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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!

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

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

Web vs Sheetfed? Which is best for you?

First and foremost, I’m baaaaack…..! I have some up coming blog’s that will be the best yet. An interview with a well known and respected executive in the publishing industry as well as an overview of the IMB vs Postnet, and what you need to know. I’ll also have a very special give away that will be coming in a few short months. To my friends like Paul Castain, Jeff Zuelke (a mentor, friend, and father in law), Bevery Sturtevant, and Sandy Hubbard, thank you for continueing to inspire me,  I highly suggest getting to know these people if you haven’t already!

Now lets get down to business!  You have heard of sheetfed presses, and have heard of web presses, but don’t know the difference and how it effects you both in cost and in quality.

First, let me give you a quick overview of the two. Sheetfed presses print on actual sheets of paper. Typically, there is much less waste with a sheetfed press. As well, the quality of printing is higher as compared to a web press, which means you are being printed on one continous paper roll. In printing with a web press waste is typically much higher, however the quality is good, and it gives you the ability to print in a higher page form count.

Currently there seems to be positive signs in the market, and publishers are looking to grow. As of late, I have been speaking with several publishers with circulations under or around 10,000 whom are looking to double their quantities. I have also been speaking with publishers whom have started off as a digital magazine, and are now looking to test the waters with a printed publication.

My advice, once you reach the thresh hold of print quantities over 10,000, look to see if a printer with web presses is going to be more economical for you. On average, you will see a nice savings due to less setup costs. Keep in mind though, page counts vary when going from sheetfed to web. On average, web presses print in 16 and 32 pages forms, and if you don’t stay in these breaks, you are not maximizing your efficiency. Compared to sheetfed presses that can print in page counts of four’s efficiently. Finally, make sure to compare the web samples to your sheetfed product. You may notice a slight difference in the quality of printing, but chances are they will not be enough to give up the savings of a web.

That all sounds pretty good, so I’m sure you’re wondering what the advantages of using a sheetfed press are.  The advantages of a sheetfed press over a web press come in to play with run quantities under 10,000. If a publisher is looking to test the waters with a printed product, and looking to start off around 3-4M with lower page counts, my advice is sheetfed. With less waste, a sheetfed press is going to be the most economical choice for your pocket book at these quantities.

I have spoken to publishers with print quantities well over 10M, and found out they are printing sheetfed. Vice versa, I have also spoken to publishers with print quantities well under 10M, and are being printed on a web. Printers aren’t going to turn down your business, and if the printer doesn’t have both sheetfed and web capabilities in house, you are only going to get the one option they do have which may not be the best for you.

My best advice to you….get to know your printers capabilities and equipment, it does affect your bottom line. There are advantages and dis advantages, and you need to take action to maximize all the advantages you can to continue to produce the best publication possible.

So now you know what web and sheetfed presses are the best fit for, evaluate what you are doing and take action!

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Digital Magazine, Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tabs….are you sick of being attacked yet??

Ok, I am going to let a skeleton out of the closet this morning,…. I have a special place in my heart for tabloid sized publications! So much so, that I tried to start up a group on LinkedIn dedicated to tab sized publishers.

Before I get started, to those of you scratching your head and asking yourself “What’s a tabloid sized publication?” or, “Aren’t tabloids those magazines that spread gossip?” Come on man! Let’s start a new name for the publications that are dedicated to the gossip of the celebrity life to something like “grocery aisle” or you fill in the blank, ANYTHING but tabloids. Tabloid sized publications are those publications that are over the trim size of 9x 10 7/8. They are the ones that are usually in the back of the shelves at book stores and news stands because they are too big to put anywhere else (attack #1). Tabs aren’t extinct yet, but face many more issues than the rest of the publishing industry.

The droop test imposed by the USPS forced many tab sized publishers to increase the weight of their paper stock or add on a heavy cover so that they will pass the droop test (attack #2). By increasing the weight of their paper stocks, they have to pay more in mailing costs due to the heavier weight, however this is still probably less than what the penalties would have been if they failed the droop test (attack #3). By increasing their paper weight, their costs in paper went up (attack #4) and mind you this entire year we have seen nothing but increases in cost from the paper mills. Finally, co-pal pools are irregular at best, and offer 10% of the savings that co-mail does (attack #5).

With all that being said, it is no wonder why so many tabloid sized publishers are scrambling to go down in size in effort to reduce their costs in paper and mailing, because of this the tab market has been greatly reduced. But today tabs, I am going to be your Tony Robbins, I am here to tell you that you are beautiful, unique, and I am here to help support you in the hurdles you jump over every day!  

So here are some tips for you and words of encouragement:

  • The majority of tabs still print on uncoated paper stocks, which I actually dig! But here is a tip to increase the quality of your publication and attract more advertisers, heatset the 4-color, and if you dont have 4-color….add it in! Going from K-only to 4-color isn’t a big increase in costs at all. Furthermore, by seeking out a heatset printer over a coldset printer gives you higher quality imagery that I am confident your advertisers and readers will enjoy alike.
  • If you are saying “Noah, you say you have love for the tabs, show me how to reduce some costs will ya!?” then this one is for you. Try out the trim size of 10.5×12. What’s so special about this trim size? At this trim size, instead of printing in 8 and 16 page forms, we can actually print in 12 and 24 page forms….meaning more pages printed at once = reduction in costs on press. I am not done yet, when your at this trim size, quarter fold it, tab it shut, and now you qualify for letter rates which are a much discounted mailing rate given by the USPS. You will save quite a bit of money in mailing costs. One thing to note is that you do need to be within the allowed thickness limits of what the USPS allows to qualify as a letter (your printer can tell you).
  • Speak to your printer about taking advantage of drop shipping into heavy concentrated mailing areas to reduce costs and decrease delivery times.
  • Lastly, speak to your news stand distributor to find out where you are being placed in book stores and the like. Visibility is the key, and you don’t want to be in the back of everyone else. Maybe you can negotiate being placed at the foot of the newsstand, or something that will offer you more visibility to the consumers.

Tabs, whether you are on coated or uncoated paper, I got love for ya and want to see you survive. You offer unique advertising opportunities and a unique reading experience. I love that regardless what the world is throwing at you, you are throwing it right back at them!

There is just something about those big beautiful tabs that keeps catching my eye…….

October 9, 2010 Posted by | Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What does your digital magazine do for you?

There are many digital magazine providers in the market, so how do you choose one that is right for you? First, you should assess what your goals are for a digital reproduction of your printed publication. Are you looking to replace your printed product at some point in the future? Maybe you are wanting to supplement your printed product…for example, some readers and advertisers are demanding it, but you don’t see the printed publication going away? Or maybe it’s to eliminate your foreign mailing? We all know how expensive that is!  Are you just giving it a try to see what all the hype is about, or attract a new market segment? So you asked yourself these questions, and you have your goals in mind, now you are ready to move forward!

What now? You research digital magazine providers on Google, up comes 20 different digital magazine providers and you have no idea where to start. No, I am not going to mention any digital magazine providers in this blog, because this is about picking the right one for you, not me endorsing what I think is best.

 Let us say you are looking at replacing your printed product with a digital reproduction at some point in the future. Are you thinking you want to pick a digital magazine that is what I call a “page flipper” ?(example:… the reader clicks on the corner of the page and it flips, that’s it…which by the way are the most abundant type of digital magazine out there) Probably not, why? Because if you are planning on transitioning to a digital magazine only, wouldn’t you want your brand to transition from your printed piece to your digital piece? How are you planning on doing that with a regular page flipper? The simple answer is that you can’t, and if you believe you can you are probably going out of business. Instead, my suggestion would be to pick a provider that offers rich media (videos) that you can add into the digital reproduction, offers Google Analytics (so you can track your readership and clicks on the URL’s within the digitial magazine), embedded links (so readers can be taken right to your advertisers websites), archivability (so that readers can still read past issues), and audio (maybe an advertiser wants to speak right to the reader), these are only some of the many qualities that you would want to look for. Sure, it’s going to cost you more than a page flipper, but if this is now becoming your brand, I suggest you invest in yourself!

Now let’s say you are only looking to supplement your printed publication with a digital magazine. If you see the value in a more interactive version of the digital product, by all means go for it! However, if you think the value isn’t behind the increase in cost, a page flipper might just be what the doctor ordered! These days, many page flipper providers offer embedded links, my advice is to at least make sure you have this. If you are looking at cutting your foreign mail with a digital magazine, make sure your provider offers translation tools, your foreign readership just might grow!

What I look for in a digital provider is someone that can offer both options. A company that has the best of both worlds, is able to help with your ipad app needs (if this is a direction you are looking at), someone that can help you grow and consult you. These are the type of providers I look for.

I am a true believer that digital magazines are here to stay, but I also don’t see them taking over the printed industry like so many are forecasting. Should you be supplementing your printed publication with a digital magazine? I believe so. However, if you are worried about giving away your content for free, rest assured that many providers offer a “teaser” option where the reader can only read the first few pages, if they want to read more they have to subscribe. Should your goal be to stop printing? My answer is no, this would be a big mistake. Print still has value, from being beautiful (a work of art), having credibility, and still offering advertisers the highest amount of action per ad.

So from a printer’s stand point, jump into a digital magazine if you think it will help you with your goals. I certainly think it will help, but my suggestion is to supplement not evict a printed piece. Call me crazy but I actually think more readers will subscribe to your printed piece if you do!

 So,Chicken Little, the sky isn’t falling, it’s just a digital magazine.

PS….If your printer is offering you the opposite advice, you may want to ask whose interest they have in mind.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Digital Magazine, Publishing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Create your own channel!

It is official, social media has changed the way we advertise (as if it weren’t official years ago right!) Perhaps the most under utilized tool in your marketing campaigns is YouTube. As Kyle Blades of Rebel stated in my previous blog: “YouTube – With an expected 90 percent of web traffic viewing videos, you better catch up, as this will become a major part of all marketing campaigns.”

Recently, I had the privlige of speaking with a CEO of another printing company about how he is using YouTube as part of his marketing campaign. He went on to tell me that you can go so far as to separate each video into its own category. For example, think of it as a blog, all blogs that are about the USPS fit into one category, all blogs about different advertising vehicles fit into another category and so on, …making it easy for your target market to find exactly what they are looking for as well as positioning yourself to your target market.

As I was listening to him, I jumped onto YouTube and checked out his videos, right away I thought to myself “this looks really expensive” as his videos looked as if they were of very high quality. Trying to be courteous, I worked it into the conversation by saying,  “These look very high quality”, right away he knew what I was getting at and told me how easy and economical it is to actually get started. You don’t have to have a thousand dollar video camera, or a professional cameraman.  Its really as simple as getting a tripod, an inexpensive video camera and you are well on your way to becoming your very own anchorman!

My thoughts started running through my head, a short video to introduce my newsletter each month, a video replacing some of my written blogs, showing you how a QR code works and how to get one, a video showing you the great people who work at my company….talk about Brand U! (I think Tom Peters would be proud!)

To me there just seems to be something more personal about a video for your marketing campaigns than a banner ad on the side of my computer screen or friending someone on Facebook. I can truly see how the brand loyalty would only be strengthened as your market can now put a face to the “voice”.  For instance, maybe you would do a contest by asking your market to create a video for you, whoever wins will have the privilege of having their video viewed by thousands of people! How is that for interacting with your customers?!

At this point I’m sure you are asking yourself, “But how does this relate to the publishing industry?”. Let’s say you have an association publication, you interview members who all give great recommendations about the benefits of the organization followed by a personal welcome speech from the board.  Or, let’s say you have a city regional magazine, you could go Jay Leno “Jay-Walking” crazy on people in your city (for you Letterman fans, Jay-Walking skit is where Leno surprises every day people and interviews them right on the street). You interview people from your great city, all whom talk about what a wonderful city it is, then you close the video out with “If you want to see more of our beautiful city every month, subscribe to our magazine!” Let’s say your magazine has recipes in it, test out the recipe that are in the magazine and make a video of yourself doing it (it’s always more interesting to see an everyday cook just like you!) Maybe your magazine is about dogs, and gives training tips, video tape yourself showing how to properly give orders…..the possibilities are endless and now I am rambling! The point is, YouTube can greatly improve the readership of your magazine while strengthening the relationships and growing  your readers.

Sure it is easy for me to think about, but I too have yet to take advantage of creating my own channel and adding value to the most important thing branding yourself! Rest assured, I have a million ideas in my head, and soon you will be seeing this big Norwegian’s face anchoring my very own video! I never thought I would end up on the big screen (your computer), but with YouTube making it so easy I will be coming to a screen near you! Keep posted….hope to see you there too!

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Publishing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 tips to reduce cost and still meet your goals!

  1. If you are open to a change in your production schedule, speak to your printer about the possibility of a discount for moving to an open time of the month to fill a hole in their press time.
  2. Talk to your printer about lower basis weight paper stocks. You know what’s best for your publication, but there is always an alternative that will save you money, not only in printing costs, but also in mailing/freight costs due to the lesser weight.
  3. Where you print, sheet fed vs. web, and the equipment your vendor has will determine the number of pages available in each form. A web based printer is more efficient in printing 16 and 32 page forms for signatures. An additional 8 pages can be done, but you could get 16 pages for less than the cost of 8. How about that for helping you sell ad space! Now apply that logic to your current vendor – ask them where the greatest efficiency is for their equipment.
  4. To reduce costs, ask your vendor about an aqueous or varnish coating if you have a UV coated cover. They are very similar and typically will provide a savings. If you have a dull UV coated cover, ask your printer about a dull varnish, once again very similar and usually there is a savings.
  5.  If you print more than one publication on the same paper stock and the same trim size with the same vendor, ask about ganging them up. This means printing them one right after the other. Why should you do this? Printers will often give you a discount called a Repeat Make Ready for not having to do an additional setup. This savings is often significant and is worth checking into.
  6.  If your cover is “cover weight”, consider text weight. Its lighter (saves in mailing) and less expensive. If you don’t know what you use now, ask your vendor before you go out to bid to ensure you get an apples to apples comparison with no surprises.
  7. Are you printing a tab sized publication? For a savings in printing and mailing, consider moving the trim size to 10-3/4×12. This trim size allows you to be unique and oversized, yet can be printed in 24 page forms instead of the regular 16 page forms.
  8. Are your inside pages light gloss with a heavy 4 pg cover, for example, 36 pound gloss inside pages with a 4 pg 100 pound cover? If so, consider this: lose the cover, bump up your inside paper stocks to something like a 50 pound gloss and make your publication a self cover. You will save money, and have a quality product throughout. The same holds true for a transition from uncoated to coated.
  9. Maybe you want to stay on the uncoated paper stock because it fits your publication, but you still want an upgrade. Or maybe you use an uncoated paper stock, want an upgrade, but aren’t quite ready to go to a gloss. A heatset printer like us can offer the upgrade in quality that a coldset printer simply can not. What is heatset? When you finish reading the morning newspaper, look at your hands; chances are they are black from the ink that rubbed off. This is coldest: the ink easily smears and rubs off from one page to another and picture quality isn’t as crisp. In heatset printing, the web is run through a heater to set the ink, yielding crisper images and ink that will never smear. It offers an upgrade that you, your advertisers, and readers will be very happy with. This upgrade is often very economical and is another step toward obtaining your goals.
  10. Work with a printer that will be your greatest asset. In times like these with an ever changing paper market and postal regulations, your print representative should be your consultant, advisor, and greatest source of information on maximizing your marketing efforts, improving your publication, reducing costs, increasing efficiencies, and forecasting for the future.

September 7, 2010 Posted by | Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment