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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!

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

Web vs Sheetfed? Which is best for you?

First and foremost, I’m baaaaack…..! I have some up coming blog’s that will be the best yet. An interview with a well known and respected executive in the publishing industry as well as an overview of the IMB vs Postnet, and what you need to know. I’ll also have a very special give away that will be coming in a few short months. To my friends like Paul Castain, Jeff Zuelke (a mentor, friend, and father in law), Bevery Sturtevant, and Sandy Hubbard, thank you for continueing to inspire me,  I highly suggest getting to know these people if you haven’t already!

Now lets get down to business!  You have heard of sheetfed presses, and have heard of web presses, but don’t know the difference and how it effects you both in cost and in quality.

First, let me give you a quick overview of the two. Sheetfed presses print on actual sheets of paper. Typically, there is much less waste with a sheetfed press. As well, the quality of printing is higher as compared to a web press, which means you are being printed on one continous paper roll. In printing with a web press waste is typically much higher, however the quality is good, and it gives you the ability to print in a higher page form count.

Currently there seems to be positive signs in the market, and publishers are looking to grow. As of late, I have been speaking with several publishers with circulations under or around 10,000 whom are looking to double their quantities. I have also been speaking with publishers whom have started off as a digital magazine, and are now looking to test the waters with a printed publication.

My advice, once you reach the thresh hold of print quantities over 10,000, look to see if a printer with web presses is going to be more economical for you. On average, you will see a nice savings due to less setup costs. Keep in mind though, page counts vary when going from sheetfed to web. On average, web presses print in 16 and 32 pages forms, and if you don’t stay in these breaks, you are not maximizing your efficiency. Compared to sheetfed presses that can print in page counts of four’s efficiently. Finally, make sure to compare the web samples to your sheetfed product. You may notice a slight difference in the quality of printing, but chances are they will not be enough to give up the savings of a web.

That all sounds pretty good, so I’m sure you’re wondering what the advantages of using a sheetfed press are.  The advantages of a sheetfed press over a web press come in to play with run quantities under 10,000. If a publisher is looking to test the waters with a printed product, and looking to start off around 3-4M with lower page counts, my advice is sheetfed. With less waste, a sheetfed press is going to be the most economical choice for your pocket book at these quantities.

I have spoken to publishers with print quantities well over 10M, and found out they are printing sheetfed. Vice versa, I have also spoken to publishers with print quantities well under 10M, and are being printed on a web. Printers aren’t going to turn down your business, and if the printer doesn’t have both sheetfed and web capabilities in house, you are only going to get the one option they do have which may not be the best for you.

My best advice to you….get to know your printers capabilities and equipment, it does affect your bottom line. There are advantages and dis advantages, and you need to take action to maximize all the advantages you can to continue to produce the best publication possible.

So now you know what web and sheetfed presses are the best fit for, evaluate what you are doing and take action!

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Digital Magazine, Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEfS2EOnFhc

http://pe.usps.gov/FRN/Deflection_final.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xzHw2b0Nis
(Guest Post by Bill Carter, Distribution Manager, J.B. Kenehan)

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

Knowledge is Power….More Changes from the USPS

Over the last 4 years, the rate of change in the USPS has increased exponentially! As the USPS attempts to bring the revenue for each class of mail in lines with the cost (per the postal reform act of 2006) and institute accountability measures (Sarbanes/Oxley accountability act or SOX for short) many new rules and rates are being introduced. For the rest of the year, I will take a closer look at some new rules and or rates that are proposed or enacted. Of particular importance are the proposed rate increase for January 2011, the new deflectance rule for flats that went into effect in June (otherwise known as the “droop” test), and the relaxing of ride along and supplement requirements for periodicals (I need to give you some good news!).  Below are some links where you can get more information on these items. Your local PCC can be an excellent resource for postal information.

Federal register notice for periodical changes: http://pe.usps.gov/FRN/Periodicals_Content_final.pdf

Federal register notice for deflection (droop) rule change: http://pe.usps.gov/FRN/Deflection_final.pdf

Federal register notice for rate changes: http://pe.usps.gov/FRN/Domestic_Jan_2011_Exigent_proposed.pdf

Actual proposed rate table for Jan 2011: http://pe.usps.gov/prices/Prices_Jan2011.xls

September 11, 2010 Posted by | Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments