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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. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Here it is, right off their 10-K:

    Per their discount strategy going forward:

    Michaels' "store-within-a-store" concept"


    And their latest coupon, which combines 60% Off with the "Frame Shoppe" re-branding:

  2. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    They did redesign their stores and framing departments about 3-4 years ago. Almost all stores were done over, as far as I know. (I know of only one locally (in MA) that still has the old design, for some reason). They took framing depts off the back wall and put them on an island in the back, with a direct visual path from the front door. Two design counters facing each other, 2 big tv's and visualization cameras mounted above the design counters Display walls around much of it, with samples (and the TV's). It is a big improvement from the previous back wall counter. Signage is clear and effective, lighting is darker in that area, but you'd still find it challenging to find an employee to help you. (usually no one is there). Over the front door is always a "50%" or "60%" banner, or "50% + 20%" offer. The ones I have overheard were very friendly, but lacked in the design/creativity area. (not offering mats where they should be used, etc) The selection of frames seems poor compared with most custom framers. They are modernized, using a POS, visualization, archival mats, and preservation standard uv glazings.
  3. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    Oh someone posted a picture while I was typing that up. That's very similar to the ones in this area. I think we were a test market for that design, when they re-did the closest location in late 2008 or early 2009.

    The rest of the store was also organized in a much better way, and the registers are in a common "corral" - rather than one line per register.
  4. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Wow! look at that corner - in an ad, really! ^
  5. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I've heard that before too, but never thought about it this way: one of the strong points of most chain store/franchises is that you WILL get consistency from place to place. I guess we can just be thankful they haven't figured that part out yet.
  6. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Our local M's remodeled their departments a few years ago, but don't look as nice as that. They are definitely trying to upscale, but I think we independents will always have the edge on design acumen and quality of mouldings. The real question is, how much do people notice or care? (Look at the corners on the bottom frame in that ad.)
    :kaffeetrinker_2: Rick

    (It would have taken less than a minute to make that frame look like a closed corner in Photoshop, so I guess that means their marketing people don't care either.)
  7. neilframer

    neilframer PFG, Picture Framing God

    Maybe by saying 60% off in the add they were talking about the alignment of the frame corners being 60% off, although it only looks to be about 10-20% off.:icon9:
    Or maybe that's just one of their "70 New Styles" of custom frames.
  8. Artrageous

    Artrageous PFG, Picture Framing God

    It could be more of a truth in advertising thing. If a customer comes back with an open corner they can point at the ad and say that's how it's supposed to be.

    Kind of like the theory of having a drunk look on your face when you get your driver's licence picture taken. If you get puled over and the officer questions if you're drunk, you point to the photo and say that's how you always look.

  9. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hi Jim

    quick remembrance on the project launched in atlanta a few years ago

    Dennis Conforto was the guru and I was asked to study plan and introduce it to Framers. Dennis had a personal reason to do this and PMAi committed some serious money

    Dennis was a huge 'ad placement' guy that obviously had the ear of many newspaper execs. his idea was to create a weekly 'picture' section in np's much like restaurants or car dealers or movies. the center piece was 'It starts with a Photo" in that it dealt with the camera trade, the printer trade, the ready made frame trade, the scrapbook trade, the picture framing trade. In essence anything that you could with that picture touched the various members of pmai. Had lots of interest from majors like Canon, Fuji etc.

    the np angle was get X dollars of advertising committed, np would create copy-it's all about ratios-highlighting new products and local offerings

    the idea was pure genius

    got many np's to sign on, virtually no local retailers willing. died from frustration. meeting in PHX had a good group of scrapbookers, some photogs, a few indie photo retailers and 2 picture framers

    again Assn tried just couldn't get and participation
  10. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Thanks for that review, Bob. I was among those eagerly awaiting the opportunity, and disappointed to see it flop. After so many failed plans to bring framers together for any marketing purpose over the years, I reluctantly opine that it will not happen in my lifetime.

    But admittedly, I'm old. :kaffeetrinker_2:
  11. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Jim

    i often felt like humming a few bars from "Man from LaMancha" every time i would get involved in one of these 'wind mill tilting' projects. i really went to battle three times to get funding (nearly impossible) approved only to see the sidelines jamb packed with 'observers'. and that's about as kind as i can say LOL

    i often felt had i put the same effort and 'power of persuasion' into something more plausible i might be running my own 'celebrity apprentice'

    i truly do not think the overwhelming number of folks in the trade have the slightest clue in how much time and effort people like you, me and a few others have altruistically 'donated' to the cause.

    but, i would not have changed much
  12. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Altruistically? Last I heard, we were all supposed to be getting rich on our book deals and teaching fees. "Altruistic" might be a good name for Rob Markoff's imaginary yacht.

    But it's really not about "you, me and a few others", is it? I don't think it's about the money, either, since most of the plans would have given the participants much better bang-for-the-buck than their routine advertising.

    Small-independent retail business operators have always been fiercely independent and distrustful of strangers who tell us how to run our businesses. We have a hard time appreciating the benefit of broad-based consumer-awareness marketing; you could say we are generally myopic marketers. So, it's no surprise that the majority of framers shun Big Brother's plans that would put them shoulder-to-shoulder with other framers, especially local competitors. I'm not saying it's right, but it's real.
  13. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    lest anyone think i am singling out this industry for non-participation. anyone that has served on a PTA board, or coached any youth sports can easily testify that there will always more people willing to 'offer' suggestions on how to do it than actually 'show' you how to do it LOL

    and those 'suggestors' seem to always be multi-activity qualified to offer 'suggestions' on many, many subjects

    and, those actually 'doing' the heavy lifting often appear in many, many activities

    just the way it is

    i love the 'get rich' perception. teaching a 1 hour class usually required about 2-2 1/2 hrs at a show; if out of town, like a chapter meeting, often a 2 day trek. i'll bet preparing a new class or presentation involved 25-30 hrs minimum.

    i'm sticking with altruism lol

    i know this is true with Jim, too, but at the shows my dance card was always filled with folks wanting a little advice or insight. i would spend a couple of hrs every day with a framer looking for wisdom, advice or affirmation. more than once i have button holed Jim on a mylar or mounting problem

    get rich? didn't realize i could've been collecting lol

    Rob has a yacht? well, I always had a limo pick me up at the airport. You probably saw it in vegas. It was the white one with Penn & Teller sign on top
  14. Terry Scidmore CPF

    Terry Scidmore CPF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    "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"

    That has sure been my experience in price shopping the bb's regularly. One time, I was standing in line at Michael's waiting to be helped. Saturday evening, dinner hour, 4 people waiting to be helped, 2 framers on staff. The framers were very professional and were making nice design choices and getting the sale every single time, with and without coupon.

    Several people waiting in line with me told me Michael's did the best framing. "It's so expensive to get something framed, even with a coupon, but I've always liked the choices they have made and the work they have done," chirped the lady in front of me.
  15. Terry Scidmore CPF

    Terry Scidmore CPF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    "got many np's to sign on, virtually no local retailers willing. died from frustration. meeting in PHX had a good group of scrapbookers, some photogs, a few indie photo retailers and 2 picture framers

    again Assn tried just couldn't get and participation"

    Bob and Jim, I was one of the NW framers who initially signed up with Dennis to help get this program started in the NW.

    At the end of that first meeting, Dennis had us create groups with leaders who would get things going. Dennis told us to go and spread the word, and we would hear from him about the next step in a couple of months. A framer from Oregon and I signed up to head up the picture framer group for the NW. A number of the participants - scrapbooking stores, photo stores, and framers, exchanged business cards and contact info, with the intention of working together to achieve the program results. We even had tentative meeting dates selected to get back together to work on the next phase, per Dennis' instructions. These meeting dates were about 3 months after this initial meeting.

    I wrote an article about the program for our local guild newsletter and outlined the program at a guild meeting. My Oregon counterpart did the same.

    There was no - absolutely no - direction or response from Dennis after his initial presentation.

    When the Oregon framer and I would call PPFA or PMA, they would direct us to Dennis and give us his number. It was very clear from both organizations that Dennis was in control of the progam and the organizations were not much involved.

    We called Dennis direct for several years asking when he was going to do the next step.

    His response was always vague. He mentioned a group in Canada and a group in the US who were doing the intitial trials with the advertising campaign, and were having astounding success with it. When we checked into this, we found there was nothing happening - according to the groups themselves.

    I am baffled to now hear there was no PPFA participation. Here in the NW, several of us did our very best to get something, ANYTHING, going.

    In my humble opinion, the program did not die from lack of framer participation.
  16. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I guess the Captain of the Titanic is available? :)
  17. gadgetgal

    gadgetgal CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Saw this ad for Michaels today in Dwell, which goes to all members of the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis. Another higher end look with lots of stacked mouldings....

    Sue Davis, CPF
    Master Framers, St. Paul, MN

    Attached Files:

  18. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Maybe each of us should bring in something to M's and see what the replies are if we want a guitar framed.

    I am seriously doubting that my local M could pull that one off.

    Let's hope this kind of advertising will bring more customers into my store.
  19. Mark D

    Mark D CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Some of those shadow boxed guitars look quite expensive. Does M's insurance protect the customer if say they damage a guitar thats worth a couple grand or more?
  20. gadgetgal

    gadgetgal CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    I am wondering if they are not actual guitars, but posters or photos of guitars......hard to tell for sure from the ad. Some stores might be able to do actual guitars, but many would not have the skill to do it properly.

    Sue Davis, CPF
    Master Framers
    St. Paul, MN
  21. j Paul

    j Paul PFG, Picture Framing God

    Last I checked their limit was $250.00 - can't get much guitar these days for that. ( owe I wish I had my ES335 back :cry: )
  22. Dave

    Dave SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    From my understanding a customer signs a work order stating that they are only responsible up to $ 250.00 liability for customer work.
  23. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    You had a 335? I have a 335.

    Great guitar!!!

  24. Mark D

    Mark D CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I miss my 1981 Ibanez Artist but am enjoying my Music Man. It seems foolish for someone taking in anything of value there. $250.00 won't get you very far. Seems inappropriate to put anything of any considerable value in their framing ads since they can't be responsible for it.
  25. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I was just in Michael's the other day. My closest store is an older design but the samples in their frame shop mimics the styles in the ads posted on this thread. Multiple mats with wide & stacked mouldings. Numerous colors and lines around the art. I can't tell how much of their stuff is poly.

    My question to the forum: Does anyone frame like this and does anyone consider it high end?

    I rarely get a customer who wants to design frames like this and it's not because I'm dealing with the bottom feeders. We regularly use museum glass glass and top of the line mouldings & fillets but for the most part, simplicity defines what my customers (and I) desire. I think every other frame job involved floating the art in a box.

    Am I missing something or does Michael's, with their big budget marketing staff, have their finger on the pulse of today's custom frame consumer?

  26. UzZx32QU

    UzZx32QU Administrator Staff Member

    I almost hate to say this, almost...

    If you put lipstick on a pig it's still a pig...

  27. David N Waldmann

    David N Waldmann SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    If there aren't 3-dimensional guitars in the frames, then it would seem that the posters were all designed to replicate a light source from the left.
  28. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The approach and the verbiage of the ad copy appear to be parroting Larson Juhl's marketing.
    :kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
  29. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Are you sure that's not an ex-parrot?
  30. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I just browsed in a local Aaron Brothers store after dinner nearby. Pleasantly surprised. nice inventory selection, well organized, well lit framing department, pleasant staff, lots of offers.
    We need to pull our socks up.

    GUMBY GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Yes I think they feel they have conquered the mass market. Now they are going to go after the top end...Frame shops
  32. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Seriously, I don't know why most of you think they were going after bottom feeders or were somehow NOT trying to get the "better framing" customer all along.

    Some of my more "well heeled" customers (you know, the husband and wife both drive Mercedes and she has trouble lifting her hand because of the rocks on it) are the ones most likely to ask for a discount or go for the lower price.

    The last time I was talking to a sales person in Ms he was talking about the "weekly special goals" which usually involved selling a certain amount of fillets, fabric mats, or mat width. From what I've observed, their design training is geared toward the upsell even when it doesn't look ideal or the customer is trying to get a simpler design. I can't tell you how many customer have told me the salesperson said "they could not do a mat less than 3 inches, because the software prevented it."

    Ok, so they've decided to do some image advertising. I don't think anything has changed. We need to find ways to get in front of whoever the framing customer is and have the product at the PRICE that they can afford. There is no reason we can not be competitive on service, quality AND price. They old "pick two" is a cop-out.
  33. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    That was a pretty good read, Cliff. I agree. :thumbsup:
  34. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Boy did you get it right!!

    This approach is the only way we're going to beat Michaels.

    Yesterday a repeat customer dropped by and told me the framing I've done for them has got a lot of compliments from their visitors.

    Today a customer dropped by and told me that the quickie multi-opening I did for a funeral got the same compliments.

    Both these guys went out of their way to say thanks.

    Cliff: What you said is bang-on.
  35. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Cliff, you are 100% correct. When I run Groupons I'm not getting low end customers. I'm getting high end customers who are looking for an excuse to spend money. I think the same is true with the Big Boxes. I think this "bottom feeder" thing is just from frame shops who are trying to feel better about the situation instead of fighting it.

  36. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I do agree with that Cliff, but it also depends what your other competitors are doing. I know I am a little higher priced, and there is one in town who undercuts everyone's prices so I can't win that battle on price and have chosen not to.

    Unfortunately, no matter how good your pricing, people look at the 50% off coupon.
  37. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think you're wrong. I think that's the brain-washing and rationalization talking.

    I was up over 28% last year and I'm currently up 30% this year. I CAN win any battle and you could too.

    You can win the 50% off battle too. Just not tomorrow, or with a few ads, or by pouting. It takes time. Years. But if you have to start and you have to work it. And, if you "choose not to," then you can't possibly win.
  38. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Cliff, our situations are completely different and I cannot commit the amount of time to my business that I should. I am well aware of that and in order to fight, I need to put in more time. I simply don't have that. Pouting? Hm, I don't see myself as much of a pouter.
    I opened doors 5 years ago, about the worst possible time to start a new business. I am still here.
  39. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Sorry, the pouting comment was uncalled for. I apologize.

    Saying you are not choosing to fight for non-business reasons makes perfect sense.
    But, that is different than saying you can't win, or abdicating because Goliath looks too big.
  40. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    No need for that Cliff! I could pout with the best of them (I'll show you in October, okay???) ;)
  41. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    All this talk of fighting and winning has me wondering what you all are doing to win the 50% off battle.

    Here is part of our effort. Note the opening text on the new home page for our recently expanded business, The Framer's Outlet.


    You can also click through to our FB page for both businesses to see several albums from the opening day on June 15th.
  42. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    Nice job of merchandising!
  43. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    It's nice to finally see some indies, including Cliff and Kirstie, recognizing that they can, and should, compete head-to-head with the chain stores, rather than cowering and ignoring them. Pepsi and Apple didn't ignore their bigger competitors, instead they deliberately and repeatedly played up their differences and made them advantages. If indies would ever band together to pool their advertising dollars, they could then pound their messages home with much grater force and frequency.

    Michaels isn't changing their advertising for any reason except that they are being forced to, by fed-up consumers, ambitious pubic servants, and negative publicity. The days of sham sales are slowly coming to an end. Why else would they change? What they were doing worked great, right up until they got their knuckles rapped. America's Trusted Framer is now America's Busted Framer. There really is no better time to get aggressive in your marketing than right now. Let the public know HOW you are different, and how those differences make you the better choice for framing.
  44. ietk1970

    ietk1970 Guest

    Actually you can claim more than the $250.00, you will have to provide documentation and proof of value over $250.00
  45. Cornered One

    Cornered One CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    i have read a few financial articles recently on the big M. The parent companies[Bain and Blackstone et al] has had them go on the hook for $800,000,000.00 so that the holding companies could take back some of their investment after their IPO was rejected. They may not be doing as well as people think. I also read that AC Moore was sold a few years ago to one of their biggest creditors. This was something I didn't know and also tells us that the BB's may not be what we think they are [whatever that is.]
  46. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

American Picture Frame Academy 1-888-840-9605

The American Picture Framing Academy Learn Picture Framing Now

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