Sell Stuff

The Story of Polaroid_square“And the bottom line was, they weren’t very good at selling stuff. They were more interested in telling you how good they were.”

Christopher Bonanos in Instant: The Story of Polaroid, describing the decline of the company (p. 155).

Polaroid went through two bankruptcies and the reason was simple. They weren’t very good at selling stuff. Often we look for some deep reason or cause as to why a business fails. Yet, the answer is frequently simple and staring us in the face.

In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy, and Shutterfly reported record earnings. In fact, that year Shutterfly purchased Kodak Gallery’s customer list. Shutterfly is good at selling stuff, and Kodak is not.

Creative Memories filed for bankruptcy twice for the same reason: they were not very good at selling stuff. Yes, there were contributing factors, but both times it was declining sales that did them in.

I know there are other ways to succeed in business, but it helps to be good at selling stuff.


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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5 Responses to Sell Stuff

  1. nancy Lewis says:

    Very true, thanks for sharing, Mark. All too often I also hear people commonly blame the economy for their failures. If it’s the economy why is it the party stores never seem to fail? Creative Memories, IMHO, grew faster than they expected and growing pains can create a whirlwind of errors. Training was definitely too late. I still have faith and am sticking with them thru the end. I hope they have learned their lessons. I feel confident in the changes I’ve seen so far. However, it wasn’t only all about selling stuff that caused this failure.

  2. Creative Memories announced this week they are NOT cancelling consultant agreements and will NOT leave their software customers high and dry! This is GREAT news with more GREAT things to come.
    P.S. The previous owners had a HUGE negative impact on the company. Yes, scrapbooking sales have declined in the past, but with our last chance orders, we sold over a million refill page packs and protectors showing that the CM album line is worth fighting for and the consultants were GREAT at selling and helping their clients get what they needed to complete their current photo projects.

  3. Creative Memories announced today that they will NOT leave customers high and dry on their software support and they are NOT cancelling consultant agreements. As for selling, we, the consultants were GREAT at selling, however, the product line had become too complicated and overwhelmed most new customers AND everyone still thought of us as a “Scrapbooking” company only, thereby eliminating the majority of the population. As for causes of the restructering, which it is restructuring, not closing forever, the original owners over valued stock prices and then cashed out leaving the company in a bad financial situation that they simply couldn’t recover from. (there was more to it than that according to the public court documents filed June 2013, this is my abbreviated version) During last chance offers, our consultants sold over a million refill pages and protectors which tells you there is still a demand for good quality photo albums and the consultants are GREAT at selling!

    • nancy Lewis says:

      Thank you memoriesorganized, I couldn’t agree more! I was merely commenting on the selling comment and adding that people often blame everything else without the attitude of “what could we have done better.” We, the consultants, were great at selling but there were times I really struggled and could have used some help cause I knew it was me and not them. And there was a time that CM said (about digital) We gave you a great product but no training, so they really stepped up the training. I didn’t have a good upline, but she left and now I have a wonderful one. I just felt there should be more accountability on the leaders to train; and that has improved immensely. However, yes, the original owners did just about destroy us. We are at the mercy of other companies when we don’t own the software, or company making a product. I think we failed when we stopped teaching about photo safety and instead started posting warnings of “this product is not photo safe” But CM admits their mistakes, they make good on it, they have accomplished what other companies cannot because this is not just another company. This is not just another direct selling business. We put our heart and sole in this business because we believe in what it stands for: we change lives!! We paid our debt off early and look at what we did during the last chance offer. Creative Memories, whether the name stays or changes, still has the same heart, they listen to us, they respond to us, their intention was never to leave anyone high and dry but to work on a solution. I have every faith in Rhonda and Chris. So many CEO’s take off and leave in rough waters but Chris has stuck thru it and they are doing everything in their power to make it work. I have every faith in our future because I have every faith in our leaders.

  4. Pingback: Poor Leadership Leads to Disaster | All About Images Blog

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