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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

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

Apples and Oranges and Grapes—Oh, my!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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