Could Creative Memories Press have saved Creative Memories?

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The last project I worked on at Creative Memories was a plan to manufacture digital photo products for other vendors, taking advantage of the Creative Memories Manufacturing and Distribution Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Creative Memories produced high quality photo books, calendars, and photo panels, and demand for these products was increasing throughout the photo industry.

By 2012, Creative Memories had significant excess capacity, and the company could not survive unless sales increased. The empty space in the Creative Memories Manufacturing and Distribution Center was evident to all. It was also clear to me and a few others that despite heroic efforts, the direct sales approach was unlikely to generate the required sales.

Operations recognized these concerns and in early 2012 offered me a position as Director of Digital Research and New Opportunities, with a goal of finding new markets for Creative Memories digital photo products. I had some early successes offering photo books to a small company in Minneapolis, as well as supplying products to Creative Memories in Australia; however, it quickly became clear that a more concerted and focused marketing effort was required. This project needed a name, a web site, and a presence at various trade shows. To succeed Creative Memories would have to leverage Creative Memories’ history and experience in the photo industry.

I settled on the name Creative Memories Press, created a web site, and registered for several trade shows. I also believed in transparency. I did not want to hide the fact that Creative Memories was offering products through other vendors, believing that the overall success of Creative Memories would benefit all, including Creative Memories Consultants.

Unfortunately, this plan never had the support of the entire Creative Memories executive team. The executive team outside of operations still believed in a miracle happening that would generate success within the direct sales industry.

When I launched the Creative Memories Press web site, a phone call from an upset Creative Memories Consultant to one of the company executives ended the entire plan. Creative Memories shut down the effort and cancelled plans to participate in industry trade shows. Fortunately, I had seen the situation coming and had received another job offer. On September 4, 2012, I left Creative Memories, realizing that another bankruptcy was inevitable.

On April 16, 2013, Creative Memories again filed for bankruptcy. Could Creative Memories Press have prevented this bankruptcy? I don’t know, but I would like to think so.


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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9 Responses to Could Creative Memories Press have saved Creative Memories?

  1. Gina Borden says:

    I miss the custom 12×12 strap bound albums the most!!! I so wish there was a way to bring those back!!

  2. Mary Bell says:

    I, for one, wish you had succeeded! I loved CM’s Print Shop, and I would not have minded sharing it with others who wanted to use it–as long as I could keep using it.

  3. Andrea Lauer says:

    It’s hard to push a rope! The traditional scrapbook market did well, and the addition of digital and printing would have rounded out the offering.

  4. Joyce Nielsen says:

    I always had such respect for you, Dr. Mark and truly wish you had been successful in this endeavor. Unfortunately, so many bad decisions seemed to have been made those last couple of years. As a Consultant since 1997, I was sorry to watch it happening. So good to hear from you again.!

  5. I wish they had told us the big plan, instead of it leaking out. I thought the “press” was to take the place of consultants.

  6. Karyn Kambur says:

    Unfortunately many cmcs threw their weight around without any real information and certainly not understanding the larger corporate strategy. I had been thru far too many corp restructuring and keeping people informed was always paramount and required to insure a successful transition or addition. And in this case, I too believe the additional business would have likely saved CM or at least provided additional untapped opportunities that would have also included the field consultants.

    Karyn Kambur

  7. grandmajj52 says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I always wondered why CM lost you – such a valuable member of Home Office.

  8. I always enjoy the information you share with us all. Thank you for continuing this blog. You continue to help us in so many ways.

  9. OrchidMama says:

    I still miss the ability to print directly on a 12 x 12 page. I wish that feature would return.

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