More about the Kodak Photo University CD

Friday's BPL posting on the Kodak Photo University CD brought an amazing amount of email into my box, both on and off the list:

 
<<BRAVO, Jim>>
<<Jim, An excellent message on all counts. Thank you!!>>
<<Well said Jim, well said.>>
I cannot take the credit.  The person who discovered this is Brian Barnett, an IPI member from Barnett Photo Drop Off in Mankato, Minnesota.  Brian brought it to the attention of IPI members by posting something on The Forum.  I don't even know if Brian is on The BestPhotoList or not.  I should have asked him if he wanted to post, but I just got caught up in my keyboard.  I don't think I would have caught the "inkjet printing is as good as a minilab" page if Brian hadn't given me the heads up.
 
<<Joe Diliberto is one of the last executives who has actually set foot in a specialty camera store. Don't bury the poor guy in CDs - he's one of the white hats.>>
Absolutely - Joe is a great person and he always has the best interest of Photo Specialty (that's us) uppermost in his mind.

<<I've tried to back-off from the bashing of Kodak over the last several months.>>
I hope the original posting didn't come off as Kodak bashing.  I saw a monumental error and tried to have some fun with it.  I have a real life example of stupidity - Three years ago my lab wanted to do all the outlab greeting card business for another local lab (they weren't digital yet) so we made ten designs that were exclusive to that lab.  I created POS material with "Available only at Desert West Photo" on it.  Then the 5X7 proofs got filed in with another customer's order.  Talk about oops!  (Granted, I didn't give it out to every one of my customers like Kodak did, but I did directly accidentally solicit my customer to go to my competition :-)
 
And I don't think that there is really that much bashing of Kodak here on BPL.  When we see something that isn't right, we tell it like it is.  When we tell it like it is and Kodak listens, then Kodak ends up with a better product.
 
But in retrospect, I attempted to be a little too whimsical with the original posting and some things might have been considered in ways I hadn't meant for them to.
 
<<I was in the process of considering going KICS, that is on hold now!!!>> 
That would be cutting off your nose to spite your face.  I think enough body parts have been damaged after Kodak shot itself in the foot on this CD - no need to add a missing nose to the picture.  Going KICS was the best thing my lab did - you will make more money as a KICS dealer than as a not KICS dealer.  Keep in mind that the public has a very different perception of Kodak than we as labs do.  The public sees Kodak as a great big teddy bear that can do no wrong.
 
And customers feel a kinship to Kodak.  Take the big 4 + 2 - Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, Konica plus Mitsubishi & 3M/Scotch/Ferrinia.  Now tell me - who was the founder of each company?  I would guess that less than 5% of BPL can name more than one of the founders.  Even Chris Lydle [probably] can't name more than three.  How many of those six are American companies?
 
But guess what?  Every KICS print wallet has George Eastman's name and photograph on it.  And if you were to ask the same "Who Founded?" question to the general public, a large percentage would know the answer in Kodak's case.  Consumers have a homey/Norman Rockwellish feeling about Kodak and being able to call yourself a Kodak Image Center is some powerful branding.  Just FYI, immediately after we went KICS in 1997, the profit from the increased sales of just retail items covered my KICS lease by a factor of two or three.  We actually created cash flow problems by moving frames, film, and other retail items too fast.
 
<<Sooner or later the sleeping giant will awaken and have a hunger for our business again, all we have to do is play it smart and be patient until then.>>
They want our business now, they just have a hard time getting it right.  And you have to admit that they are trying.  Were it not for just a few paragraphs, this CD would be something great - something that Kodak is doing for us, the Photo Specialty dealer.

<<Take a moment and calculate the time you spent on this matter, composing the E-mails, reading the E-mails, etc.>>
That's fun, not work!
 
<<I think the only rational response is to write a concise, thoughtful letter to the CEO of Kodak. It's unlikely that he will read it, but someone in his office will -- and if they get more than one or two, it will make an impression.>>
Why not?
Daniel A. Carp
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Eastman Kodak Company
343 State Street
Rochester, NY 14650
But remember, any letters sent should be short and professional.  If your letter is full of venom and anger (like some of Friday's postings were) then the attitude of Kodak will be "See, we really don't want to deal with this kind of retailer."  A letter pointing out the error of their ways, as exemplified by the CD, along with a request to help Photo Specialty, would be more likely to be read and acted upon.
 
A letter to Joe Diliberto thanking him for everything he has done for Photo Specialty would also be a good idea.  If he could go into the next meeting with 75 or 100 snail mail letters from dealers showing that we appreciate what he does would do wonders for our interests in the Kodak corporate world.
 
<<Jim, shut up already>>
Well, nobody actually sent that to me, but it is a good way to tell myself that I am sometimes overly verbose and busy people probably don't make it to the end of my emails.  One thing we have to realize about Kodak is that they are a huge corporation.  The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.  Heck, the right hand often thinks that it is an eyeball or ear and thinks that the left hand controls seven of the ten toes.
 
There is no way that Kodak did this deliberately in order to take our customers away from us.  The company is just too big, cumbersome and disjointed to attempt deliberate underhanded solicitation between divisions.  Plus the Photo Specialty division would have never allowed it.  I truly believe that if even one person in photo Specialty saw those paragraphs the project would have been halted and adjusted accordingly right then and there.
 
And Kodak did not create the CD.  It came from a company called Eric Mower and Associates ( www.mower.com ) and it appears that they have done many CD's for Kodak and Canon and others.  I'm guessing here, but Kodak contracted for a CD to be developed and they didn't have much to do with it after that.  I know that my business has made some colossal errors in marketing to our customers, I am sure your lab has too.  Oddly enough, Kodak's only fault in this whole thing was not carefully checking the contents of the CD prior to release.  What you want to bet that a time crunch caused somebody to approve the CD without going through each and every page?  It took me over two hours to go through the entire CD, and by the way it is an excellent CD.
 
We have all been there, done that - time pressure caused us to do something that damaged a relationship with one or more of our customers.
 
And we can all hope that Kodak learns something from this and creates a better Photo Specialty division for it.
 
 
Jim Schwarzbach
Jim's Photo Lab
El Paso, Texas