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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.

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

It benefits you, and if it benefits you, it benefits me to know about it.

I am known within my company as the “technology” kid for two reasons: first, my age compared to almost all of my cohorts – I could be their kid – and second, I get so excited about new technology, people begin to wonder how I could possibly be a print representative.

I was in a meeting earlier this week, we hit it off, and then I laid it on him and asked, “What are you doing to bring the web into your publication and bring your publication to the web?” He looked at me the way a dog looks at you – confused, kind of cockeyed. His blank canvas of a look was easy to read, “This guy couldn’t possibly be in printing if he is asking me this!”

After about 30 seconds of stillness, he said, “Well, I have a digital magazine.” As I nodded, he continued politely, “But it’s a free one. I know printers offer digital magazines, but I really am not interested in paying for one.” I immediately thought to myself, are printers only synonymous with digital magazines? I prodded a little more about his digital magazine. Did he see it as a way to engage his readers or a way to increase profits from his advertisers by being able to offer rich media and the like, or hopefully both? The conversation went on for a few more minutes about digital magazine capabilities and what he liked and didn’t like, etc. I asked again, “What else are you doing?” And again that look came over him, but this time I didn’t wait for silence to fill the air. “How about QR codes, Augmented Reality, PURL’s? How are you using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to interact with people?”

He immediately said, “Are you sure you’re in printing? How does any of that benefit you?” I smiled and said, “It doesn’t, but it benefits you, and if it benefits you, then it benefits me to know about it.” Through further discussion, I found out that he creates videos for his website, and we spoke about how he could easily incorporate Augmented Reality and QR Codes with the skills he already possessed. And how he might be able to offer it to his advertisers for additional profits and create more market share for his publication. We also talked about his social media strategy, and I shared my point of view. When I left the meeting, he looked at me and said, “You really seem to be up on your stuff!” We shook hands and agreed to talk soon.

On my drive back to the office – it was a long, three hour drive back – I thought of a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with my old boss. He is the reason I am in printing, the person who hired me without any background in printing, but knew I was a bill collector at one time and had no fears about picking up the phone and establishing relationships. He is now president of a major publisher/marketing communications provider.

At first, it was a conversation about how life was, but then I quickly realized what a great opportunity to get some insight that not many other print reps have into the publishing market. We spoke about iPad apps, and I learned they had just begun to create some apps for their magazines. I asked him, “What are you looking to do? Are you trying to go all digital or just supplement the printed magazine?”

He gave me the best answer anyone could ever give, and changed my view on everything when he responded, “Noah, I am not trying to dictate anything. I am giving the readers and advertisers what they want. Where they go, I go. If this is what they want, then this is what we will do. If it is all print, then so be it; if it is all digital, then so be it; but ultimately the market will decide.”

Now, driving back from this meeting, I fully understood what he meant. Why should a printer only educate, sell, and consult about print when there are so many integrated communications available to publishers? Why should a publisher limit themselves when the market is demanding all of these channels to be open to them? The answer is, they shouldn’t, and as a young guy in printing, I am confessing I am in love with print AND technology! We all should be, and we all should look at ways we can gain the most market share available to us.

Times are changing, print is still relevant, but even more there are now additional channels to use to create the most effective brand possible.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

March 3, 2011 Posted by | Digital Magazine, Publishing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plain Jane or GI Jane….Which one are you?

How many of you remember the movie GI Jane with Demi Moore? If you saw the movie, I am sure you still remember it. If it were simply a movie about some women trying to make it in the military, I doubt it would have had the impact it did. Instead, the movie was about a women who was in the military not just to prove the point that she could do it, but that she could do it better than the men, and kick their ass (excuse my language) while doing it! She was one fierce trooper! To this day this movie is still remembered by many, because she was no Plain Jane!

Now, think about your publication, how do you take it from being a Plain Jane to an ass kicking GI Jane? Sure QR codes and Augmented reality are cool, innovative, new, and helps to bring the web into your printed product, but does it make you any different than any other publication? I am not saying stray away from using these, but let’s take a look at some other things you can offer to make you more memorable.

The other day my wife opened up her new issue of Elle, and as she was paging through it, she said “Holy cow honey, come look at this!” I thought there must have been a major printing error, but instead we pulled out this wierd looking advertising piece that was tipped on to a page. It was a printed 3D advertisement for underwear, and it had a women modeling the underwear over the past three decades. Now this is cool! And I am sure my wife could tell you the name of the advertiser that utilized this advertising vehicle.

So what are some things that you can use, I understand a 3D printed piece that gets tipped on to a page may not be economical for all of you. So let us bring it back to the basics, inform your sales reps so that they can inform your advertisers of all the unique things that are available to them:

  • French Door Cover- Think of this as two doors side by side both needing to be pulled open on your cover. Underneath lies a hidden ad, talk about unique, you still have the cover, and an ad under your cover!
  • Gatefolds- These can be 4 panel or 6 panel. Think of this as several connected pages on top of each other. This works well for an advertiser that wants to have an ad that is bigger than just a page in your publication. Maybe the reader could tear it out and have a poster!
  • RPN- These are your average sticky notes with an ad on it. You can place these on the cover or inside of the publication.
  • Bellybands- Think of this as a belt for your publication. It goes around the outside of your publication and the ends glue together.

Don’t forget about polybagging, this is a great way to offer an advertiser a way to send their catalog or digest sized ad along with your publication as on onsert. Also, printers can pretty much tip on or bind in anything into a publication, from a cd, dvd, to a BRC. You will want to give your printer ample notice so that they can perform an analyses of the object to show you how to utilize the greatest efficiency of binding or tipping the object in. As well they should be able to tell you how this will effect your mailing rates.

Finally, if you are really looking at spicing things up or opening your ad sales market up, check into a flip book. For exampley,maybe your publication is Tucson magazine which is all about the city of Tucson. You typically cover the night life of Tucson.  However, in one issue you can have 32 pages about the night life, then you can flip the publication over and you have 32 pages of a dining guide for the area. This allows you to find new advertisers that you normally would not call on, as well as keeping your publication fresh.

These are just a few ideas for you, if you want to see samples give your printer a call to see what they look like (or myself, and I would be happy to send you samples!) Ultimately it is going to be the advertisers call, but if you are not advising them of what is available (or if your printer isnt advising you) then going from Plain Jane to GI Jane just isn’t possible!

September 27, 2010 Posted by | Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Why, So, Serious?

Why So Serious? The last time you heard those words, you were watching “The Dark Knight”. The demented Joker, brilliantly played by Heath Ledger, was describing how he got his facial scars, and you’re just not sure if the story he was telling you was the truth. The Joker’s only goal seemed to be to cause chaos for the city of Gotham.

I know what you’re thinking, “Is this guy a film critic now? What does this have to do with the printing market?”

Think about the chaos in our market right now. How many Jokers can you identify running around attempting to create chaos? Are you still calling for the death of the printer?

The facts have come in, and print is still growing! Sure, technology advancements such as iPad apps, digital magazines and the like should be used to supplement the printed magazine. In the end, print will still be standing. We, too, have found ways to bring the web into print with QR codes and Augmented Reality. We, too, are adapting to the changing market just like any other industry. In the end, the role of the printer may change from someone that puts ink on paper to a full blown marketing provider, but we still will be printing! In fact, printers will fill a more important role for publishers than ever before, and a printed product, you will see that it will be just as relevant as ever before!

Like Batman, we are here to stop the spreading of chaos and to show you why we are so serious: because we are here for you and we are not going anywhere. Our roles have been expanded and we realize that, but like any great superhero with a worthy villain, we are up for the challenges that lie ahead.

September 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments