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It’s Time to Realize Value


“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!


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

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

Apples and Oranges and Grapes—Oh, my!

Putting your magazine out for bid isn’t always fun and games. While, there is no right or wrong number when it comes to how many bids you request, here’s how to get the most out of your print bid process.

Putting your magazine out for bid isn’t always fun and games. There is no right or wrong number when it comes to how many bids you request, but I can share with you my experience.When bidding with six or more printers including the incumbent, the month-long process you were hoping the bid would take will now last an additional month, without any other unforeseen circumstances. However, by making the most out of your bid process, and making it as informative and efficient as possible, you can then make the best decision for your organization.

A good bid package to get the closest apples to apples comparison should include the following; anything more is unnecessary and anything less might leave you confused.

  • A sample of your publication(s). Printers often times call things by different names. For example, one printer might use the term UV coating while another uses Snap coating, etc. If you send a sample of your magazine along in the bid package, the printer can see for themselves.
  • Blanked out invoice. Include a blanked out invoice (remove pricing from a current invoice) that matches up with the issue of the sample of your publication(s). This way the printer can go through the blanked out invoice and make sure to give you an “as is” cost.
  • Mail file that matches up with the sample of the publication(s). If you feel uncomfortable providing this, you can always have the printer sign a non-disclosure clause first. This will allow printers to produce a co-mail or co-pal analysis for your organization, if you qualify for it. Also, make sure to ask about expected increased delivery times if co-mailing or co-palling.
  • Expected production schedule. Including a production schedule will allow a printer to analyze whether they can meet your expected turnaround time as well as improve it. Many times printers will offer you an incentive if your production schedule fits a hole in their press schedule. If you are open to a change in your production schedule for an incentive, note this in the bid package.
  • Questionnaire. This could be a list of your ten most important questions.You would interview a new employee; why would you not interview your printer? For example, included in a bid package developed by Eric Reese, managing editor for hfm magazine (the flagship publication of the Healthcare Financial Management Association),was a list of questions that were designed to help them pick the best partner that fit their organization. Questions ranged from “In what percentile, roughly, would hfm fall across the publications you print, from smallest to largest?” to “What are your capabilities for handling specialty advertising vehicles?”

“We wanted to include in our RFP questions that would address our future goals for hfm (such as co-mailing) and questions that into areas that have proven to be a concern for us over the years,” says Reese. “Deciding which questions to ask was, in part, just taking time to look for potential ‘bumps in the road,’ based on our previous experience.”

Ask questions that are relevant to your organization. It does not have to be ten questions, but you want to have a pretty good understanding of who would be the best fit for your organization other than “the best price.”

  • References. Ask for references!! Make sure to ask for references that are similar to your publication, i.e., another “like” organization they print or an organization similar in size and paper stocks.
  • Ask for samples. Get samples of publications they currently print that are either an exact match or comparable to the paper stocks you currently print on so that you can review the quality of the printing.Now I am not being naive here: We all know samples are the “best of the best”, but at least now you have something to refer to should the printer print anything of less quality than what they have sent you.

To get a good feel for who is going to be the best fit for your organization, ask thorough questions about technology such as social media, digital magazines, etc. It is clear to see that the publishing industry is moving in this direction, and although print will be around for some time to come, you want a printer that will be able to help you grow in all aspects of publishing.

Finally, all publishers should have the best possible relationship they can with their printer. Yes, the questionnaire should give you a pretty good feel for who might be the best fit for your organization, but it is still a very important step in this process to meet with your top selections face to face. After all, the true foundation for a great relationship starts with a hand shake.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Worried about being too droopy?

USPS Deflection or “Droop” Requirements I promised to examine some current postal issues in this column. Since the new deflection test started June 7, and postage “penalties” start October 3, this is a good issue to start with. Deflection refers to the flexibility of the mail piece. The Deflection or “droop” test only applies to flat mail pieces. Flat mail, for the most part, refers to: a) pieces more than 11-1/2 inches long, or more than 6-1/8 inches high, or more than 1/4 inch thick and b) pieces not more than 15 inches long or more than 12 inches high or more than 3/4 inch thick. The USPS requires that flat mail pieces not be too rigid or too flexible.

The deflection test is necessary to help the USPS determine whether a flat mail piece will go their flat sorting equipment. The ability to automate a piece is one of the foundations for USPS discounts. Extensive testing was done to determine these standards. Despite the testing, there is and has been a good deal of debate about whether this test should be applied.

The current deflection test requirements are that flat mail pieces that are less than 10 inches do not “droop” more than 2”. Flat mail pieces that are over 10 inches cannot “droop” more than 3”. The post office will assess non- machinable or non automation rates depending on the class of mail and sortation category. The severity of the penalty varies with the sortation category, but is significant regardless of the category.

 One of the complaints about the new test is that the USPS does not provide guidelines or standards for passing the deflection. A mail piece is tested each time it mails (even if it is the same paper, dimensions and page count). For pieces that are borderline it is possible you could pass one time and fail the next! The USPS will not give pre-approval on a design. With that said, our staff is prepared to work with you to help you figure out what will work.

I have provided some links to the Federal Register write up on this rule and a link to see how the test is conducted. I also have a link to the FSS (Flat Sequencing System) which is relevant to the new deflection rules. Please contact your local MDA (Mail piece Design Analyst) or let me know if you have further questions.
(Guest Post by Bill Carter, Distribution Manager, J.B. Kenehan)

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Mailing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment