If I were CEO, part two

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Continued from the first hacked metaphor: the post-Ming camera company. Standout ducks in a blue ocean. (I think I may have spent just a little too long in consulting.)

In part one of this article, we covered some basic organisational/ structural elements that go into making a good camera company. I’ll conclude today by discussing in some detail about what I’d turn into my cornerstone tenets/ strategies I’d use if I were to suddenly take over – thorough examination of the financials notwithstanding, of course.

Figure out what to kill. There will be product lines that are simply unprofitable, or not worth the hassle – a well-structured product offering will mean you have something to offer to every potential customer that doesn’t result in internal cannibalism (still, better than losing customers to another brand) and the supply chain, production and inventory management/ distribution advantages associated with simply having fewer products. Currently, you need one entry level, one midrange and one high end/ professional/ niche model in every class – that’s about nine products, by my reckoning – fixed lens, mirrorless and DSLR. In the future, that may well streamline to just a mid-entry level and mid-pro; firstly because there may not be an entry level market after initial saturation, and secondly because the features that previously differentiated tiers have now slowly migrated down the price scale. The same should be true of lenses – in fact, even more so: one low-mid priced offering, one mid-high offering, and perhaps a halo piece or two. Example – the Leica 50/0.95. Nobody needs it, but most want it and owners probably have one or two of the other 50mms – but theres no need to have 0.95, 1.4, 2, 2 APO, 2.5 and 2.8 flavors – that just complicates production and inventory management unnecessarily, and confuses the hell out of your customers.

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An open letter to all camera companies (or, if I were CEO, part one)

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Gratuitous image: any given camera company in a nutshell: ducks not lined up in a row, and not entirely clear what they’re to be lined up against, either.

For a moment, let’s say that I – we, collectively – had any say in how a camera company was run. Let’s go further to assume that we not only had say, but we could do as we pleased. There are two considerations here, which I think the existing companies tend to see as separate: making cameras for photographers, and making cameras that sell. They aren’t: if you make cameras that photographers want to buy, then even the non-photographers will want them because of the power of association, the halo effect and all of those other things that turn on the marketing people. A good example is Leica: very few pros shoot exclusively Leica now, but they did in the early days: this created a halo effect that’s existed to this day. If money is no object and you’re in the market for a camera or want to take up photography, then chances are you’ve considered a Leica. It’s also the sole reason why they manage to sell any of the rebadged Panasonics.

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