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Ads and Yearbooks

The leader of this publication, Jim Thompson, recently wrote about a shaving product he enjoyed buying. This week at school the journalism class is being taught how to ask for ads for the yearbook as a fundraiser. Not connected? In a way they are and the connecting words are "customer service."

It began 25 years ago when one of our sons was a junior in high school and on the yearbook staff. He too went to local companies asking for ads. One company he visited was one we used frequently ($300 a year or so back then). They declined to buy an ad and we declined to use their business again. They are still around and so lost at least $5,000 in business from us over the years. To this day we won't use them.

More recently, we were in a local used movie store and the customer service was over the top rude--just blatantly so. I calmly completed my $40 purchase and never returned. That was three years ago.

Likewise, at a local car parts store, I had a few relatively small items to purchase and went to the registers, where I was first in line. Even though there were two other employees at the service counter, the person on the register was somewhere else doing something else for someone and not checking out people. The line grew to three people and the wait over 5 minutes before I quietly put down my small items and left, never to return. In the following four years since, I've used their competitor who is right across the street. They greet you when you come into the store and always have at least one register manned.

Yearbooks are not exactly like football programs or special event fliers. Yearbooks stay around for, well, years. Occasionally we still look at ours from high school. Believe it or not, I look at the current yearbook for our school and purposefully use the companies that place ads when we have need of them. We have over 300 students, so there are probably over 1,000 local people who look at these books. If just a few are influenced by an ad, it makes the ad worthwhile.

So a yearbook ad may help get a customer into a business. And good customer service every time keeps them coming back.

I'll close on a good note. This summer we needed an original 11x14 photo from the '50s framed. We went to a local hobby store, which happens to be a very large national chain. The guy at the frame counter directed us to the ready-made frames, because ours was a standard size. We picked out a frame and he framed the picture for us, including a wire hanger on the back and acid free backing paper. We were charged for the frame and $1.50 for the wire hanger, minus Kathy's in-store discount coupon, for a grand total of $15 plus tax. Surprise: We've been back several times to frame some nice art, which requires more costly frames, acid free paper and backing, and glass. By the way, the most expensive single item for a high quality frame is the museum quality UV protective glass.

P.S. If you have high quality paper art, such as a signed print, etching or water color, it needs to be framed properly with acid free products to prevent browning. If the frame is over 20 years old, the framing papers may not be acid free (Ours were not). Take it to a quality shop to be checked.

Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA.


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