by Gavin Stoker Published 01/06/2011
Focused on photography
Having been involved with the photography market since 1989, it's obviously extremely helpful to Photovalue's customer base that Ronan has almost a quarter of a century's experience under his belt.
"In 2001, because we already had about 50% of the available school photography business for our mounts, we thought 'where do we go next?' and started to target wedding and social photographers and bypass the distributors who were taking us out of the market for that channel," Ronan explains. "Although we don't make wedding albums ourselves we got some agencies on board for albums that are made in Italy, and we set up photovalue.com to target that market with our own products and add-on products like wedding albums.
"We have about 9,000 photographers registered on our database now. Our aim is to continue to grow that business through acquiring new customers and offering more products and services that are relevant to existing ones."
Of course the beauty of the Internet is that Photovalue.com can sell direct to photographers wherever they are, another way to save on cost and ensure the best deals all round.
With his own marketing background Rona is clearly someone who thinks ahead, with the result that his company can also now help photographers out with the business side of things.
"What we do that's a little bit different is that we give the photographer the opportunity to promote themselves, by replacing the horrible sticker they might otherwise put on the back of a mount with block printed text," he reveals. "We 'block' for free any photographer's details on a mount or folder. You can have your studio name like an artist's signature on the bottom of the mount, or some photographers might want their whole name, address and website on the back. For most customers it doesn't tend to be an issue that the photographer's details are on there."
This basic service is currently offered for free, but if the photographer has an event and they want the event details added, there is a charge. "As a manufacturer we're able to do that, whereas for a distributor it's much more difficult for them to be able to do that." The charge for the block tool is £40, and then it's £5 per box of mounts regardless of what size the box is.
Diversification in a challenging market is also a key to success and stability, and, following requests from visitors at this Focus on Imaging show, Photovalue has also recently widened its product range and customer appeal to include both traditional loose cover and 'modern' digital photo albums, handcrafted in Italy by I Nobili.
"So we've just launched a new coffee table book album - the Artists Collection is a new venture - and have another simple new idea that we're going to be launching six months down the line, for order online," says Photovalue's Director Ronan Ryle, without wishing to give the game away at this stage
In terms of Photovalue's most popular product lines, there seems to be a move back towards more traditional albums, according to Ronan. "It's still very early but this [was] something I sensed at Focus this year. It could be because companies like Spicer Hallfield are gone and their customers are looking elsewhere. It's a hunch I have.
"In terms of mounts, black is the most popular colour and brand wise our matt black is the most popular one. We have also just launched a mount specifically for the event photographer, which is very competitively priced and is good quality. We've geared it towards the event photographer who's dealing with volume, so it's only available in quantities of 500 per size."
By way of example the price per 9x6 mount, the most popular size for events, is 34p before VAT. Pit this against the fact that a standard 9x6 mount would normally be 49p, and the value speaks for itself. And, besides, a little investment when it comes to presentation can go a long way towards helping to reap a reward.
"Packaging is very important as to perceived value," Ronan nods. "I know in the schools market they looked at offering prints without mounts but found that a very small percentage of parents went for the un-mounted packs. To me that indicates that there is perceived value in a mount."
So, if you're a social, schools or events photographer looking for ways to up your game and get ahead of the competition, then such a modest investment could well be the way to boost public profile and your bottom line at the same time.
For more information on Photovalue's extensive product range and latest deals, go direct to: www.photovalue.com
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