This section is from the "Studio Light Incorporating The Aristo Eagle - The Artura Bulletin 1910" book, by Aristo Motto. Also see Amazon: Studio Light Incorporating The Aristo Eagle - The Artura Bulletin 1910.
There are a number of ways in which to meet competition. The profitless way is to cut the price. A better way is to give something better for the same price. The best way is to sell something still better at an advance in price. The latter method sometimes requires ingenuity, but it is the method used by the people who make good in any line of business.
There's no denying the fact that some studios which have been making a specialty of cabinet size photos at a moderate price are being injured by the post card studios. There's little difference in the size of the pictures, perhaps in some cases there is not as much difference as there should be in the quality of the pictures, and even when the cabinet man is giving a much better quality there are some customers who do not appreciate it. The trimmed post card ordinarily measures 3⅜ x 5 ⅜ the cabinet 3⅞ x 5½. The difference in size is hardly appreciable. The remedy ? Educate your customers up to something a little larger. Figure it out and you will be surprised to find at what a trifling additional cost per dozen you can supply 5 x 7 instead of 3⅞ x 5½ prints. Your material will cost a few cents more per dozen, but after all the material is only a small fraction of the total cost. Your time and your rent and your pay roll are the big items. You can probably with no additional cost except for material turn out as many 5x7 prints as cabinet prints in a day. Decide on a size somewhat larger than cabinets - even if it's only 4 x 6 - and feature that size. Presumably you are even now using plates for your 3⅞ x 5½ prints from which you could just as well make 4x6 prints with a larger image.
The most meaningless advertising phrase that was ever coined is: "Our prices defy competition." When you can truthfully say, "The quality of our goods defies competition" it means something. Perhaps for years cabinet pictures have been your main stay - then try an innovation. Put out a case full of larger prints, good ones. Have them tastefully mounted - and put in a neat card naming the price. Why shouldn't more people be educated up to larger prints anyway ? Most of us can remember when the carte de visite was the standard size and anything larger than cabinet size was very unusual. That was a long time ago. For many years now cabinets have been standard. It's time the public was brought up the line to something bigger, better and more profitable.
of course the post card business is going to continue for a long time. It occupies about the same position in the trade that the penny picture did a few years ago. Children are big customers for post card pictures, the grown folks frequently have them made for a lark, with no thought of their taking the place of "regular photographs." Some people, of course, have them taken as a matter of economy.
Raise your standard size and your quality, even if it also means a raise in price. You cannot meet the post card price. Therefore offer something different at a price that seems and is reasonable.
We can't figure the exact cost to you of such a change as we don' t know just what your equipment is or just what plates and papers you are using. Figure it out and see if a change won't pay. How many dollars' worth of materials do you use per week? What are your total other expenses per week? Don't forget the value of your own time, the insurance, the interest on your investment, the pay roll and the taxes; all these things and many others enter into cost. Will they be any greater if you make slightly larger pictures? If so add 'em on to the cost, and then figure your selling price.
Competition is the life of trade - you have heard that before - but competition means something more than cutting prices. It means the infusing of new ideas, new life into business. It means getting out of the rut and letting folks know it. Pull out of the cabinet rut. That won't stop people from buying post cards, but it will help you show them that you make something they really ought to have, will make the difference between post cards and the bigger, better pictures more easily appreciated. It will help you make better profits.