Challenges, problems, and triumphs
-- from a manufacturer's perspective.
CHA and PMA: Should It Be Either/Or?
Why not take the best of both worlds?
by Nancy Nally (June 18, 2007)
(Note: The CHA-PMA discussion continues. If you haven't
read the previously published articles on the subject, click on
Memory, Paper & Stamps and Business-Wise. Nancy operates a blog,
Scrapbook Update, at www.scrapbookupdate.com.
She has written numerous articles on scrapbooking for various
publications, including CLN, Creative TECHniques, Scrapbook
Business, and DesignerZine.)
With the recent acquisition of the SMART Group by the Photo
Marketing Association, Dennis Conforto, CEO of SMART Group's
previous owners A-Z Media Group, has been quite vocal in expressing
his opinion that the scrapbook industry needs a strategic alignment
with the photo industry for the betterment of both industries. And
while on the surface his arguments seem to make sense, I believe for
several reasons that the scrapbook industry is better off not
choosing to solely align itself with either the photo or crafts
The obvious reason for having to choose between declaring
"allegiance" to one industry over the other is that their
winter trade shows conflict. In 2008, the PMA's show is Jan. 31-Feb.
2 in Las Vegas. The CHA Winter show, the larger by far of CHA's two
annual shows, is in Anaheim Feb. 9-13. While these dates don't
technically overlap, they allow precious little time for
disassembling and transporting booths from one location to the
other, not to mention the burden on a company's show staff of two
trips in that short of a time period. The bottom line may also be a
problem: many companies simply cannot afford the expense of
exhibiting at two shows.
So which show should scrapbook companies attend? And does only
attending one show mean a company should shrug off any interest in
the other organization and the opportunities of its market?
I believe that the most productive answer to the show question is
for the scrapbook companies to continue to attend the CHA Winter
show. The larger companies that can afford to do so should of course
take advantage of the opportunity to attend the PMA as well, if it
fits with their marketing goals.
But since many scrapbooking companies make products that reach
other craft markets outside the scrapbook niche, it seems to me to
be imperative that these companies continue to exhibit at CHA Winter
to maximize their reach to other areas of the crafts industry. Plus,
many of the store buyers can only afford to attend a single show.
Since many of these buyers purchase from other craft categories in
addition to the scrapbook segment, these buyers will need to
continue to attend the CHA show. By necessity it follows that the
scrapbook manufacturers will need to be there as well to reach these
Another reason that the scrapbook companies need to remain part
of the CHA show and central to the crafts industry is to maintain
their flexibility in a changing market. For the photo market,
scrapbooking is a marketing tool for photos. Unless companies want
to become photo companies, there are not many ways for them to
adjust to a changing market. They are tied to marketing scrapbooking
as a way to use photos in a marketing partnership with the PMA.
On the other hand, a presence in the CHA and in the crafts
industry offers scrapbook manufacturers flexibility to take
advantage of markets created by crafts trends that utilize their
products but which don't necessarily use photos. In addition to
marketing the concept of scrapbooks as photo journals that don't
necessarily use photos, these include activities such as cardmaking,
home décor crafts, and gifts.
Marketing solely with a focus on utilizing photos is limiting,
losing out on all of those potentially lucrative markets. Marketing
scrapbooking as a crafts segment provides non-photo marketing
options, which can help keep companies flexible as various
categories ebb and flow in popularity.
But does the value of the crafts segment in marketing
scrapbooking mean that scrapbook companies must cut themselves off
from the PMA and the opportunities of the photo marketing angle?
Does it have to be, should it be, an either/or choice? Absolutely
not, and the very nature of the scrapbooking market is the reason
Visit any group of scrapbookers, either online or at a real-life
cropping event, and you will find two distinct types of scrapbookers.
One category of scrapbookers views the activity as a creative
pursuit, and their scrapbooks are not necessarily always created as
homes for their photos but rather as expressions of themselves that
may or may not include photos. Another group of scrapbooking
participants views their scrapbooks as enhanced photo albums. This
is the market targeted so successfully by Creative Memories with its
"Simple Pages, Completed Albums" program. These
scrapbookers view their scrapbooking success in terms of being
"caught up" with their albums.
The parallel between those two types of scrapbookers and the two
trade associations is striking. CHA's approach is more tailored to
the "scrapbooking as creative outlet" consumer, and PMA's
interests are more in line with the consumer interested in
scrapbooks as a home for their pictures and in being "caught
up". The savvy scrapbook company that is looking to maximize
their potential market reach should be trying to reach both types of
consumers. Thus, both organizations could potentially provide useful
marketing assistance to scrapbooking companies, even if companies
have to choose to exhibit at only one organization's trade show.
Don't let a trade association turf war scare you into limiting
your options. Instead of choosing sides in the battle of CHA vs. PMA,
the smart scrapbook marketer will take the best of what both
organizations have to offer for their particular company and use it
to their advantage.
(Note: To add your comments to the discussion, email CLN
To contact Nancy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)