Usually it takes me at least a month to get used to the notion that a new year has arrived. Countless checks are rewritten, letters and emails corrected. I think that there was even one time that we produced a second January 2004 book. So I am a bit pleasantly surprised that 2008 is rolling right off the tongue and flowing from the tip of my pen effortlessly. Good omen I think. So to heck with all the naysayers; those harbingers of gloom and soothsayers of doom...to heck with all of them. It is going to be a good year...I just feel it in my bones. So we at the KD...raise our glass to bid all of you a happy and prosperous new year.
Now...on to the business at hand:
The Annual Magical Big Bang for Your Buck Extravaganza—Where The Kid’s Directory will OVERPRINT like crazy
This is the time of year that the KD becomes constantly busy with special advertising sections and a series of family events. It’s a time too that families are shrugging off the doldrums of winter and beginning to plan for the upcoming spring and summer.
Now in its 14th wildly successful year, The KD Spring and Summer Activity Guide (SSAG) is our way of bringing everybody and everything together. Within its pages are dozens and dozens of businesses who market to kids and their families for the Spring and Summer: resident and day camps, enrichment programs, after school programs, sports clinics, special academic programs, vacation ideas and destinations...in short...any and all business that see an opportunity to tell their story to a host of families eager to hear it. It is the perfect equation (Einstein...eat your heart out)...a wealth of information on one side and bunches and bunches of families to act on that information on the other side.
But there is more! There are all these events we sponsor (see below for a description). At this moment in time, The Kid’s Directory will sponsor and/or participate in 4 family events within the Houston market over the next four months. And we are still foraging about for more. So what we have here is the making of the perfect storm. There is the SSAG that houses a wealth of information, there is the pent up demand for the SSAG that we have built up over the past 14 years with Houston families anxious to plan their spring and summer, and then there are the numerous events that we sponsor and support that serve to increase our circulation and readership. Three waves coming together merging into…the perfect storm. Now to handle this swell of demand for the KD we will, as we often have in the past, overprint The Kid’s Directory...“like crazy” over the next FOUR months.
And we’re saving the best for last. We are not raising our advertising rates...so advertisers get all this ‘value added’ at no additional cost...yet (see the section at the end of this newsletter)...hence the annual magical big bang for your buck extravaganza. For the next four months, the KD has created an absolute Win Win Win situation. Houston families win, advertisers make out like bandits and even the KD gets a bone. So what’s not to like??
Gotta tell ya...after writing this I sort of feel like that guy on T.V. who promotes ‘OxyClean’, or ‘Bam’, or Popeil’s rotisserie ovens. It was a fun exercise in playful hyperbole...which brings a story to mind.
I met a woman in the bank the other day that had recently moved with her husband from their home overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Northern California to Horseshoe Bay just outside of Austin, Texas. I asked her how she liked it and she said...“well, we have an Italian Count who is a neighbor and he tells me that Horseshoe Bay is like taking the best of Italy—gathering it up and placing it all aside Lake Travis.” I didn’t quite know what to say...so I thought a bit and then said to her...“it appears that you made the right choice in moving. After all, Texans are known for their hyperbole...Pecos Bill and all.”
Now here are the upcoming events:
Katy Mills Camp Expo (February 16th)
Now in its 3rd year, this event has always been well attended and has proven to be a good spring-board for folks wanting to get in front of a lot of Houston families. The event draws primarily from west and southwest Houston...but there are others who come in from north, south and central Houston. If you have an interest in securing booth space (which we think is a good idea), please contact Robin Stavinoha (281-644-5007). We will have a good amount of space at the event and our advertisers are welcome to join us, help us hand out Kid’s Directories and talk about their own businesses. If you are interested, call or email Vanessa
(713-663-7555 or Vanessa@kids-houston.com)
FINS-A-Thon (March 9th)
This is the first year of this event. Its purpose is to raise money and awareness for drowning prevention which is the second leading cause of injury related deaths for children between the ages of 1 and 14 years. They expect a crowd of up to a thousand people. The event will be held at the ‘Fun in Swimming’ location in Spring. For more information on this event and to find out how you might participate, contact Witney Tutor (281-379-3467 or firstname.lastname@example.org). All proceeds from the event will go to the Swim for Life Foundation. We’ll be there handing out Kid’s Directories along with advertisers that want to help out We will provide clowns and entertainment and the event will offer up moonwalks, some interactive art activities, and more.
HEB Children’s Festival (April 5th and 6th)
This is the big kahuna. Now in its 20th year, this event is still the very best family event that Houston has to offer. The numbers are staggering as well. Attendance is generally well over 100,000. Last year was the first year that I remember when rain had a significant impact on the event. Typically, the weather is stellar. This is a participatory event with huge corporate sponsorship...not a trade event. The Kid’s Directory will have, as we always have had, a sponsorship area with a stage and lots of room for crowds and interaction. Any of our advertisers are welcome to work with us at our booth...especially if you have an interactive activity to engage the huge crowds that we will have. We will have jugglers, magicians, karate exhibitions, dancers, various games, prizes and much more. What we promise is one heck of a lot of fun. Don’t miss this one. Go ahead and give Vanessa a call or drop her an email. Contact Beth Craig (832-894-2246 or email@example.com) if you are interested in getting some booth space for your business or organization.
The American Baby Faire (May 17th and 18th)
This is the best trade show we have in Houston. We have partnered this event for the past 3 years. It is well run and well attended (last year they reported over 15,000 attendees). The economic demographics are great with lots of young families with new babies. To
find out more about booth space, contact Denise Ryan (212-499-1504 or firstname.lastname@example.org). We don’t know all the details...such as booth costs etc. But we will keep you informed through our web site. Email or call Vanessa if you want to participate and help at our booth space. It will be great exposure for you and we always appreciate the help.
A New Direction for the KD — responding to market demand with a curve ball
Since the beginning of the Kid’s Directory back in 1991, I have not allowed coupons to be placed in any of our books. And I have been a stickler about it...even pulling ads that imply a coupon...10% off with this ad...and the like. Two reasons really. First and foremost: a coupon, once cut from The Kid’s Directory, destroys the message or the ad on the other side of the page. Not fair, I said, especially when one considers how extraordinarily long the KD’s shelf life is. And as a subset to this the notion of fairness is the fact that once a book has been cut, its value and more specially its shelf life, is diminished. Heck, we get reports all the time of people holding on to their KD’s for 1, 2, even 3 or 4 years...now that is shelf life. The other reason is more subtle. Coupons make advertisers lazy. Instead of asking their customers what brought them to their door...they look to a coupon to tell them. The problem with this approach is that the business owner misses an opportunity to interact with their customers (bad for business) and they rely on a counting mechanism that just isn’t accurate.
The way I see it, coupons should be used as a marketing tool...not as a counting mechanism. So we have come up with an idea.
Advertisers, if you want coupons (hopefully as a way to motivate sales), well, now we’ve got them for you. This is the way we’ve decided to do it. We will place a coupon page on our web site (www.kids-houston.com) where advertisers can place their coupons. We will advertise the coupon page in every single one of our publications. What this means is that we will promote your coupons, should you decide to ask us to create them for you, to our circulation of over 90,000 (readership, which is calculated by the multiplying the circulation by the number of times the publication is read, could easily exceed 250,000). Add to that your presence on our website’s home page and you have another 30,000 hits a month. Now your coupon is becoming something of real value...and a wonderful marketing tool. One more thought. With your coupon on the web, you have the option of changing up an offer or a special or an incentive virtually any time you want. Now that is a marketing tool. And it does beg the question...can a printed coupon do that?
Currently this is what we have in our coffers. As is always the case, advertisers are given priority.
• Schlitterbahn Waterparks
(in Galveston, New Braunsfels, and
South Padre Island)
February 16th at the Reliant Stadium
• Monkey Business
An indoor play facility is offering ‘free open
• Houston Aeros
Tickets available and the seats are great.
• FUNPLEX / The Grand Event
The rising cost of gas and the cost of paper...even the KD is not immune
Since our last price increase in May of 2006, the planet has changed just a bit. Beyond the mega-issues that confound our country and our ecomony like the Iraq war, the housing crisis, the deficit, the fall of the dollar...there is mixed into the stew...the escalating cost of oil...and with it...the cost of paper. Paper is a commodity and like most commodities, it is impacted by the cost of oil. There’s more. The printing industry runs on petroleum based products. So rising oil costs not only increase the cost of paper, it also increases the cost of production. To give you an idea, since our last price increase, the cost of paper has gone up over a dozen times and overall production costs have risen sharply. And the economists and various pundits see no end in site. At some point, and we think that we will reach that point sooner rather than later, The Kid’s Directory is going to have to pass on some of these increased costs to our advertisers. The advantage of doing it sooner is that we can keep the price increase down to a modest level.
There is some good news here. Because of our ever increasing distribution, the real value of your advertising dollar continues to rise, or said another way, each time we increase our distribution your advertising cost per thousand actually goes down.
The best news is saved for last: All of us who participate in the ‘children’s market’ are lucky. This sector of the economy, while not recession proof, is far less susceptible tomarket trends than many other business sectors. We all know this because as parents, all of us have experienced that while we may occasionally tighten our belts in tough times, we always try to do whatever we can for our kids. If at all possible, our kids will not be left wanting. So to return to where this newsletter started...hats off to all of us...and it is going to be a very good year.
Thanks again for your patience and continued patronage...and as always, we are here to help you in any way we can.
Robert Spott - Publisher