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Note: Elaina Zuker, President of Elaina Zuker Associates, Montréal, Canada provides today’s Guest Blog.
Elaina is an International Best-Selling Author, an Influence Expert Speaker, and Coach, and the CEO of EZInfluence/eLearning designer.
Several years ago, I was unaware of the million dollar influence of a simple idea that was about to take place. I gave a speech to about 300 businesswomen, “How to Manage Your Time for Success.” After the talk, I provided attendees a simple handout of tips and exercises.
Afterward, two women came up to me and asked if they could use my handout packet. They were the Circulation Managers for Working Woman Magazine. The readership was about one million. The women wanted to use the booklet as a premium a gift for new subscribers.
Although delighted, I said since it was my copyrighted material, I couldn’t allow them to reproduce the booklets. Instead, I would sell them the booklets they wanted. After some negotiating, they ordered 100,000 copies of my 12-page booklet.
The profit margins weren’t huge, but now I had a unique product. Part of our agreement was that they would have the exclusive use of the booklet for the life of the promotion. The second part of our agreement stated it was only to appear in the women’s success magazine category. I began thinking about other publishers who might want to use the booklet as a premium to boost their circulation. I had one success story to help me sell the concept.
Subsequently, I sold the idea and several thousand copies of the booklet to McGraw-Hill Magazines, Inc. Magazine, AdWeek, and a few other business magazines. These orders were not as large as the first one, but I was learning a lot about how magazine circulation worked.
One day, I was rushing up Sixth Avenue in New York, among all the skyscrapers, taxis, food vendors, garment racks, and tourists, trying to get to an appointment on time. I was thinking about my new side business while contemplating possible interested companies. Which company would be large enough and have a big enough budget to buy a significant quantity of my Time Management booklets?
I had just passed Radio City Music Hall. Across the street was the Time/Life Building. Time, I mused. Time Magazine! Wouldn’t they like to offer their subscribers some great ideas and tips on Time Management?
I spent a few weeks researching their organization, learning about how they promoted their circulation, as well as the executives in their marketing department. After many unreturned phone calls, I finally got an appointment with Mark S., a young, up-and-coming marketing executive.
We had a great meeting; he immediately got the idea I had in mind. He began to brainstorm with me to expand the idea into three booklets Included would be illustrations with full color. We worked out the titles on some pink message notes. Two weeks later, he received management approval for an initial test. The offer was tested against several other free items via massive mailings.
They began with a test order of 5,000 and at a low price. We agreed on a much higher unit price should the test be successful, and a larger quantity purchased. It was important to me given the hefty investment for illustrations and printing costs for the first 5,000. I took an upfront loss. I insisted on a signed “if-then” contract to lock in the order and the price for the larger quantity.
Several months later, after many tests were completed, my set of 3 booklets, the “Personal Management Portfolio,” had garnered the most replies. Mark called to say that they were going to order a whopping 250,000 sets of the booklets! It was the most significant order I had ever received.
While it sounded fabulous, there were significant hurdles for me as a small-business owner. I had to order the entire quantity for delivery to Time’s Fulfillment Center to their specifications within a tight deadline.
No printing company would go ahead with my order unless they had a “letter of credit” from me. I was now responsible for the entire order. If anything went wrong, I’d have to re-do it at my expense. So while it was the most significant order of my life, I was also plenty scared. I knew nothing about managing a printing project of that size!
I hired a Production Manager to fly to Miami, where the printing was taking place, and supervise the project. I came down a few days later to begin the grueling proofreading process. There was a need for checking, checking, checking as there was zero tolerance for errors. In the years since, no one has ever found a single misplaced comma.
Two semis loaded up at the printers’ and delivered the sets to Time’s headquarters in Tampa. I also ordered another 20,000 sets for delivery to my office. Because of the large quantity of Time’s order, I could purchase these at a rock-bottom price and sell at a reasonable rate.
After returning home to New York, relieved that all had gone smoothly, I got a call from Mark. He said, “The booklets were so successful, we want to purchase another 100,000 sets.” It was very exciting to hear, but it meant I had to go back to the printer and begin another colossal job. Both the printer and the bank were cooperative. The second job went smoothly. In total, I sold 350,000 sets.
But that wasn’t all. I was a founding member of the National Association for Female Executives, which published a monthly magazine. I asked for a meeting with the President, their first male President. I proposed a similar premium product to promote their circulation. Permission was obtained from Time Magazine to avoid a conflict of interest. Time was almost finished with its promotion. They had no problem with my using my copyrighted material with another publisher whose audience was exclusively women.
The President agreed to give the booklet a try. We redesigned the covers to make them more suited for the businesswomen audience. Once again, we negotiated a rollout price, should the test prove successful, and signed an “If-then” contract) Several test mailings were sent. Being a great hit, they ordered 250,000 sets of what we now call “The Success Trilogy.” I ordered an extra 20,000 sets of these, as well, and have since sold almost all of those,
Summarizing, this one simple idea, began with a talk to a group of women in New York. The novelty resulted in the sale of almost 750,000 booklets. It also launched a lucrative division of my company. I began creating and producing premium products for most of the major magazine publishers in the industry.
Of equal importance for me, those booklets helped hundreds of thousands of people set goals, manage their time, and learn to become more successful!
Today’s Guest Blog is provided to help you achieve the Smooth Sale!
- Believe You Can And You Will.
- You hold the key for creating an improved future.
- Odds for ideas improve when aligned with values, goals, and resolve.
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