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The Industry Needs a Marketing Association and Affiliation With Home Furnishings

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by Paul Cascio, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    PPFA has made it clear on numerous occasions that its primary purpose is not to help framers market and advertise their services. I disagree, and have disagreed with this for years. I believe this stance has not only hurt the industry, but it has also hurt the PPFA. And as most of you know, I've been very vocal about this.

    My reasoning is quite clear. We're an industry that faces intense competition from large companies, such as Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby. Yet the small businesses of our industry are left to fend for ourselves when it comes to competing with these behemoths.

    If PPFA wants to insist that it's purpose is education and certification, then that's fine. But if our only trade association is not taking it upon itself to address what many believe is the small business owner's toughest challenge, then I believe we need to have a separate association whose sole purpose is marketing and advertising. I also believe that such an association needs to be affiliated with the home furnishings industry, which has much more in common with art and framing businesses than does the photo industry.

    This is not a knock at PPFA. I'm a big believer in education. Obviously. But as we all know, making money making frames is a lot tougher than simply making frames. The industry needs direction and leadership to help it compete. I believe we would find that through an affiliation with the home furnishings industry.

    What's your opinion? And for you PPFA-ers, I ask you to have the courage and transparency to indicate your affiliation with PPFA if you are a current or former local or national officer, or are compensated as a speaker.
    American Picture Frame Academy 1-888-840-9605

    The American Picture Framing Academy Learn Picture Framing Now
  2. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I totally agree that a strong marketing
    vehicle is essential. As far as tying in with home furnishing industry, that may offer some reward, but since most frame shops don't sell prints any more, what would be the benefit? To successfully market our industry we would have to really focus on "what are the specific core products and services we provide and what would be the most efficient way to promote these".
    I think the natural path would be a national website, funded by participating members.
  3. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Disclosure: I was a long time member of PPFA.
    Served on National Board of Directors for five years for no, none, zilch, nada compensation. It did cost me money to serve LOL
    Taught for PPFA during those Board days at Conventions-for above compensation
    Spent literally thousands of hours in Research, Analysis, Phone Calls, Meetings-for above compensation.
    Transparent enough?

    From a guy heavily invested into making money, always knew it was altruistic. I'm sure most others 'serving' would agree. I would spend much, much less time on any 'Consulting gig' for a ton o' money more

    So, here is my fully open suggestion for you, Paul

    Don't tell somehow else how they are doing wrong, start your own association and show them how to do it right
  4. DVieau2

    DVieau2 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Chapter volunteer here.....no pay.

    Do you have an example from another industry?

    A trade association should be there to serve all members large and small.

    Think about our suppliers. If you were a large supplier and a big boxes was your best customer why would you support a Trade association waging war with your best customer.

    Leave PPFA out of the picture and start a new association made up of independent framers whose marketing needs are all more similar.

    No reason people couldn't belong to both.

    Beware of the costs involved.

  5. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Great idea Doug, This is exactly what FramerSelect was all about...producing promotions, marketing tools and ideas and an annual meeting at WCAF to share ideas.

    At $250/Year, Jay Goltz couldn't get 100 independent framers to hit his critical mass. After two/three years he lowered the dues to $25/year and still didn't hit the 100 participants.

    While it ran, it was very good and had a positive ROI. We were a retail member from the inception until it folded.

  6. Mike Labbe

    Mike Labbe Member, Former moderator team volunteer

    I think it was a lot more than $250 per year. My memory could be wrong, but I thought it was $100 per month? Our shop also belonged for several years, until it folded.
  7. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I think you are correct... $100/month and then reduced to $100/year. Still not enough support.

  8. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I, too, was a member. Doesn't it seem like many members of FS were the same people that got involved in other things in the industry?

    I'm sure there might be a correlation?

    Bottom line: Critical Mass

    Don't remember fees structure but knew that amount wasn't going to be sustainable.

    Biggest Advantage: the people; sharing ideas, comparing notes

    can't remember any 'return' dollar wise, but never regretted a penny spent

    sidetracking-remember the concept created by Marco for 'print on demand'? members there, too. also, unsustainable

    this industry isn't heavily invested in joining LOL
  9. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Wow, Bob. Do you PPFA guys actually work at being so defensive, or is there something in the Kool-Aid? at your gatherings?

    This discussion was, and is, about something the industry needs -- a marketing association, and an affiliation with an industry that has relevance from a marketing standpoint. The PPFA has many times said that marketing the industry is not its function, so why get bent out of shape about this. PPFA can do what PPFA does, but we need an association to help framers compete effectively in this industry.

    It's astounding how every thread that mentions another trade show, or an educational opportunity, elicits this knee-jerk, "man the battle stations," "circle the wagons, someone's trying to steal our pie," kind of response from PPFA insiders.

    Is there any wonder why the vast majority of the industry does not belong to PPFA?
  10. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I am very interested in a marketing trade organization. I agree that we should not put down the efforts of the PPFA, in fact I think their members are exactly the kind of individuals that we would want in a secondary organization that is concentrating on marketing. The PPFA is great for what they do and they have many members that are extremely dedicated to the betterment of the industry.

    An idea I have been kicking around for a while involves one of the local television stations. I have a segment about once a month where I appear on the morning news to talk about framing. I’ll tell you that these appearances have certainly given my shops, and especially me, some unearned credibility. I was thinking that I could get some air time once a month to introduce another shop in the “trade organization” and talk about what’s going on with them. We would promote that particular shop in that segment and the organization’s website in every segment. The diversity of shops would contribute to the generation of interest in our industry. Maybe a trade organization like this could have variable buy-ins where dues would depend on the particular benefits that each shop is expecting. This way every member would contribute only what they can afford and still be valued by the organization for their efforts. I really think the ability to get on TV would be a big recruiting incentive for a lot of shops. Of course, on top of this the website would be optimized and other forms of advertising would be considered and provided.

    It sounds like those who participated in this FramerSelect had a good experience while it was running. For those who are still in the industry, would you do it again, if it were run in an equally good or better fashion? Some of those participating in this conversation seem to be considered leaders in the industry. I think your input as to how we could make something like this work would be invaluable. Are you saying that the only problem that you know of with FramerSelect was the inability to achieve critical mass? Would breaking down the organization into regional groups with enthusiastic personnel heading up each region (much like the PPFA) have helped with recruitment? I don’t know how long ago this program happened but I’ve been in the industry for over twenty years and I hadn’t heard about it until it was mentioned after the fact on the Grumble. This is why I think enthusiastic regional recruiters might be a good idea.

    If any of you think this might be a good start I could start getting some costs put together and we can see what kind of membership fees and number of participants we would need to achieve that elusive critical mass.

    As for working an affiliation with the furniture industry, I don’t think it would hurt. What part of the industry were you talking about, residential like the Room Store or Ashley, or commercial like the companies who set up offices for government facilities and the like?

    Paul (and anybody else), if you want to work together on a test market in the Baltimore metro area I’m in.

    If the PPFA thinks that this is a worthwhile cause, but doesn't have the time or resources to do it while they are concentrating on other aspects of keeping the industry going, then maybe you could help by offering positive constructive input. It would be greatly appreciated and you would still get the recognition of being a more helpful and inclusive organization than our fathers' PPFA, just like so many of your members keep telling me you are.

  11. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    hey Paul

    I just know you have been a frequent and vocal critic of PPFA

    I haven't seen or heard anyone try and create a 'circle the wagons' as you suggest. I won't speak for Rob but seems like everybody would like to see more active and vibrant participation regardless of location. Who wouldn't want more opportunities. Perhaps revitalizing the old Art Buyers Caravan? Remember that? Perfect venue for framers like Karen. Could drive there, see vendors, possibly be home for dinner?

    More active trade involvement? Sure, no one is against it. Takes a lot of people, a lot of effort, a lot of money

    My admonition is a simple one: Show us how to build it. And, then do it.

    And, you certainly wouldn't take any offense is some offer some 'critical' advice from time to time, would you?

    For all it's faults, it's still the best organization in the industry. Want to improve it? Great! Create a plan, fund it, staff it, direct it. What could be easier?

    Not much, except sitting on the sidelines

    Paul, don't tell us what's wrong; create a model and show us

    I'm sure you could find a lot of people on The G that would love to offer time, support and money to help create your vision. i'm sure most framers would join; probably a lot of PPFA members might be in both?

    Perhaps you could start with determining which Trade/Marketing Association you would prefer to affiliate with? Have you joined it? Are they willing to accept a Framers Group? How many members of the trade might join? What are the dues of this targeted Association?

    I'm being dead solid serious about this if you are. It's a LOT of heavy lifting; are you up to it? I'll even offer to help if you are serious

    You keep stating the Industry needs it-time to step up
  12. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Yes, I would join Framer Select again. They had a great graphics team and were heading towards something special. The cost was high, as it would be would be for a marketing organization that actually did something of value. Most framers, including me, don't have the time to put into something like this, and certianly not the expertise. Something like this takes hired talent. Hired talent takes money. Jay had the funding to start, and it is a shame that it did not get off the ground because of lack of participation.
  13. Rob Markoff

    Rob Markoff PFG, Picture Framing God

    Hey Bob- I'm on your team. I'm on every FRAMER's team. I am PRO framer. I am PRO PPFA. I was an active supporter/member of Framer Select. I would love to see a marketing effort on behalf of framers but I am also well aware that there are many framers who can't even afford to attend trade show (regardless of where it is) let alone contribute towards a marketing effort. Do you recall that PFM even tried the "regional" mini-show? I went to one in Philadelphia but there were probably more vendors than attendees.

    Framer Select was made up of the brightest minds in the industry, had outstanding graphics and advertising media you could customize, great support, great meetings, members who were the most progressive in the industry with outstanding connections. The sad reality is that not enough framers understood the "value" of what the organization could provide and were unwilling to pay what an effort of that magnitude really costs.

    I hear framers naively (oh god, there's the N word again) ask why the PPFA can't run a "Got Framing" campaign - without any understanding of how much money is behind a campaign of that magnitude.
  14. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Before I became a picture framer, I was involved in the home furnishings industry. Back in the late 70's and 80's, all accessories at the shows were done locally or regionally. You never saw framing distributors exhibiting at their shows. You never saw offshore (insert China), with the exception of piles of originals canvases. Fast forward 20 yrs, you do see framing distributors, and many chinese vendors. I'm trying to wrap my head around the idea that this idea would work as independents. I don't think we can go back to the way it was. But, I totally agree that they go hand and hand.

    But it did work with the photo industry. Look at how many got into printing because of the alliance.
  15. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Cool, so Bob, Paul and I are in. I’m not an industry leader but I am willing to put in the work. Keep in mind that I am bordering on ignorant about these types of things. I have only worked on marketing my small chain of stores and have organized a local group of framers but ended up being unsuccessful in marketing them when our industry leading potential backers pulled out. Nobody lost a penny so I think I still have an in with most of them.

    Can anyone put me in touch with Jay Goltz? I would love to know what his organization was all about, how he marketed to framers and the public, why he thinks it was unsuccessful, what he would do differently if he tried it again and dozens of other questions. I think I need a much more detailed picture of what Framer Select was. Does anybody still have the original marketing material that sold you on the idea. Again, I have several frame shops and keep on top of as much industry news as possible and am very interested in group marketing, but I never heard about this. I am seriously wondering if the word just didn’t get out. I understand that Jay Goltz is supposed to be a framing god, but honestly I wouldn’t know him if I bumped into him on the street, and I think the vast majority of framers would tell you the same. Having some industry leaders on board will certainly up your credibility with those who are in the know, but most framers are not.

    Does anyone have any information on how Larson Juhl’s test marketing campaign went? I know they tried it in the Richmond area. Chris (CJMST3K) did you participate in this or even know about it? If so how was it and how could we make it better? If you knew about it but didn’t participate, why not? We need to know what holds framers back from joining in on group marketing plans.

    I am definitely going forward with my Baltimore area idea and will be getting some numbers together and talking to TV stations, film crews, on air talent, web developers and anybody else you suggest, to get together a budget so that I can see how affordable we can make it for the participants. I will also see about making up some demos to present to framers. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated. If we can make this successful in Baltimore we will have a formula to expand to other markets. If anybody else here is about action and not just talk feel free to let me know. I will accept constructive help from anyone.

    Paul, if you think you can get the furniture industry involved in this effort please feel free to pitch in, and if your contacts at Décor magazine can help it would be appreciated. Rob, if your contacts with Larson or Tru Vue would help us get support for this effort let me know. Bob, if you think your experience with marketing multiple locations would be of benefit, I am listening. If any of the PPFA leadership wants to participate in any way, even if it is just with advice or getting the word out, it would be helpful. My only problem is that you guys are going to have to speak to me as if I were a five year old, because I clearly am not reading your intent when you are posting and neither are a lot of others. You have no idea how many private messages and emails I am getting from Grumblers who think that there is a schism between those who rely on PPFA support and those who do not. Even if this is not your intent it is the inference of a great number of readers. If credit is what you are looking for I will gladly concede the credit to you but we need participation, not nay-saying. Think of all the extra attendance you will get at your classes when people find out you were instrumental in creating the marketing program that saved the industry. If on the other hand it is unsuccessful I can easily take on the mantle of scapegoat. I am not a well respected leader in the industry whose reputation is at stake. I’m just a framer who wants more business and I believe that cooperation with my fellow framers will accomplish that. Thanks to anyone who hung in all the way to the end.

  16. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Ed

    I truly would love to hear details and a plan of action. Love to know who might be a likely 'suitor'. Would love to hear what these costs will. Just would love to get some hard facts

    Like Mickey said to Minnie, 'I'm all ears'
  17. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thanks Bob, I'll get some information together for you and send it over as soon as possible.
  18. cvm

    cvm PFG, Picture Framing God

    @ Ed:

    "Framerselect is a program designed to help the independent frame shop grow their business by advertising to a targeting audience in Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, Artnews, Condi nast Traveler, and House and Garden magazine. There will be 2-3 ads per month. The cost is $120 per month per store. We plan on signing up 600-1000 independently owned frame shops. This is NOT available to national chain stores or franchises; they have their own programs. Until there is critical mass, the lookup will be by city or state. We will be eventually have a more sophisticated zone strategy. We will not be using zipcodes, nor will there be exclusives."
    - Jay Goltz, March 17, 2001

    Here's the outline for the FS workshop we attended in July, 2003:

    1. Selecting Gift & Home Accessories
    * Determine the right product mix to compliment your art and framing business
    * Creating a store image
    * Price points that sell
    * Stock Levels
    * Fixtures & merchandising techniques

    2. How to shop the Mart
    * Determine customer/product profiles
    * Establish a budget
    * Prioritize what you want to see and accomplish

    3. Choosing the Best Location for Your Frame Shop
    * Neighborhood demographics
    * Location history
    * Sales per square foot
    * Curb appeal

    4. Corporate Business
    * Types of businesses to target
    * How to make contact

    5. Direct Mail
    * Good design/Bad design
    * Target audience
    * Quantity & frequency
    * Special offers

    6. FramerSelect Marketing Tools & Support
    * Website
    * Ad development
    * Recommended Vendor programs
  19. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Thanks, that helps a lot. Where was this originally posted? Was it in the trade magazines, on the Grumble, distributed through the PPFA, handed out by suppliers, or door to door marketers? Did people not think they would get a bang for their buck because it was in magazines and not a splashier medium? 600-1000 doesn't seem like a lot (even though I know it is) I had twenty local shops committed when I last attempted something local and that was just in the Baltimore metro area. I didn't even venture 20 minutes south to the DC area. This is convincing me that a more hands on local campaign might be more attainable. Feel free to tell me what I'm overlooking.
  20. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    wow, I go away for the weekend and things bust open.

    two things I want to say before offering something else to ponder.

    1) explaining history, current activity, or trying to correct miss-perceptions is not being defensive.
    2) those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

    Besides the large scale failures already mentioned, there have been a number of smaller ones that I know about.

    * Paul's dead attempt from a few years ago
    * A framer in the Philadelphia area that got Larson to help promote a TV campaign which he aborted when he couldn't get enough signups. (sorry I don't remember the name)
    * Our attempt in Worcester, MA where we got 6 framers to kick in about $1500 each for a TV campaign and website that died from lack of response. You can see the commercial here: http://www.mylocalpictureframer.com/

    Although I have been a big supporter of the idea of joint marketing, they seem to continually fall flat.
    I suspect a number of factors contribute to this.
    * One already mentioned is lack of sufficient cash. (That might be enough in itself)
    * another is the targeting problem. By this I mean that each of us has an identity and a store personality that does not lend itself to generalities well.
    - The message tends to get watered down when more than two people have to agree on it.
    - Even with my own marketing campaign I change the message depending on which radio station or which local paper I am using because the audience changes. If you don't use the right bait the fish won't bite.

    I am not opposed to an industry wide campaign, but, like Bob I need to hear specifics and particularly, what's different that will overcome the problems of the past.
  21. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Good on ya Ed.
  22. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    A few questions come to mind: how many independently owned frame shops are there today? We all know most of them in our own particular area. How could we get this information?

    Would there be a way to set this up under the PPFA? It is an organization in existence already. Maybe a subgroup could be formed, with non members as well. Add ons might be easier than start from scratch.

    Where would one advertise? I would think an online presence would be preferred over magazines, especially with the younger crowd.

    What is the target market? Do you start with the younger crowd, as we most definitely don't have that segment of the market (judging by my own customer base and those around me) Yeah yeah, I know there are exceptions of course.

    Starting with a website might be the easiest and fastest way to get a foot in the door.

    Just some random rambling. Feel free to ignore.
  23. susang

    susang SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    So little of what I frame now is decorative related. Most of what I frame is memory related. When I ask "Where will it hang?", these days most say that is not relevant. It'll be passed down for generations. What they frame hits on their emotions. Perhaps the furniture industry isn't where we need to align. Perhaps AARP? Perhaps a genealogical society? I know that you are laughing but most of my customers are over 50. These are the customers who have money and they get it.

    Cliff it was the Kraynaks of North Penn Art that attempted the ad campaign. I had signed on to it.


    PPFA affiliation: past Chapter president, current Chapter Treasurer, librarian, website manager Past Chapter Relations committee member and Chair, Recipient of 2014 PPFA Service Award. Just your average framer and average volunteer. Framer 28 years.
  24. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ylva, I think PPFA involvement would be ideal, but we have heard from many PPFA representatives in the past and they have very loudly proclaimed that this is not the role of the PPFA. It could also be that those vocal individuals do not really speak for the PPFA, but I am not familiar enough with the organization to find a true representative. The other problem with my area is that there is only one PPFA shop in the Baltimore metro area and that shop does not want to participate in anything that might cost money. I would love to talk to the PPFA though, so if you know who really represents them, feel free to put them in contact.

    I got the pitch from the Philadelphia campaign, and I know for sure that there was more than one problem. The diversity of framers is definitely an issue but I think being able to have each of them talk about their own shops might be a good resolution to that.

    I think the biggest problem is that some of these things have been tried before and the ones who have attempted it are burned out or have convinced themselves that it won’t work because they tried it. I say we keep pushing forward and those who have failed can help us assess why they failed. There are enough brilliant people on here that we can overcome these problems.
  25. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    " ... we have heard from many PPFA representatives in the past and they have very loudly proclaimed that this is not the role of the PPFA. ..."

    I don't actually remember anyone saying that. What has been said is that the PPFA has done it's best to do what it has the resources for. The PPFA HAS produced stock advertising, posters, newsletter templates, newsletter content, PR campaigns and various other marketing materials that have seen limited adoption by it's members. The PPFA has produced a NUMBER of social media sites for consumer awareness and HAS a Consumer Awareness Committee that runs a consumer targeted website with a blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and others. This is all handled by volunteers.

    What has been said is that a "national media" campaign does not appear to be financially feasible given the PPFA dues model.
  26. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Don't underestimate what the PPFA is doing, they are certainly looking at spreading the word (find-a-framer for instance, many Facebook pages etc etc)

    They are struggling as well with the monetary issues of course. There simply is no budget to spend on something major as this. There are many PPFA-ers around here, who have done wonderful things for their own chapters. So with that limited budget, yes, they decided to focus on education, which is more manageable than advertising.

    Most framers don't become members as the 'what's in it for me' issue is extreme. I think you will face that same problem.

    It is an organization that is here already. I firmly believe this industry can change, from within. Look at FrameFest 2014, how that took off and now there are plans for next year.

    And yes, I am a member. I was a member a few years ago, felt very much the 'now how does this benefit me' pull and stopped being a member. I joined again last year and just renewed my membership. No, not because it has done so much for me personally, or for my business. Because we do need an organization. Because somehow we have to get this whole bunch of stubborn framers united. Then we can talk about bigger issues and maybe get this off the ground. Right now I am not actively involved. I pay my dues. I go to meetings and talk to other framers.

    Any organization you would start would face those issues. You can't do it without money. Who is going to pay in if there are no results to be shown, yet.
  27. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Paul's original post had a premise that I agreed with completely, about 5 years ago. That is, that the BBs were a major threat to independent frame shops. (they clearly were and had an impact) I am not so sure that's the case any more. Anecdotal evidence indicates a a slowing, if not a reversal, of the trend (consumers moving to BBs) for CUSTOM framing. They're still there and we still should be aggressively competing with them IMO, but I think there has been a change in consumer thinking.

    Particularly with younger people, the "buy local" and "support local" trend is having a solid impact.

    I agree that any and all concerted marketing would help, but I'm not as sure that BBs should be the target?

  28. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hey Cliff, I don’t want to have to look up the exact references and I don’t want to call anybody out but yes there was one prominent PPFA member that I recall saying those words almost exactly, and several who agreed with him. Like I said, maybe he wasn’t speaking for the organization, but it sure sounded like he was.

    I am not badmouthing the PPFA. Like I said there are a lot of very good, dedicated people in the PPFA, but thank you Cliff, that is far more information than I have gotten about the PPFA in the last ten years. I don’t know if I’m in a particularly inactive area or if I am unwelcome but most of my questions about the PPFA tend to go unanswered. If the PPFA is able to promote my business (and I don’t care if it’s on the national or local level) that is something that would greatly interest me. Are the promotional materials similar to the promotional materials available through Larson Juhl, Nielson Bainbridge and possibly other distributors or are they something more useful? I understand that these are volunteers and that is what I am doing as well. I do not intend to get paid for this in any way other than the increase in business that my shops might get, but when it comes down to it I am already marketing my own shops this way so all I am doing is letting other framers get a piece of this action. Maybe this whole thing is stupid and I should be more selfish. Are you suggesting that I not make the effort at all, and if so what is your motivation for such a position?

    There is a big difference between the way I recruit framers for an effort like the one I’m proposing and the way the local PPFA recruits members. I actually personally contact all of the framers in the area. You would be surprised at the response you get when you go to them. I have never been contacted by the local PPFA chapter without having first repeatedly tried contacting them and occasionally publicly shaming them into getting back to me. When I have questions about the local PPFA events they are completely ignored, so I have to assume that I am not invited.

    If the PPFA wants me to make the efforts that I have already committed to in their name instead of a separate organization all they have to do is ask. I’m doing the work anyway, they can take the credit if that’s what they want, but they won’t ask because they only have the one member in that geographic area, and they clearly are not interested in recruiting new members here.

    I have tried this type of thing before so I know what kind of obstacles I face. I am still willing to try again. I have an idea to fund all of the upfront costs to prove the vehicle before exposing it to the community, but at this point I think I will keep that confidential. I work very hard like a lot of you do and get very passionate about my business and my industry so I very much hope that I am not insulting or hurting the feelings of PPFA members who are equally passionate and work equally hard. All I can tell you is what my experiences have been.

    So maybe on a slight tangent; would there be a benefit to joining a PPFA chapter other than the territory in which I am located, because the SE has been far more responsive to my concerns than the CA. If you want to start a different thread to answer that feel free. I’ll find it.

  29. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    " ... Are the promotional materials similar to the promotional materials available through Larson Juhl, Nielson Bainbridge and possibly other distributors or are they something more useful? ..."

    IMO, they are just about as (non)useful. They are very well done and have some nice professional photos, but IMO, marketing material can not be useful in a one-size-fits-all implementation. It's one of the problems with this idea.

    One of the challenges we face in PPFA is that each person speaks from their perspective and experience. Couple that with changing and varied leadership in each chapter and PPFA winds up with a lot of different "faces." Add to that the fact that very few of us try to stay on top of everything and you get a lot of miss-perceptions. I've even heard experienced well-known educators say "PPFA says ..." About a number of things that I can not find anywhere except from their perception. Since we are a loose collection of volunteers, communication is problematic and even "leaders" don't get all the information they could use.

    You can start a thread or PM me anytime and I will tell you what I understand and perceive, but just like everyone else, I have my own personal perspective.
  30. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Hey Cliff

    you forgot the Dennis DeConforto initiative-easily the most brilliant marketing strategy ever developed funded entirely by PMAi/PPFA. If i remember correctly it was rolled out at the last Atlanta show. Dennis reluctantly included me in the Framer's presentation to the trade. Why reluctant? Because he realized my 'beyond the immediate horizon' mind just wasn't getting the concept fully. The morning of the presentation, the light bulb came on, thankfully LOL

    Do you remember the roll out?

    It died a slow death because framers just wouldn't get involved. The reason? It took a little time and a little money from local framers at the local level. Biggest excuse? Didn't have the time and were most willing to let others fund it. When it came time to break open the wallets and participate in a media drive, framers suddenly had alligator arms-couldn't quite reach their back pockets LOL. PPFA expense? Aton o' money-really PMAi

    There were a few others during my tenure with a few doing yeoman's work but died for lack of participation

    That's why I encouraged Paul to provide some structure and details. I hope this doesn't become a Unicorn and Rainbows exercise

    As to Affiliation and I can only speak from experience

    imagine a spox from this 'new' Marketing Strategy Alliance visiting a National Trade Assn looking to hitch a ride and I'll play the Executive Director

    B: Thanks for coming in , how can we help you (like i wasn't fully prepared)
    P: as in picture framer-we'd love to talk about a partner ship

    B: Well, tell me a little about your group. We need to consider the Revenue generated by your group from dues, vendor participation at our trade shows and member participation, as well. Let's start with how many dues payng members do you have today? 2 years ago? 5 years ago? Projected 2 years from now? ( i know that info because I did my homework)
    P: Not sure

    B: How many independent framers are there? What is Average Annual Income of this group today? 2 years ago? 5 years ago? Projected 2 years from now? (I know that because I did my homework)
    P: Not sure

    B: What is Market Share of Big Box competitors today? Independent retailers? 2 years ago? 5 years ago? 2 years ahead? (homework, again)
    P: Not sure

    B: Thanks for coming in, don't forget to get your parking validated on your way out
    This is an absolutely true scenario and it's been awhile since I was close to those answers once and hope most really do know them today and will share

    I am not trying t be cynical, but I'm guessing a week from now this might be passing. I hope not.But, it wil take a leader with some real gravitas forming a committee willing to make the commitment. Wh's going to roll up their sleeves and do some some heavy lifting?

    Reality: Just as in Politics, much easier to tell the other guy what he's doing is wrong, than to actually figure and execute doing it right

    Unicorns and Rainbows
  31. i-m-chickie

    i-m-chickie SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Hi. Cathy Coggins aka Chickie here on the G.

    Proponent of PPFA. PPFASE Vice President. Member of Team Frame Fest 2015 (and of course 2014) Serve with the PPFA's Chapter Relations Committee and Membership Committee. Therefore a PPFA believer. I honestly do not feel I do enough. As to pay, HA! I paid to go to Frame Fest just like everybody else!

    My shop also is a retail Needlework shop, I have attended a couple of TNNA (The National Needlearts Association, also a member but no not involved as PPFA as I am only human) meetings. The schisms, the lack of clear focused direction, the 'what's in it for me' attitude, the 'give me what I want or I ain't rejoining' attitude are there too. Ironically right now there is a huge fracture going on among shop members, over what? Trade shows! Imagine that. The format, the location, the focus, the timing, integrating other areas of business, keeping them separate, only one other difference and it's rather a biggie, cash n' carry sales. The solution to their problems are just as illusive and inconclusive as ours. A line in the sand has been drawn and many have had to make strong stands, comfortable or not.

    What I just said about TNNA is a great luxury. As a paid member with my sticker on the door and access to the trade shows (any or all of them), my membership stops right about there. As a somewhat outsider I can openly speak my mind on my perceptions. With PPFA I do not have that luxury. You see once you get very involved, in the thick of it, anything you say can be perceived as speaking for the group. I know this as I am usually rather outspoken. I have had to curtail my comments. Had to think very carefully and from many angles before speaking. Had to think of my peers before opening my pie hole. I know what I have to say can be valuable, and others in PPFA exponentially more so, but it is easier to keep silent and not upset the applecart. People like Cliff, who are way more versed in the state of PPFA, and he has that wonderful gift of thinking ever so carefully before he types and it comes out clear, and leaves little room for misinterpretation. I say all of this as often here, on the G, people think PPFA folks don't jump in enough. The organization is growing but is far to small for any of us to undermine it.

    Incidentally, calling Frame Fest what it was did not just broaden the appeal of what we were doing in SE. It didn't just give a welcoming approach to any and all framers ("by framers for framers" was added to help any who might have missed our point). It also freed us to create something new. It freed us to make a brand for our work, PPFA was in the ingredients list but not in your face. It was truly me and my fellows making an event we would want to attend and inviting ya'll. We got lucky. Numbers wise, in planning this I had had a number in my mind, a number of attendees. Picking it was almost arbitrary. It was bouncing ideas of my fellow hard workers, and sensing/perceiving the market. We hit that number or missed by less than 5. We are delighted.

    Sorry for jacking the thread a few minutes. It all ties in promise. "Framers Select", I never heard of it until Jay told me about it. Then one of the SE board members. I wish I was around when it was. I would have screamed it from the rooftops. Cohesion is the only thing that can make the framing industry strong. Strike that. Cohesion is the only thing that can make ANY small biz industry strong. Sounds like Framers Select had that in mind. PPFA right now is the closest thing to that "stick" we have, and that is a fraction of what it ought to be.

    These two threads, this one and the Decor one, have started out kind *****ly. They have revealed some keen minds, some bright ideas, and some willingness to make something cool. I do hope it happens. Someone has to have a plan though. As neato as the read has been I hope that something comes to pass. Intention is the biggest thing, theme wise, that framers are judging. PPFA, Decor, WCAF, Frame Fest, Paul Casio, Pat Kotnour, this one or that one in or out of PPFA. What is in it for them? And/or will I be able to benefit myself and my business? And what are these getting form it exactly? Passion makes people edgy, they think someone is getting something they ain't.

    Cliff was right when he described the BBs role in our competition. We are starting to be viewed as microbrew beers, people buying from us coz we are thought-provoking and cool. This is the information age with the underlining theme of great ignorance. People are lazy, thus ignorant. We have to show them our relevance. We have to show them the soul of what we do. BBs have no soul, they truly cannot touch us then. Social media helps that if one can get a "viral" kind of notice. BBs couldn't buy that kind of attention. We are often to busy making frames to make a glossy internet presentation of ourselves. In cold calling Frame Fest one framer didn;t know his web address or Email. Social media is the now, we have work to do.

    If someone wants to get something started, if it is believable, please someone let me know. I would be delighted to see something cool become of this. There conceptually is something here. My brain tends to be very free thinking, stream of consciousness kind of all over the place. Talk of ROIs does keep me grounded, but even I know there is a lot to be done for this idea to "go".

    Hope any of this is helpful. I eagerly await this threads progression.
  32. Cliff Wilson

    Cliff Wilson SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Bob, I'm trying not to be discouraging.
    Chicken, LOL, golly it's hard to read your posts! But, there are real nuggets in
  33. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    Shouldn't the potential backers be the individual shops who gain the most from the marketing? If suppliers pulled back, I'm not totally surprised.

    Oh, I think you might recognize Jay. :thumbsup: He has been on the cover of PFM and usually appears on almost any flyer, Ebast or advertisement promoting the National Conference WCAF in Las Vegas. Next to Vivian Kistler, he might be the most recognized face in the picture framing industry. :D I honestly think that FramerSelect actually did reach out to the majority within the industry at the time.


    You really need to venture over to the PPFA forum and drop in on the thread started by Ellen Collins of Howard's in Hagerstown. Ellen is in the process of re-creating her TV spots as we speak so your timing is perfect! Ellen has been involved in the MD-VA-DC Area PPFA Chapter for many years so you really need to connect.

    If you are not already a member, you definitely need to join. :thumbsup:

    Ed, I don't think any dedicated PPFA member RELIES on PPFA support. Anything that a PPFA member takes away from PPFA is directly related to what they put into it. PPFA isn't some big governmental agency with a millions of dollars and hundreds of employees. It's three staff members in Jackson Michigan and most importantly, it is the members at large, the volunteer individual shop owners like you and me that give to our trade association. Those who stand on the outside of this great unknown, criticizing PPFA for not doing great and wonderful things typically get a different sense of what they are once they get involved and join....ask Bob Carter about that. He was once a staunch outsider who converted. :D

    You just identified PPFA's mantra. :thumbsup:

    Twenty local shops for a shared campaign sounds encouraging. Were this twenty shops committed financially? Sad to say, that folks often talk big until the time comes to lay out the cash.

    Cliff mentioned his joint TV sponsorship with framers in the Worcester, Massachusetts area. We did a similar thing with three PPFA member frame shops (Green Bay - Appleton - Oshkosh) back in 1984. We ran TV Spots that mentioned all three and ran two campaigns splitting all production and advertising cost three ways.

    It can be done.

  34. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    Here is an older thread (2002) that talks about TV Advertising, FramerSelect and co-operative ventures...

    The Grumble - Cable Advertising

    I thought you might enjoy the read. I was actually looking for Cliff Wilson's shared TV Spots, so perhaps he knows where they can be viewed. (Mine are so old, I have VHS copies) :D

  35. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    John, thanks that's a lot of good information. I appreciate it.

    Just to clarify, the messages I was getting were not necessarily about PPFA members they were about PPFA educators and former educators. They may not get paid by the PPFA but they do financially benefit from it. Again, this may be a misrepresentation of the organization by a few outspoken individuals.

    I understand from everyone that Ellen is a wonderful person and from everything I have seen here on the Grumble I believe it. I have attempted to contact her on many occasions in the past and once she even got back to me, but I gave up trying earlier this year when I attempted to get information about a PPFA event that I wanted to attend and I could not get any response. I missed the event and unfortunately missed the opportunity to get a better idea of whether the PPFA would be for me.

    Thank you for the encouragement.
  36. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Don't listen to people saying the educators get rich.

    Does anyone know how much time, research and so on goes into presenting an educational class? The educators are not in it for the money. There are easier ways to make money.

    The educators I personally know, and share what they have to do before they can give a class, all do it because of a wish to educate, to help fellow framers by sharing information and knowledge.
  37. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Nobody has ever said they are getting rich. I know that's the defense they keep putting up. They do get a financial benefit through payment for the classes and the clout that comes with being able to tell their clients that they are industry leaders. I am not even opposed to them getting rich from their classes. That would indicate that they are giving good advice that people would pay to hear. But there is a clear appearance of defensiveness when the Decor show or new blood is mentioned and the inference is that they are afraid they will lose something due to this. I don't think that is true at all. I really doubt that people will abandon them for something new.
  38. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I also don't think that's what they think. If anything, it would expand their market.
  39. Paul Cascio

    Paul Cascio SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Glad to see so much participation in this discussion.

    If we look at all of those who attempted to help our segment of the industry market itself, there were several common elements to their programs:

    1. All were started by individuals or private businesses.

    2. All failed to gains widespread participation.

    3. All were flawed in various ways.

    4. None were sanctioned by a trade association.

    If we study and learn from these failures, perhaps we can find success.
  40. Jennifer P

    Jennifer P True Grumbler

    My humble opinion...
    I think PPFA does a wonderful job with what it does even though I am not a member. I do, however, believe they could expand to help with the small framer in his quest to make it.

    I do Not think it can be done apart from the PPFA.

    I personally feel that the Suppliers should step up with marketing tools and advertising for their customers more that I think PPFA should.

    I love Larson Juhl for their attempts to make the framing industry grow and prosper! Right now in our area they are giving away Biltmore passes on orders of 14 x 18 Biltmore line frames! That has been huge for us. if the larger companies would partner with amusement parks museums and tourist destinations to work on promotions to benefit the customer.

    Promotions like this would be more beneficial than sending $100 a month to some organization for random ads or generic signage!

    When Larson did their high end magazine ads, and signage (we purchased) to post in your stores, that was very helpful to me. I hate that it was right before the big recession.

    Something like that is what we really need right now to bring people back to the independents.
    Name brands are always a big selling point. When people get something custom framed, they want to feel like they are getting something that is worth something.

    Branding is very important and that is Something the big boxes can't do!!
    Just like Walmart with never have Tommy Hilfer ,Micheals will never carry Roma. I hope....

    Just something to think about
  41. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    First of all, if you believe in the PPFA, show it by becoming a member. Every little bit helps, every member counts.

    I do not believe that the suppliers should jump in, in the way you think.
    Who are their customers? If you think 'us frame shops' think again. Roma is doing the B2B, so called, taking away business from frame shops. Interior designers, once our customers, now order directly from suppliers, who are all set up with CMC, join the moulding, cut the glass. They deliver a finished product these days. So called to help out the frame shops. Yeah right.

    I too liked the LJ high visibility ads. I even had customers come in asking specifically if I carried Larson frames.

    Yes, branding is important. But what do you brand? We are not a one brand kind of industry. Should we promote certain suppliers? What makes you think BBs couldn't do it? They carry LJ (or knock offs). I don't for one minute think that if they offer a certain volume to one of our other suppliers, our supplier will say, 'no can't do that because I rather work with my small local independent frame shops instead'. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it can't.

    The word we need to get out is why custom framing is important. What can it do for YOU. How can it change YOUR life? Like the 'got milk' campaign (just a random example). It wasn't about the brand name. It was about getting people to drink more milk (and so every brand was profiting from this campaign).

    We need people to frame more. We need to be young, cool, hip, the best new thing. And yes, I realize that the downside is that BBs will profit from that as well.
  42. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    A question for you and Cliff. These TV sponsorships. They went well from what I recall reading. Are they still going on?
  43. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer


    They did go well... We actually ran our joint-advertising in 1983 with two shops that no longer exist. We used our PPFA membership as the common thread among the three competitors. One campaign was simply about "Visiting one of these Professional Picture Framers" as the PPFA logo was on the screen. It ended with all three names and logos.

    The second campaign was actually a "Poster Special" where we all agreed to promote the same discount. We were simply using one television market that covered all three of our communities in an efficient manner.

    After this joint program we started running our own TV spots in the 1990's and have used them with good success since.

    Cliff's joint-advertising efforts in Massachusetts are more recent, and I'm sure he will jump into this thread to share details.

  44. John Ranes II CPF GCF

    John Ranes II CPF GCF SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ed, What you may see as defensiveness, might simply be the poster sharing their viewpoint on their perspective of the potential of success in general, not an attempt to protect their own venue over another.

    I agree... Currently the WCAF - The National Conference has arranged the largest group of educators from within and outside of the picture framing industry each January in Las Vegas. The truth is that many of these names also teach for PPFA, and have taught for Decor at their previous shows. Some speak for PPFA Chapters and at Industry Open Houses sponsored by suppliers and distributors. Hey...it's a "small" industry".

  45. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    How was this worded? I think it would be an excellent marketing strategy, but is it technically illegal due to price fixing laws?
  46. Jennifer P

    Jennifer P True Grumbler

    Well, I'm not a member of PPFA because they don't benefit me right now. If they had campaigns in advertising, I would join. I don't need any more education about framing. I've been framing for over 30 years now and it is what it is! I hate to be the barer of bad news but the 80s are over and it is all about branding right now.
    As far as the milk campaign goes...everybody needs milk. It is something people use and drink on a daily basis. You can't even compare food to retail.
    Framing is a luxury not a need. big difference and until we see that, we are not going to grow as an industry.
    People do not need us. They have to want us!
    The name brand suppliers do need us right now. They have lost almost all of their accounts with the BBs because they have gone to knock offs. It has hurt their bottom line too.

    Working together is good, but you have to be realistic!

    We have to be what the people want not what you think they need. Branding is key!!!
  47. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I don't even know how to begin to answer this. The PPFA cannot grow and do what you want them to do without financial support. I still believe that instead of another new organization to handle marketing, the PPFA is the one already in place and could handle it. But they need money, coming from dues from new members.

    They already have campaigns in advertising. There is a lot going on on social media, which is the most cost effective tool and volunteers, let me repeat that VOLUNTEERS NON PAID PEOPLE are devoting a lot of time to make this happen.

    The day I believe I had enough education is the day I hope to die.
    I fail to see what the 80s have to do with this discussion. I don't see what the bad news is.

    I think we have a different perception of what branding is, and you took the got milk reference completely out of context. I kinda know framing is not food. Or a drink. I might be blonde, but not that blonde.

    Nobody NEEDS milk. Why do you think they started this campaign? Maybe to recover some lost grounds?

    We all know framing is a luxury. We don't need to see it, we already know it. That was not the point.
    I do agree that we need to create the need, the want.

    I don't believe branding, in the way I think you mean this, by promoting suppliers brands, is going to help us at all. I believe in branding the idea (hence my mentioning the got milk campaign). Call it 'need frame'. Have some clips of things that might need a frame, or clips of what happens when it doesn't get a frame.
    Simple, comic clips, with a strong message: go see and talk to your local custom framer.

    We don't need our suppliers for that. We do need an organization for that. The suppliers don't need us. They need our customers.
  48. FramerCat

    FramerCat SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Has the PPFA officially stated that that is a direction they would go? How many new members do they need in order to make a national advertising campaign happen? Has the PMA or whoever they need permission from already approved this? We keep getting some saying that they will never go in this direction and a very few saying that if we join they will. What's the official position?
  49. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I totally agree, Ylva. When Larson Juhl was doing their consumer advertising in the (now mostly-defunct) home decor magazines, the goal was to increase the public's awareness of how custom framing can make one's life better by enhancing the home environment (and, bringing that up to date, by preserving those things that are meaningful to us). No one came in and specifically asked for Larson Juhl mouldings by name because they saw the ads. But maybe thy had something framed because they saw the ads. In this regard, LJ was "looking at the big picture" (pun partially intended) beyond their own self-interest, to the promotion of the concept of framing in general.
    :cool: Rick
  50. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    My biggest questions are how do you create amarketing campaign for a service. I am trying to come up with a parallelbecause I have yet to see anything similar, national campaign for chimneysweeps, accountants, and shoe repairmen. It's such a tiny demographic, it wouldbe much easier if you promoted art. How could you control the message? Itseems like you would be leading people to the doors of Big Box stores. How many shop owners now do their own adverting, marketing, have a website or do social media? I think it safe to assume less than 50% do. Myquestion is why aren't you doing your own? There is a plethora ofmarketing material and ideas that are available from the PPFA, from LarsonJuhl, from Tru Vue and other companies. The ideas seems great, but gettingparticipation is harder than you think, what I see people wanting something fornothing.

    Ed you sound like a framing veteran but don't dotrade shows, don't attend any of the regularly held PPFA National Capitalmeetings. It's easy enough to Google PPFA National Chapter and find thechapter info, the chapter president or better yet just join for pennies a dayand get the email updates when meetings are being held or check the FramersCorner. Yes we are all volunteers we cannot call for every meeting orspam you with countless emails. It sounds easy enough but try it first,call the 125 members in your chapter. We are all adults there is only somuch hand holding you do here.

    The industry needs a lot of things, Larson Juhlshould be applauded for the amount of marketing they have done, with ads innational magazines, using top name interior designers. Wouldn't youpromote that in ads and web work?

    Fotiou Frames has a line of Jane Seymour frames,everyone should be ordering those and have a web page for them. That'swhat everyone wants right?

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