Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Venue Books - Building a Better Mouse Trap

There is always a way to build a better mouse trap.  That is another one of my famous cliché’s that I stole from somebody else.   One issue that was continually cropping up in the area I live in (and other areas of the country) was the venue ad books.  These are a great idea for advertising your wedding related business because your name is being put out there at one of the first points of exposure and contact for a bride.  But there are TWO major downfalls to these publications.

The first downfall is the venues that use this as a form of strong arming wedding vendors to be on their “preferred vendor list”.  This is nothing but a scam and absolutely ridiculous way to force advertising.  Unfortunately many vendors are at the mercy of the venue if they ever want a shot at working at that venue.  Personally I feel this is not the way to do business.  A true preferred vendor is one based on the quality of their overall product and not someone that has to dish out money for your ad book just to be part of your venue’s select.

The second downfall is that the venues would love to be able to provide their brides with something that shows off the venue; kind of like an 8 ½” x 11” business card.  There is really nothing wrong with this concept.  The problem lies that there are so many venues that the cost of vendors to advertise (in each of the books individually) will sky rocket.  Unlike the previous example, these venues will take any vendors ads in their book, because it helps defray the cost of printing.

The bottom line of all of this is that the publishers get richer at the expense of the wedding vendors (one day I can expose all of these costs).  The publishers go to each of the venues with a great deal for a book where the venues can showcase their establishment and have the printing costs paid for by the advertisers.  A pretty good idea except when you saturate a geographical market with these books and it becomes an unusually high cost for the advertisers because of the volume of venues. 

So now we build the better mouse trap.  The venues love the books and the vendors like to get their business exposed without the major expense of paying to advertise in 15 or 20 books.  And we are doing just that with Lehigh Valley Wedding – The Magazine.  Our first volume will be called the Venue Edition and will be a high end ad book, not really a magazine.   However, the semi annual magazine may soon be on bookshelves. 

Our business model is simple.  We build one large ad book, with 15 different editions.   Each edition will be customized to 14 individual venues, so each edition will look like it was made specifically for that venue.   Each of the 14 different venues will get 8 pages in the publication including all of the prime spots (front cover, inside front, back cover, inside back, and centerfold). The remaining 92 pages of this ad book will all be the same for all 15 editions (including articles and advertisers).  The 15th edition will be a generic edition, which will be distributed at two major bridal shows and by the advertisers if they wish.  We now have a win-win for everyone.

The venues now have a customized book to distribute to their brides that features their place of business (and it does not cost them a dime).  The wedding vendors get to advertise in 15 different publications that will be distributed at the 14 Venues and 2 major bridal shows for one low price.  The amount of total printed publications is a little more than the amount of projected weddings in the region so that all of the publications are distributed with not a lot of left over going into the next year.   This also helps with not letting the content become stale. 

Let’s take a quick look at some costs (and these are actual real costs from our research).  First for the venues, who pay nothing with only the agreement to distribute the publication.  Not a bad deal.  For the vendors, instead of paying $750 for a full page to be distributed at ONE venue (700 copies), they can pay $600 for a full page to be distributed at 15 different distribution points (6000 copies).  Where the wedding vendors really save is by not paying to advertise individually. 

So how is the reception to all this you ask?   The response has been overwhelming.  The venues are on board with us and it was an easy sell.  Except for a couple of venues that are using the preferred vendor scam and a few elitists, we were able to get 14 venues to sign on quite easily.    The wedding vendors absolutely love this because it gets them maximum exposure without the high costs.  The wedding vendor response has been phenomenal. 

We are looking to begin distribution on November 1, 2013 and we are really excited for this challenge.   This is our first attempt at something like this, but we needed to build that better mouse trap. We are not looking to get rich on this, but instead, provide a better value at a lesser cost for the wedding vendor community.  We'll keep you posted on our progress.

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