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A “good old country boy” who fights for your Blind Side….

I watched The Blind Side recently, and couldn’t help reflecting on what an amazing story it was. Everyone in the movie played their roles exceptionally well. Now I am no movie critic, but the lesson I took away was that of not backing down. In the movie, the matriarch (played by Sandra Bullock), would not allow her children to back down from any challenge. She wouldn’t allow her neighbors to influence her decision to help Michael Oher, or allow Michael to be influenced by gang bangers or anyone else… and look at how successful he ended up! I thought to myself, she’s a fighter, and if we all had encouragement to never back down, if we had a person like her in our lives, we could conquer anything.

 So I called up my good friend (he’s actually more like family), client, and mentor Jim Visser. Jim is retired Navy, inductee of the RV Manufactured Housing HOF in 2007, and publisher of The Journal. I asked him how, out of all the manufactured housing publications, his is the only one left standing? Mr. Visser answered that over the past thirty years he has been publishing The Journal of Manufactured Housing (http://www.journalmfdhousing.com/), he is still just a “good old country boy doing the best he can” and never “backing up”. Personally, just like Sandra Bullock’s character, I don’t think the words “back down” are in Jim’s vocabulary, as you will see.

Originally, Mr. Visser published Georgia Mobile Home News, which was distributed to apartment complexes in Atlanta; Jim later took the magazine statewide. Always looking to improve, Jim took notice of a publication whose quality he really liked and called the publisher to see who their printer was. Ever since that day 16 years ago, Jim has been working with Conley calling it, “The best business decision I ever made.” With the heatset quality he received from Conley, he took his publication nationwide and today remains the oldest and only manufactured housing publication in the industry.

 I asked Jim, “If anyone has had a reason to downgrade the quality of their publication, it is the housing publishing market, so why haven’t you?” Visser stated, “There are tons of people who can give you the price you want, but when you back off that quality, will you also back off the quality of your customer service, your circulation, are you going to keep backing off until finally you are not there like the rest of your competitors? The higher the quality, the more exciting and interesting the publication is, and the better chance I will have national advertising agencies calling me.”

Finally, I asked Jim to share three tips he felt were instrumental to his success:

  • Provide information people want to read. If you don’t have quality content, what good is it?Include a variety of writers on different subjects. Don’t let advertising overrun the publication. ·
  • Find quality sales reps who will beat the bushes and live up to what they say. Remember that for advertisers, it’s the relationship that matters. Some advertisers have been loyal to Jim in every issue for the past thirty years.
  •  Find a quality printer that will help you design a quality magazine that will satisfy your readers.

We are all looking for ways to reduce cost, especially now. Publishers are cutting back on circulations, page quantities, reducing trim size, downgrading paper stocks, reducing frequency, and more. I get it, I really do. With fewer advertisers, the money flow constricts so you look for ways to “back up”. Paper mills have raised paper prices this year, and the ever present threat of increased USPS rates looms over us all. So what do you do?

Take it from Jim, he is no stranger to change. He has gone from a 10×14 trim size to a 9x 10-7/8, from newsprint to a gloss, from 64 pages to 32 pages, as well as taken advantage of our digital magazine capabilities, but he has never broken the rules of what made him successful. I am not saying that at times we shouldn’t make changes in order to meet budgets. I am saying work with a printer that is going to consult with you on changes in keeping with the quality of your publication and your goals. From paper stocks to trim sizes, there are economical and efficient choices. Don’t always choose a low cost leader; they may just accelerate you “backing up” until you are no longer there.

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments