Transcript of Frankel's Free Clinic April 9, 2001

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 8:58 AM): Entered the room.

Frederick ( (4/9/2001 8:58 AM): Entered the room.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 8:59 AM): Greeeeetings! How y'all doing today?

Frederick ( (4/9/2001 8:59 AM): Morning all

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 8:59 AM): doing well, good morning, Rob

Ssulkosky (4/9/2001 8:59 AM): Mornin' Mr. Frankel.

Cathe (4/9/2001 8:59 AM): good! first time here for me

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 8:59 AM): Mr. Frankel? Wow! There's a first time for everything I guess.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:00 AM): You're in luck Cathe, we always let the new people go first. What can I do for you today?

Ssulkosky (4/9/2001 9:00 AM): Okay, Rob then! :) is my problem.......

Ssulkosky (4/9/2001 9:01 AM): (waiting turn...........

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:01 AM): Rob, I have a question. I've got a client that needs to be very stealthy in setting up for introduction, but needs to go big very, very fast, without having a huge war chest. How do you position your brand for that kind of breakout?

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:01 AM): what kind of topics are usually

Marshal ( (4/9/2001 9:01 AM): Entered the room.

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:01 AM): and will wait...darned lag!

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:02 AM): Anything that has to do with business, usually focusing on branding, but we're pretty liberal here...

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:02 AM): I'm looking for ways to market a line of greeting cards in the States in retail stores, as well as online

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:02 AM): Venture, let's take you first while Cathe waits: I'm in the same situation with a project I'm doing right now

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:03 AM): I've got a great project, but the problem is we have absolutely nothing we can patent. This is strictly a first mover gig.

Ssulkosky (4/9/2001 9:03 AM): (waiting turn...........

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:03 AM): Cathe, you should talk to Del who's here today.

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:03 AM): Ill listen for awhile while you old hands talk - if allowed, I'll take my "first turn" another time

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:04 AM): That's it exactly.

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:05 AM): except we're going into a very crowded but ineffective field

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:05 AM): Venture: So here's what we're doing. We brought the site online and "soft-launched" to prove that people would actually buy into what we did. That worked, so then I approached a huge gorilla funded company for whom I suspect we can benefit. And I offered them first crack at it in exchange for them getting behind the project.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:05 AM): Doesn't matter how crowded the field is. If you can bring in a gorilla partner, you can roll right over them.

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:06 AM): Sounds like a great suggestion.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:06 AM): And that's where we are in our project. The partner has committed a few $$$ to test that we're really as good as we say we are. Then I suspect they'll either jump in or buy us.

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:07 AM): We're actually prefunding with this client...but we're running formal market research that confirms the opportunity.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:07 AM): Venture: Just be careful when dealing with a gorilla. Make sure your non-disclosure and NON_CIRCUVENT agreements are all signed before you do anything.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:07 AM): OOPS, "non-circumvent" -- it's NOT the same as Non-Disclosure.

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:08 AM): good point...however, it's a matter of knowing that you can trust them too. We're actually running a dual business that approaches the target market and pursues some of the same revenue streams. The other is the real opportunity.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:09 AM): Well, it goes without saying that you can't do good business with bad people. But like they say, "trust everyone, but always cut the cards."

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:09 AM): Anything else, or shall we hear form Ssulkosky?

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:10 AM): ;-) Thanks, Rob.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:10 AM): No problemo. Hope it helps.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:11 AM): Ssulkosky?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:11 AM): Bueller? Bueller?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:13 AM): Okay, next caller.....

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:14 AM): any ideas on marketing my line of cards into the States, or online?

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:15 AM): Cathe, describe your cards.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:15 AM): Where are you selling from Cathe? And what kind of cards are they?

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:15 AM): greeting cards, Ontario, Canada

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:16 AM): What's the price point?

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:16 AM): each card comes with a gift for the recipient..the cards are cookie-themed so they include a fridge magnet shaped like a cookie

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:16 AM): about $4.00 Cdn

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:16 AM): Well, Cathe, I think Del has the right idea about targeting cards to a certain niche to start with. Del concentrates on business to business, and within a special niche at that. That's the first thing t do. IMO.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:17 AM): I assume this is a web-based business?

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:17 AM): for example..."I hear you've been feeling crummy...(outside of card)..."I hope you're feeling CHIP-per soon" (inside)..and recipient gets a magnet shaped like a choc chip cookie

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:17 AM): going to be web based and retail sales too

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:18 AM): Okay, here are a couple of things you need to do. The first, obviously, is develop a brand that can be identified with the cards you send and later, able to sustain any other lines or products you add on.

Del (4/9/2001 9:18 AM): Why a magnet instead of a single pre-packaged cookie with your company logo and the inside "I hope you're feeling CHIP-per soon" instead?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:19 AM): Because cookies are food and can spoil and are subject to all kinds of FDA restrictions here in the USA

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:19 AM): Fridge magnets have no shelf life

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:20 AM): Second, when you go fishing, you gotta go where the fish are. In this case, it's women and women are easy to find on the web.

Del (4/9/2001 9:20 AM): Rob: Yeah, but if purchased through a promotional product vendor, the pre-packaged cookies have already been FDA approved for resale.

Del (4/9/2001 9:21 AM): But the shelf-life issue is important too. Imagine getting a 3 year old cookie? 8-O

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:21 AM): But they can still crumble and spoil....

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:21 AM): that's right about using magnets. I looked at food, but too many problems

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:22 AM): shelf life was the big issue, even IF the cookies are fresh and I put the card on the shelf, the next person to look at them has no confidence that they are fresh

Frederick ( (4/9/2001 9:22 AM): And once a magnet is on the fridge, it will stay there for years!

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:22 AM): Cathe, you're lucky because you can send your product to the media and they can see first hand how it works. SO instead of press releases, you can send the cards. Especially because the recipients are your target audience if the reporters are women.....even cookie-loving men.

Del (4/9/2001 9:22 AM): Cathe: Why would a shopper purchase your magnet-enclosed greeting card vs. a stock Hallmark/American Greetings card?

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:22 AM): and so many women collect magnets. surprised me

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:23 AM): this has potential for web selling?

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:23 AM): Cathe, have you looked into going to gift and paper shows? It might be nice to see the feedback you get from retail owners and managers first. Have you already been selling in Canada?

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:23 AM): I think they'd purchase it cause it is unique and is a gift

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:23 AM): Anyway, my point is that one the web, there are great women-business lists, women this and women that sites. And women instinctively know how to use the web better! They're far more in tune with the "communal support" thing that drives the web culture.

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:24 AM): haven't started selling yet just in the research stage

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:24 AM): how would I find gift and paper shows?

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:25 AM): another reason women would purchase the card/magnet combo is that the sayings are unique and tied in with cookie varieties

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:25 AM): Cathe, look at this in ya new browser window:

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:25 AM): Cathe, also check out the trade association --

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:25 AM): it is the whole package that I'm hoping will catch people's attentions

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:25 AM): They have a lot of really valuable market information online

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:25 AM): 6,870 results on "refrigerator magnet"

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:26 AM): just checked it out - you are right - lots of hits

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:26 AM): I posted to this list a few days ago looking for magnet supplies and got a LOT of response - it was great!

Del (4/9/2001 9:26 AM): VC: Most of the data there is old. I can't recall the last time they updated the site. :-)

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:27 AM): and your best bet is going to be finding a great trade representative, or representatives, who already have distribution set up and can channel you into it.

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:27 AM): how do I find those people? this is all very new to me - our other business is very different from this new venture

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:28 AM): So you can see, Cathe, there are plenty of places to sell your wares and audiences interested in them. HOWEVER, I'm going to tell you the same thing I said to Del a few months ago: sell quantities of cards. You'll go nuts selling one card at a time and it will kill your profitability.

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:28 AM): I agree - maybe I'll see my idea to hallmark

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:29 AM): Great advice, Rob!

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:29 AM): True, VC, but when you set up a distribution channel, be prepared to eat up to 55% of your list price. That means selling your stuff for 45% of the list price still makes enough gross profit (not net) to make it worthwhile.

Del (4/9/2001 9:29 AM): Unless you have the $$$ that does and can make $1.25 profit per card (Even after S/H).

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:29 AM): sorry, sell my idea to hallmark

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:29 AM): Don't send your idea to Hallmark. YOU do it!

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:30 AM): Thanks, Amanda. What I love about the web is that you can do so much better by yourself -- if you're smart. This is why I chose to self-publish my book, instead of letting McGraw-Hill goof it up.

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:30 AM): I'm sure that Hallmark has already done something similar.

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:30 AM): hey, if they offer enough who knows :), but I agree I want this to be mine

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:30 AM): I've researched an so far have found no one, or no company who does this kind of card

Del (4/9/2001 9:30 AM): Hallmark won't offer you much, and then it's only a % of sales.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:30 AM): Cathe, hallmark wouldn't buy it -- there's nothing to buy. Your idea is not protectable. If they want to do it, they'll just do it.

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:31 AM): closest I've found is a card with a bookmark included and it sold for about $9.00

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:31 AM): closest I've found is a card with a bookmark included and it sold for about $9.00

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:31 AM): a case study on Blue Mountain Arts

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:31 AM): Have you made money? (stupid question) So many self published books just collect dust on the shelves of the spare bedroom.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:31 AM): The point is that Hallmark may not be doing it because it wasn't big enough for them to do it. But it may still be a fertile market for a microbusiness.

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:31 AM): Cathe, the best place to make contacts is at the trade shows. See who is really effective.

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:31 AM): was that ?? to me?

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:32 AM): anybody know a good site to search for trade shows, gift shows, etc?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:32 AM): Amanda, you have no idea......!!! Yes, I've made a ton in direct sales, which led to tape sales and of course, the mother of all revenue, consulting projects. But in book sales alone, I have done quite well.

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:32 AM): Cathe, research, research, research!

Del (4/9/2001 9:32 AM): Blue Mountain Arts is not a qualifiable case study as they #1: Were way overvalued when purchased and #2: Distribute e-greetings rather than Cathe's physical product.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:33 AM): Amanda: if you know me, I try to show clients that branding strategy alone can spur sales, so I deliberately have never advertised my book. I did everything with free promotions. Sales of the book are now in the thousands

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:33 AM): Rob, excellent! Is another book in the works?

Del (4/9/2001 9:34 AM): Rob: Interestingly enough, American Greetings took a look at their offerings and diminishing sales and said they have to offer a .99 price point to meet some of the cards Hallmark produces.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:34 AM): I might be doing another one, but it's just in the planning stages right now....

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:34 AM): bye all! have to go, but I'll return - this is great info!

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:35 AM): Del, I had a long talk with the owner of paper Moon graphics a month or two ago. Remember them? I think that's a brand that could command any price in its day. It still could, in my opinion. Which is my way of answering that the brand drives the price, not the competition.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:35 AM): Did Sulkosky ever show up?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:36 AM): Good luck Cathe!

Cathe (4/9/2001 9:36 AM): Thanks!

Del (4/9/2001 9:36 AM): I don't disagree. The point however was made that if your audience buys a specific price point, you can opt to forget about them or offer a sub-brand focused exclusively on that audience.

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:37 AM): Rob, I know this is a loaded question but how can "branding" help Osprey Design? My ideal customer is an art director/buyer at major publishing houses.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:37 AM): That's true...and the battle at retail is fierce for cards. The market is actually shrinking an so shelf space is getting harder to find, at least at the major outlets.

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:38 AM): Del, Blue Mountain started as a boutique art studio with a very distinct type of card. They were successful, but Hallmark came in and copied them. Blue Mountain did not roll over, but fought Hallmark in court and won. The e-Greetings and sales came later, when Jared Polis took initiative on the e-greetings.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:38 AM): Amanda, what are you selling there? (Going to your site now)

Del (4/9/2001 9:39 AM): Rob: Precisely. And the retail outlets used now stretch to the local WalMart, Kmart, target and grocery store. The greater the distribution points, the larger the apparent need for a range of price points. :-(

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:39 AM): Book design only. We prefer to work with major houses and not individual authors (but will if they are particularly on the ball).

Del (4/9/2001 9:40 AM): That's why I prefer a highly-focused audience.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:41 AM): Okay, well the first thing I notice, Amanda, is that you niche -- but not exclusively. Your home page says you specialize, but not why you're the best solution for the book producer's problem.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:41 AM): Del, I think you're dead on.

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:42 AM): I understand. What else? Or is all based on that?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:42 AM): I'm seeing a lot of beautiful work, but not a mention of how you solve the problems that I run into -- either the obvious ones or those I haven't thought of.

Del (4/9/2001 9:42 AM): Rob: heh. I'm going to have to make some greeting cards for YOU to give out. "I've got branding ideas out the wazoo"

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:42 AM): Ok (taking notes...)

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:43 AM): The site is really good looking. But here's the thing: it's all about Osprey Design. There's nothing in it that shows you know how I'm tearing my hair out with this project I have.

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:43 AM): What problems did you run into with your book? Did you hire a designer?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:44 AM): Now, consider this: What if you had a link that listed the 10 Most Unwelcome Surprises That Publishers Never See Coming -- or something like that?

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:44 AM): Oh, I like it!

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:45 AM): Actually, I had only two problems with my book: 1. My proofreaders missed a lot and 2. I should have figured out a way to start the title with a number -- they get listed first in an alphabetical search result in places like Amazon.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:46 AM): By the way, my cover design -- as you cold tell -- was done by a centuries old cover design house -- Frankel Art Studios.......

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:47 AM): But we are usually working with prof. art directors who can anticipate problems and correct them before they start. But, heck, we can do that now. Perhaps that can be a selling point?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:48 AM): point is that if you know these are pro art directors, even better! Tell them how you know what a pain it can be to work with book designers and why the experience with you is so much more rewarding. Sheesh, an interview or two with some caffeine-hyped Art Directors should load you up with plenty of ammunition!

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:49 AM): Everyone loves to 1. Give their opinion 2. Complain to a sympathetic ear

Del (4/9/2001 9:50 AM): Art directors crack me up. "Show me your portfolio. I'll show you mine."

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:50 AM): Ok, cool.

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:50 AM): Thanks Rob.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:51 AM): (TEN MINUTE WARNING) One day I'll tell you my war stories about my advertising portfolio and Creative Directors (Portfolio is still online at for those of you with too much tie on your hands)

Del (4/9/2001 9:52 AM): Rob: Nice to be outside that environment, isn't it?

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:52 AM): Rob, what happened?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:52 AM): One last thing, Amanda. Self-publishing is rapidly losing its "loser" status. If you create a product that's affordable for them and profitable for you, you could have a whole other division.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:53 AM): Oh yeah, Del. I tunneled out of a major agency while they weren't looking and never looked back! I'm still wanted in three states.

Del (4/9/2001 9:53 AM): DIY plans in Popular Mechanics have made millionaires $2.50 at a time.

Del (4/9/2001 9:54 AM): Did you at the very least finish the million simultaneous projects you were working on?

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:54 AM): STORY: A few clients have asked me to conduct agency reviews for them. You have no idea what fun it is to face the guys who wanted to fire you with a $10 million ad budget in your hands. It's great to be on the other side of the table.

Del (4/9/2001 9:55 AM): "You're selling me an ad. I asked for a brand. Bye."

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:55 AM): Yeah. In those days, a writer was teamed with an art director. I worked too fast for them, so they gave me three. Then I ended up paying them more for my freelance work then they made on the job.....then I started my own agency.

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:55 AM): I concur! I'd rather just deal with prof. art directors and their egos rather that the utter ignorance of self-publishers. When I work with an art director I eventually wind up with a book to be proud of not so with self-pub.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:56 AM): Unless the self-pubber's are willing to work your way,'s a growing market.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:56 AM): Ignorance is the absence of knowledge. Factor in the educational process into your revenue structure.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:57 AM): I do for all my clients. Educate first, and when they're educated enough to understand your recommendation, apply your services.

VentureConsult (4/9/2001 9:57 AM): to run, thanks so much, Rob. I appreciate the help.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:57 AM): Yes, we're at that time : TWO MINUTES

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:57 AM): You bet VC.

Del (4/9/2001 9:57 AM): Yeah. Sell self-publishers on an Amanda workflow solution. (Any less becomes problematic).

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:58 AM): They aren't though. It's their labor of love and they know what they want. I'd love for more self-pubs to say, "Look, I don't know what I really want, I've never done this before. Create something you know will fly off the shelves."

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:58 AM): I'm so arrogant.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:59 AM): Amanda, when you give them the link that says, "Why so many self-publishers fail" and they read it on their own time, you'll be amazed how they'll see your point of view.

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 9:59 AM): Ok, thanks for your help today. I appreciate it.

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 9:59 AM): This is another reason I wrote the book, frankly. People tend to think I'm arrogant. but I'm not. I just know what I'm talking about. But if they read it from a book, their guard is down enough to listen and that closes many deals for me.

Del (4/9/2001 10:00 AM): Heck...Let them know they go elsewhere to make a product, but with you, they can package a dream. (Every author I've ever known, myself included, is in love with their first least for the novelty of it.)

RobFrankel ( (4/9/2001 10:00 AM): Okay, that was a cool session! Everyone back to work! I'll see you online!

Amanda ( (4/9/2001 10:01 AM): Thanks! Bye.

Del (4/9/2001 10:01 AM): Cya Rob.

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