Sunday, 18 September 2011

Selling a camera is easy. Really?

I’m not talking about selling my second hand gear. I’m hopelessly truthful. I’m talking about those camera companies very seldom “getting it” with regards selling cameras – their lifeblood product. What do they try?

They get actors, tennis players (not the sports photogs) to do product endorsements.

They get artsy artist-photographers, the more abstract and high fashion the better, to showcase their art. Yet, somehow, the camera becomes a wanna-be second, eclipsed by the photog’s distinctive style. They actually alienate the buyer as the results are so different from what the man-on-the-street envisions.

Really, it’s much simpler than that. Have a look at The Gruen Transfer specifically Episode 4 Season 7 (sorry for those not in Austalia, the video is restricted). It’s about selling shampoos. Look at

  • 2:49 “Appeal to sub-categories of consumer – make it appear specific to the user” – say Crafted for Experts, Made for You
  • 5:40 “Actual Self + Brand = Ideal Self”
  • 6:30 Create “Perceived Value” on top of the common features for every product.
  • 11:00 “The Price Placebo” – say “Pros use this Product” – it must be better than the other product that Pros seldom use.
  • 16:00 “Count your features twice – increase Believability”
  • 17:15 “use the Because phrase” – make reasons to rationalise that choice.

Oh, and throw a science diagram, numbers and charts into it.

Now, you may, well selling shampoo is selling shampoo, surely we’re selling a Nikon D7000 or Canon 7D or an Olympus PEN EP-3, they’re a different product category. Well, think about this. If you could sell as many units of cameras as you can sell bottles of shampoos, it sure doesn’t matter when your company laughs all the way to the bank.

Let’s put this in the context of cameras. The easiest sell for me, is to appeal to sub-categories of consumer. Take a look at any varied forum. The point and shoot owners and the DSLR-owner wanna-bes. What do these people shoot? Photos of dogs, cats, birdies, bugs and flowers, firstborns, grandchildren and GFs (Girl Friends). Even turn the camera around and shoot themselves. Holiday snaps, repetitively of the same sights in Venice or Rome. Sunsets skies. How many people are in this category? By my guess, heaps. Many, many more than the vocal seniors at the DPR forums. Recently, Simon Joinson remarked in a forum post that the site gets way more traffic than the forums themselves. If these people are really the ones who will buy the camera you are selling shouldn’t you primarily (pardon the pun) focus on them?

What selling angles would work best with these people? Hands up! Who says “Subcategories – Crafted for Experts – Made for you!”. Simply put, that means showing these people examples and scenarios of “Actual Self + Camera = Ideal Self”. Those are very, very easy to do, powerful and yet underutilised by the camera brands.

Instead, too many camera ads work on the only point – “Count Your Features Twice – Increase Believability” – that’s a very, very hard angle to sell in a tech gadget which modern cameras are – whatever you innovate now, in six months, your competitor will have come up with another feature. Counting features is well known to the electronic appliance companies – the deeper the pocket for gee-whiz features  and multi-lingual cute icons representing the matrix of features.

For the rest of the potential buyers – the camera fans, nerds, high ISO low noise / dynamic range / resolution numbers measurebrators, you seed the community with evangelist fanboi and trolls. You conjure perceived value and work on the price placebo. And you use the “Because phrase” a lot.

Celebrity endorsements? Worked for Lux soap – or was that “Actual Self + Brand = Ideal Self”? I don’t think it’s that effective for cameras.

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