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Taking the "High Road" - new Michael's ad campaign

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Rob Markoff, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Winner! I wonder if I posted photos of "architecturally significant" buildings, how many fellow Grumblers would be able to recognize them?

    Any interest? I'll start a new thread in Warped and see if it has legs :)
  2. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Ylva... I am surprised this concerns you. You, like me, go after more of a high end market. Michael's can advertise all they want, but they will not get the truly high end market. They do not have the consistency throughout the chain of great designers nor the capabilities of doing much out of the ordinary framing procedures which require special skills and resources. They also will never care as much as you do because if the person doing the work happens to be named "Michael" it is pure co-incidence.

    I don't think Michael's takes that much business away from me. Maybe it does take business away from some of my other independent framing competitors trying to serve a similar market or that are trying to compete on price.

    Ylva... your customers come to YOU because of YOUR skills and expertise. They trust you with their valued possessions. Michael's tells customers they can trust them up to $ 250.00 and that's it. Would you leave anything valuable there?
  3. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Not saying this about all their workers, but its just a job, maybe somewhat of a living to those that work at the Big box stores... though not a high paying job

    Some do care a lot about their job and do good work, but I have heard plenty of complaints about how some could care less and just throw stuff at the art and have no suggestions for what would look good. So they leave there and come here... Yes the big boxes win with advertising. Everyones first thought on framing is Big boxes.

    A lady just found me yesterday... I don't quite know what is going on but she is having a jersey framed at a big box. I asked her if she could bring it in so i could see how they did it when they were done. She would have used me but its her sons girlfriend doing it, and she said she had no problem bringing it by when they were done so i could see how they did it.... It is signed and I want to see if they sew, ez tac or glue or tape it down. and see the frames they use to compare prices since the lady figures I could have used better...

    SO they can win up front, but not forever. They did quote the girl 600 bucks without a coupon, but got it down to 260 with 60% off....
  4. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Those were actually CB's numbers but I like them too, and maybe if some forward thinking moulding company wanted to contribute to the campaign in exchange for advertising that their mouldings are available at these businesses I think that could be a valuable discussion as well.

    I think that we are all concerned to some degree, and some of us are motivated to see what we can do about it. Join in on the brainstorming when we get the other thread started. I know you have good ideas.
  5. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    I can't think of a single co-op advertising in any industry that sends you to a site to find a local business that has worked. Now there are some co-ops that do, but those businesses have adopted the co-op name such at as True Value or Ace Hardware.

    The only way I see a co-op advertising working is if the participating framers all changed their names to a common brand. They could distinguish themselves by location such as FrameMakers of Powell, Jim Miller could become FrameMakers of Pickerington, JPaul could be FrameMakers of Holland etc....

    Then common marketing material could be used and a real brand could be formed.
  6. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I agree somewhat. But look at Groupon though. That is totally co-op advertising.

    I kind of like the AAA model. "So & So" Repair Shop or "So and So" Tow Truck endorsed or recommended by AAA.
    The issue with our industry, is it is not an often-used service. So it will take a lot of market saturation to get the name out there, continuosly, so that when someone does need framing, we are the first choice.
    I believe we will have to set up a separate entity, that will market and promote custom framing and related services.
  7. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hmmmmmm! I think it should be Powell Frame Shop, Pickerington Frame Shop and Holland Frame Shop and I wouldn't have to change my website. :icon21: :icon21: :icon21: Said in jest but that is also part of the trouble in getting independents to work together.
  8. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Dave, I am not so concerned about my existing customers, they know me, they trust me, they love what I am doing and they will come back for more. But it is hard enough to find new customers and I see this as one more competitor in an already difficult and shrinking market.

    My biggest advertising is word of mouth. My second biggest is my website and the fact that I show up almost first at google search. I have been starting to send out gift cards to a targeted audience, along with a big postcard and hope to generate some more business from that.

    How many high end customers will see this ad and decide to give it a try? Without looking for a local framer first? The ad looks high end (to the casual observer, not to a framer) so some people will fall for it. We might not be all too concerned right now, because we all know we are better ;) but do potential new customers see that?

    Sure, we might get more business after M's mess up their precious heirloom/art/photo etc. but are we rich enough to survive that long?

    So yes, I am concerned and no, I don't know what we can do about it. I do like the idea of trying to get enough money for an advertising campaign, but I simply don't have that kind of money to spend
  9. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Ylva, I ask this seriously - how much money do you have to spend each month on advertising? $100 ?

    I haven't done it long enough to determine any results but have you read about EDDM ? Program via the post office where you can mail to carrier routes without needing a mailing list for only 16 cents each. So for $100 per month you could mail to 625 people in an area of your choice. Now the amount varies because you have to do whole routes, so some will be less than a $100 and some more. I think doing that on a regular basis and not just hit and miss would pay off.

    PS - Just as I had hit the submit button for this I had a couple come in with a postcard that I mailed yesterday. Not a huge order, only a couple of 8x10's but done with instock mouldings (below box pricing) and some mat offals. Total just over $200. That mailing including cost of cards was $157. so this one job paid for it.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  10. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    Looks very Restoration Hardwareish.
  11. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    This is pretty much the way I feel on this issue too. Why? Because it indicates a shift away from trying to take a custom service and represent it as a commodity.
    :cool: Rick
  12. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    What eactly is "it"?

    There are no parallels between JC Penney and Michaels, as far as I can see. JCP has been losing market share for years, while Michaels has been gaining. JCP is reaching the point of desperation in its decline, while Michaels still dominates its category. JCP competes with some of the smartest reailers on the planet, including online retailers, while Michaels competes with...us. JCP only retails mass-produced goods from all over the world, while Michaels produces custom framing.
  13. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think what Less was getting at is that JCP brainwashed their customers into always getting a discount and tried to change to "every day low prices". We all know it didn't work, and the parallel is that there is no mention of discounting in this ad, which Micheal's has previously lived on. Whether it runs concurrently or not is unknown, but the implication is that they are going to not be offering deep discounts to this market segment at least.
  14. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Sorry, I don't mean to discourage the concept. In fact, I've supported all of the consumer-awareness/marketing campaigns that have come to my attention, adn would do it all again if a viable plan were to materialize. In the past they have all failed for lack of money. For one reason or another, too few framers agreed to participate.

    The Art & Framing Council had a wonderful funding concept. Most framing wholesalers agreed to increase the invoice amounts to their customers by a small precentage (was it 1% or 1-1/2% ?) and send that money to AFC, which was supposed use it for national and large regional consumer advertising. The framers could opt-out, but most agreed to make that small contribution. After a while, the suppliers and framers began to notice that tens of thousands of dollars were being collected, but there was scant evidence of the promised advertising. Then, when the AFC failed to account for the money, framers began to opt-out of the contribution scheme. Within about a year after the exodus started, AFC gave up. Was that in 2004? I still think somebody walked away with a lot of our money in that deal. Too bad - it could have worked very well.

    Framer Select was the most straight-forward program, and it definately would have worked, if only 1,000 or so framers had participated. There were several revisions to the original plan, to attract more framers, but unfortunately, the numbers never reached the 'critical mass' necessary to break even.

    More recently, Bob Carter and some renowned marketing guru associated with PMAI introduced an ambitious plan at one of the last Atlanta Decor shows a few years ago. It seemed viable, but it never got off the ground. I don't recall the name of it now, or any details.
  15. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    This is all good information, and I think it points out one of the biggest hurdles; having a trustworthy and reliable person or organization in charge. The organizers will have to overcome the distrust that has been created by past failed campaigns. Even with Framer Select it looks like the desired type of framers were too small a pool so once it was expanded a lot of framers were probably offended by the fact that they were excluded in the first place. I think that the thread that Paul Cascio just started would be a great place to brainstorm about what would be needed to make a viable plan. A lot of the best minds in our industry are here and if we put aside our rivalries and in some cases hatred for each other we just might be able to come up with that perfect idea. I was framing in 2004 and did not even know about the AFC thing, so I guess I was a victim too?
  16. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Maybe that will mean that either they will have to charge a lot more than most of us do, or their existing customers will realize that the "bargains" they offered in the past were contrived.
    :icon9: Rick
  17. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Honestly, I don't have any money left to spend on serious advertising..... I am in deep survival mode right now. I am targeting a more specific market by sending out gift cards and my business card. No money upfront (except for the $75 I spent on printing) and a little for postage.

    Will it bring new people in, maybe not, but the expense is not too bad and I try to do what I can. Today was a decent day, with two new customers who found me through google.....and loved my website (which still needs work, but first impression apparently is good).
  18. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    are the customers those adverts are trageted at ( high end clients) not the kind of people that wont shop in big brand stores

    ie if they buy furniture for example, wont they shop in designer type shops rather than big box type places

    and surely the same for framing no?
  19. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I agree, and it will be interesting to watch.
  20. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Are you kidding? $2700 a day for national advertising not go unnoticed...
  21. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    This thought crossed my mind too.
  22. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Mine too, but are you really willing to just sit and wait and see?
  23. Artrageous

    Artrageous PFG, Picture Framing God

    Heck no..."High Road" time is over!!!

  24. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    no didnt mean it like that either, although doesnt matter to me in the sense that i am in ireland :)

    and thinking about it wondering if i am maybe wrong, the agency that m's will employ to do advertising surely will have done their research, but hey not sure

    i do think in general any advertising is good advertising though for the industry, in that the more of the public see framing in advertising the more will visit a shop of some kind, and i think it will benefit everyone

    I dont think you can compete directly with these big companies, they are way more organised at a high level, with much deeper pockets etc, and massive buying power.

    like what most people have said if find something tangible that you do better or different and play on it

    things like quality of service, or things like that are not as tangible to a consumer. i would say the majority of people that go into a big box are happy with service and product. the only reason you hear about so many complaints is the volume of customers
  25. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree that it is hard to compete with those big boys and is why I focused more on the high end type of jobs. However, now that M's is trying to move into that market as well, it will become harder for independents.

    So yes, that is why I am concerned.
  26. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Believe me, M's will be back to its old tactics soon enough.

    Why? Because they will once again decide that it was easier to make money scamming the public, than by trying to earn it legitimately. Look for more sham sales coming soon to a store near you.
  27. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I don't mean to side track the business discussion of this thread by being critical of their craftsmanship, but I just did another re-frame of a piece framed just recently by Michaels.
    It was a color print on photo paper with no mat and Museum glass.
    The print was stuffed into a frame that was about 1/8" too small for the print so it was badly rippled.
    The print was attached to the fome cor back with a strip of ATG along the top.
    There were NO spacers between the glass and the print.
    The Museum glass was put in backwards.
    The printing on the Museum glass was still on the edge.
    How do they put the glass in backwards when the printing on the glass is still there?
    And yet this is the third time that I have reframed a Michaels job where the glass was installed backwards with the printing on the glass still there.:shrug:
  28. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Neil... I know you are aware of this, but not all Michael's botch all jobs. This just points out the inconsistency that you get with a chain store. You may have a very experienced frame designer/craftsman work on your project or you might have a kid they hired yesterday. It's pot luck.

    This is another reason they will have a difficult time cracking the "high end" market (However that is defined?).
  29. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    I appreciate what you are saying.
    I just know from personal experience that the "chain" stores, at least in Phoenix, are not looking for framers with much experience, partly because they just don't want to have to pay for that experience.
  30. idakendall

    idakendall Guest

    Is it just me, or is a pair of bikini bottoms reflecting in the upper left corner of the lower left photo?


    edit: wait, I see, it might be the photo on the other side showing through. It was funny for a moment, though! :icon21:
  31. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God


    I saw that, too! I thought maybe it was just me.
    (hi, Ida in Prescott)
  32. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Try clicking on them. :)
  33. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    BTW, do they no longer use, "Your Trusted Picture Framer," as their slogan?
  34. idakendall

    idakendall Guest

    I saw that, too! I thought maybe it was just me.
    (hi, Ida in Prescott)[/QUOTE]

    lol... Howdy! Staying warm enough? ;)
  35. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I agree Dave; around here, some of the good framer employees from those that closed because of the economy now work at various big box stores. Some of them are very good.

    There are also some independent framers around here that are terrible. From a consumers standpoint, if they have never been to a framer - independent or big box, where are they going to go, if they want framing? My answers (not necessarily right) are:

    1. If they think to ask, they may ask someone else that has had framing done. But as more framing is now done by big boxes, the answer is biased toward the big boxes.

    2. Some place that is convenient to work with, either because of their close location, or because they are available with your schedule.

    3. Some place they have heard of, or they can quickly find something out about.

    If these 3 are somewhat correct, what can we do:

    1. Make sure that we actively ask all of our customers to refer potential customers to us. Maybe even consider giving a discount for referrals?

    2. Make sure we are convenient. Will we deliver? Will we pick up? For me that means I can go to their place of work or home

    3. If someone wants to find a framer, they will probably go to the internet. Make sure your website is current, and easily to understand. And that it shows up in searches.
  36. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Disagree if you want, but I think we're kidding ourselves if we think the big chains don't do quality framing. As a percentage of their order volume, their mistakes happen with about the same frequency as our part of the industry. Their weakness is design.
  37. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree with that Paul. I have seen quality framing from BB's and I've seen carp framing from them. Same for a lot of independent shops though, quality and carp.

    Their weakness may be design, but also more complicated projects, anything out of the box. Our local M's does not have a great framing department. Not a ton of choices in moulding or mats. Not even a framer at the counter, just a sales associate once in a while.
  38. blackiris

    blackiris SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I agree. Design is hard to teach to people. It takes years in the biz and a lot of confidence and knowledge of certian items. No new framer is going to know how to do every single thing that has come into the shop. And most BB stores have huge turnover rates.

    Another thing too....... they are taught..... to spend the least amount of time with a customer and off the most expensive they can. Make as much as you can in the shortest amount of time.....
    How can you care too much about their item when you're just slapping it together.

    OH the stories I could tell you........... :icon11:
  39. FrameMakers

    FrameMakers PFG, Picture Framing God

    Paul, I disagree sort of. Yes, their designs are often week, but their is a lot of damage done that won't show up right away when you are looking through the glass. Things like ATGing N/W to the underside of the mat, improper use of edge supports etc. As to actually delivering up a botched job, that I would guess is on line with everyone else if not a tick higher.
  40. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Its true... hot glueing things works for them too... been awhile since something has come in like that that has fallen, so maybe they got better...
  41. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    As a competing business what concerns me, in the short term, more than the bad BB framers is the good ones. I know 17 years ago when I worked for a BB I would ring up the sale with the standard pricing but when I did the work I made sure to give them all of the best materials and techniques. There is no way that the price I was giving the customers covered the materials and time I put into the product. I know the manager at one of my competing Ms’ is doing the same thing right now. That’s one of the reasons I couldn’t afford to hire her. This creates an unrealistic expectation for customers who are looking for a high end or complicated product at a low price. It makes my job a lot harder when they come to me and I have to explain that I actually have to be able to buy the materials.

  42. EllenAtHowards

    EllenAtHowards PFG, Picture Framing God

    The only people who will notice the details of the ad, such as quality of framing, choice of mats, etc are framers and perhaps graphic artists. It is all too easy to say "Well, that ad sure isn't well done. We who know wouldn't be moved by it at all." when the ad wasn't targeting us, but the 20- and 30- somethings who want their homes to look like that.

    Don't look at the ad; look at the message.
  43. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Does anyone know if they changed their frame departments in that market to go along with the new advertising? If they published those ads here it would be a gross over-promising of the experience the customer would have in their store where a small design counter is completely cluttered with all kinds of signage completely shouting about how they will not be undersold, looks a big dingy now, and isn't staffed until someone sees a customer there and comes over from someplace else in the store... at least every time I've walked in. These ads would set a level of expectation that would ensure people leave disappointed.
  44. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Completely agree. So.......what if they decide to re-design their framing areas (Aaron Brothers is on the way to a complete makeover).....and hire someone like a David Lantrip (who works for a Franchise Corporation) or someone else with good design sense and technical abilities starts teaching design to their employees? They aren't a small company. They could find their own "Greg Perkins" :)

    In my former life, I produced instructional videos for a corporation with 70 retail stores. The programs ran the gamut from cashiering to sales and product knowledge (sponsored by the vendors whose products were being sold).

    With distribution now available on the internet, what would stop them from doing the same?
  45. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    My understanding is that the process has been underway for sometime now. I remember seeing photos and reading an article on it. I believe they were even installing visualization in their framing area. I imagine that this type of advertising would be localized to those areas that have the new format.

    Home Depot tried something like this with high end design centers. We don't have one in Toledo, but I know that it was rolled out in one of the affluent suburbs of Detroit (don't laugh, Detroit does have some affluent suburbs adjoin the blighted areas)
  46. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

  47. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    From the Wall Street Journal, May 23rd, 2013.

    "Michaels Stores Inc.'s fiscal first-quarter earnings dropped 11% as the arts-and-crafts retailer reported higher expenses while same-store sales edged down... Same-store sales edged down 0.7%, which Michaels said was due to a 3% decrease in transactions, partly offset by a positive 1.7% impact from a higher average ticket and a positive 0.6% impact in deferred custom-framing revenue. The company logged its strongest sales increases for the quarter in custom framing and yarn.Michaels said it operated 51 new Michaels stores at the end of the first quarter versus the prior-year period."
  48. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  49. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I just had a guy in here who was talking to his wife on speaker phone. He said “I have to go. I’m at the framing store to get the picture framed.” His wife said “Oh, you should go to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby. They’re the best for framing.” He said “Thanks, I’ve gotta go.” and hung up. I said “She just said some very bad words.” He responded “I know. Why would I go to them when you have a way better selection and know what you’re doing?” Later he revealed that he also didn’t like that they send stuff out to be framed. I don’t know if that’s true but it was his impression.
  50. Puppiesonacid

    Puppiesonacid SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    they are like joyannes... they have their frames and mats cut somewhere else and shipped to the stores to be put together.

    I am pretty sure they don't have drymount presses or mat cutters.... they only have glass cutters. I was in the back of the one near me, and it seems pretty boring back there... all they do is put stuff together and do none of the "hard work" the frames are all joined and shipped to them too.
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