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Still Discounting?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Jim Miller, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    No, because you brought in the coupon and played by the rules. You didn't haggle over the price of the steak at the table. THAT would demean the restaurant. It's a matter of how you do it, how often, and who you offer it to.

    My customers get the monthly coupon--much anticipated I might add--because they are regulars who sign up for the newsletter and bother to open it. They love specials and tell us over and over how much they enjoy the newsletter. The discount coupon is their private member's only bargain. If i offered it to every Tom, Dick and Harry who came in and asked, it would demean the value of the product. Isn't that why we have value lines and poster specials?
  2. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Actually, yes. I did, with my Mini Cooper. And if I had bought at San Francisco Mini, I would have paid a $2000 premium over MSRP, for the privilege of buying from them.
  3. TGFU

    TGFU CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Jim, I believe this is the same scenario for many of our customers....at least new or infrequent customers. They are "know-nothing buyers" and they are usually new to custom framing, and I desperately need those customers. They gravitate towards the discounts because they don't know there is a difference in framing quality and unless they've had a bad experience, they are probably indifferent to any differences in customer service. (And, there are still those that simply don't care about quality, "as long as it looks good".) Can you get by without discounting because you have a large enough returning customer database, therefore not having to rely on the new know-nothing buyers that are clearly gravitating to the places that discount? I have been in business for 6 years and am still trying to compete with the 50% off discounters, for new prospects. The guy around the corner that has been in business for 23 years is similar to you. He has a very large loyal customer base that are not going to come in my door unless they get poor customer service or quality. Most are not going to leave him for one of my discounts because they are comfortable going to him. He doesn't discount.
  4. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    I asked earlier about if it matters why we’re discounting in the first place. I guess it doesn’t.

    If you have stale walls and dusty boxes then who cares if it demeans the product or how big your signs are?

    If your wanting new customers, then isn’t getting the right type of customer as important, or more so, than what you paid or your discounts or many other factors?

    How does that play into discounting in November in hopes of easing your December load fit into this discussion?

    June and July has traditionally been slow for me. Saturdays are usually a complete bust. What if I discounted on Saturday’s only? Before you trash that idea one of our better art suppliers does that on Thursday. I don’t recall any threads about Image Conscious demeaning any products. Oh and there is no volume limit either.

    I have actually thought about having a sale because for 2 last quarters, I have been within a few dozen bills of graduating to the next discount level with my supplier. If I did that and it worked, do I care what type of customers bought or if it demeaned the product?

    Maybe you just want a good reason to contact your existing customers?

    I see way to many opinions here based on opinions that may or may not have anything to do with reality. If discount without a specific plan then how do you know if it worked?
  5. mayos

    mayos MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Framing is not the biggest part of our business, but what I have noticed is that most of our framing customers do not ask about price. Most of the time they pick out what they want and never ask anything about price of moulding, mat, glass, or anything else. They never ask, and I never offer the price.

    In our clothing business we've worked ourselves into a real mess, as has all the other clothing retailers. We've done sales so much that we can hardly sell anything without it being on sale. We've trained our customers to buy only when it's on sale. Just watch the TV commercials and see JC Penney's biggest sale of the year happening every weekend.

    I've read the posts in this topic and I'm thinking there's a real difference between running a sale of say 40% off all moulding and offering a $50 discount to a customer on a framing job. I think when you discount a category, such as moulding, you're diminishing the value of the category and training the customer to buy on sale. When you offer the consumer a $xx off a framing job, it seems that you're not discounting the framing job, but rather offering a "thank you" or a patronage discount directed toward the consumer. I think it's probably perceived by the consumer as a more a reward than a sale. And I think that has a better connotation than a sale.
  6. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I tried to delete my message and was not able

    This thread has become quite tiresome

    If you do or do not, I'm not sure why you care if someone else does (or doesn't)

    We have some real world class rationalization here
  7. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Wasn't it just a few messages ago that you were praising this discussion for its civility?

    As for whether a discount "demeans" a product, I think it depends on the product. I don't think discounting demeans the broad majority of the moulding I carry. There are some more upscale products that I won't discount, however -- french detail mats, handwrapped fabric mats, and finished corner frames. The idea behind both those products, in my mind, is that they are the best our industry has to offer. They shouldn't be discounted. The customer either appreciates the higher level of quality inherent in these products and is willing to pay for it, or the customer should be looking at something else.

    And Jay, there are many ways to track the effectiveness of a sale. With direct mail, or even a newspaper coupon, you require the customer to bring in the coupon to obtain the discount. Nothing shocking about that to the customer. When was the last time you got 40 cents off a tube of toothpaste at the supermarket without a coupon clutched in your hand? And when you send out those coupons, you can specify the demographics and location of your intended targets. If I want to bring in more customers from 94002, then I mail my coupons to 94002, not 94010. If I want to encourage people between the ages of 30 and 50 to shop for custom framing, for whatever reason, then my mailing list is preselected for that age range. Anyone above or below doesn't get the mailer. After the promotion, I look back and analyze how it went. Did it bring in more money than I spent? Did it bring in the kinds of customers I was seeking out? A well-designed direct mail program allows you to do that kind of targeting and analysis. It isn't a shot in the dark, like so many other forms of advertising.

    You want more people in your store on Saturday? Start giving away promotional items for customers that place an order on Saturday. Something like a travel mug with your shop name and logo on it. Or a free 5x7 photo frame, made from scrap. If it works, wonderful. If not, try something else. If nothing works, go home and be with your family.
  8. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    When comparative discounting still worked for my business, I collected coupons. That makes it easy to keep track of what works; just count the coupons redeemed. If discounting still works for you profitably, keep doing it.

    Trouble is, my customers stopped redeeming coupons in 2003. No kidding. After 14 years of great success with percentage-off or dollars-off coupons, they suddenly became worthless. That was about the time M and JA started their discounting war in my neighborhood, which explains why any discount less than 50% is ignored.

    The only comparative discount I offer consistently is the 20% off coupon published in the Entertainment Book. So far this year we have taken in about a dozen of them. All but two came from regular customers who would have bought here anyway.

    I'm not concerned about tracking special deals anymore, because there is no longer any consistency in the results. Knowing what worked last quarter would be no help in this quarter or the next.
  9. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    You're talking about how to know who responds to a particular sale. How do you know if it worked for YOU if YOU haven't identified why on earth you were discounting in the first place? I have only read one person, Steph, mention that she discounted to build customer loyalty. She even advertised it in a specific way because of what she wanted to accomplish. With those guidelines we can now look at if it worked and how many people responded might not be the measure.
  10. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    This thread has taken an interesting turn, becoming a referendum on the concept of discounting.

    I have never thought that discounting demeans a product. Having direct experience as both buyers and sellers, we know all about that attraction, don't we?

    My shop used to offer some sort of "sale" or discount almost all the time, but comparative discounting no longer works for my business. That's what inspired the start of this thread. I'm trying to learn about this odd circumstance and figure out what's happening in my market that is different from other markets.

    My theory is that buyers of framing have become conditioned to compare percentage-off or dollars-off discounts, and go where those advertised numbers appear to be most attractive. All other considerations seem to be secondary, such as quality and service. Even the most obvious question seems to be ignored: XX% off what retail price?

    Am I the only one experiencing this phenomenon?
  11. FramerDave

    FramerDave PFG, Picture Framing God

    If this has been answered before, please ignore me and carry on. If it hasn't, I have no idea why.

    How do you track marketing? When you're writing up the order ask the following quesion: How did you hear about us?

    Enter it in your POS.

    That's all.
  12. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    How meaningful do you think that is?
  13. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    While Dave's answer can track the response it really does not do what tracking needs to do.

    When doing any marketing you need to determine what the goal of the marketing is, do you want new customers, do you just want to get some cash flow, do you want to reward current customers, ect.

    You really need to track many different things depending on what you were trying to do with that particular marketing program.

    Here is what we track with coupons that come in, the number of coupons redeemed, amount spent, zip code, amount discounted, new customer of current customer.

    What can we do with that information? We know where customers are coming from and if we should continue to market to that zip code or if we should stop and change to a different zip code. We also know how much money came into us and how much we gave up, you can use that to determine of the promotion paid for itself. We also know if our current customers are using coupons and how many new customers came in because we offered a coupon. We also see how much a $25 off coupon generates vs a 25% off coupon or a $50 off coupon vs a 50% off moulding only and who uses each one.

    So I have all of this information, what do I do with it? I use it to plan future promotions, it helps me decide if I should do a $25 off coupon to 80,000 homes or a 50% off moulding to 500 current customers.

    Asking people how you heard about us serves it's purpose but it really does not give you enough data to create a marketing plan, you need more data.

    Ask me how to frame a dinosaur bone or any other odd ball item and I will tell you to talk to FramerDave though.
  14. surferbill

    surferbill SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Like my ole buddy Bill Clinton used to say "it depends on what the meaning of is, is." ;)

    When I ask new customers these days how they heard about us, more and more of them say they googled custom framing and my name came up. That means to me that customers are not using the yellow pages as much.

    QUOTE<Jim MIller)My theory is that buyers of framing have become conditioned to compare percentage-off or dollars-off discounts, and go where those advertised numbers appear to be most attractive. All other considerations seem to be secondary, such as quality and service. Even the most obvious question seems to be ignored: XX% off what retail price?
    Am I the only one experiencing this phenomenon?(QUOTE)

    I used to advertise a sale in the newspaper every week for years, with diminishing results. Finally, about 2-3 yrs ago I stopped doing it completely.

    Unlike car or tire advertisements, where the retail price is posted for everyone to see, I think the average customer doesn't know what the retail price of custom framing is. They really do not know if XX% off is a good deal or not.
    So, when they see a 50% off framing sale, to many customers, that looks like a good deal.

    We as custom framers know that they are getting taken for a ride, but does the average picture frame customer?
  15. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    Jay, just because I haven't told YOU why I am running a particular promotion doesn't mean I haven't got a reason for the promotion. I generally do it to increase foot traffic and to attract new customers; the bulk of my mailings are to people who are not already in my customer database. I usually add in my customers, because it rewards them and because existing customers are more likely to return.
  16. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Probably not, and that may be the core of our problem. Consumers seem to be profoundly ignorant about framing. I say that if consumers bought cars the way they buy framing, we'd all be driving Yugos.

    I believe consumers consider framing to be a price-driven commodity like clothing, appliances, and cars. In all of those product types, consumers select a brand and then go shopping for the best deal on a specific model, which is available from numerous sources. No matter where they buy that Chevy Impala, or that GE model XYZ refrigerator, or that Canon Rebel XTi camera, it's the same product.

    Consumers seem to think custom frames are the same like that, except that brand doesn't matter. That may be the genesis of the universal mindset, "Framing is expensive". Trouble is, framing is not a commodity and the universal mindset never was valid.

    Strangely, consumers do not apply similarly misinformed buying habits to other custom made things, such as window treatments, cabinetry, homes, or tailored clothing. Consumers buying those specially-designed, hand-assembled products seem to realize how and why they are more costly than their mass-produced counterparts.

    If a cabinet maker, tailor, or custom home builder offered a "50% off" sale for their custom-designed, hand-assembled products, most consumers would immediately become skeptical, realizing something would have to be sacrificed in order to build a home for half of the established market price, or a suit, or a kitchen full of cabinets.

    Nobody sells anything for half of what it is worth. When day-old bread is offered for half price, everyone knows why. When last season's clothing fashions are offered for half price, everyone knows why. But when custom framing is offered for half price, nobody knows why -- or cares.

    How did our industry get into such a sorry state of consumer perception? More important, what can you and I do about it?
  17. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Paul-I think it still is civil and polite, just silly

    The real problem is that we want "consumer perception" to match our view of the market and we are reaching new heights of rationalization

    Wouldn't it be wiser to try and adapt to what consumers think than attempting to convince them what they say they want with their dollars isn't what they want, after all

    The problem for framers is not whether they "promote" or not, but rather if they do it "effectively" or not

    Customer perceptions and demeaning products and my all time favorite "off what?" are just so many smoke screens

    Next time a sales rep says they have a special of "30% off ", are you going to ask them "off what" and assume no one can offer 30% off unless it's inflated? Or, will you think "Man, what a savvy buyer I am"?

    Anyone that answers that contrary to the obvious is, well, rationalizing.

    This thread would be much more instructive in framers sharing exactly how they used discounts to generate sales or how poromoting hurt them and how they could correct that mistake

    Instead, look what we get-polite, but
  18. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    I guess we need to define "discounts". After reading through this thread I get the impression those who don't discount have an image of tacky signs and big arrows leading to the store where they will continue to haggle and beat you down on price. My discount comes in the form of a tasteful postcard(even if I do say so myself). I used to have a tasteful banner but I am no longer aloud to have that according to the city. Generally the cards I send to my existing customers say "thanks for shopping with me". I've never once let anybody haggle with me over price. I've had them try but I always suggest we look for less expensive alternatives. Unless of course I have them in the poster frame special, not much I can do to help them there.

    I've tried the $25 gift certificate deal and free upgrades on glass to very little response. My customers seem to be happy with 20% off. But, to me sending a thank you in the form of $xxx off is just as much a discount as a percentage off. Regardless of how we present it we are still trying to get customers through our door. I guess it is all semantics.

    As to why I offer a discount it is to get bodies through the door who will spend money.
  19. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Bob, taking this in the context of your other posts, it seems you're suggesting that when we discount, we promote; and when we're not discounting, we're not promoting. It also seems you're saying the best way (only way?) to promote effectively is to discount.

    As you have clearly reasoned, and I guess we all agree, consumers go for discounts. Evidence of that is abundantly shown in the success of heavy discounting by craft stores in most markets.

    My experience follows your line of thinking here; that offering smaller discounts than competitors is not an effective way to promote. So, what do you think would be an effective way for me to promote? Bigger discounts?

    In trying to "adapt to what consumers think", are you saying we should promote more effectively than our competitors by offering more/bigger discounts than they do?

    Is that what you mean, or did I misunderstand?
  20. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    There is a new cable promotion going on in my neck of thee woods. (I don't know how wide spread it is?) National Floors Direct (a next day installer) has an ad with a "consumer" saying she went to "the other company" for their 50% off sale and was quoted 40% more than NFD. Then she says something like " 50% off what is the question?"

    They are spending a lot of money. I wish I knew it's effectiveness? I wish I could spend that much money. But, they are putting out a LOT of ads, so they seem to have a similar issue and are attacking it.

    The BIG difference is there IS a LIST price. There is NOT a list price for custom framing. OK, maybe you could argue the LJ price for the moulding, but there are too many "oddball" things to have a true list for a finished piece.

    And yes, "off what?" IS a legitimate question we want the consumer to ask. Is that a difficult thing? Of course.

    Is it easier to use traditional (trained marketer's) methods -- of course.
  21. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Cliff-Of course, I agree. But is $10/ft "list" price from Roma all that much different than any other list when at any trade show you can get a significant discount. (And, I do not mean to suggest that Roma is a villain, but how do they "justify" the huge difference between what is listed and what you might pay when other prices are so easily called into doubt

    If verytime we wanted to make the point of "inflated" regular prices and we inserted "Roma" for the previous mention, would the argument be as valid?

    Or do we just accept, as framing whoesale consumers, that because that is the way it is?

    I think print prices are inflated to create discounts and I'm not so sure I'm not about to throw mldgs under that same bus
  22. Tim Hayes.

    Tim Hayes. SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    If I have a reception with a wine and cheese spread, send out post cards and emails. I enlist a couple (who have a number of well to do contributor friends) that is heavily involved in fund raising for a National medical charity as they run marathons and get pledges for miles they run. The idea explained to them up front is to help the charity and get me new customers. 10% of all sales that day would be donated to the charity.

    How would that be classified? Marketing? Discounting? Promotion? A Good Time?

  23. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Neither. You send a $25. Gift Certificate to your selected group. In fine print you mention that the "gift certificate" is good on framing orders over $100. :)

    The term Gift Certificate will hopefully burn a hole in the consumer's pocket, and the word Free can bring them in as well. This thread is indeed confusing. Oh, you need an occasion to send a gift certificate--like an anniversary a thank you , etc.

    Is anyone using rewards cards? I'm not.
  24. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

  25. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Agreed. If a print seller can give you 50/50--that's 75%, then how can they make money if the list prices are not grossly inflated. OTOH< if you an outsider and were told what an average framing mark up is, you might think that is inflated. The only way that most businesses can discount is to have a certain amount of customers pay list. Just like health care.

    Jim, when you started this thread, what were you looking for? I don't think there are easy answers. We all know what the general public is attracted to--discounts. But the question is can we afford to discount, or afford not to?

    Tiffanys doesn't discount. Maybe you're the Tiffanys framer in your area.
  26. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

  27. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I wanted to know if other framers sense that consumers are comparing discount percentages, ignoring other considerations, and bypassing smindies because our discount percentages are usually less mass marketers's discount percentages. That's what I sense here but, of course, there's very little hard data to confirm it.

    Of course we can. Anyone can afford to discount if they inflate their retail prices enough to cover the discounts offered, and that would be necessary for a policy of routine discounting. The mass marketers couldn't possibly survive without discounting their inflated prices, and I guess most retailers inflate their prices to cover some amount of discounting. I do, dont you? The net profit shown on the Income Statement tells us if we're discounting more than our profit structure wil allow.

    But there are different kinds of discounting. If a discount is offered for a specific situation, such as a discontinued product, an overstock, or an exceptional buy on matierals, then a planned loss of profit may be justified.

    Likewise, promotions to stimulate certain types of sales may justify some loss of profit for a limited time, if it yields a longer term benefit. For instance, I occasionally offer discounts on framing something specific, such as sports memorabilia, musical instruments, or garments.

    Ha! There's no Tiffany's in my neighborhood. But now that you mention it, my advertising is headed in a similar direction. That is, I want to emphasize the value of my company's products and services, and not just price.
  28. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    This thread was started because discounts no longer work for my business as effectively as they used to. My suspicion is that consumers compare my 20% or 30% discounts with the mass marketers' 50% or 70% discounts, and conclude that my prices must be that much higher than the others.

    My theory is that smaller discounts may actually cause consumers to pre-eliminate my store in favor of the mass marketers, without even coming in for a quote. This, in spite of the fact that my retail prices are within a few points of their discounted prices.

    So far, I don't recall anyone here confirming or refuting my theory that offering a smaller discount, by comparison, could actually work against the merchant. Also, I'm finding that advertising with emphasis on something other than price or discounts can be more effective -- and less destructive -- than offering a small discount.

    What say you?
  29. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Several of my favorite posters bring great intellect to the thread. And, may I say, that it matters not that we disagree (or not)?

    We get hung up on the ethicalness of a term

    If a person buys extremely well (Kirstie mentioned (hypothetically) 50%) and list is $4/ft and she gets it for $2. By almost every POS generated price list her "legitimate" retail could be around $16, couldn't it.

    She could easily suggest an $8 retail (ala Warren) an maintain her margins at this everyday low price or she could offer "50% off" at the exact same margin

    Then it becomes of a matter of her "philosophical" position

    Net price to consumer is identical, but what about perception?

    We all make choices and I'm here to tell you we are argiung over which ice cream is better-chocolate or vanilla

    Or you could be the "Jim Miller" talent where people will spend what you charge because you are just so talented

    We are simply not that fortunate
  30. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Thanks for the kind words, Bob. But talent has nothing to do with this, and my prices are not an issue. In fact, my prices are very close to those of M and JA. Sometimes my retail prices actually beat their discounted prices. I know. I've checked. And I suppose a lot of other retail framers could say the same. Actual price is not the issue here, but maybe price perception is.

    Bob, you seem to think I'm against discounting, but I am not. I do offer discounts -- and I'd do it more often if it worked. Trouble is, these days I can advertise "35% off selected mouldings" and have a response near zero. Five years ago I'd buy a box or two of moulding for an offer like that, and run out in a couple of weeks. Two years ago I could clear out my stock of barking spiders that way. Today, I get much better responses to theme-related ads that say nothing of price.

    The question is: Why do discounts no longer work?

    If you are having the same success with discounts that you did 5 years ago, congratulations. If not, what's your theory on the cause in my market?
  31. RoboFramer

    RoboFramer PFG, Picture Framing God

    We have just finished a one year promotion with the local district council - it was free.

    Every household in the district (population 150,000) received a booklet full of credit card sized ads giving details of discounts per business.

    They had to apply for a 'privilege card' to be shown to get the discounts.

    Our deal was 10% across the board or 50% (a genuine 50%) off framing of our own artwork - 15 print browsers full (don't think you call them browsers?) - to try and shift it.

    Plenty of new custom gained on the 10% deal - biggest percent on the craft (etc) side - which of course meant the framing side benefitted.

    But only one person in 12 months took up the 50% offer - or tried to - flashed his card to get 50% off framing of his own stuff.
  32. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Jim, I know people in Michael's, Aaron Bros. and Joann. They all say their numbers are down too. In some cases way down. Maybe people aren't buying in to the discounts as much. I do think that is why they introduced the 70% off the past year, because the 50% wasn't working anymore.

    I find Joann prices hard to beat. Admittedly I haven't gotten a price in way over a year from them but when I did their 50% off was pretty much my cost. Even with my paltry discount I have never been all that close to Michael's price either. I can come close to Aaron Brothers prices though. But they don't discount, at least they didn't used to.

    I just put out a postcard with offer to my customers and had a fairly decent response but, not as big as I have in the past.
  33. F & D Frame Company

    F & D Frame Company Grumbler in Training

    I agree, advertising discounts on framing never brings customers....my business has been here for almost 40 yrs. I've tried every method possible!!! nothing ever worked. People come in because of the reputation of the establishment and are willing to spend as long as they are comfortable with the sales person. However, If they are framing several pieces or if they ask, I certainly am willing to do give a discount.
  34. TGFU

    TGFU CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Maybe that's true for existing customers, but we have found it almost impossible to bring in new prospects without any sort of discounting that is comparable with the competitions discount. Just saying that you have the best quality, design, service, preservation framing, on-site framing, bla..bla...bla, isn't enough to entice new customers to walk in our door. What business doesn't say that?
  35. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Originally Posted by Jim Miller [​IMG]
    So far, I don't recall anyone here confirming or refuting my theory that offering a smaller discount, by comparison, could actually work against the merchant.

    What say you?

    I believe that in general advertising to potential new customers that would be true, Jim. Especially if your smallish add (probably not much exposure anyhow ) was saying 20% / 25% OFF! And then on the very next FULL PAGE Color Insert the BIG BOY was screaming as he does every week, 50% OFF! , then a paltry 20 - 25% off looks like nothing. That's hard to refute, in the mind of the unknowing public.

    Got to fight the above battle, using a different tact.
    • One such tactic, if you want to advertise a sale, simply say SALE!
    • Everyone loves a SALE!
    • Most people respond to the word SALE!
    • You don't have to even mention a discount for the word SALE! to get their attention.
    • I always have a selection of "Frames of the Month" on SALE! Those are not the majority of what I happen to sell, however.
    Advertising to your existing customers is somewhat different though, IMO
  36. HB

    HB SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Jim.. to answer your original question - I agree. I have the same problem.

    I recently advertised 75% off framing - see store for details. Went to 60,000 homes in a coupon book - 4" x 10" - maybe 10 pages in book.

    Same deal I have used for 15 yrs.

    Incidently the 75% is off disc mldngs

    Used to drive them in by droves - not any more.

    I am beginning to thinlk that I couldn't give framing away with these ads, yet I can charge a good price for the rest. Seems people want to go to the big boxes & not us little guys - too inconvenient and not enough brand awareness...maybe.

    (And Bob, if this post is silly, please ignore it) These posts are helpful to me, and I am sure others.
  37. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The problem I believe we are having is that the consumer has been "over subscribed" to % off. We have some "heavy competition" from a few furniture places that have all tried to establish themselves as the price "leader" (lowest cost). They have all nearly abandoned the '%' sign. They do offer "other things" like no interest, free if the Red Sox sweep, etc. etc.

    Essentially, they and others in the area seem to be really on "newer and different" promotions.

    And Jim, lower '%' sign numbers don't work. I believe even the BBs have to be realizing that the bigger ones don't work either.
  38. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Lest anyone misunderstand, my business is not down. Revenue is somewhat up this year over last, which was a pretty good year, and net profit is holding up well, too.

    Since I've taken price out of the spotlight, consumers seem more likely to stop in for a look-see, not knowing my discount is only 30% instead of 70%. Getting them in here allows me to show how my 30% off is about the same as the other framer's 70% off.
  39. Emibub

    Emibub PFG, Picture Framing God

    Yeah, Jim, I wasn't suggesting that. I was suggesting that since the BB's numbers are down people were no longer attracted to their huge discounts. It was in response to your kwestion "Why do discounts no longer work?" You said they weren't working in your market any longer. Possibly the BB's have saturated the market and it is no longer working for them either. Course, that is only my area, could be otherwise elsewhere.
  40. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Kathy, the same thing seems to be happening here. Talk of fewer hours and "lack of work" at the BB by employees.

    However, since my gross hasn't gone up (ie, the 'lost" business isn't coming to me) I am more inclined to guess it is cutbacks in spending as opposed to apathy with the % advertising. But, I could be completely wrong! ;)
  41. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    I think we should look at this question. What is it, besides the misleading coupon, that makes people walk into a bb for framing rather than an independent frame shop? Or to Staples rather than one of the few remaining stationary stores? It may be more than price. Despite the lack of service at the bb, the customer may like the self-service aspect of these stores, and the lack of perceived pressured sales. Not only is there increased selection, but there is browser anonymity and environmental lack of intimidation, an ability to kick tires and walk out or stay. I think that as younger generations become our customers we will need to pay more attention to their style of shopping. If they go shopping anywhere besides their computers, they don't tend to migrate towards small, independent businesses. They go to the big shops where they can browse around and find bargains. Even in shops with higher prices, like Pottery Barn, they can browse, pick up the merchandise, and help themselves.

    I don't know about Warren's stores, but I'll bet his customers at his Outlet store can touch and feel and price and and browse around. In my shop we make a point of having prices clearly marked on everything we sell. We have a big poster with details of poster package specials, brochures to pick up, DIY framers to watch and chat with. It's an interesting, open environment where one can wander over to watch the Wizard, or ask a fellow customer where they got that fantastic 8' weaving. Most of our framers are young, friendly, chatty, and invite questions and observation.

    Prices are just part of the package.
  42. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Kirstie-I know you probably stay up with this stuff, but in survey after survey, consumers list several key things they look for (and price is one of them). Conveinence is always at the top
  43. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  44. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    There you go again, Paul, always with a question to make a point

    How about you list surveys (and sources) that do not suggest that?

    Or, you could just ignore it
  45. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    No sources, eh? Just as I thought.
  46. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Remember Vivian in her black hair telling the story at PPFA about the hairdresser and convenience? I still laugh about that one. She would have to tell it here for translation. There is some truth to this though, a lot of it. Convenience is huge, as big as price in some areas. Just look around.
  47. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Paul, please, let it go

    I'm going to spend any time with referrals simply so that you can parse each word

    No more than you will search for data to justify my question

    If no one believes that consumers rate conveinence highly, then, fine

    We shouldn't have to come up with empirical data to say the sun rises in the East

    Let it go
  48. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    But, Bob, "the Sun rising in the East" is only an illusion dating from pre-Copernican religious dogma.
  49. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I'm doing as you do Bob - you can always count on that. I'm sure consumers rate convenience amongt the things they value in making a purchasing decision. However, that is not what you claimed.
  50. erick

    erick CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I've been trying to gauge what brings in paying customers since I opened. I'd advertise sales, but everyone seems completely oblivious to the news ads and the giant sale banner outside my shop. Even so, I feel like I need some kind of hook to bring them in. When I had nothing in February, I had no sales. It's like though nobody really notices the sale consciously, it triggers something that brings them in when they unconsciously see it. Maybe. The experiment continues..

    When I talk to the people who walk in the door, I work into every conversation the question regarding how they found out about me and what brought them in. The answer is almost always that they just saw me here in their neighborhood, and they like to support small indy businesses.

    I don't want to be "supported." I want people to visit me for what I offer them, but I'll take anything at this early point. Maybe I'll build up relationships from that starting point.

    I'm dropping the discount. It's not what brings people in, and not what closes the sale at the counter. People at my shop buy what they like that's in their budget, period. I'll try different hooks, like bonus add-ons like free v-grooves to make the existing customer feel like they're getting a bonus.

    Other than that, I don't know what to do besides putting up a sign that says "Support Your Local Framer." However, that doesn't set me apart from the other local framers, we have that in common. I have the hook, I just need better bait.
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