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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

Random Little Dots….

Do you ever feel like a random little dot, on this big canvas, unsure of where you fit in to the bigger picture being printed or painted? If you look at a printed product under a magnifying glass, what will you see? A bunch of scattered little dots that look like they don’t make up anything. However, when you pull that magnifying glass away, what do you see? A beautiful picture that all the dots have come together to make.

What’s the point to this philosophical start to my blog? This week, as I am sure many of you know (thank you all for the warm wishes) my wife gave birth to our second son. The only way for me to describe this instant bond is to compare it to the movie Avatar when they connect the end of their hair piece to their “flying dragon” and they are instantly connected….it is immediate and forever.

The next day, a big beautiful bouque of flowers showed up at the hospital. My wife looked at me and said “You shouldn’t have!” I looked back at her a little confused and said “I didn’t!” After looking at the card, we found out it came from my co-workers, and today, a big beautiful bouque of cookies came….again from my co-workers! (The best co-horts in the world I might add!)

To add to our wonderful new experience many other warm wishes have been sent through email, cards, social media, tweeted, and posted…… from friends and connections, all which have meant so much to me and my family.

Although he made me eat catfish on my last visit to Georgia to visit him(I won’t hold it against him), one of my clients I have inherited is now the Godfather of my newborn (begin scene of Jerry Maguire 🙂 )

I have had the great fortune of speaking with people like Paul Castain who have helped me along with my career in sales, without keeping any score board. Now I have the privilege of calling him a friend and mentor!

So what’s the point to all of this?  The point is that relationships matter! Without relationships what do we have? Nothing, we are just a random little dot, but with relationships we come together to make a great big beautiful picture.

I know we must all be fiscally responsible, but when only looking at numbers you are limiting the potential of a profitable, successful, and caring relationship that may have more value than someone with a “best price”. I urge you all to evaluate the relationships you have and what you can do to become a better partner to encourage each others success not only in business, but also in life.

After all, this is what social media is about, is it not? Creating new relationships that are long lasting and add value to our lives…

Take it from me, it doesn’t take having a newborn to have your eyes opened for you, but when I did, I saw all the people that care about me and my family. These are relationships I will treasure forever, and will always remain fiercely loyal to. Put the extra time in to get to know the other person, there are more than just numbers to consider.

In uncertain times like these, we need one another. Relationships still matter!

April 9, 2011 Posted by | Publishing, Relationships, Sales, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Throw a QR Code on it!

Recently, I have had the privilege of participating in some great discussions on LinkedIn about how people, and organizations are utilizing QR codes to enhance their brand and message. I was surprised to see all the new, creative, and unique ways that QR codes are being used. Below is a list of most of those ideas, I hope it gives you some inspiration!

  • Real Estate signs- This is one I am seeing more of. I walk my dog quite a bit, and scan the QR codes on the signs all the time…this is genius! By linking the QR code to the listing, you are immediately allowing the buyer to make a decision if they want to see the house or not.
  • Business Cards- Input your information into the QR code so that it saves right to the potential client’s Outlook when they scan it. OR, link it to a short Youtube video that introduces yourself to them.
  • Catalogs- To me this is kind of a no brainer. With studies showing that a printed catalog doubles your sales, think about what the convenience of a QR code would do to increase your sales even more! Link it to your website, where they can easily order the products they want, whether they are on the go or just don’t want to jump on the computer…it would be an avenue worth exploring!
  • Publications- Offer this to your advertisers, anything you can do to help increase their sales and website traffic will only build more loyalty!
  • Devices- In one group, a gentleman said that a company that makes prosthetic devices was putting QR codes with them, linking them to a manual of how to utilize the device. Now that’s a great idea!
  • Packaging- I see them on food products everywhere now, most of the time linking to a URL….but what about a text message showing the health benefits of your product! That’s information I want to know, make it easy for me to find though!  I don’t want to have to search for it on the package!
  • Direct Mail- I am running a direct mail campaign right now that is based around a QR code which is linked to a short “skit” on Youtube. The idea, make it more than another “piece of mail” and give it a face.
  • Products- Link it to your Youtube commercial. If its a bow, show me a hunting video of the bow I am about to buy being used to shoot a 10 point buck….get me excited to purchase your product!
  • Restaurants- Try putting one on a menu, or your placemats.  If you do delivery link the QR code to your phone number.  That way I don’t have to keep searching through my junk drawer for an old menu that has your number on it!  If it’s a dine in have a welcome you tube video from the chef.

QR codes can be used in a variety of promotial, informative, and fun ways. Even better, they are easy to use, easy to get, and allow for a simple way to track your efforts. I don’t see how you could lose!

I told my wife today that I am going to find a way to put a QR code on my dogs name tag. If he were to get lost, someone could just scan the code and a text message would pop up of where to return him. I love my dog that much, I hope you love your business that much!

For great groups to join on LinkedIn where people come to share insight, ideas, and actually discuss topics (and played a vital role in ideas for this blog) check these groups out:

Sales Playbook!

Association Media & Publishing

Chicago Publishing Network

March 26, 2011 Posted by | Publishing, QR Codes, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

5 Roles your print rep should play for YOU!

You may have noticed a lack of action from me over the past couple of weeks. My three year old son has been in and out of the hospital, but I am happy to say we have him home now, and we finally feel like we are out of the woods! This experience has caused me to take a good look at my priorities, not only at home, but also with my clients and prospects.

I sat down when I finally got back to the office the other day, and wrote out a list of how I can play more of a role for lovers of print. I asked myself what can I do to become better and help my clients become better, and here is what I came up with. These are 5 roles your print salesman should be performing for you!

1. Technology.Your print representative should be instructing you of new and creative ways to attract and build loyalty with your advertisers and readers alike. In today’s market, QR Codes, Augmented Reality, Digital Magazine. PURL’s, etc… aren’t right for everyone, but there is something right for anyone. Your sales rep should have a vast knowledge of your company, and be your consultant with new technology to help instruct and help increase your ability to not only survive, but grow as well! Also, there many creative avenues to offer other than technology such as gatefolds, tipping on an ad piece, RPN notes, and the like!

2. Quality Control. This is key in offering you a consistently quality piece. Your advertisers, members, and readers all deserve the highest quality product, after all, you are paying for it! Now I am not saying your print rep needs to stand over the press men to ensure there are no errors, most press men have great talent and an eye for when inks may need be adjusted. Also, with the advances in technology, presses have become very automated. However, they should be reviewing quality control pulls, communicating with you if there is any problems with your PDF files ie low DPI or too small of fonts etc.. Honesty and integrity are key, no one is mistake free 100% of the time, but how they communicate and take responsibility for the mistakes are essential to your business.

3. Cost Savers. Often times you can see a significant savings in some very small changes. With an increasing paper market, there may be an equivalent paper stock for far less cost. You could look at different cover coatings, going from UV to Aqueous typically saves cost. Often times there are sweet spots on how many pages in a form a printer is most economical in, changing your page count to fit this is much more economical.

4. Postal Rep. You thought I forgot about this didn’t you? OK, it could have fit into number three’s category, but I think we all know this deserves its own category! With ever changing postal regulations, rate changes, and the like, your print rep should be instructing you on changes not only now, but what also might be coming in the future. USPS regulations affect everyone, and when something comes along like the proposed rate increase (thank goodness it failed), the droop test, and much more your representative should be showing you how it will affect you, and what is most economical way to come into compliance should you need to. Just because the postal hikes didn’t pass doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be something else on the horizon, I know I have my ear to the ground!

5. Support. Yes, this is a different kind of support that I am speaking of than what I have outlined above. I pride myself on not being a hit and run type of representative. What do I mean? After the sale you no longer see your sales rep, they are like a ghost….hear their footsteps but never their voice! Building personal relationships allows for open and clear communication, also it just makes for a more fun way of doing business. It is nice to know that they are not only working for you, but also with you. Some say family fights more than friends, but to that I say blood is thicker than water!

Evaluate your relationship, these are only some of the things that your print rep should be doing for you. Take advantage of our knowledge, we want to assist you and see print survive! Without you, there is no us, and without us, you are not the best you.

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Digital Magazine, Mailing, Publishing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 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

The new face of Conley…JBK!

 It brings me great joy to announce to you that Conley Printing is now owned by J.B. Kenehan. Our two facilities compliment each other very well, over the past six years we have had a close working relationship with one another. It just made sense to team up to provide you the most in house capabilities that a printer can offer. You can now consolidate everything from your magazine, newspaper, catalog, specialty advertising needs, down to your calendar right here at one place.

To give you an example of some of our new capabilities:

  • Various trim sizes such as digest, slim jim, and delta fold.
  •  Specialty items such as media kits, belly bands, BRC’s and die cut inserts.
  • Spiral binding, loop stitching, scoring, drilling, and UV coating.
  • Ability to economically print runs of any size.

 All this sounds good but what will be changing you are asking yourself. Our values, reputation for quality, dedication to meeting your goals, quality customer service, right down to the people are all still staying the same. The only thing that is changing is our name from Conley Printing to J.B. Kenehan.

 Please read the press release for more information: http://www.jbkenehan.com/gfx/NewsRelease090210.jpg . With our new capabilities, we will be more efficient in turn around time and less expensive in costs for your advertising vehicles due to less outsourcing of work. Please give me a call if I can answer any questions for you, or so that I can tell you more about this exciting news! I would love to see what else we can do for you and your advertisers.

For more information about J.B. Kenehan please go to this website: http://www.jbkenehan.com/

 PS…. You will notice my signature and email changing here in the near future……just remember it is still me!

September 7, 2010 Posted by | Publishing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment