Longtime photo industry entrepreneur Mitch Goldstone knows the value of PR and publicity. Whether it was starting out as a one-hour processing lab and boutique photo store in Irvine, Calif., and later pivoting to bulk photo digitization services, Goldstone has been able to gain national attention from influencers like David Pogue, Jefferson Graham and even Oprah. The New York Times, USA Today, Huffington Post, and numerous other national consumer press outlets have boosted the business of ScanMyPhotos.
In fact, it was a mention on the Oprah Magazine website that kicked off the concept. Citing the “Oprah Effect” – where enormous attention is paid to small businesses mentioned by the superstar – Goldstone decided to try the one-penny per scan offer after more than 3,700 people took tried the initial 1-cent promo. Of course, there are caveats: The scans are “150-dpi social media” quality, with higher-quality scans available for an upcharge. (Additionally, rates were cut in half on 300 and 600 dpi photo-print scans, which are now respectively 8 and 16 cents per image.) Other upcharges include same-day scanning and instant uploading. “Same-day scanning and instant uploading” means the same day the order is received, it is scanned and uploaded.
“We beta tested this to refine the process,” says Goldstone. “It took five or six weeks. The average order now is 4,800 photos, whereas before, the number was a fraction of that. That means, with pricing that low, people can finally digitize all of their photos.
“The number one question we get is, ‘what’s the catch?'” he adds. “We have gotten nothing but positive responses. We have people sending 4,000, 5,000, 7,000 photos; 7,000 photos is $70. The hope is they engage and share. The lesson for everyone is to cut prices and use the goodwill you get from it as advertising. ScanMyPhotos does no advertising. I’ve had people ask about an affiliate program, and I respond, ‘How do you do an affiliate program when you charge a penny?’ ”
As a promotional opportunity, Goldstone says this is the most significant promotion since David Pogue featured ScanMyPhotos in the New York Times. “That put us on the map,” he says.
“The whole point of business today is to dazzle customers so they tell the world,” explains Goldstone. “I did Facebook and Google ads years ago, and it was like a drain. No matter what budget I put into it, the money just disappeared.”
Inspired by Google Photos
Goldstone says he was inspired to try the promo based on what he saw Google Photos doing (offering free low resolution storage and paid high resolution storage) and through customer feedback. Eighty-percent of customers are using their scanned images on social media sites, like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, where high resolution is not necessary.
The next innovation popular with customers is the same-day scanning service. “There is no reason for people to wait months to get their photos back, with today’s technology and efficiency,” says Goldstone, noting return shipping can be done on a budget, too. If the customer’s photos are scanned and uploaded right away, they aren’t in a hurry to get their prints back.”