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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

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

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

Free, Fast and….WHAT!?!?

You take your family out to eat, to a nice restaurant, and the food was so amazing, you don’t even care how much the bill is, and you add a $10 tip on to it! You get home, look at the bill, and start to think, what can I do to eliminate paying for my food, but still enjoy that great taste!

Quickly, you jump on the internet and find out you can order the food to be delivered to your home. They have a 15 minute guanrantee, and best yet…..it is FREE! You don’t have to pay one single dime, no tip, as long as they deliver the food to you, it is 100% free.

What if the world was like this? People would probably stop dining out and start ordering in in a heart beat!

I am here to tell you the world is like this, at least in the publishing industry it is! (OK, now stop shaking your head no, rolling your eyes, and read on Yoda)

How many of you are printing a publication, have a cover price of $4.95 for newsstand and $25.95 for subscriptions (The room raises their hands). Now, how many of you are producing a digital magazine and giving it away for free? (Faces turn red, but hands remained raised!) Why are you doing this? Is this not playing into commoditizing yourself?

Think back to my restaurant scenario. Are they selling food, or are they selling a place to sit?….Of course they are in business to sell food (that’s their content)!

“Well Noah, digital is about 10-20% of the costs for a printed product, so we can afford to give it away online for free.” I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were selling print (I thought I was), I thought you were selling content? After all, isn’t that what publishing is about, content?

With the many free digital magazines, but with costs to have a printed magazine, leaves me pondering, what is driving consumers to digital? Is it the convenience and “now” factor of it? Or is it that the consumer has simply become savy enough to know how to get your content for free?

Publishers, never forget what it is that you makes your business successful, sought after, and recognizeable ….it is not the delivery vehichle of the content, it is the content itself. This is what makes you, you!

No, this is not a blog against digital magazines, in fact I support them! I think they are a great way to supplement your printed magazine, and help you increase your market share. I do think, if you are charging for your printed magazine, then it would only make sense to charge for your digital magazine. Many digital magazines have subscriber options, with teaser options that allow the reader to see the first few pages, and if they want to see more then they have to subscribe.

This blog is for you Mr/Mrs. Content Provider, because when I see you starting to forget what makes you valuable, it is my duty to tell you that it isn’t how you deliver the content, its that great taste, feeling, education, you give me from your content itself!

Don’t ever forget that.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Digital Magazine, 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