Tuesday, December 18, 2007

18!?! Anything lower would be illegal

That's a tag line for one of my products (18 refers to cents).

As the industry has gone digital the demand for printing has gone down since many never ever order a print because all the photos they have are there for anybody to see on Flickr or SmugMug, and they can be put on blogs, emailed and don't cost a thing.

And the biggest drop has been in our bread and butter 4x6 prints. They used to cost 49 cents a print. To induce interest I've lowered it to 18 cents a print. Not only have I lowered the price I'm using a better quality paper, so the prints look fantastic - the color, contrast, density and whatever makes a great looking digital photo great is there.

Most people were surprised by my decision about upping the paper quality, but I don't want to sell a cheap print. I want to sell the best quality print at an unbeatable price to raise the bar. Now my competition has to do the same so it's not about under cutting competition, it's about offering customers an incredible value proposition.

I've also cut rates, without cutting image enhancement treatments, for the Lightjet (it is the best photo enlarger in the world capable of producing up to 48x120 inch prints seamlessly. Most digital photos on display in museums and galleries are Lightjet prints). What that has done is made premium prints affordable for more people because quality should not be limited to the rich. Admittedly even with lower prices an average print starts at $14, but that has lowered the threshold of entry into the rarefied Lightjet world. Most of my business this month has in fact come from the Lightjet. It's raised my margins of profit exponentially, but it's also given common people best prints they've ever had - so many Moms have ordered Lightjet prints for their kids! To me that's the key point - to give customers something amazing, not something cheap. Maybe the key is making amazing in most people's reach.

This isn't a new concept. Toyota and Honda made better cars cheaper than American and European automakers and rule the industry. Vimal beat the daylights out of mega rich established cloth mills by making better fabric affordable.

The maxim is, winners don't cut corners they deliver more than others can. I am learning to be a winner.

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