MESSAGES FROM THE FRONT
What some of our advertisers have to say
It really has been a great season this spring; a tremendously busy time of year. We had our staff at 7 different weekend events from February 12th through April 30th passing out Kid’s Directories and materials provided by a variety of our advertisers. We have also published the largest books in the history of The Kid’s Directory.
Along the way, we have received a bevy of calls from advertisers, singing our praise. Beyond the self congratulatory pats on the back that we exchange in the office, there is a deeper significance to the appreciation that our customers offer up. For me, and I think for all of our staff, it means that we are really making a difference in the lives of our advertisers. We are making their business better and as such, we have become a positive aspect in their lives. I don’t think that is an easy thing to do.
Lizzie Oretsky of ‘Fundamentally Music’ spoke to me the other day. I asked if she was still happy with us after some six years of advertising. Her response:
“Oh my gosh, yes! We have tried other family publications and a variety of newspapers, and have received calls from people looking for something ‘free’ or we received virtually no calls at all. The Kid’s Directory, on the other hand, generates more calls than any other medium we’ve tried but more importantly...and I don’t know quite how to say this...but...the calls we get from you are from people who are interested in what we do...not how much it costs, or if there are any ‘free offers’. Our very best customers come from you guys.”
This next story is a bit out of left field. A fellow called me last month asking if I might be interested in hiring him to sell ads for The Kid’s Directory (The KD). I asked what prompted his call. Turns out that he has been selling advertising for a variety of publications (yellow pages, newspapers, and other family publications here in Houston) and he has used The Kid’s Directory (The KD) as a marketing tool for years, calling on our advertisers to try and get their business. And after years of dealing with our customers, he found that they were all generally very happy with where they were (that’s with The KD) and were not inclined to change. But his next comment is what struck me:
“Almost without exception, your advertisers are really good people. I think that you have collected the best family resources available in the Houston market. Almost all of the advertisers I spoke to were cordial, pleasant and comfortable with their business and their marketing. These are the kind of people that I want to do business with...so I thought I’d call to see if you had any openings.”
So hats off to our advertisers...go ahead and give yourselves a pat on the back!!
(when reading this you need to sound like Long John Silver)
Yep. We’ve had this idea for some time now...tossed the notion about the office…talked to a number of advertisers and have found nothing but widespread support. So we decided to go ahead with this new promotional concept. Here it is:
The Kid’s Directory Treasure Hunt©
Here is how it works: The KD will place special promotional prizes (they be the treasures) with selected advertisers: advertisers who need increased foot traffic from our readers searching high and low for buried treasure. We will then publicize and promote our participating advertisers (treasure sites) through our partners on KSEV Safe Kids Radio and Radio Disney. We will also provide a list of potential sites of the buried treasure in each and every one of our monthly 90,000 publications...and we will also offer up potential treasure sites on our website which is available to, well, the total web world out there. All of the advertisers who participate in this Treasure Hunt will be asked to offer up a redeemable coupon, supplied by The KD, good for some offer determined by the advertiser. It might be a 10% discount, a dozen cookies, a free child’s meal, etc. We not only want to encourage traffic to your place of business, we also want to encourage our readers to become your customers.
This is a promotion where everybody wins!!
Businesses that offer up the treasures that we will bury at our advertiser’s places of business, hence the buried treasures, will come in the form of family passes to Schlitterbahn, the Toyota Center, Space Center Houston and a bevy more. We hope to have other businesses participate that could complement a family outing. All of those participating businesses will benefit from the publicity. Advertisers win because The Kid’s Directory will send potential customers to their places of business looking for a buried treasure. Advertisers will also get their businesses advertised on the radio, in our publications and on the internet: That’s all free advertising/marketing/promotion. Advertisers will have the opportunity to sell products and services to the families that The KD sends to their door. The KD will benefit from the increased business that this promotional program will generate. And Houston families will benefit in a number of ways; they will be engaged in the fun pursuit of buried treasure; they will have an opportunity to win a valuable prize, and they will be able to get discounts and/or offers on valuable products and services for their families.
How does my business get involved?
...you might ask.
It’s easy. Call and talk to one of our sales representatives (that would be Sam, Richard, Vanessa, or Robert). We will be happy to fill you in on all the details.
EFFECTIVE MAY 15TH, 2006
All of our advertisers received a notification of a pending price increase with their last invoice. However, many of you in receipt of this newsletter haven’t heard yet. Here’s the story.
We last raised prices on November 1st 2003. Since then we have absorbed a tremendous number of increased costs. To name a few:
• We have increased circulation by over 50%. (In November of 2003, our circulation was 55,000. Our new circulation total is between 85,000 to 90,000 books each month). This means that your advertising dollar has increased in value by over 50% without costing our advertisers one red cent more.
• Our printing costs have risen three times in the last three years.
• Paper costs have risen consistently over the past three years. Lately we have been receiving notices of monthly paper increases.
• Gas Prices are moving through the roof. Remember that we distribute each and every one of our Kid’s Directories. The cost of delivery for our 2003 circulation plus the 50% increase just mentioned has been significant.
|| There are a host of other costs that we have absorbed over these last three years, but hopefully you get the point. I don’t want to sound like a whiner...after all, it has not been all that bad for us. These increased costs we’ve experienced have pushed us to become a more productive and more responsive company. We have had to learn how to do more with the same resources. In the mix, our advertisers have gotten a great deal: more product in many more points of distribution, increased services, and better quality without having spent one extra nickel. And the news just gets better. Our proposed price increase will not cover the costs that we have had to absorb over these last three years...but because we have become more efficient and productive, the modest price increase that we will implement on May 15th will be enough for us for now. Our advertisers will still make out like bandits. In real dollars, advertising costs will actually be lower than they were in 2003. And best of all, The Kid’s Directory will continue to operate in sufficient health such that we can continue to honor our commitment to constantly improve and expand our level of service to each and every one of our customers every single day.
The actual price increase will follow my time honored practice of paying homage to them that brung us. Long standing and consistent advertisers and current advertisers will get a softer price bump than what our new price sheet will reflect. It has always been my feeling that loyalty deserves recompense. For new advertisers or for those who have not been consistent advertisers in the past, you too can become part of this special group the next time we raise prices. Remember, we have a bevy of advertisers that have been with our publication for fifteen years or more, some of them have never missed a month in all that time. Now that’s loyalty. So the price sheet for ad space will reflect a general increase of approximately 15%. Those advertisers that ‘brung us’ will experience a price increase of around 11% to 12%. The cost of color will also increase across the board by about 15%.
To put things into perspective we are implementing a price increase of about 15% while our circulation alone has increased by 50%. Not such a bad deal after all, is it?
June will be the last issue of the Spring and Summer Activity Guide. So, any of you folks who still have vacancies in your summer program may want to jump on board or maybe even increase the size of your current ad. Starting in July, we will begin with two other special sections: The Field Trip Guide and The Back to School Guide. These new sections will present a great opportunity for schools and businesses who market to schools and parents of school children to showcase themselves. Enrichment programs of all types who look for fall enrollment after school are prime candidates for The KD in the ensuing months. The myriad of businesses which rely on field trips will also benefit from these special sections. The sections will run from July through September. Deadline is typically the 12th to the 15th of the month prior to the month of publication. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you make this upcoming season your best yet!!
RECAP OF THIS SPRING'S
EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
AND A NOTE ABOUT A FEW
We have mostly good and some moderate news. First, the Children’s Festival was again a huge hit. The pre-event promotion was tremenedous, weather cooperated and the crowds (well in excess of 100,000 people) were great. Many thanks to all those advertisers who participated both in our booth and on our stage!!! A very special thanks to Master Magician, Phil Kampf, who put ‘The Kid’s Directory Family Fun Spot’ together.
The Baby and Family Expo produced a good event for their first year. It was well organized and their level of promotion generated good attendance. We will look forward to participating in the event again next year. Still another first time event was the 2006 Summer Camp Expo at Katy Mills Mall. We polled some of those who attended and all were pleased with the crowds and the demographics. This is an event that we will support again next year.
On the other hand, The Showcase of Private Schools and Children’s Camps was not as well received. Attendance was low and many of the participants actually closed up their activities early. It would seem that more advance promotion will be necessary for a successful event next year. The Home and Garden Shows were all well attended but we found that these events didn’t meet our targeted demographic of families with young children.
So all in all, it was a very good season. We are already adding even more events and activities for this coming fall as well as next spring. So keep your eyes open and feel free to call us at any time to get the low down on what’s good and what’s not.
NOW AN UPDATE ON SOME
In my last newsletter (Winter 2005-2006), I had a lengthy section entitled It’s Not the Name That Counts in which I discussed our discovery of a publication coming to town using a name that was within an apostrophe of our name. You may recall the publication was to be entitled The Kids’ Directory of Fort Bend County. As promised, we did look into it and had conversations with both the print broker in Dallas and the local person who was proposing to start the publication. As a consequence, they have decided to call the publication something else; Kid Stuff. They have produced two editions. Our distributors have found copies of them on occasion and brought them back to our offices for a look see.
We continue to a get a few reports from some of our advertisers who tell us that the salesperson for Kid Stuff is still suggesting a connection to The Kid’s Directory of Houston. I want to again assure you that there is no connection or affiliation between the two publications. And please, if any of you get a confusing sales pitch from anyone from Kid Stuff, please give us a call and let us know what happened. I wish this new publication all the success that they can earn on their own without resorting to trading on the hard work that The KD has done in Houston over these past sixteen years.
AND NOW FOR THE FREEBIES
In our coffers we have or will soon have the following free tickets; passes to Schlitterbahn’s three locations (Galveston, New Braunfels, and Padre Island), tickets to Space Center Houston, and some vouchers for Mountasia. We also have some passes for the Galveston Historic Home Tour (this is an opportunity to see some of Texas’ finest architecture). As is always the case, these freebies go on a first come, first served basis with advertisers getting priority. For those folks expecting to advertise with us, give us a call and I’m sure you can persuade us to set aside a few tickets for you as well.