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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

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

QR Codes for Dummies!

Do you still have questions about QR Codes?

I know it has been covered in the media quite a bit, but I personally never realized how easy it was to get one until my interview with Kyle Blades from Rebel (check out my blog “A Rebel with A Cause” for more details). Kyle handed me his business card, and when I looked at it there was a QR code next to his name. I thought to myself, what a great and unique way to be remembered, but then immediately wondered how much time and money went into that. I was dumbfounded when Kyle told me no money went into it, and all he had to do was go to a website he found on the internet to generate a QR code for him. If you are like me, and still learning, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. Immediately after I got back to the office, I jumped onto Google, typed in “Free QR Code Generator” and up popped several websites dedicated to do exactly that!

I always knew what a QR Code did, you scan the code with your reader (ie iphone, smart phone, webcam, etc) and it takes you to what the QR code is linked to, such as your website etc, but never realized how easy it was to get one. I went to one of the QR code generator websites, typed in the URL to link up with the code, hit generate, and out came my very own QR code! You can even customize the artwork if you would like. From there it is as easy as Copy and Paste to where you want it. Then shoot it off to the printer and you are set! All this time I thought I would have to get a firm that specialized in these types of things, now I know that just isn’t necessary! It feels great when you empower yourself, although I feel kind of like a dummy too!

Needless to say, I will be using QR codes a lot more often! It is easy to see how such a simplistic advertising vehicle can be used to your advantage. You can link it to your website. How about a commercial you make on YouTube? Other thoughts….. LinkedIn page or Facebook page, the possibilities are endless.

So there you have it, QR codes for dummies (like me!)

Want to see a demo of how a QR code works? Here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a33uCPOywA

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment