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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

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

Could Paper Reduce Deforestation?YES!

 

Disclaimer: This was not meant as a blog post, this was a paper I wrote for a college course….it is very long, but well worth the read!

How many times have you received an email from someone, and at the bottom of that email it says “before you print this email, think about the environment?”  I get these e-mails every day, several times a day, from people all over the country, and I am sure you do too. Maybe you are even one of these people that have it saved as a signature to your email? The reason behind the perception here is that by reducing our usage of paper, we believe that we will be doing our part to reduce deforestation and save trees worldwide. Now, what if I was to tell you that by not using paper, you are effectively speeding up the process of deforestation? Would you think twice about hitting print then? Would you look beyond all the propaganda to see what it truly means to be green? Or would you just laugh and delete these facts from your computer screen because they can’t possibly be true?

            Everyone has their own definition of what it is to be “green” from purchasing a hybrid car, recycling more, down to carpooling. Surely, by not using paper you will be able to save trees, which can only be good for the environment, right? Well think about this, if that land is no longer used to responsibly harvest trees, then someone else is going to use it to make a profit in some other shape or form such as land development. Then, think about all the parts that go into a computer, you begin to wonder, is it really more environmentally friendly to campaign against the use of paper? Once you see the facts regarding paper use, my hopes are that you will see that using paper actually helps to responsibly maintain our forestland.

            Forests in the United States cover the same amount of our landscape today as they have for the past 100 years. In fact, today the U.S has 20% more trees than it did 25 years ago (http://www.afandpa.org/forestry.aspxid=406&linkidentifier=id&itemid=406). However, population growth, and changes in ownership of the forestland could drastically alter the landscape in the next few decades. More than 1/3 (750 million acres) of the United States is covered in forestland. Of that, 56% is owned by private owners, for example, commercial or family owned lands. Of that privately helped forestland, a recent survey by the USDA has shown that 25% of these owners plan on transferring or selling the land rights.(http://www.internationalpaper.com/apps/gopaper/ownership.html) So what’s the problem with this scenario? Why is this a growing trend now? The answer lies in the landowner’s profits.  Profits now have been drastically reduced with the campaigning to phase out paper.  Reduced profits means that if there is less money to be made by these private land owners, they will look to selling the land to developers, and selling the land to developers means massive amounts of forestland being destroyed…permanently!

Environmental Issues

            What can be the harm if we lost 56% of our forestland that is held by private ownership? The losses are huge, 60% of at risk plant and wildlife are associated with our forestland. These species of wildlife and plant life would go from being at risk, to protected, in a few short years. This is also so important because one acre of forestland alone produces enough oxygen to support eighteen people annually. Two thirds of our natural water resources flow from our forestlands, the better maintained the land the less polluted the water.(http://www.internationalpaper.com/apps/gopaper/ownership.html) The private landowners are the keepers of the ecosystem, as well as our natural resources, and the profits from trees allow them to maintain the land as it should be. At the current rate of deforestation in the rain forest, there will be no rain forest left  100 years from now.(http://www.buzzle.com/articles/causes-and-effects-of-deforestation.html) Domestically, 56% of the forestland is owned by private land owners, and of that amount, 25% plan to sell the land to urban developers or utilize it for agriculture or commercial developments that will yield higher profits instead of allowing paper mills to manage the forests responsibly.http://www.internationalpaper.com/apps/gopaper/ownership.html)

So what happens with the loss of all of this forestland? First and foremost, the ecosystem will be completely destroyed. With over 70% of plant and animal life living in forests, hundreds if not thousands of plant and animal life will be endangered or completely lost. It will be highly unlikely that they will be able to recover at the rate we are cutting down our trees and utilizing the land for development. Second, deforestation impacts our climate. Leaves and canopies protect the forest floor from harmful sun rays, and without them the soil will quickly dry up killing all plant life. In addition, trees help perpetuate water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without forests, the land would become much like a desert, and temperature swings will be very severe. Next, trees absorb carbon monoxide (CO2) and emit oxygen into the atmosphere. Remember, one single acre of forestland emits enough oxygen to sustain 18 people every year. In addition, trees catch and provide us with millions of gallons of clean rain water every year. Less trees means less natural clean rain water for our usage.(http://www.buzzle.com/articles/causes-and-effects-of-deforestation.html)

A recent study, done by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland showed that greenhouse gas emissions produced by a single newspaper during its entire life cycle correspond to a car journey of approximately one kilometer. The carbon footprint of a book bought from a store is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of a car journey of approximately 7 kilometers. The carbon footprint of an annual volume of weekly magazines is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of a journey of 45 kilometres by a car. The carbon footprint of a book is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of a journey about 7 kilometres by a car. The contribution of newspapers, books, and other paper products to the climate impacts of consumption by Finnish households in 2005 was small (approximately 1%). The biggest climate impacts of consumption by Finnish households were attributable to housing (28%), food products (16%), and transport (13%). The most efficient way to reduce environmental impacts is to lower the consumption of energy and fuels at different stages of the life cycle. Other important ways to reduce environmental impacts include reducing the amount of raw materials and using materials more efficiently. (http://www.ceepackaging.com/2011/03/24/print-contributes-little-to-carbon-footrpint/)

Social Issues

The perception that paper mills are the ones to blame, and that by stamping out the usage of paper is going to make a positive difference in the environment is simply wrong. In the Amazon alone, 60-70% of deforestation takes place due to ranchers. In the U.S., between now and the year 2030, 57 million acres of forestland are expected to be destroyed as to see an increase in housing.( http://www.buzzle.com/articles/causes-and-effects-of-deforestation.html) Currently, many urban developers are seeking to clear out forests to make growth for communities, use raw materials for building houses and furniture. Other economic reasons for deforestation here in the United States are agricultural in nature in efforts to allow the indigenous people’s cattle to roam and feed, or to plant crops that yield higher profits. With either of these situations, the trees are not being re- planted and the land is being converted for other uses.  All the signs point to the use of agriculture, urban development, and not properly managing forestland by using improper techniques such as clear cutting.

Economic Issues

The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5 percent of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP. Industry companies produce about $175 billion in products annually and employ nearly 900,000 men and women, exceeding employment levels in the automotive, chemicals and plastics industries. The industry meets a payroll of approximately $50 billion and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 48 states. With less paper being used, means less demand, which also equates to the loss of jobs of one of the biggest manufacturing markets in our country.( http://www.afandpa.org/ourindustry.aspx?id=35)

Opponents of paper usage will claim that to produce paper requires too much energy. This is simply not true, in the US paper mills are the largest consumer and producer of renewable energy. Working in this field as a printer, we too benefit from this as we utilize our paper mills renewable energy whenever possible. Paper can be used over and over again, as it is an infinitely renewable resource, and is very easily recyclable. To put things into perspective better, think about technology today, with a new version of the latest computer, cell phone, etc. coming out every year and being purchased by consumers rapidly, you have to ask yourself what happens to the old equipment? People throw it away to get the next latest and greatest consumer product. One must then consider all the input and output that goes into making these devices, where they end up, and how often they are actually reusable and if they are, are they actually being reused?  Right now, 3.2 million tons of electronic trash is dumped into our landfills every year. Compared to paper, with more states setting up recycling programs at local levels throughout, 89% of newspapers, 72% of boxes, and 66% of office paper is being recycled right now and with increased awareness regarding this issue we will reach the high 90 percentiles in just a few short years. (http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm)

The key to all of this is sustainability, responsibility, accountability and proper knowledge. With many watch dog agencies like that of the FSC, Rain Forest Alliance, Sustainable Forest Initiative, and many more, there has been a standard created for land owners, paper mills, and printers to follow. Over 25% of private land owners carry a certification from one of these watch dog agencies that ensures trees are replanted (paper mills re plant 3-4 times more trees than they cut down), paper waste is recycled, and renewable resources are utilized.(http://www.internationalpaper.com/apps/gopaper/ownership.html)

So What’s The Issue?

When it comes right down to it, it’s the perception of the people regarding the use of paper that needs to change. All too often we listen to what we hear on television, we then quickly and easily allow this information to become “fact”.  The challenge here is to think about deforestation critically, and to see the issue from all sides in an unbiased manner. We see a tree being cut down for our use, and immediately we believe if we no longer use the product that the tree is being harvested for, the trees will be saved. Think of the opportunity cost of harvesting trees by paper mills. If there are no profits to be had, then the land will be used in another way in order to gain profits, all which lead to no trees being re planted what so ever.

We are all correct in believing that deforestation is a major problem, not only locally, but also globally. The best way to combat deforestation is to ensure the people that make a profit off the land continue to protect their profits by responsibly using, and replanting the trees. This only makes good business sense, should there no longer be a channel to reap the profits of their labor, its only common sense that they look at the next best thing. In most cases, this will be to sell the land to an urban developer, or use the land for agricultural issues. In both cases, we lose critical habitat and no re planting is done.

Now that the issue of using paper is clarified there is more work to be done. The first step is to re brand paper products as the only infinite renewable source in the world, which it is. The second step is to produce the facts for the real reasons of deforestation, and with that comes a responsibility to manage our forests before it is too late and urban developers have created new cities and homes to be moved in to. Last we need a call to the people to look beyond the surface, and dig deeper into the problem to find the true reasons for the problem in order to find the right solution.

The true solution, recycle! That is where the emphasis needs to be put, not on attacking paper which will only put thousands of people out of work, increase deforestation, and hurt our environment the most. It is important to remember all things are linked together, if we take away paper, we will see all of these statistics drastically reduced, which will only lead to more job losses:

  • Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls.
  • Public sector investment in local recycling programs pays great dividends by creating private sector jobs. For every job collecting recyclables, there are 26 jobs in processing the materials and manufacturing them into new products.
  • Recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in the waste management and disposal industries.

(http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-benefits.html)

As you can see, if we follow the crumb trail, not using paper will devastate our economy and environment. Socially, we all need to make a change and take it upon ourselves to look beyond the rhetoric to get to the true source.

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Books, Catalogs, Paper, Printing, Publishing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

What NYC Taught me about Social Media!

Back from my first trip to New York City…..WOW….what an experience!

 Here’s the thing. I grew up in a town of less than 2,000 people, live in a town with less than  5,000 people, and work in a town with less than 15,000 people. You get the picture, so there was some pretty big culture shock as I swam through the sea of people on 38th and 8th Street feeling like I was about to pass out from the rollercoaster cab ride just a few short moments ago.

“How am I going to find this coffee shop where I am supposed to meet him?” I began to worry. There it was, on the corner, just like he said. I ran in, happy to be off the street as I was feeling like a salmon swimming against the current. “Great, no place to sit! But no one has food on their plates, why don’t they leave?” the thought screamed through my mind. I stood there in the middle of the coffee shop for about ten to fifteen minutes, with my luggage, observing this “foreign culture”.

People were chatting away, oblivious to their surroundings, but as the observer in the middle of the room, it seemed to be the most beautiful choir I have ever heard. I have never been in one place with so many people, never heard so many conversations going on all at once, and never felt so small. Suddenly, I felt connected to all of them, and I began to enjoy being the observer. To my right were two young adults, one with a laptop, showing the other what looked to be a business proposal. To my left, were three co-workers laughing the afternoon away…..and the rows of people went on like this.

Finally, a seat opened up. I ran as fast as I could before someone else could claim it. I was quite excited to join the choir of white noise and looked up to see my client approaching my table.

Social media is a lot like this, isn’t it? There are conversations taking place 24 hours a day,
7 days a week, with hundreds of millions of people each chatting away making the most
beautiful choir we have ever heard. Where does that leave us as the advertisers, publishers, and corporations looking to join that choir? Standing in the middle of the room, with our luggage, looking for a table?

So how do we find that seat? Don’t be scared! Believe me, I was quite scared when I was
walking to my destination in the city, seeing so many people all at once, and feeling so small. That all went away when I realized we are part of something bigger. Don’t be scared to join in – add to the choir that is us.

How does your voice become heard over the other beautiful voices, or what others may call white noise? I believe it is consistency, keep showing up every day, and provide information/content that people want to read. If I went to that same coffee shop every day, I would know every single person who worked there, and then I would get to know who the other regulars are. From there, your branches can only sprout more leaves.

So NYC, at first you tried to scare me away with that insanely near-death experience with the cab ride, then making me feel so small like I didn’t exist, but in the end I see you were only teaching me a lesson. If you don’t join the choir, you have no voice at all. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed, we all do, but what isn’t ok is to not participate in the choir of the 21st century!

March 12, 2011 Posted by | Publishing, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

As the landscape changes…..

First and Foremost everyone, Hope you all have a Happy and Prosperous New Years!

As we approach 2011, I can not help but to think about what new changes it may bring. 2010 was a year of adversity, growth for some, learning for all, and strengthening for those of us still standing.

We have seen the digital era show it’s might in full force. From digital magazines, ipad apps, to the Nook, Kindle, and Ipad. Printers have attempted to bring the web into the printed product with QR Codes, Augmented Reality and becoming more active on social media sites. Printers are no longer just companies that put “ink on paper” and Publishers are no longer people that produce only one marketing tool.

As we continue to strive to integrate all aspects of marketing communications, it leaves me to wonder what could possibly be next? The answer is I have no idea, well I have some idea, but only speculation. Regardless of what comes next, I look forward to embracing those changes, adapting to our ever changing landscape, and becoming the best that I can be.

Let’s look forward to the future with great optimism, excitement, and the readiness to adapt. I know 2010 may have not been the greatest year for Publishers and Printers alike, but through this year we have all gotten stronger and better, and for that I am thankful.

The only for sure thing is that the landscape is going to continue to change, whether you keep up is up to you, but I hope to see you all along side me on this marathon with a smile!

Happy New Years ! See you in 2011!

December 31, 2010 Posted by | Digital Magazine, Publishing, Social Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment