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It’s Time to Realize Value

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“You can hate me, choose not to work with me anymore, that’s ok, but I have to say this guys” my Father In Law, Jeff Zuelke (whom we call PJ which stands for Papa Jeff), said as he took on a more serious look than his normal natural easy-going and fun ways.

I shot a quick look at my wife, then at my four-year old son, concern grew through me as I knew he had something very important to say.

“I need you to start seeing the value in these homes I am showing you. I am taking on a completely different message from my prior stance of, be comfortable with your decision” he paused  “to see value in your decision,” PJ said now waiting for our reaction.

At first I was a bit taken back, why would that statement make me angry? Why would that make me want to fire my father in law as our real estate agent? It didn’t, but I wasn’t sure what he was getting at so I filled the air with “Well PJ, I know we lost on three homes now, but I don’t think I would have been comfortable going any higher than we did,” he stopped me right there after those words escaped my lips.

“Noah, if I could show you how to take a dollar and make it into a $1.30 or even $1.50 within five years, wouldn’t that be of VALUE to you?” I nodded my head to agree “Then Noah, the three homes we lost on, there was value to them. You made a decision based on being comfortable, and we lost. The value is, that those homes would have had a significant return on your investment in the very short-term, even if they were a bit more than what you were comfortable with.”

Before you all start shaking your head and saying “yeah right, what housing market is this guy in?” keep in mind the majority of the homes we have been looking at are short sales and very good deals to be had!

PJ was right, I was still kicking myself over the last bid war we lost on, but I was caught up in nickle and diming and feeling like I got the best price possible that I completely failed to realize that even at full purchase price the house was still a great deal because it had value…..unfortunately someone else was able to see that, and we lost out on the house.

This entire time PJ was waiting for me to come to this resolve myself, but when he saw that I was getting too caught up in “best price possible” and not seeing turning a dollar into a $1.30, he knew he had to say something.

That very moment, as we walked out of the house we were viewing, I came to a stark realization, I was a hypocrite! I have been through so many bid processes for catalogs, brochures, and especially magazines as of late only to have lost it by a very slim amount (sometimes more, sometimes less) that I don’t understand it as I am confident I have shown the Publisher or Print Purchaser how working with us will change a dollar into a $1.30.

I understand it now, sometimes we all get polarized by the day to day events of our lives, the economy we live in, or just trying to get the best deal possible and nickle and diming everything they can.

Friends, I come to you today to repeat a message my Father In Law, Jeff Zuelke, said to me this very night……” I am taking on a very different tone with you, you can hate me, choose not to work with me, that is fine, but it needs to be said. It is time to start making decisions because they hold value, not because you are comfortable or because they are the cheapest deal.”

In the end, when you find a printer that shows you value, you will be very comfortable. Consulting on digital, print, and advertising vehicles, not leaving once the sale is made, establishing relationships, friends, is their value you to that? If so, don’t be like me and realize it before it is too late!

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Books, Catalogs, Digital Magazine, Mailing, Printing, Publishing, Relationships, Sales, Social Media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Staying Power?

In the printing and publishing industry we talk alot about whether magazines and the like will be sticking around, and if so, at what capacity? I truly believe the honest answer to this is that there are so many different mediums now days that the consumers can choose to interact with your publication/message, that  it is bound to shrink. With that said, I do believe that printing is not going anywhere, and in fact will become more specialized, meaning higher quality products will be a must in the near future in order to compete.

With that said, one printed product that I truly believe is not going anywhere, and in fact will grow, are marketing collateral products. (ie literature, brochures, catalogs, postcards, direct mailers, and the like).

“Yeah right Noah, I can create a Facebook page, LinkedIn page, Twitter Page, to market my business and not have to pay a thing!” Ok their guy, take a look at this years sales amount and compare it to last years when you abandoned printing all together..what did it cost you?

Here is why I believe this:

1.

I was watching a news cast the other night, I can’t remember if it was 60 Minutes or something else. They were doing a feature on people ordering products online, thinking it was the authentic product, but when the product came to their house, it was a fake. They were using Rosetta Stone as an example, and spot lighted several people that thought they were ordering the authentic Rosetta Stone software to only find out they were duped.

The news cast then went on to interview the CEO of Rosetta Stone, and he showed the news anchor 100’s of different websites using the Rosetta Stone name, and some even using his image on their website. How the heck would a consumer know the difference? They wouldn’t, even the CEO himself admitted that. So my point, where is the credibility and trust? Print is still the most credible marketing/advertising vehicle out there, and think about how that plays back to your brand……

2.

It has staying power. If I see something online that I like, the chances of me finding it next week when I am ready to purchase it seem to be slim. If I want to find out more about you next week I don’t want to jump on my computer to read about you, I want to lay on my couch and hold a physical printed product in my hands that allows me to see what you do. If I am interested, then I will jump on the internet and find out more about you! If I am not ready to partake in what you have to offer, I will hold on to it. Chances are, within the next several months, your catalog, brochure, etc will catch my eye as it sits on my counter top and I will be interested as I am now ready.

3.

People love to receive things. I have to admit this, and you can try to deny it all you want, but you know it’s true! When I receive a message in my email box trying to solicit me something, the first thing I do is “delete”. However, when I receive something in my mail box at home, I can’t get rid of it even if I wanted to!

My son Owyn (4 years old) loves to get the mail, in fact he calls it “his job”. The bills and letters come to me, the solicitations he waits patiently for as I hand them to him. He loves mail, doesn’t matter what it is, it makes him feel special like someone is writing to him. I found myself the other day going through his shoe box of stashed mail, and there were actually really great offers that I am now researching and willing to find out more about. I then realized, I too love to get mail!! (Trust me, this isn’t a shameless plug for the USPS, I don’t have alot of love for them, they need to get their act together, but the fact remains, everyone likes to receive something!

I chose the image I did of the baby, because it goes to show you how many businesses are out their fighting for your attention, and that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. The image has staying power, images in print have even more staying power, and credibility. Don’t take my word for it, just turn on the news!

February 26, 2012 Posted by | Books, Catalogs, Mailing, Printing, Publishing, Relationships, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Social Media Through The Eyes of a Child

 “Dad, when are you going to be done with the computer? I want to go on Youtube!” my 9-year-old daughter said with annoyance in her voice. “Yeah dad, get off the computah, I want YouTube and watch Goosebumps, hurry up” my soon to be 4 year old chimes in right behind his big sister.

This literally happens every day in my household, several times a day. I never thought I would be competing with my kids for computer time, because when I was a kid I was playing with GI Joes and Monster Trucks. Oh, how times have changed!

“Guys, you like YouTube?” and both of them shook their heads while jumping in the air as if the Packers just won the Super Bowl all over again.

“What is it that you like so much about YouTube?” They looked at me as if they couldn’t comprehend the question, as if it was “the world’s dumbest” question ever asked!

“Well duh dad” my 9-year-old daughter began, ” I can watch i-carly clips, Lemonade Mouth music videos” ….”Don’t forget Goosebumps, I like that” my son with hand raised was squealing through his wide smile.

“Well guys, what if I told you I was on YouTube?” They both looked at me as if to say “Yeah right dad, you’re not that cool!” It’s a sad day when your kids stop believing your cool 🙂 ! So I pulled up a video I had made on YouTube, and hit play.

Their faces said it all, my son screamed “you’re a star” and my daughter asked “How did you do that? I want to be on YouTube!” The astonishment they both were feeling made me feel happy, because I once again became cool!

But there is more to learn here than “How to get your kids to still think you are cool!” So I took it a step further, and asked my son and daughter, “What if I told you I was in a magazine?”

I was half thinking they wouldn’t care, but they both again told me to “prove it” with the same excitement. I pulled out a magazine that used some of my quotes and had given me credit for them, and showed the two miniature YouTube experts that were standing in my office. They couldn’t believe it, and were just as excited.

The next day I came home from work, on the fridge hung the magazine article I was mentioned in cut out, and pasted to an orange paper background that had hearts all over it. When I walked into the living room I could hear my own voice, but I wasn’t speaking. So I walked into the office, and there were the two of them watching me on YouTube.

Sure my kids were proud of me, but that isn’t the lesson I am looking to point out here. What I am saying is the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Change is inevitable, I never would have thought kids would be so caught up in things such as social media. I recently read a blog that stated 72% of internet users are on social media, I can’t believe it isn’t more than that!

However, because there is change, doesn’t mean that things from our past aren’t as relevant as they ever were before. Maybe even more relevant? Studies have shown print still offers the highest credibility to your message and ad.

Take it from my two YouTube experts, seeing their dad on YouTube was pretty cool and “in the now” trendy, but being in the magazine solidified that I was still their cool dad!

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Digital Magazine, Publishing, Relationships, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What my graduation taught me about technology!

Tassle on the left side check, ok Noah, remember, take diploma with left hand shake with the right hand, don’t fall, don’t walk too fast.

“Melissa Karger, summa cum laude” the speakers boomed through the auditorium, one person left in front of me then it was my turn to step up onto the stage.

Where is my family, man there are alot of people here, why are my hands shaking, oh man I am sweating so bad…. thoughts were running through my mind like a run away freight train.

“Mark Knable” the speakers boomed, I was up next, and then I saw them in the sea of people, my wife and children waving frantically at me as if they had been trying to get my attention for some time. A kiss blown from my wife now landed on my cheek, the look of pride in my childrens eyes filled me with strength, and in that very short moment, my journey to what brought me to this very step flashed before my eyes.

Ten years prior I was a high school graduate beginnig my first semester at college. More scared, and nervous than excited, because unlike many other kids, I had no idea what I wanted to be for the rest of my life. Two years of college, and feeling like I may be the only one at the university without a hint or a clue of what I wanted to do, I dropped out and entered the work force.

There was no going back now, and a few years passed. Feeling the regret of not finishing college, I heard of something I had never heard of before, you can go to college online! Wow, this was new and exciting to me, now having kids and a full time job I may be able still get that degree! Who knew you could go to college online, well it turned out this was something that many colleges had just started expirementing with.

So I jumped at the opportunity, and enrolled with a renewed confidence in knowing where I wanted to go in life. Life was good, and I found a new home with my current employer. I began traveling to meet with people, but dragging these heavy text books and laptop everywhere I went so I didn’t miss an assignment or posting was becoming quite the hassle!

Then came along this wonderful new thing, called a Kindle. I quickly found out that many of my textbooks could be downloaded right to the Kindle itself, making my business trips much less cumbersome. Then another new thing, there was an app for Blackboard (online program) and I could access it from my smart phone (or i pad if I had one) no more lugging around the laptop.

Technology helped me out tremendously, and made my life much more convenient on those trips. Every time I got home though, I always went for the printed textbook, and the laptop.

“Sir” the days and months that just flashed before me were gone and I was again back in the auditorium, “do you pronounce the K in Knoble?” the speaker asked and I shook my head violently yes. “Noah Knoble” boomed the speakers and my name echoed throughout, shake with right grab with the left, check, walking slow, check, smile and breathe….check!

The moral of what college and graduation taught me about technology is that it is very convenient and makes many of our lives much easier. However, it’s also nice just to have the “real thing”  and finding that balance is the key.

Believe me when I say while I was looking at the pride that filled my children’s eyes that day, I too looked back at them with just as much pride in them. Bonds are what hold us together, something physical, but technology will allow us to keep those bonds strong when they eventually reach the day that they hear their name being called through the speakers.

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Publishing, Relationships, Social Media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s in your black box?

Recently I rolled out a new marketing program, and when I received what I had ordered, I had a stunning and embarrassing realization, what I had ordered were too big to fit into the packages we had! If you can’t send them, then what’s the point of having them!

Feeling like Gomer, I sped across the street to Wal-Mart, they had to have the best pricing on the packaging I needed, after all, they are the biggest retailer in the world and their commercials always say, “We’re rolling back prices!” I found the packaging, bought the entire shelf of it without even looking at the price (because they are Wal-Mart, pricing had to be the best), paid, and ran back to the office to start stuffing packages.

Later on that same week, I began running out of the packaging, and needed to purchase more. Just as I was pushing myself out of my chair to run to Wal-Mart, I realized something that made me sit instantly back down. I had a lunch meeting the week prior with a friend of mine, Tim Horton, also a local business owner of Discount Office Items(http://www.discountofficeitems.com/). His words came roaring back into my memory :

“Noah, do you know why people choose to purchase their goods at the largest retailers?” asked Tim.

“Well duh Tim! Because they have the best prices, the smaller retailers just can’t compete” I quickly responded without giving it a second thought.

Tim sat there, a grin began to make its way across his face and as he shook his head he said, “No Noah, it’s because they tell you they have the best prices. It’s the perception that they have built.” and now, these words echoed through me. So I jumped on Tim’s website, found the exact same packaging, saved a significant amount, and even better it was delivered to my doorstep the very next day.

They got into my black box, and I didn’t even know it! What is the “black box”? This is where we as humans make decisions, and is the role of marketers to infiltrate it without us even knowing it to influence our purchasing decisions.

It got me to thinking, do people do this in the publishing and printing industry too?, have their black boxes been infiltrated? I began to evaluate the many phone conversations I have had with publishers and purchasers of print. “Well you can’t co-mail in-house, you are too small for me” said one person. Another said “I print with one of the largest printers in the world, there is no way you can beat their costs.” “You couldn’t possibly match the turn around times I am receiving” yet another proclaimed.

I can tell you today two of the people who made the above statements are now clients. Sure we can’t co-mail in-house, but we do offer co-mail through the worlds largest co- mailer, and how do you know how much savings your printer that co-mails in-house is passing on to you? I am sure your printer has very aggressive rates, why else would you have chosen them? But what can I do to consult with you to help reduce costs even further? I am sure you are receiving great turn around times. But how flexible are they when you might miss a deadline? Will you get bumped? Or will they work with you? Being a medium-sized printer, we are going to work with you and be as flexible as you need us to be!

Just because a company “says so” isn’t good enough, it takes a proactive approach with the willingness to listen to ideas that may be of major benefit to you. Big or small, there is no right or wrong answer, but writing someone off without even giving them a chance makes you wonder, has your black box has been infiltrated , have you been influenced without knowing it?

May 7, 2011 Posted by | Printing, Publishing, Relationships, Sales, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Random Little Dots….

Do you ever feel like a random little dot, on this big canvas, unsure of where you fit in to the bigger picture being printed or painted? If you look at a printed product under a magnifying glass, what will you see? A bunch of scattered little dots that look like they don’t make up anything. However, when you pull that magnifying glass away, what do you see? A beautiful picture that all the dots have come together to make.

What’s the point to this philosophical start to my blog? This week, as I am sure many of you know (thank you all for the warm wishes) my wife gave birth to our second son. The only way for me to describe this instant bond is to compare it to the movie Avatar when they connect the end of their hair piece to their “flying dragon” and they are instantly connected….it is immediate and forever.

The next day, a big beautiful bouque of flowers showed up at the hospital. My wife looked at me and said “You shouldn’t have!” I looked back at her a little confused and said “I didn’t!” After looking at the card, we found out it came from my co-workers, and today, a big beautiful bouque of cookies came….again from my co-workers! (The best co-horts in the world I might add!)

To add to our wonderful new experience many other warm wishes have been sent through email, cards, social media, tweeted, and posted…… from friends and connections, all which have meant so much to me and my family.

Although he made me eat catfish on my last visit to Georgia to visit him(I won’t hold it against him), one of my clients I have inherited is now the Godfather of my newborn (begin scene of Jerry Maguire 🙂 )

I have had the great fortune of speaking with people like Paul Castain who have helped me along with my career in sales, without keeping any score board. Now I have the privilege of calling him a friend and mentor!

So what’s the point to all of this?  The point is that relationships matter! Without relationships what do we have? Nothing, we are just a random little dot, but with relationships we come together to make a great big beautiful picture.

I know we must all be fiscally responsible, but when only looking at numbers you are limiting the potential of a profitable, successful, and caring relationship that may have more value than someone with a “best price”. I urge you all to evaluate the relationships you have and what you can do to become a better partner to encourage each others success not only in business, but also in life.

After all, this is what social media is about, is it not? Creating new relationships that are long lasting and add value to our lives…

Take it from me, it doesn’t take having a newborn to have your eyes opened for you, but when I did, I saw all the people that care about me and my family. These are relationships I will treasure forever, and will always remain fiercely loyal to. Put the extra time in to get to know the other person, there are more than just numbers to consider.

In uncertain times like these, we need one another. Relationships still matter!

April 9, 2011 Posted by | Publishing, Relationships, Sales, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment