Dan's Blog

  • 5 Reasons Not to Interrupt When Your Client is Talking

     I have recently been practicing not interrupting. In the process of practicing this, it has come to my attention that I am not the only person who does it. Amazingly, many people interrupt when their customer is talking. Do you want to know the top five reasons not to interrupt when your client is talking? Read on.

    1. Your customer is handing you a gift when they talk to you, especially if they are complaining. They are telling you what you can do to improve your business. If we can just keep silent long enough, we’ll learn what it is that we can do to enhance our product or service, delight our customers instead of upsetting them, and turn them into excellent references, which will increase sales. So, help me out here, but why on earth would we not want all that? One reason might be …



  • Integrity in Business Decisions

    Back in the 1990s, I worked in technology sales and service in a developing country. The Requests for Proposals we received for technology needs (hardware, software, networks, training, support) went to a number of competing companies, one of which was owned by a powerful political regime in the country at the time. Upon submitting our bids, we were regularly dismayed at how this competitor could underbid us, given that we were dealing with tiny margins. It turned out that this competitor did not have to pay import duties on any imported hardware due to their political connections. They also paid a mole inside our company to send them a copy of our bids before they were submitted.

    When we discovered the first problem, i.e. that we had to pay import duties and they didn’t, we realized …



  • Unsettling Times

    Unsettling times. On so many levels.

    The last year has been a challenging one for millions of people. If we look at broad strokes, bigotry, racism, poverty, violence, and hatred all raised their ugly heads at points during the year in the US and abroad. Across the Americas we witnessed oppressive regimes cracking down on their opponents violently and fatally. Radical, extremist groups killed and wounded across the globe in various attacks. Greed flourished. Power dictated. Scandal abounded. It has been a year that proved that humans can really be horrible to one another.

    A bit closer to home, many of us experienced the difficulties of our human condition: friends and relatives were diagnosed with terminal illnesses, addictions were revealed, mental illness identified, and loved ones …



  • 7 Steps to Guaranteed Failure When Shopping for a Major Software Application

    Over the decades, we have heard horror stories of organizations who have chosen the wrong system or application to accomplish some major task (sales order processing, subscription management, CRM, membership management, etc.), so we’ve honed a list of the steps, which, when strung together, can guarantee failure. That is, the wrong system will be chosen, which will cost your organization lots of money and years of wasted time. Now, it is possible that failure will occur by simply executing any of the 7 failure steps! So, if it’s failure you’re chasing after, you could be closer to it than you think.

    1. Make sure you are unclear about your requirements, so you can’t communicate them to the software vendor. After all, if you’re clear, you might slip in your communications and let the …



  • R & D Review

    R & D activity in 2018 has been lively, to say the least. Here is an update.

    Integration with Salesforce and Dynamics: We recently tightened the integration between Advantage and these applications. Many of our prospects and clients use one of these CRM applications to manage sales leads and want a seamless integration between said package and Advantage.

    For example, a user in Salesforce or Dynamics might want to enter a quote and have that result in a quote in Advantage. At the same time, they may wish to view information in Salesforce or Dynamics about orders taken or payments made in Advantage. They may also wish to view information managed in Advantage which is not in the CRM application, such as information about an existing subscription agreement.

    Current technology allows a …



  • Conference and Trade Show Highlights

    I just returned from my 3rd conference/trade show in 4 weeks. Others on my team attended 3 more that  during this same time. June is the busiest month of the year for conferences & trade shows---by far!

    Two of the trade shows I attended were focused on membership associations: AMS Fest in Chicago and Society Street in London. As a showcase company at AMS Fest (AMS = Association Management System), we were given 2 opportunities to demonstrate our software to membership organizations shopping for an AMS. This is a great event---well-organized, effective, and informative. One of my favorite sessions was one where 3 experts from different consulting firms sat on a panel and fielded questions about how to implement a new AMS. They have decades of wisdom among them and can help a membership …



  • Some Themes from Digital Innovator’s Summit in Berlin

    Philippe van Mastrigt and I recently attended Digital Innovator’s Summit, the 2-day event run by FIPP and VDZ in Berlin each March. AdvantageCS exhibited at and sponsored this event.

    The audience at this conference is strongly German and Nordic, with a number of AdvantageCS clients attending and speaking (A-Lehdet, Aller Media, Bonnier, and Egmont).

    Trends that were mentioned in 2017, such as a shift from social network and ad models to subscription and reader revenue, were confirmed by a number of the speakers. “We are at the end of the beginning of a new age” was mentioned in the introductory remarks.

    Facebook was dragged through the mud a number of times in the wake of their data scandal with Cambridge Analytica. It is clear that Facebook will not save media companies, but work …



  • CMO Roundtable – an Excellent Opportunity to Share Challenges and Successes

    Earlier this month, AdvantageCS hosted a CMO Roundtable for our clients in sunny Orlando, Florida. The 11 marketing executives who participated represented different kinds of organizations – B2B and B2C publishers of magazines and newsletters, an academic journals publisher, 2 scholarly membership organizations with their flagship publications, and 2 special interest publishers of religious books and curricula:

    Daryl Berver, Chief Operating officer, The AgoraGrace Epperson, Vice President of Marketing Intelligence, The AgoraElizabeth Solaro, Director of Marketing, American Medical Association Jennifer Mosley, Group Director, Audience Development, Crain Communications Bonnie Roche, Managing Director – Audience, Marketing, Product, Crain Communications Cason Lynley, Director of Marketing …



  • Five Lessons from 2017

    2017 was a year.

    I know…that seems obvious. But 2017 was loaded with the good, the bad, and some lessons learned from it all. Here are 5 that jumped out at me as we finish up 2017:

    1. Publishers are moving into membership modelsSome years ago, we had a publishing client who published books and magazines around various special interests. But you couldn’t “subscribe” to the products; you had to be a “member” to get them. Their belief was that a “member” was more loyal than a “subscriber.” Given the interest areas they served (hunting and fishing and the like) I suspect that their low attrition rates were also due to the passion of their readers, rather than exclusively due to a clever marketing ploy around the word “member.” But lo and behold, Meredith (who is in the process of buying …



  • An annual tradition in publishing: the Frankfurt Book Fair

    Every year, for the past 14, we have attended the Frankfurt Book Fair, which takes place in October in Frankfurt, Germany. If you’ve never attended the “Frankfurter Buchmesse,” it is difficult to paint a picture of just how gigantic this event is. This is the largest trade fair for books in the world. http://www.book-fair.com/en/

    It has been an annual event going back over 500 years to 1454, soon after Gutenberg invented the printing press, when the first book fair was held by local booksellers. It has evolved into the event for negotiating international publishing rights and license fees, and is surrounded by technology companies and other vendors to the industry who are able to do business with many publishers, authors, librarians, and agents in a short span of time.

    AdvantageCS …



  • SFG – AdvantageCS Partnership – Who Wants to Outsource?

    In May, we announced a new partnership between AdvantageCS and SFG (see press release here).  SFG is a service and technology company located in Big Sandy, Texas, with decades of experience serving organizations in such areas as order processing, fulfillment, call center, payment processing, and lettershop services.  We at AdvantageCS have been seeing a growing trend over the last 10 years: publishers want to outsource some or all of these functions.  Many prospects have already outsourced them and come to a software supplier like us expecting that we will provide the software platform and we have partners that will handle the rest. 

    Prior to this partnership, publishers had few choices if they wanted to outsource these functions but stay on Advantage.  There are a number of service …



  • FOLIO: Survey Confirms Membership Associations Lack Systems Collaboration

    Recently, AdvantageCS was invited to present the results of a survey we’d co-sponsored with FOLIO: magazine on the subject of collaboration between departments at membership associations.  The survey was sent to membership associations which have publishing/media concerns.  The results of the survey from about 150 respondents confirmed our suspicions that there is, generally, a lack of communication and collaboration between the membership and publishing/media departments at such organizations.  The respondents were in agreement that this is detrimental to the mission, and that both communication and data sharing are keys to a common goal of success. 

    One of the respondents nailed the problem by describing “a culture of silos.”  Just 14.6% of respondents said that legacy structures in …



  • Customer Partnership

    It used to be that customer service in the United States was legendary.  I remember flying on a UK airline with a stellar reputation years ago and being disappointed that they were unable to sit my wife and I next to each other, just because her flight had cost more and she was seated in the “premium economy” seats. This despite the fact that I had flown on that airline across the Atlantic 8 times in 8 weeks and there was plenty of room.  When I told the gentleman behind the counter that they had upgraded my seat on the way to the UK from the US, he said “Oh, that’s because you had the American customer service person helping you.  We’re horrible over here.”  I was speechless.  He was admitting that the American customer service agents have the flexibility on this UK airline to make such …



  • The Evolution of Content and Marketing Channels

    I joined a Facebook group from my childhood town some months ago. One day, a post appeared showing photographs of the wrecking ball tearing down the junior high school I had attended. One of the comments said “So sad.” A reply to this comment said “Progress is good.” What I later found out is that a replacement facility is being planned which will incorporate modern-day building codes and a more post-baby-boom scale appropriate to the demographics of the area.

    Part of me experienced nostalgia at that moment. I was reminded of wonderful times in junior high, some good friends I made there, and some great teachers I had. But the other part of me welcomed progress. Building codes have evolved. So has education. So has technology, obviously. So has business, marketing, and content …



  • How Many Groups Are You a Member Of?

    With apologies for the ending preposition, let’s think about this question for a moment. I’m personally a member of:

    Amazon Prime

    Delta SkyMiles (and about 7 other airline frequent flyer programs)

    My church

    Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

    The Society for Scholarly Publishing

    Hilton HHonors (and about 5 other hotel loyalty clubs)

    Costco

    My local public library

    Consumer Reports

    National Car Rental’s Emerald Club

    Best Buy Reward Zone (and many other stores)

    My homeowners association

    Conservatively, I’m a member of roughly 30 organizations/clubs—not to mention my “membership” in my family, my community, the management team of my company and the human race! If you take the time to list your memberships, it’s likely you’ll find a similar amount.

    Why do we join so many …



  • Multiplying Revenue

       

    We have just finished up a season of conferences, summits, and trade shows in the industries we serve – publishing and membership associations.  One of the things that sticks out the most for me at these meetings are the stories of how organizations are increasing their revenue.  There appears to be no end to the tactics people have employed to multiply revenue by creatively looking for opportunities for repackaging their content, extending their brands, and thinking outside the box about new value propositions.  One publisher we know sells design furniture on a website which extends the brand of their design magazine.  Now that’s creative thinking.  I don’t know many publishers who sell furniture.

    Publishers, especially those in the B2B space, have been experts at diversifying …



  • Introducing Members Advantage

    I am excited to announce that Members Advantage, our new membership offering, is available this August.  Consultants, clients, and prospects collaborated with us to produce a top-notch solution, suited for large, complex organizations as well as smaller clubs. 

    AdvantageCS has long been recognized for excellent publishing software solutions.  First developed in the late 1970s for a book publisher, followed by a magazine publisher, Advantage has evolved into a suite of products which manage everything from digital entitlements to subscriptions to ebook sales to conference registrations to continuity series to donations, and on the list goes. 

    And now we’ve enhanced our membership management capabilities to meet the needs of enthusiast clubs, non-profits, professional associations and …



  • Dan's Blog: Important vs Urgent: Finding the Balance

    I will assume that a good number of the readers of this blog are parents, and that you will be painfully familiar with the “work/parenting” balance we strive for in life, which at times seems so elusive.  I guess such a balance would be easily attained if both work and parenting would only require part of our energy, the sum of which would equal less than 100%.  But it so often feels otherwise.  Being a parent of toddlers, teenagers, or twenty-somethings is terribly demanding, though in vastly different ways.

    Being a manager in your company is not dissimilar.  It is demanding, and if you are doing your job well, it can be terribly demanding.  You have many plates to keep spinning, and some of these are urgent and others are not urgent but certainly important.  It’s difficult to balance …



  • Should You Centralize or Distribute Operations?

    Here's a Third Alternative to Consider

    Guest post by Daryl Berver, COO of Agora Inc.

     

    Throughout my career heading operations for Agora, I’ve always struggled with the question of centralized versus decentralized applications, and never more-so than in the past year. Which is preferable? More efficient? Traditional knowledge says you centralize for efficiency and decentralize for innovation.

    Makes sense.

    Centralized applications are cheaper for the business if you have different operational units in the company. Most publishing companies are smaller groups within a larger business, and this type of application structure is rather common. Looking at things from a high level economic view, it’s easy to see why. Centralization reduces needless redundancies between applications, saving …



  • Dan's Blog: 6 Predictions for Publishing in 2016

    It's the week between Christmas and New Years and I'm reading lists of things that happened in 2015 and will happen in 2016. It's always enjoyable to be reminded of things that happened earlier in the year that we've already either forgotten or filed away into that part of our memory that can't quite remember exactly when it took place. (Like one's last dentist appointment once more than 5 weeks have passed.) What's much more fun, and risky, is to predict things that will happen in the future. It's risky, because the predictor is likely to be proved wrong. It's fun because the expectations are so low for being right!

    So here are mine:

    Publishing will continue to be unpredictable. I know. It's almost cheating to say this. But there is more truth to it than immediately meets the eye. …



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