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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

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

Correct Grain vs Cross Grain

I am going to tell you a little story, and admit to alot of you that I still have alot to learn! 🙂

As many of you know, the company I worked for, Conley Printing, was bought by J.B. Kenehan back in early September. Before, we were primarily a publications printer, and, not to toot my own horn, but this I know alot about. How to beat the USPS, offer econmical paper stocks, and to offer the most efficient way of creating your publication. NOW, our capabilities have vastly opened up, we can do slim jims, digest sized publications and the like because we have sheet fed capabilities and web presses that allow us to be competitive etc… Believe me, my eyes got pretty wide, and needless to say, I was and still am pretty excited about what we can do in house.

With these new capabilities comes a great amount of learning, and believe me, I am still learning! I recently bid on a publication. It was a digest sized publication, (when I say digest sized I am talking about publications that have a smaller trim size like 5 3/8x 8 3/8 etc). Although this was something that I probably wouldn’t have gone after in the past, with our new capabilities I went in confident knowing this was something we can do.

I got the job! I was estatic, busted out my happy dance which is a horrible version of the moon walk (ask any of my co-horts) and began planning. As soon as my boss came in, I ran up to tell him the good news, after listening to me he immediately asked me “Did you bid it cross grain or correct grain?” I looked at him the way a dog looks at you when he is thinking WTF are you talking to me like a baby for with their head titled sideways, (you know what I am talking about). A smile creeped across his face, it was more of a smirk, he could tell I didn’t know what he was talking about. I knew then I was about to be schooled as we walked into his office.

He put two publications on his desk in front of me, one was a signature and the other was a tabloid sized publication. “When we talk about correct grain, we are talking about printing and binding the publication with the grain of the paper,” he said as he opened up the signature sized publication. “Signature publications are typically always correct grain, so this is something you wouldn’t have had to worry about in the past.” Then he opened up the tabloid sized publication, “When we talk about cross grain, we talk about printing and binding the publication against the natural flow of the grain of the paper, tabloids are typically always cross grain on a web press so this is something you wouldn’t have had to worry about in the past.” He pointed towards the spine of the tabloid publication ” Do you see how it is wavy towards the binding, this is called puckering, and happens because the paper is bound cross grain, there is nothing you can do about it.”  Then he went on, “Digest sized publications and slim jims can either be done correct grain or cross grain, but it makes a huge difference in the price, it all depends on what the customer wants.”

I looked like a deer in headlights, and new exactly what he was getting at, was I about to give a client what they were expecting? I ran back to my desk, reviewed the RFQ, and there was no stipulation of cross or correct grain. Then I reviewed my bid, and found out that I had indeed bid the publication cross grain. So I picked up the phone, called the client, and asked them if they had a preference of cross grain or correct grain. I knew that same look on my face earlier when that question was posed to me was now on their face ” Noah, this is the first time we are doing this publication, and the first time we are using this trim size, can you explain to me what the difference is?” How could I blame them for not knowing when I didnt even know? I went on to tell them the differences, the difference in cost, quality, and so on.  Like many publishers in today’s market, they told me they wanted the best quality product for the least amount of cost.

With that, I explained to my boss what they had told me, and we agreed to honor the price for the cross grain, but produce it correct grain. In the end it was all worth it, the client absolutely loved the product, and this is all that truly mattered to us.

So, if you are going out to bid, make sure you are asking for exactly what you have in mind. The last thing any printer wants to do is to give you anything other than what you want. Should you not care about a little “puckering” towards the spine in order to get the best price possible then note it. Should you want the best product possible and are willing to pay more in costs, then you may want to note in your bid to quote correct grain. It all comes down to what fits the equipment which effects the pricing, a good printer should be able to show you all options.

Lucky for me I have an emormous resource of knowledge in printing surrounding me. Not everyone has that, so remember if you are going out to bid, make sure you are getting what you want. Grain isn’t something you only find in your cereal bowl or in a field, it is something that effects the price and look of your publication as well!

FYI ….Here is another blog about correct grain printing that I think you will find explains it more in depth http://www.authorsandspeakersnetwork.com/danpoynter3.html

December 12, 2010 Posted by | Books, Publishing, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

10 tips to reduce cost and still meet your goals!

  1. If you are open to a change in your production schedule, speak to your printer about the possibility of a discount for moving to an open time of the month to fill a hole in their press time.
  2. Talk to your printer about lower basis weight paper stocks. You know what’s best for your publication, but there is always an alternative that will save you money, not only in printing costs, but also in mailing/freight costs due to the lesser weight.
  3. Where you print, sheet fed vs. web, and the equipment your vendor has will determine the number of pages available in each form. A web based printer is more efficient in printing 16 and 32 page forms for signatures. An additional 8 pages can be done, but you could get 16 pages for less than the cost of 8. How about that for helping you sell ad space! Now apply that logic to your current vendor – ask them where the greatest efficiency is for their equipment.
  4. To reduce costs, ask your vendor about an aqueous or varnish coating if you have a UV coated cover. They are very similar and typically will provide a savings. If you have a dull UV coated cover, ask your printer about a dull varnish, once again very similar and usually there is a savings.
  5.  If you print more than one publication on the same paper stock and the same trim size with the same vendor, ask about ganging them up. This means printing them one right after the other. Why should you do this? Printers will often give you a discount called a Repeat Make Ready for not having to do an additional setup. This savings is often significant and is worth checking into.
  6.  If your cover is “cover weight”, consider text weight. Its lighter (saves in mailing) and less expensive. If you don’t know what you use now, ask your vendor before you go out to bid to ensure you get an apples to apples comparison with no surprises.
  7. Are you printing a tab sized publication? For a savings in printing and mailing, consider moving the trim size to 10-3/4×12. This trim size allows you to be unique and oversized, yet can be printed in 24 page forms instead of the regular 16 page forms.
  8. Are your inside pages light gloss with a heavy 4 pg cover, for example, 36 pound gloss inside pages with a 4 pg 100 pound cover? If so, consider this: lose the cover, bump up your inside paper stocks to something like a 50 pound gloss and make your publication a self cover. You will save money, and have a quality product throughout. The same holds true for a transition from uncoated to coated.
  9. Maybe you want to stay on the uncoated paper stock because it fits your publication, but you still want an upgrade. Or maybe you use an uncoated paper stock, want an upgrade, but aren’t quite ready to go to a gloss. A heatset printer like us can offer the upgrade in quality that a coldset printer simply can not. What is heatset? When you finish reading the morning newspaper, look at your hands; chances are they are black from the ink that rubbed off. This is coldest: the ink easily smears and rubs off from one page to another and picture quality isn’t as crisp. In heatset printing, the web is run through a heater to set the ink, yielding crisper images and ink that will never smear. It offers an upgrade that you, your advertisers, and readers will be very happy with. This upgrade is often very economical and is another step toward obtaining your goals.
  10. Work with a printer that will be your greatest asset. In times like these with an ever changing paper market and postal regulations, your print representative should be your consultant, advisor, and greatest source of information on maximizing your marketing efforts, improving your publication, reducing costs, increasing efficiencies, and forecasting for the future.

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

Me and My Magic 8 Ball Foretell the Future!

Being on the front lines, and speaking with publishers across America every day I hear a resounding question, “When do you think this recession is going to end?” I asked my magic eight ball a couple of times, the first time was “the outlook is good” which gave me great optimism. So I decided to make sure the magic 8 ball was right and try it again, this time it said “Very Doubtful”. I was just about to throw the 8 ball out the window, when I thought, “Well 2 out of 3 times isn’t so bad!”  So I shook it one last time and asked it the same question, it said, “Reply hazy. Try again”. The fact of the matter is nobody knows. I say, let the experts speculate on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC, let us not focus on waiting for the recession to end, but rather prospering without doubt. Make this the day that you say, “I will no longer use the recession as an excuse”.

 With that in mind, I called up a client and friend of mine, James Jiskra, to ask how he has prospered not only now, but for the past decade. James Jiskra is the Advertising Director for Vintage Guitar magazine (http://www.vintageguitar.com/) which is also the leading guitar collector, enthusiast, and dealer magazine in the world. For the past 10 years, James has been a large part of the reason why Vintage Guitar has enjoyed such enormous success and the reason they are known as the “guitar experts” magazine. With the quality of advertisers he has created loyalty with, and new advertisers he continues to bring in. Here are three tips James was thoughtful enough to share with me:

  • Be proactive. If you find a problem with an ad after it’s already in print, let the advertiser know before they see it and offer an appropriate credit. They’ll appreciate the honesty will take the news much better than if they’d found the mistake themselves. We’ve also noticed that when this happens they’ll often increase their ad size or lengthen frequency.  
  • When you get to the office in the morning, read your newest e-mails first.  You’ll save time by not trying to fix something that has already been taken care of. Same goes for voice-mail. Listen to all voice-mails before acting on the first “emergency” call. Sometimes things work themselves out without your intervention.
  • This is an old one but, smile when you answer the phone. You really can hear the difference on the other end.

 Think about your relationship with your print salesman, wouldn’t you wanted to be treated the same way? A person that will be proactive, and honest with you, who listens, and  is going to be optimistic and a source of great fuel for you to keep doing what you love. I came across a quote the other day I would like to share with you.  “Live your life like a duck, calm and cool on the surface, but under the water kicking like hell.” Keep kicking, but keep your head positive.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment