is saying is that we can learn from the marketing research and expertise that the bbs have access to. If they run a special, it is for a reason, and because it works for them. We can learn from this and adapt our own marketing strategy to better serve our own needs. Gotta run downstairs to help a customer, more on this later.
  50. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I fully agree with the theory that if you advertise price promotions you'll attract price concious customers. If that is your target market ...go for it. Nothing wrong with that approach to business.

    I don't run any promotions and haven't found the need to do so. My customers don't expect it. What they do expect is to get great design, service and craftsmanship for a reasonable price.

    Whenever I have a new customer come in and pick up their work they are often back with more work in a very short period of time.

    It works for me.
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