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The trends, the issues, and productive business strategies.

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What To Do About Scrapbooking

Return to preserving memories and other suggestions.

by CLN Readers (December 19, 2011)

(Note: Two issues ago CLN asked readers, "What should the industry do to reverse the decline in scrapbooking?" In the previous issue, Peter Curran of WorldWin Papers responded with a thought-provoking strategy to re-position scrapbooking back to emphasizing memory and launching a campaign in cooperation with national Alzheimer's groups. His column is still online HERE. What follows are responses to Peter's suggestions.)

Scrapbooking: A Changing Landscape.
By Kim Schofield, Principal, Diversified Marketing

(Note: Kim brings to the discussion a unique perspective. She is a marketing communications professional with more than 20 years of diversified and progressive marketing experience for start-ups as well as Fortune 500 companies. In addition, she is an avid scrapbooker who has taught for and provided marketing expertise to her local scrapbook shop.)

One obvious reason for the decline in the scrapbooking industry is a down economy, however, I don’t believe we can place all of the blame on current economic conditions.  A more telling trend may be that in the last few years we've seen a dramatic change in the way that we capture, view, and share photos.  That change has had an impact on the scrapbooking industry.  We're no longer forced to drop off our roll of film at the corner store and wait, hopeful, that the photos we captured of our loved ones are in focus and full of smiling faces. Those photos were precious; we struggled to find ways to effectively store them so they wouldn’t be damaged and were hesitant to give one away since obtaining another copy was not so easy. (Where did I store those negatives?)

With the rise of affordable digital cameras we're now able to instantly share photos with friends and families via email and online social sites such as Facebook. We no longer worry about how our photos turn out since we can snap as many as we want and then simply erase the disagreeable ones with the push of a button.

Following on the heels of the increase of all things digital came countless online digital photo-processing stores that not only process and mail your photos for mere pennies, but will also allow you to create your own digital scrapbook. These online tools are easy to use and even come with the option of selecting a pre-designed book where one only needs to drag and drop a photo into a page and add some journaling.

With such ease available at our fingertips, not even requiring that we leave our homes, is it any wonder why many have given up – or not even considered – traditional scrapbooking methods? While the traditional scrapbooking industry has had a down turn in recent years, the digital scrapbooking industry has continued to grow over that same time period.

We're now faced with the question of whether or not there are there enough customers still interested in this hobby, which combines art, design, and the capturing of precious memories, to sustain or even grow the market?  I believe there are, but it's going to require manufacturers and store owners to work harder, smarter, and to be willing to adapt and change with the industry.

For manufacturers, don't give up on your traditional products; there are many of us who delight in the release of new paper and embellishments, but it would be wise to also spend time investigating the digital industry.  Can you offer your paper designs in digital format? Are there any services you can offer your customers that enable them to combine their love of scrapbooking with the ease of digital options? There are a growing number of manufacturers out there that are already starting to offer these solutions. It's said that "the early bird gets the worm," so step it up sooner rather than later so you're not trying to play catch-up with your competition.

For scrapbook store owners, the challenge is greater for you as you not only face a decline in the industry but you also face a weaker economy. The goal is to work smarter.  Can you offer any digital services from your store? Perhaps you can just direct folks to where they can find such services (manufacturers, here's an opportunity for you to work with those independent stores to create a win-win situation). Be the "go to" place for folks who have questions about traditional and digital scrapbooking. Offer classes on photo-taking and editing. Even offer digital scrapbooking classes! Showcase how you can combine digital and traditional scrapbooking. (Ali Edwards is the queen of this style and it's beautiful!)

And independent stores, you MUST have an online presence. There simply isn't an option of not having an online shopping option. Your prices are being undercut by online stores; maybe you can't meet their price, but you can certainly take a bite out of their profits. Be active on online message boards, start a blog, create a Facebook page!  We're all so entrenched with online social sites, and we like the option of connecting with our favorite stores from our homes. Be open to creating a personal connection with your customers via the many online options available today.

In the end, markets will constantly change and fluctuate and those changes will have a positive impact on some and a negative impact on others; we've seen this dynamic at work in the scrapbooking industry. However, I don't believe that means that the industry is going to go away any time soon. There are far too many of us die-hard scrapbookers out there who love paper, embellishments, photos, and journaling. While we may dabble with digital, we’re not going to be jumping in with both feet. We still want those traditional items and that demand will keep the industry alive. 

Although we have seen a decline, and a reverse in this decline may not happen in the short term, the reality is that the scrapbooking industry is still an almost $2 billion dollar industry!  It may be that the extreme highs of the scrapbooking industry have passed and that's not necessarily a bad thing. That change in the landscape will give way to companies that offer the very best innovative and quality products and superior customer support, and that ultimately benefits customers and local scrapbook stores alike.

Now is the time for those who love this art of preserving memories via scrapbooking to grab hold of the reins with both hands and determine how they can best change with the times. I believe that those who are committed to their businesses, including adapting and changing with the market, will survive and even thrive!

(Note: Kim is in Fremont, NH. To contact her, email ksdm@comcast.net or call 603-347-1225.)

Reaching Out To Other Demographics.

By Samara Joseph.

I read your article and I think you've hit on an as yet untapped market. This market has the potential, if pitched correctly, to increase traffic to the paper crafting industry.

I'd like to also suggest that our manufacturers have focused primarily on one particular segment of our industry. Yet, many demographic-gathering companies point to an increasingly growing population of Latinos, African-Americans, and other "minority" segments of our society. More inclusive material would also increase sales in this untapped resource.

For example, historians should be able to purchase materials that allow them to accurately the Supreme Court and the diversity of the judges who currently sit on the bench. Another example: returning solders want to document alliances and friendships they may have created overseas and need appropriate materials in which to capture their experiences.

Preserving Memories.

By: Torrie Nelson, Editor, Creative Retailer magazine

My comments today are in response to Mike Hartnett's question on what can be done to increase interest in the art of paper crafting and preserving memories. I was inspired by Peter Curran’s eloquent article that passionately addressed some issues within our industry. Peter's credentials are impressive, and I have come to know he is very committed to being part of a solution for improving the growth of the industry. I commend him on offering valid steps to getting us in a more favorable place.

Revitalizing scrapbooking is a much broader issue than a single category or section of crafts. Scrapbooking is still young as an industry and tied so closely to what we are all passionate about: family. The reason so many people find personal gratification in scrapbooking is that it is a craft designed to share, uplift, remember, and document (surd). This is not an acronym created from a panel of experts -- it is simply my interpretation of why we find passion in any craft, particularly in paper crafting.

As I have talked with so many intelligent people over the years, I am convinced that the message we convey as an industry to those who have yet to participate is critically important. Our language needs to convey the purpose of scrapbooking and its incredible relevance to people's lives. That is what will inspire consumers to grasp the importance of paper crafting.

Scrapbooking is an expression of love to one’s family, along with the objective of helping our posterity share in our lives long after we are gone. That expression should also include good journaling and enough style to make the pages enjoyable since it reflects the personality of the person who has created it. If people are scrapbooking with its true purpose in mind, it will be inherently enjoyable and give them the satisfaction to want to continue for years to come. More important, they will want to share what they have created with their children and pass on a legacy that will inspire many more to follow a similar path.

To echo what Peter stated, there are many resources that we can utilize to spread the message on a grand scale, starting with our own CHA. This organization is more than willing to partner in campaigns that will expand the industry. Other resources include community groups and national associations. Blogs and Facebook campaigns are key to get more people to try something new, and social media will be central to the expansion of paper crafting. Publications (such as our own Northridge publications) can be used to better reach the audience we are all in search of. Publications are always looking for content that will build their reader base, and many of you are involved in providing that content. As you do, you are in the perfect position to share the vision of the importance of record keeping through journaling and scrapbooking.

From a marketing and merchandising perspective, Peter's idea on segmenting the store is brilliant. Ensure that the clerks helping those who come in for the first time are trained to bend over backwards to help those new customers, getting to know their needs, and helping them find a path in paper crafting that will be meaningful to them. Be sure to cater to the new arrivals, but equally important is your enthusiasts, since they are the ones that have created our industry. They are our most valuable asset and can help to share the vision of scrapbooking.

Our family and friends are what add meaning to life, and providing them with a record of their life's memories is a treasure worth working for. Sharing our vision of scrapbooking is what will keep this incredible industry vibrant. 

(Note: Care to share your thoughts on the subject. Email them – on or off the record – to CLN at mike@clnonline.com.)

xxx

 

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