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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

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

The Wonderful World of Catalogs!

“Honey, have you seen the IKEA catalog? I swear I left it right there on the coffee table” my wife said with her finger extended towards the table sitting in the middle of the room. Fighting back my dimples from showing (she knows I am fibbing when my dimples show) “No honey, I haven’t seen it.”

She walked out of the room, I thought I had finally won! I threw that catalog away, and wasn’t about to tell her! For the past few weeks, new items have been showing up at our doorstep, and from where?, you guessed it, from IKEA! It’s not that we don’t need these things, we do, especially with a newborn on the way, but I was just afraid this would continue to happen once we had all the things we needed.

“Oh well” my wife said as she walked back into the room, “I found this Target catalog I got last month.”

I am thinking many of you can relate to this! 🙂 So what’s the point?

Recently I have taken on a massive research of catalogs. The main point of this is to see how many are now PDF or digital only. All in all, I went through about 1,500 company websites that either print a catalog, or had printed a catalog and now only have a digital version. Of those I went through, about 15% were now digital,and typically only a PDF was posted on the websites. I was surprised by this information, but I also understood it. (Disclaimer, the above percentage may not represent all catalogs throughout the entire market, this is only my own research). By saying I understand these results, what I mean is I understand increasing paper and postage costs, as well as the overhead and time involved with printing and mailing catalogs has.

However, I have come across several sources showing that a printed catalog not only increases your sales, it also increases traffic to your website. Some sources have sighted an increase of 84% all the way up to as much as a double in your profits, so although there are some mixed messages, the fact is that it is proven to increase profitability and here is why:

  • Longevity- If you noticed, I had mentioned my wife found a catalog she got from Target a month ago. Just because we don’t order something right away, doesn’t mean we are never going to order something. Having the catalog on hand allowed us to pick what we wanted when we wanted.
  • Increase Brand Awareness- By receiving your catalog, if you were to call me, send me a piece of direct mail, or if I come across your store, the chances of me opening your mail, taking your call, or stopping in your store would be much higher because I already know who you are.
  • Convenient- I no longer have to call your toll-free number or get up and get on the internet to order your products out of a catalog. Make it easy for me, put a QR code on your catalog so I scan it with my phone and I can order the product from the convenience of my couch or while I am waiting for my flight in the airport.
  • Tier your mailings- Here is a cost savings tip. Instead of holding the inventory which takes up storage, and then mailing each catalog as a new mail order comes in tier them. Let’s say you print 45,000 catalogs, then do three mailings per year or whatever your heart desires. Why? We at JB Kenehan have storage space to hold these for you, in addition, we can handle each tiered mailing for you so it isn’t taking up time out of your day.
  • Pass Along Rates- Printed pieces have a valuable function, they have pass along rates. So although you may send your catalog to my household, my mother is at our house at least once a week (seriously, ask my wife!) and she too looks at our catalogs. I know this isn’t unique only to our household.
  • Less Cluttered- While going through a digital catalog or PDF, I couldn’t help but to feel overwhelmed with all the information. It seemed very cluttered, while in a printed catalog I can easily find what I am looking for.
  • Get me Excited!- Throw in a tag or augmented reality code next to some of the products that I can scan with my smart phone. If you are an outdoors retailer, put a tag next to a tent and show me the easiest way to set the tent up so I feel more comfortable purchasing it (because you are making me look like a rockstar and manly man in front of my family!). If I am looking through a food catalog, take me to a video of how I can use the product in recipes etc…the ideas are endless!

Now I am not saying abandon your digital reproduction of your catalog, but what I am saying is, do not abandon your printed catalog. Although it hurts me to say that (well it hurts the pocket-book anyway) whether it is a B2B or B2C, whether you are a major brand or a less known brand, a printed catalog will only increase your profitability and awareness.

April 2, 2011 Posted by | Catalogs, Mailing, Printing, Publishing, QR Codes, Sales | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Rebel with A Cause!

 

A marine who has served two tours in Iraq, co-publisher of 4PM, business owner,and someone who rebels against the norm are only some of the many things that describe Kyle Blades. When you speak with Blades, it is easy to see that he is an innovator who has the ability to help organizations effectively market and promote themselves via social media.

Upon Kyle’s return from his first tour of duty, he went to work in marketing for a well known organization. He saw them struggling to utilize several social media mediums back when social media sites such as Facebook weren’t as commonly utilized as they are now. However, as a progressive and innovative person, Blades knew there was a need for organizations to utilize new channels of communication in order to engage their community of customers. Through social media, Blades saw both an opportunity and a way to fulfill a dream of becoming a business owner. Out of this, Rebel was born.

“The main goal of social media,” Blades says, “is to be a source of value. If you are not giving away free information, then your market will go somewhere else to find it.” Blades goes on to ask me, “When you are watching TV, and a commercial comes on, does the advertiser say, ‘check us out at our website’, or ‘friend us on Facebook’?” I thought about it, and realized that most ads, not only on television, but also in print magazines, have a “Friend us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” message in their ad campaigns. The relevant point is that the way we communicate has changed, and is still changing. “There is no longer one central message distributed on one medium like there was before; now there are several messages over several mediums – print, radio, television, the Internet and you have to do your best to utilize all of them,” Blades pointed out. “So what does this all mean?” I asked Blades, to which he simply responded “Content is king!”

It is all about establishing a community, a feeling of belonging and building loyalty, which hopefully spreads to multiple new customers. “The best thing about social media is that it provides trackable information, so you can target your message to your market, see how they are responding, and what you need to do to get the responses you want,” says Blades.

Things have changed so much over the past three years alone, how could they possibly continue to evolve anymore? For that question, Blades also has an answer. “Video interacting and advertising are going to become more prevalent. Google predicts by the year 2013, 90 percent of web traffic will be viewing videos such as those on YouTube. Today, 1.2 billion people view videos on YouTube every day,” says Blades. “Becoming more visible to your audience is going to be key, and video allows you to do this in a creative way. ”

The biggest difficulty in social media is rising above the white noise, says Blades. There are so many people on social media, all trying to do the same thing you are. Getting your voice heard, even though you may think it is easier, is actually harder these days because it is easy to become lost in all the noise on the web. “Patience is the key. That is why I tell my clients that we work on a time line of results over a 12-18 month time period. This isn’t something that is going to be a one day quick fix,” says Blades. Through showing up consistently, he says, you become a credible source, a resource for others, and show the community that you care what they are saying by engaging with them.

Lastly, I asked Blades to break down his opinions on these social media sites:

Twitter – This is the least understood one; you have millions of people and businesses tweeting away. Does anyone try to engage with their followers, ask questions, re-tweet others, respond, and answer questions? Engage!

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.

Facebook – “The golf outing,” says Blades. Whether you are B2B or B2C, you need to be here. You connect with others on a more personal level, strengthening loyalty and bonds.

LinkedIn – Most people have this one figured out, Blades says. Get active in groups, post questions, and become a resource for others. The most under-utilized tool is the Advanced Search feature – a very strong search tool to help you locate your market. Take advantage of it!

Blog- This is a necessity, and is the first thing I tell all of my clients to do if they are not already.

Blades ended our interview with a challenge to us all, “Be a rebel against the norm!”

FYI….Rebel ( http://timeforarebel.com/ ) is a company dedicated to helping companies promote and market themselves via social media. Blades’ main goal while working with clients is to expand their reach and help them build brand loyalty among their customers. When consulting with a client, he helps an organization define its target market, why its market is buying (or why not), as well as any other issues the organization may be experiencing. Through this consultation, Blades and the business owner set agreed upon goals to reach in the time they spend working together, typically 12 to 18 months.

September 21, 2010 Posted by | Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments