Monday, May 8, 2017

Is It Time to Start Thinking More Like a Retail Store and Less Like an Association?

            Many associations today are struggling with what to do about decreasing revenues from the sale of advertising, exhibits and sponsorships. Many continue to see a flattening or decline in the sale of these important sources of income and have tried ways to turn this trend around with limited success. But, as hard as the association marketplace has been hit with the effects of declining sales, no industry has been more impacted than the retail industry. We have witnessed the challenges faced by many of the largest store brands including such companies as Woolworth’s, FAO Schwartz and Circuit City which at one time were leaders of the market sectors and are no longer to be found. Other retailers have closed stores or shifted to online only sales. But, there are some retailers who have strongly survived and, in fact, have found new strengths in the changing economy.

            Michael’s is a national chain that sells a large variety of arts and crafts supplies as well as seasonal decorative goods to be used in consumer’s homes. These are large stores selling thousands of products most of which sell for under $10 each. So what is the key to their success? They have established themselves as the expert on custom framing and offer this service in each of their stores. I am an amateur photographer and when I have a picture enlarged that I want to frame, I head to Michael’s. The staff in the framing department is very knowledgeable about their line of frames and are extremely helpful to me in choosing the right frame and color of matting to bring out the best of my photos. They have a video system that can display an image of my photo in the exact frame and matting as the finished product will be, and the quality of the workmanship of the finished product is excellent. They are my go-to retailer when I need custom framing.

            Another store that I love is The Container Store. Here, they sell thousands of containers designed to hold all of my household goods for every room in my house by offering a wide range of product sizes and features each designed to help me keep my home better organized. Most of the products in the store are priced under $20, but they offer something that no other retailer offers. They sell two lines of custom closet organizing systems that maximize the space and functionality of each of the closets in my home. I can store clothes and other items in an efficient, attractive, and accessible way while maximizing the storage capacity of each of my closets. I go to the store with the dimensions of each of my storage spaces and a highly trained and knowledgeable person custom designs my space and then shows me a color rendering of how each wall will look. Over the years, I have done all of the closets in my home (as well as my garage) and have always found the experience to be positive. The products are very well made, durable, and effective in solving my home organization challenges and the personal touch of working with a designer adds value to the overall experience.

            What do these two stores have in common that makes them successful? It’s really simple. They require the customer to come into the store to purchase their most expensive specialty products. I can’t have my picture framed online. I need to bring it to the store in order for their framing expert to look at the photo and help me choose the best combination of frame and matting to enhance my picture. Although I can purchase frames from a number of online sources, I can’t receive the level of service that I get when I am in the store at the framing department and can see the many options that are available and how each will work best with my picture. I can also buy closet organizing products from other sources (both retail and online), but none offers the level of expertise and value that comes from going into the store, seeing the products on full display and receiving the personal service that assures that I get the right solution that will work for me, my family, and my home. Both of these successful retailers have found that by offering a higher priced custom service which requires the customer to physically come into the store, they increase their revenue, provide a service that is of great value to their customers, and take advantage of the customers’ presence in the store to sell them complimentary products. It’s a win-win relationship that is working for these retailers every day.

             I am not suggesting that associations open retail stores to stay competitive, but I am suggesting that associations look at this and determine the things they do best and which are also unique and valuable to their customers and prospects. These are some ideas on possible solutions:

            Enhance the relationships between your members and industry suppliers. Just like a customer has to walk into a Michael’s or Container Store to receive the best service, you should establish your association and its products as the best place for buyers and sellers to meet and where business is successfully conducted. Create an environment in all of your products where both members and vendors are welcomed and can interact with each other. Your convention and tradeshow are already doing this, but see how you can extend this model to your electronic and print products, as well. Each of them should be an inviting place for industry suppliers to inform your members about the products and services they offer.

            Provide the highest quality of service to your customers so that they want to come back and exhibit, sponsor and advertise again. Do all you can to assure that each customer gets the highest ROI on their investment in your products by maximizing the exposure of your supplier companies to your members over the longest possible period of time. You want your products and events to be the primary lead generator for each of your supporting suppliers. Your role is to create an environment that allows buyers and sellers to be introduced to each other in a welcoming atmosphere.

            Focus the efforts of your sales team to sell the higher priced products by training them on the best practices of relationship selling. The best sales people are not selling a product; they are providing solutions that meet the marketing goals and strategies of their customers. The most effective sales people listen before they speak. What are each of your customer’s unique challenges and goals and how can your products (either individually or as a package) meet those needs and exceed those goals? You want your association to be viewed as the “marketing partner” of each of your customers to assure their success in the segment of their market that your association represents.

I welcome everyone's comments and feedback on this posting.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cost vs. Value: What Are You Really Selling?

Cost is What You Pay. Value is What You Get.

 I teach several marketing courses at the University of Maryland and one of the important parts of each  semester's class is the discussion on value. The example I use is as follows: Why do people continue to purchase Mercedes-Benz cars? When compared to a lower priced option such as Honda or Toyota, the differences seem hard to see at first. Both cars can easily be driven at 60 mph; both use the same readily available fuel; both meet government safety regulations; both come equipped with leather seats, superb sound systems, GPS, and other accessories that make the driving experience enjoyable. So why do some people spend $60, $70, or $80 thousand dollars for a car that provides nearly the same functionality as one costing half the price? It is because of the value to the consumer that the Mercedes brand delivers. For some consumers, that value comes from the status of owning the brand; for others, it is the perception of reliability; some may feel that the ride is smoother and more comfortable; and for others it is the overall customer experience from the purchase through the car's maintenance at the dealership. What Mercedes has so successfully done is use value as a tool to position itself apart from its competition.

As an association executive, you, too, should look at how your products are positioned in the marketplace. Are you competing on price or on value? When faced with price resistance from a prospect, the easiest thing to do, perhaps, is to offer a lower price in order to get the sale. Once done, you have established the price that customer will expect to pay for all future purchases and in so doing, you have lowered the product's value. Under these circumstances, it is far better to discuss the value of the purchased media, rather than its price. What constitutes value for association products? Several things:

1) Buying power and influence of your association's membership. Explaining that your readers/event attendees are the key influencers of purchasing decisions made within their organizations is key. If your members control the money, then the value of reaching them is very high.

2) Quality not quantity of readers/attendees. I recently managed a trade show for a client and spoke to an exhibitor about his experience at the event. He said the traffic to his booth was awful. His location was not well-lit, and was near the back of the exhibit hall. But, he left with three very lucrative leads that make those problems seem insignificant. For him, the quantity of exhibit hall attendees was poor, but the quality was excellent and he has committed to exhibiting again next year.

3) Add value by rewarding your biggest clients. When a company is consistently supporting your association and its products, rewarding them for their loyalty adds value to their relationship with you. Mutli-product packaging and discounting is one way to do this, but others may include offering a free ad to a client one time per year, or giving them special recognition as a supporter either in your magazine or at your event acknowledges their importance to your association. We work with clients who have a "corporate partner" status and others who offer platinum, gold, or silver sponsorship status for their largest supporters. Recognition and access are what most industry suppliers want, and providing both to your biggest customers will go a long way to maintaining those important relationships.

Discuss some of these ideas and others with your sales staff. Ask them what they think will work best. Then, give some of them a test drive. You will become the "Mercedes" dealer of your market while letting the "Hondas" and "Toyotas" fight it out for the rest.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Strategic vs. Tactical Approach to Sales

Most association sales directors are very good at managing the process and developing effective tactical tools. They produce attractive media kits, hire, train, and supervise good sales people, and manage the sales pipeline so that they know their market and the players in it. These are each important and valuable tools that are key to effective sales results, but they are all tactical in nature. In order to be more effective, a strategic approach must be integrated into the sales process before the tactical tools can be put to use. This approach helps your organization answer the question, "what do we want to be and how are we going to get there?"

I have developed a program called the 2 Hour MBA that takes the basics of business and marketing and applies them to the sale of print and web advertising, exhibits and sponsorships. This process involves analyzing each product and the environment in which it is competing. It looks at both the internal and external factors that have impact on an organization's products and the ability of the organization to sell them. Then, it assesses your integrated communications strategies by looking at who is really the buyer of your products and how to best deliver your value message to them. The result of this process is that you develop a highly effective strategy upon which the tactical steps are built and executed.

Feel free to contact me to learn more about this approach. It takes the methods used by corporations, product managers, and leaders in the business community and customizes them to fit the unique needs of the association leader. To learn more contact:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Your Association Behaving Like an Airline?

How do you feel about how airlines do business? Today, you have to buy your ticket, then pay again for selecting your seat, and another charge for checking your luggage. One airline even wants to charge you for printing out your boarding pass. This is like buying a ticket to the movies and then having to pay an additional fee to get the actual paper ticket you need to gain admission to the theater. Once on board, you are charged again for a snack or even the use of a blanket. Want to watch the "free" movie? You have to buy the headphones in order to hear it. The flying experience is really the constant feeling of the airline with its hand in your pocket charging for what used to be included in the price of the ticket. As consumers, wouldn't we be happier if the airlines didn't do this? Tell me what the ticket costs to go from point A to point B, and in that price include all of the services that make the flying experience easy and pleasant.

In some ways, associations do the same thing as the airlines. They price their products and services individually. There is a fee to purchase exhibit space. Want to advertise in the conference program? That is an additional charge. Want to be a sponsor? An even higher additional charge. There is one fee to buy an ad in a magazine and an additional charge if you also want to buy an ad on an organization's website. Is it getting to the point that your customers are feeling about your organization they way you are feeling about the airlines? And, how many people from within your organization are your customers dealing with each time they make a purchasing decision? It's confusing and inefficient, but worse than that, are your customers feeling about your association they way they may be feeling about the airlines?

The solution may be to create a single point of entry through which your customers can purchase all of your offerings at a single package price. You can create a number of different packaging options by combining, for example, print and web advertising, exhibits and sponsorships, or advertising across multiple products such as your magazine, conference program, and website. Price these packages so that they deliver fair value to your customers while providing your organization with a fair return in its investments in the products and events being offered. In today's value-driven economy, your customers may greatly appreciate this approach for its simplicity, flexibility, and ease of access. This will result an increase in overall revenue coming into your organization. This is a win-win solution that, perhaps, the airlines should adopt as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spirt Airline's Bad Judgement

I have always respected the creative use of humor in advertising. It is what makes ad messages memorable while promoting a company's products or services in a positive light. Over the course of my career of selling advertising, I have seen both the best and worst of what has been created by advertisers. But, the other day, I received an e-mail from Spirit Airlines that, I feel, ranks among the worst examples of humor gone astray.

The email was promoting Spirit's "Weiner Sale" and included the headline, "Don't Lie, Size Does Matter." This was a clear reference to the recent news about the online activities conducted by Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York. I think this message went too far, and so, I sent the following email to Ben Baldanza, Spirit's CEO:

I am writing to you today to express my disgust at the promotional email I received from you recently. Headlined "the weiner sale" and with the opening line of the text reading "Don't lie...size does matter!" this is a clear reference to the latest news involving US Representative Anthony Weiner of New York. Not only is the reference inappropriate, it is not even humorous. Whatever the motivation behind Mr. Weiner's behavior, it is not appropriate for a corporation to use one person's character flaw as the basis for an advertising campaign. And, despite the fact that the ad had a picture of a hot dog, everyone who receives the news knows exactly what link your message was trying to make. I think this irresponsible judgment on the part of the person or persons responsible for it, as well as the advertising or marketing agency that created it should be addressed. I, for one, will consider the newly diminished impression I have of your company the next time I am purchasing airline tickets. I am not a prude, and I enjoy humor when it is used creatively and appropriately in advertising messages. This promotion failed to do that. A word from you to those responsible for the use of this juvenile humor will, hopefully, prevent such misguided messages from being sent again.

Of course, I have not, nor do I expect to receive a reply to this, but if I do, I will post it here. Advertisers and their messages can and should be better. Being funny is fine; being funny at the expense of someone's character and behavior is not. Yes, Weiner is a public figure, but does that entitle companies to use his failings as the basis for their advertising campaigns? What do you think?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why I Am Back and Where I've Been

It has been quite a while since I have posted anything on this blog, primarily because I thought I had run out of things to say, and work and other commitments have channeled my time and energies away from this. But, the time away has also given me an opportunity to step back and look at what has transpired in the broad world of publishing and the more targeted world of association publishing in particular.

What I have observed is that everyone--commercial and association publishers--are continuing to try to figure out how to deliver content to rapidly changing audiences while still generating the revenues needed to support their products. Few, if any, have found a successful formula that can be applied universally. But, there are some things that have not changed and that are just as valid to publishers today as they were before the advent of online content. Here are some observations:

Continue to Deliver Value--This applies not only to the content you deliver to your readers, but to the quality of readers you deliver to your advertisers. In today's economic environment, advertisers want the most value they can receive in exchange for their dollars. When advertisers purchase ad space (print or web) they want to know that their message is being seen by the people most likely to be in the position to make a purchasing decision or recommendation. Value doesn't mean selling it cheaper; value means giving them more benefit for the money they are paying. It means documenting the buying power of your readership; it means providing your advertisers with a way to continue delivering their messages after each issue of your magazine has been read; it means regularly communicating with your advertisers about industry issues and trends that they can use in their sales and marketing efforts. It also means understanding the unique needs of each of your advertising clients and developing flexible strategies which meed those needs.

Bundling--Readers from different demographic and psychographic groups respond to ad media in different ways. Younger readers may not look at your print product, but rely on the content you deliver on your organization's website. Older readers, may do just the opposite. The bottom line is that one type of media can no longer be relied upon by your advertisers to maximize their reach and exposure to your market. If yours is like most associations, you deliver content through three forms of media: online, print, and face-to-face. Instead of viewing each of these as separate and independent profit centers, create combinations of two or more, price them in a way that makes it a better deal to buy the package than to purchase each separately, and market them as a solution that gives advertisers and exhibitors the ability to deliver their messages at the time and place that is most beneficial to them. I can assure you that the commercial publishers against which you are competing are doing this every day.

Increase Your Visibility--Most publishers are very good about their understanding of the marketing tools and goals of their advertisers, but are not good at marketing themselves. Today's highly competitive marketplace requires that you keep your products' names out in front of your customers and prospects. Consistent and ongoing communications with prospects, advertisers and ad agencies is essential. Even if they are not buying ad space from you today, you want them to know you when they are ready to buy. Use the multi-media tools available to you. Perhaps establish a micro-site on your web page devoted to information for the advertising community serving your industry or profession; do regular email promotions in which you highlight upcoming issues, bonus distribution at industry events, or any other incentive that will catch the eye of the media buying community. If your customers don't hear from you, and hear from you often, in these times of immediate communication, you and your products will quickly become invisible.

Beware of the Lure of Social Networking--One basic rule of marketing is that you have to go where your customers are going. Before committing your resources (time and money) to utilizing tools such as Facebook and Twitter, be sure of two things: are your members using those technologies? Are your advertisers using them as part of their media plans? If, for example, your association represents a profession comprised primarily of older people (by older I mean over age 35), how many of them are posting "Tweets" or have a Facebook presence? It's my observation that the social networking media is serving the broader needs and numbers of the consumer marketplace, but has not yet been successfully incorporated into the b-to-b world.

I will continue to post thoughts and observations and I ask that you make this blog part of your active community of blogs which you will share with your colleagues and to which you will respond and participate. A blog is a community and I hope that through this blog, I can be part of your community, as well.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Deceptive Movie Advertising

I have become increasingly distrusting of the advertising that movie studios are creating to entice me to sit in a large dark room full of strangers for a couple of hours. These movie previews, or trailers as they are now more commonly called, are created to show what the movie is about in the hope that I will want to buy a ticket to see the entire production. As an advertising professional, I believe this is working because the theaters are filled with people. But, of late, I have seen a great disconnect between the trailer and the movie it promotes and I find this to be both misleading and manipulative. Let me share a couple of recent examples.

I recently saw Precious, the story of the horrific life of a young girl living in poverty in New York City. The trailers that were shown in television advertising create the impression that this is an uplifting story populated with happy people overcoming the difficulties of their lives. There are images of the main character dancing in a beautiful gown, waving to her boyfriend as he waits for her on his motorcycle, and of her mother doing a happy dance in their home. Yet, the reality of this movie is very difficult to watch. Yes, the main character does attend a dance dressed in a beautiful red dress, and yes, she does have a handsome boyfriend waiting for her, but these events occur only in her dreams...dreams that she uses to take her away from the horrors of her real life. And as the movie draws to its close, with a glimmer of hope for the main character's future, the story hits you one last time with another blow to the stomach. Yet, the trailers led me to expect a different story with a different ending. I applaud the acting, particularly the role of the main character's mother played by Mo'Nique (who should win the Oscar for best supporting actress), but the advertising messages that got me there were misleading and failed to show what the movie was really about.

I also recently saw the George Clooney movie Up In The Air. This movie has been promoted as a romantic comedy, yet there is nothing either romantic or comedic about it. The trailers imply that the main character is romantically attracted to his young protege while flying all over the country with her to carry out their work as corporate head choppers. Yet, the realitiy is that there is no romantic involvement between these two characters. The character played by Clooney is an unhappy person who has failed to maintain relationships with anyone in his life and has devoted his life to a shallow existence defined only by his job. And, again, just as you think the plot is taking him to the point of redemption, it hits you with another blow to the stomach that sends him back to his old way of life. Certainly, not what I had expected from the advertising I saw for this and which attracted me to the theater to see it. (Can you also imagine that there was actually a meeting held in Holywood where someone actually thought it was a good idea to make a movie about people being laid off from their jobs during one of the worst economic recessions in recent history? I guess they figured that any movie with George Clooney will attract a large audience no matter what the topic.)

Although this posting has nothing to do with advertising sales, it does raise my concern about the importance that advertising messages deliver to their audiences. The message should be truthful, and the product advertised should deliver what the message says it will. The movie industry seems to have failed to learn that basic element of marketing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Condensed Version of Why RD Failed

I just read that the company that publishes Reader’s Digest magazine is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Citing a decline in circulation and an inability to fully finance its debt, the company will undergo a corporate reorganization and hopes to emerge from bankruptcy in a strong enough position to continue to survive.

But, the question that those of us in the publishing business should ask is, why did this venerable print product lose so much of its customer base, both subscribers and advertisers? I am sure that there are many complex business factors that got them to where they find themselves today. However, one look at their website gives a clear indication of what might be wrong.

Simply put, a paying subscriber to their magazine no longer needs to buy the print product because there is valuable and interesting content available for free from the Digest’s own website ( In fact, there appears to be more depth and breadth of content available on their website than is found in the typical print issue of their magazine.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I am a strong believer in print media and believe that a magazine can have a strong position in a publishing company’s lineup of products. But, the publisher must take a strategic approach to the relationship its flagship print product has with its electronic and face-to-face content deliverables. Reader’s Digest is failing, perhaps, because it does not have an effective strategy which merges the print product with its online content. Their website stands alone as a source of content and information and a visitor to the site has no reason to ever purchase a subscription to the magazine as long as the company continues to provide all of the information it does at no cost.

The lesson in this is that content delivery must be an integrated process in which the content of one product drives the audience to the content of the others. There are many fine examples of publishing organizations which are successfully doing this, most notably the Wall Street Journal. I am not suggesting that Reader’s Digest charge for content on its website. What I am suggesting is that they might consider reducing the amount of free content available on the website and make more of it available as part of a paid subscription to its print product. They have a multi-generational history of providing content that has broad appeal to a clearly defined segment of the population. They should do what they do best: use that content to build their core business but deliver the content in a multi-media strategy.

Comments or questions? Visit us at or post your comment below.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Throwing Away My T-Square

This is the last in a series of postings I will write about the history of typesetting as I have witnessed it throughout my career in publishing.

I was invited into a dimly lit conference room and offered a seat at the far end of the table. Positioned at the opposite end was an IBM-AT computer upon which sat what looked like a computer monitor sitting on its side so that the image would be presented in “portrait” rather than “landscape” configuration. Then, right before my eyes, the operator turned the computer on and I watched in amazement as I saw him create a magazine page onto which he placed three columns of perfectly justified type, several headlines, rules, and a window for the placement of a photo. This was all done in a matter of minutes without the need for the tools which I had come to rely upon to “paste up” a magazine page layout. When the demonstration was complete I was asked if I had any questions. I only had one, “how do you get the page out of there” was all I could think to ask. But, what I had just witnessed was my introduction to the digital prepress revolution that was rapidly taking place right before my eyes.

The year was 1987 and the software I had seen demonstrated was called “SuperPage.” After the vendor answered many additional questions (including how to get the pages “out of there”) I jumped head first into the deep end of the technology pool and purchased the software for an exorbitantly high price of $8,000. In addition, I had to purchase the specially configured monitor which was available only from a company located in Seattle, as well as an IBM-AT PC. But, I had a contract to produce a directory of several hundred pages, and the investment in the new technology was quickly recouped. Shortly afterwards, the vendor contacted me to inform me that there was an upgrade available for the software, but it would require the addition of a new device without which the program wouldn’t properly work. The device was called a “mouse” and it also required that I increase the memory in the computer to support it, so I purchased the mouse as well as added some additional memory to the computer to its maximum capacity of 640K of RAM. But, I also knew I would never again have a need for my faithful t-square, drawing board, adhesive waxer, and X-Acto knife. I had entered the world of digital publishing and there was no turning back.

Several companies introduced competitive products as the market for “desktop publishing” exploded. SuperPage was quickly replaced by such products as PageMaker, QuarkXpress, and InDesign and the various upgrades and new versions of each which seemed to be introduced almost daily. I continue to be amazed at the functions built into the current version of InDesign, functions that didn’t seem possible only a few years ago. The elements of good design, typography, and the use of color are just as important today as they have been for years. But, those of us in the publishing business have powerful tools literally available to us at our fingertips which make our jobs easier, faster, and which allow us to readily express our creativity. During my career in publishing I have been witness to a revolution in typesetting and layout, but also a revolution in new media which utilizes the tools we take for granted today. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Please share your comments with me here or visit us at where you can also subscribe to our free e-newsletter which offers information, tips, and suggestions about how to maximize advertising sales in print and electronic products.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It’s Inefficient, Expensive, and it Works

Advertising sales is a numbers game, right? Many publishers believe that the more prospects you have in the pipeline, the more ads you will sell. So much time and energy is spent in discussing the various ways electronic communications tools can best be used to communicate with the ever-growing lists of advertising prospects and clients. Should you have a presence on Tweeter or Facebook? Are you using the social networking tools effectively? Would a blog support your sales efforts and what content should it have? Should you depend on telephone sales alone? The answer to each of these questions is that your ad sales marketing strategy should include some or all of these tools. But, don’t forget the tried and true approach of face-to-face selling.

Successful advertising sales, like sales of any product, is built on personal relationships between the seller and his or her customer. There is a great deal of information that can be shared when a sales person makes a personal call to the office of an advertiser. Following are some tips of how to make the most of the opportunity that can come from a face-to-face meeting:

Listen before you begin your pitch. I once took a junior sales person with me to visit the corporate office of one of his most important clients. We were granted a 30 minute meeting and my associate spent the first 20 minutes telling about all of the combinations of print and electronic media our company offered. It wasn’t until there was only ten minutes left that he asked the client what his goals for his advertising investments were. We barely had enough time to hear which segments of the market the client wanted to reach nor did we ever discuss his budget, schedule, or strategies and how we could develop a media plan that would meet all of his needs. The result was that we left there without a sale and it wasn’t until a year later that they bought an advertising package.

Do your homework BEFORE you walk into the meeting. It’s amazing how unprepared many sales people are when they have the opportunity to meet an advertising prospect in person. Prepare for the meeting by learning as much as you can about the client. What products or services do they offer? Who makes up their customer base? In which other media do they advertise? How frequently? Have they just won a major contract, acquired a company or introduced a new product? Know their advertising history with your products so you can speak effectively about their previous results and make suggestions how to improve upon them.

Follow up after the meeting. A quick thank you note (email is fine) to those in the meeting thanking them for their time and indicating when you plan to deliver any additional materials will cement the relationship that started at the meeting. Be sure to deliver all that you promised. If you were asked to put together a proposal or a suggested media plan within a week, do it and do it on time.

Keep in touch. Generally, advertising purchasers do not want to hear from you when you have nothing new to discuss with them. But, it’s always appropriate to give your most important clients important information that they otherwise might not receive. If your editor has announced a special feature story for an upcoming issue, or if your organization has just made a major announcement about an industry initiative, call your prospect and let him hear about it first from you. This contributes to the development of mutual trust while giving that client the sense that he is being given special treatment. Remember, it’s all about building and maintaining a positive working relationship.

Yes, travel is expensive and time consuming. A sales person on the road is lucky if he or she can see two or three ad prospects in a single day. I am not recommending you make this investment with every company on your prospect list. But, for your top key accounts, this should be an essential part of your organization’s ad sales strategy.

What has been your experience with face-to-face selling? Does your organization regularly do this and how effective has it been? Share your thoughts here or visit us at

Saturday, June 20, 2009

From Galley to Page

Previous articles have described how type was set into columns utilizing several systems which evolved over time. But, whether they type was produced on plain paper or through a photographic process, the end result was the same. The long columns of type, called galleys, had to be cut apart and precisely positioned into the columns, headlines, and captions which made up each finished page of a document. The resulting camera-ready copy was then photographed by the printer utilizing a horizontal flat bed camera to create a full-size negative which, in turn was used to “burn” the plate used to print the finished product. The creation of the finished page was done by graphic artists on a drawing board who utilized a variety of tools and products to create the finished “pasted-up” document. Following are some of the tools that were used:

Each column was created by cutting the galleys to the specific length of each column and accurately aligning them using a t-square and triangle. The type was held in place utilizing a removable adhesive which allowed the layout artist to position and reposition the type as necessary. Rubber cement was the adhesive most widely used although many artists preferred to use a molten wax adhesive. In both cases, the adhesive was affixed to the back of the galley of type and placed into position.

Because the making of plates for the offset printing process required a separate negative for each color, screen, and photograph to be printed, each object had to be pasted up on its own sheet in order to be phtographed. In order to be sure these elements were properly positioned, they were pasted onto a clear acetate sheet, each layer on top of the previous. In order to create areas of color or tint, a product called Rubylith (and its cousin Amberlith) were used. This product was a clear sheet of acetate on which was a thin red film that could be cut into the needed shape and then peeled away from the acetate base as needed. For instance, if the artist wanted a 20% tint of black behind a box of type, the type and border for the box were pasted onto the base sheet, the Rubylith was placed over the area and the red film was cut along the lines of the box and all of it peeled off except for the area covering the box. Interestingly, this can be seen today as a function in Photoshop. When selecting a portion of a picture and then pressing the “Quick Mask” button, the selected area is highlighted in a transparent red which can then be further edited as necessary—Adobe’s tip-of-the-hat to the Ulano Company’s product.

Rules and boxes were created using a variety of products including some called Formaline. Available in a wide variety of sizes and designs, think of it as the rules that are available in InDesign, but in the form of an adhesive tape on a roll. Each line was put into place on the layout and held in place by the adhesive material on the back of the product. Boxes were made by placing four lengths of the rule perpendicular to each other (forming the four sides) and then cutting a 45 degree angle at each of the corners where two pieces intersected. If done accurately, this created a perfect corner. Thin lines, one point or less, were hand drawn using special ruling pens, the best of which were manufactured by Koh-I-Nor. The very fine tip created thin solid black lines and it required some skill to create lines of consistent weight.

Photographs were reproduced as halftones utilizing a screen and special photographic film in the print shop’s darkroom. The positioning of each photo required a “window”, usually cut from Rubylith or a similar product called Zipatone, which was the size and shape of the printed photo. Photos had to be cropped and scaled in proportion to the size of the window and each photo had to have crop marks and percentage of reduction clearly marked on it. The Proportion Scale was the tool used to quickly make the necessary calculation. Shaped like a wheel and not much more than a basic slide rule with two scales, the artist aligned the original size of the photo with its reproduction size and the resulting percentage appeared in a cutout area of the scale. For instance, if the length of the original picture was 8” and it was going to be reproduced at 3”, the proportion scale would indicate that the picture was to be photographed at 37.5% of its original size. Crop marks were affixed to the border of the original indicating the area of the photo to be reproduced and while maintain the proportions of the window that was made for it. It was a tedious process, but there was no option for either the graphic artists or the printers.

Other tools we used included the Haberule (used to measure leading), the X-Acto Knife (for cutting), Bestine (for thinning rubber cement), Zipatone (for placing screens, patterns, rules, and dingbats on camera-ready art), Presstype (for manually setting headlines), and process printing color charts (for specifying which percentages of the four printing inks were needed to attain a color).

It’s fun to look back at the way we created pages not too long ago and how easily each of these functions are now available at the click of a mouse in products like InDesign. Next week, I will describe the leap from manual pasteup to the use of page layout software. I hope you are enjoying this series of postings and I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback at

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Tasks

Although most of us think of summer as the time to kick back, take things a little easier, and enjoy some much-needed time off, it is also the time of year to get ready for the important fall selling season. Following are some of the important things you should look at in the coming months as you prepare for 2010 sales:

Editorial Calendar—Working with your organization’s editor, begin planning what major topics will be covered as feature stories in 2010. You should also start to plan for special issues such as a buyer’s guide, annual report, or other special topic that will attract advertisers. The calendar should also include information about which issues will be distributed at your association’s meetings, conferences, and conventions as well as events produced by others. Your editorial calendar is one of the most important parts of your media kit and will be utilized by advertisers and their agencies as they make their media purchasing plans.

Advertising Rates—Will you be increasing your advertising rates for 2010? If so, by how much? Now is the perfect time to do the necessary research so that you can devise a rate structure for next year that will keep you competitive while assuring that your direct and indirect costs are covered. Talk to your printer to find out if they will be increasing their charges for their services or the paper they use to produce your magazine. Check to see if there will be any increases in postal rates for the class of postage you use.

2010 Media Kit—Over the next several months you should develop and produce your 2010 advertising media kit. This is the perfect time to assess your current kit’s content and determine what changes or additional information you want to add to it. It’s also time to start planning for the design and production of the kit and all of its contents, as well as the form your kit will take in its electronic version available on your organization’s website.

Strategic Planning—This is probably the most important task to begin now. What are the goals for your publication for the year ahead? The budget process will require that you set revenue goals, but there are others to be considered. Are there companies or entire categories of advertisers you want to see purchase space in your magazine or on your website? If so, how will you get that to happen? Is the sales structure that is currently in place as effective as it can be? Is your publication holding its market share? Are you regularly communicating with your customers and prospects and is this communication delivering the results you had expected? These are issues that should be assessed now so that improvements can be made as the fall selling season begins.

Cross-selling Opportunities—Now is also a great time to look at all of the products and services offered by your association to the supplier community and create programs and incentives that are designed to increase income while also enhancing the value your association’s clients receive through their relationships with you. In today’s market, advertisers spend their money with the media that delivers the most value and exposure. Through a program of cross-selling, your association can take advantage of its strengths by meeting and exceeding the expectations of your customers.

Enjoy the summer, but also plan ahead for the fall and all of next year. For more information visit our website at

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Advent of Phototypesetting

The typesetting systems described in previous postings all have had one thing in common: the image of each character was created by a font striking a black ribbon and imprinting the character on plain white paper. Although this produced sharp type, it was limited in the size and styles of fonts available. The introduction of phototypesetting technology rapidly changed that by offering broader selections of type available in sizes from 6 point to 72 point. There were several companies that perfected phototypesetting technologies in the early to mid 1970s including AM International (formerly Addressograph-Multigraph), Compugraphic Corp., Linotype Corp. and others.

Phototypesetting is a projection system whereby the flash of a strobe light is aimed through a negative image of each character and projected through a lens onto photographic paper. The size of each character is determined by either the distance from the paper to the lens or by the characteristics of each lens used. Some systems employed only one or two lenses and the operator either manually adjusted the distances or, as in later models, the distances were controlled by internal stepping motors. Coding for all characters and commands were embedded onto some type of storage medium. The first systems utilized paper tape with combinations of holes punched into it to drive the selection of each letter. Specialized keyboard devices, such as the device manufactured by Friden Corp. shown above, were used to create the coded paper tape (right). This technology was cumbersome, not easily correctable, and was quickly replaced by the use of magnetic medium, primarily in the form of large floppy discs. As each line of type was set, the machine inserted the exposed photosensitive paper into a light-proof cassette which, in turn was removed from the machine and put onto a chemical developing machine which safely fed the paper through a series of photographic development chemicals. The damp paper was then allowed to dry before it was able to be used.

The quality of the type was excellent, but if exposed to light, had a relatively short useful life. The paper would readily yellow and the characters would quickly fade, and the developing chemicals left an acrid aroma in the room in which they were used. The next generation of photographic paper was introduced which eliminated most of these problems. Called RC (resin coated) paper, type set on it was very clear, the image didn’t fade, and the paper was a bright white rather than the off white to yellowish color of its predecessor.

Whether type was set using a ribbon on paper or a photographic process, the result was the production of long columns of type, called galleys. The final pages were then created by “pasting up” the publication. The galleys were cut into columns, an adhesive applied to the back and the type was positioned into columns, headlines, captions, and the other elements of the printed page. The work was done on a drawing board and a t-square and triangle were used to properly line up the type. In next week’s posting, I will describe some of the tools used to “paste up” finished pages. It still amazes me to remember the time spent in creating pages this way compared to how easily and quickly it is now done in InDesign.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Selling Your Association’s Product on the Time Continuum

Your association offers a full menu of products designed to attract the advertising and exhibit space of your industry’s suppliers. And, if yours is like many other associations, you sell each of these as separate products, perhaps, you even use different sales staff to sell them. If you think this model is working, think again, because the customers that you sell to want more value than your current structure delivers—and they are getting it from your competitors.

Think of your customers’ needs as being on a time continuum and you have products which are able to meet those specific time-driven goals. Let’s look at an example. A medium size association offers advertising on a number of its products as well as exhibit space at its face-to-face events. Its website is updated daily, it sends out an e-newsletter every Friday, publishes a monthly print magazine and holds an annual convention with exhibits. In reality, what this association has to offer is a variety of combinations of ways that an industry supplier can reach the market represented by the association or professional society.

Rather than selling individual products, your sales staff should be selling the full array of products as a single solution that spans the time continuum. The advertiser can reach the market daily or on a specific day with a web ad, weekly through the e-newsletter, monthly with a print ad, or annually as an exhibitor at the convention. Working with his salesperson, the client can develop a customized marketing strategy for how and when it delivers its message to your association’s membership.

There are many possible permutations of this approach. For instance, an advertiser is planning to announce the launch of a new product tomorrow. He wants to advertise it, but doesn’t want to wait a month until the next issue of your magazine is published, and he doesn’t want his competitors learning about the new product until after it is released. The solution: he should purchase an ad on your organization’s website today, so the market will hear about it tomorrow. As news of the product reaches the customers, he should schedule an ad in the next available issue of your e-newsletter that will not only describe the new product, but also drive traffic to the special area of the company’s website designed to promote it. Finally, once established, he should plan on demonstrating the product as an exhibitor at your next event. The result: this customer’s tactical marketing goals were met through the use of your association’s multiple offerings packaged and sold to him in a way that met his needs.

When you speak to your customers and perspective advertisers, listen to what they are saying. Ask them what the goals are for their advertising and marketing investments and develop a customized and unique plan that meets those goals and expectations. In the end, sales is about delivering value, and by understanding the time continuum of your organization’s offerings, you will be better able to deliver the maximum value being asked of you.

Want to learn more or discuss your advertising sales challenges? Visit us at

Monday, June 8, 2009

Typesetting Evolution, Part 2

This is the second in a series of postings I will write about the evolution of typesetting and printing technologies as I have experienced them throughout my career. The main focus of this blog is about, and will continue to be, advertising sales and the unique challenges faced by association publishers. But, as I have previously said, developments in pre-press and printing technologies have had direct and equal impacts on both publishers and advertisers. I am fascinated by how far these technologies have evolved over a relatively short period of time. Looking back is healthy because it allows me to appreciate where we are today and where we may possibly be in the future of the publishing business. Please feel free to post a comment or question about anything on this blog.

IBM entered the typesetting market with the introduction of its Selectric Composer. Utilizing a modified version of the mechanism of its popular Selectric Typewriter, the Composer was able to set type with proportional spacing in justified columns. Like the Varityper before it, in order to justify a column each line of type had to be typed twice, once to determine the amount of additional space needed between each word and then a second time to add the required space to produce a justified line of type.

But, IBM took the technology one step further by connecting the Composer to a magnetic tape driven device which allowed the operator to enter text once on a standard Selectric typewriter, have those keystrokes captured and stored on a magnetic tape cartridge, and then played back as justified columns of type on the Composer, which was connected to the tape reading device. The system, called the MTSC, Magnetic Tape Selectric Composer, was a major advance in cold type technology. It offered a number of type styles and sizes, each molded onto IBM’s “golf ball” element. In order to go from Roman to Italic, for instance, the operator had to simply change the element and type the needed words in Italic, then change the element again to return to Roman. For automated playback, “stop” codes were embedded into the text and recorded on the tape which allowed the operator to change elements at the appropriate place as the document played out. Typos were corrected directly onto the magnetic tape before final playback, as well. This technology was the precursor to what we now call “word processing.”

In order to achieve the look of proportional spacing, each character was assigned a number of “units.” Wide characters, such as the letter “M”, were given more units, and narrow characters, such as the letter “I”, were given fewer. The width of each column was determined in picas and the system came with a chart that converted those picas into “units.” The number of units of each line of an article was entered onto the magnetic tape and the internal computer calculated the amount of additional units required between words in order to produce a justified column of type.

The system produced sharp, clean type, and was faster and more efficient than was the Varityper, but it was also limited to the size and typestyles available. Only a few typestyles were available on the “golf balls” and the type ranged in size between 8 and 12 point. It was because of these limitations that the MTSC system was displaced by the next generation of cold typesetting systems: phototypesetting. Companies including Addressograph-Multigraph (AM) and Compugraphic aggressively entered the market with faster, more flexible systems that offered a wider range of type styles and sizes than were ever offered by their predecessors. More on phototypesetting next week.

What are your earliest memories of typesetting systems? Join the conversation here or visit us at