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The Water Crossing

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Do you ever feel like this, a herd of animals rushing to cross the water? You are in such a hurry, driven by instincts and madness, it’s your turn to jump in. To the left you see another member of your herd being trampled, they stumbled and none of the other animals waited or tried to help him get up. To the right out of the corner of your eye you see five or six massive crocodiles picking members of the herd off one by one. Your’e frozen with fear, but the fear of being trampled and not following the crowd is even greater, so you jump in and start kicking as fast and as hard as you can to get to the other side. Whack, the animal in front of you kicks you in the face as they too are frantically kicking to get to the other side, you feel your nose start to bleed and you hope it doesn’t make you a target by the crocodiles patiently waiting on both sides. As you get to the middle of the river you can no longer touch the bottom, but you gain some confidence as you tell yourself you are half way there, just keep kicking, you can do this. 

Screaming, that is all that can be heard now, the animal in front of you is in a fight for it’s life, a crocodile has him by the leg. Not sure whether to help, you again become paralyzed with fear, but you keep kicking. Finally you can touch the bottom again now, and the other bank is within feet of being reached, safety, food, calm, all within your grasp. 

Pulling yourself up on the bank into safety now, you take a look behind you, you see nothing but chaos, the chaos you just survived, and as you look to your right you notice something that shocks you. About 50 yards up stream, there is one lone member of the pack, he has yet to cross the river like you just did, but you can see as he begins his decent down the bank and into the water he is calm, taking his time, no crocodiles even notice him as they are all focused on the chaos at hand. He walks up the other side of the bank, unscathed, and as you look down into the grass you see nothing but bright red, your own blood that is dripping from your nose.

Now I am sure if you invested in Facebook’s stock when they first offered you feel exactly like this, bought into the hype and now feeling the punches! 🙂 However, if you are in the publishing industry you probably feel like this every day.

I pads and tablets will kill prints experts are screaming, the herd rushes to cross the river to get to the other side. Postage, fuel, and paper costs are on the rise, the herd rushes to cross the river to get to the other side. I have to reduce my costs, I am losing advertisers, subscribers, members, the herd rushes to cross the river to get to the other side. By this time the crocodiles, the trampling of each other has threatened the herd close to extinction, and then you realize your fear has become the greatest enemy to you. Your nose is bloody, but when looking over your shoulder you see a select few that crossed the river once, and they are far in front of you, calm, safe, and full.

I recently had the privilege and honor to have the opportunity to attend as well as speak at the National Plant Summit. This was a convention that my client, The American Rose Society, hosted several horticulture societies across the country to discuss their ailments, successes, and band together to help one another. By realizing they needed to come together to ensure their future, they took the first steps into the river, not following the herd of chaos in front of them, but far away from the danger. 

While speaking at this Summit, I had many things I wanted to say, but as I listened to them speak I decided to throw away my notes. My notes originally were the different in house capabilities, customer service, and quality the printer I work for possesses. Sure we have that, but then I thought to myself “How many times have these guys heard exactly that same thing by five other printers that called them last week?” They didn’t want to hear that stuff, and to be quite frank I didn’t want to talk about that either. They had me inspired, and I too wanted to get out of the chaos of the constant water crossing, so I went with what I felt in my gut, the truth. 

As I began, I stated what my old boss always said to me “Business is supposed to make sense, and be fun!” If you are losing money on your international subscribers or members, then why send magazines to them? Instead, only offer them a digital magazine, but utilize a digital magazine that has translation software so that they can read it in their own language and enhance your readership in that country. 

If you offer a digital magazine that is readily available on your website for all to view at no cost, while charging for a subscription to your printed version, then ask yourself what you are saying about the content you are putting out there. Is it the content or the vehicle you utilize to distribute the content that you are charging for? De-commoditize yourselves! Offer a few teaser pages of your digital magazine, if they want to see more then they must subscribe. Are you charging more for advertisers to be represented in your digital magazine? Would you charge them to have a banner on your website? Then why wouldn’t this added benefit of being represented on your website via a digital magazine be of value?

Invest and re invent yourselves, never stop trying to become better at what you do. Whether that is looking at re designing the image of your publication after 10 or 15 years of having the same look, upgrading the quality of your printed publication, utilizing a digital publication that offers rich media, developing an app for the i pad/ smart phones, or simply engaging your followers on social media there are many ways to do this. Do this out of wanting to invest in your future, not out of fear for your future. 

There are so many multi channels of marketing to take advantage of now. It will continue to grow, technology is here to stay. It doesn’t make your publication any less relevant, and sure there is more white noise than ever before to fight through, but not following the chaos to get to the other side of the river and instead banding together will ensure your success. Print, digital, social media, and yes even radio are still alive and can all come together.

I implore you all to never forget this one last thing, talk, not type, put it on your schedule once a week to talk to one another!

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June 10, 2012 Posted by | Catalogs, Digital Magazine, flipbook, Printing, Publishing, Sales, Social Media | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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