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Archive | April, 2009

The Evolution of the Punch: New Slimline Punches from EK Success

You can’t beat the convenience of punches for the job they do, especially for punching out circles and squares that are consistent in shape and size. But they can be difficult to use and they don’t store well, being oddly shaped and bulky.

Punches have undergone some design progress in the past decade. First there were the punches designed with a button on top that usually requires putting the heel of your palm on it and then pushing down with your shoulders to move the punch.

Then came the thumb punch design by EK Success that had a lever action. It was a vast improvement but still required a lot of effort (usually two thumbs stacked on the small lever, a painful method, in my experience) to use.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the bulk of bunches for storage. In fact, the improved use of thumb punches was somewhat offset by an awkward shape for storage.

Because of all this, over the years, I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with punches. Love the concept…hate the reality. I own about 40 of them (was shocked when I added that up for this article) but other than a very few like corner rounders, they don’t get used very often except maybe on cards occasionally.

That may be about to change. Thanks to EK Success’s latest re-design on their punches, I am in love now with the reality of punches, not just the concept.

The redesign of EK Success punches that I am so in love with was introduced at CHA-Winter 2009 and is being called the “slim line” design by EK. When the punch is not in use, it can be locked into a flat position for storage using a sliding button on the bottom of the tool. Sliding the button to the other position releases the spring-loaded lever upwards into the punching position. Below is a comparison of the old EK Success medium punch design alongside the new medium punch design:

IMG_4091

I love this design for several reasons. First, punching is easier than even with the old style thumb punch. Also, if punching is too difficult for one handed use, the new design has a much wider & more comfortable lever to allow for placing two hands on it. And finally, the new design is nicely rectangular and slim for storage. The redesigned punches take about half the storage space of the old ones, and can be lined up vertically in the drawer for maximum usage of space.

The newly redesigned punches are now starting to ship to specialty stores although they have been in Michaels for several months under a special arrangement with EK Success. They are at both Scrapbook.com and Two Peas In A Bucket already (including the super-cool Medium Airplane punch pictured above that I can’t wait to use on some travel layouts from the CHA show). The one I am most coveting is the border edger punch called Binding Edge that makes your paper look like spiral notebook paper.

It’s great to see companies like EK Success thinking creatively and striving to improve their product lines with such great results.

Want to win one of the new slimline EK Success border punches? Scrapbook Update will be giving one away on National Scrapbook Day! Check back on Scrapbook Update on Saturday or watch my Twitter feed or Facebook page on Saturday for more details!

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Wednesday News Briefs: Scrapbooks Etc & Scrapbook Trends

Today’s news briefs are both magazine-related, as a lot of scrapbooking news seems to be lately:

No Replacement for Melissa Inman at Scrapbooks Etc

Last week Melissa Inman announced that she was moving from her position at the top of Meredith Corp’s industry-leading publication Scrapbooks Etc. to a position heading up editorial content for the company at Parents.com. This of course raised the question of who would succeed her in the high-profile editorial position at Scrapbooks Etc, a very important position in the scrapbook industry and potentially the most sought-after position in the struggling world of scrapbook editorial.

According to a statement issued to Scrapbook Update by a representative of Scrapbooks Etc. and Meredith Corp., the company is reorganizing their Crafts Group publications. Melissa Inman will not be replaced as the Executive Editor of Scrapbooks Etc. Instead, Michelle Rubin (who held the title of Editor under Inman) will report directly to an Executive Editor who is responsible now for the entire Meredith Crafts Group, Jennifer Keltner.

Keltner provided a vote of confidence in Rubin’s taking on of her new responsibilities:

“As editor of Scrapbooks etc. for the past four years, Michelle has shown remarkable passion for scrapbooking, developed an outstanding reputation in the industry, and demonstrated a keen eye for delivering content that is both inspirational and attainable. I look forward to working with Michelle to grow the business and am excited to watch her expand the scope of her responsibilities to achieve even greater success across multiple platforms.”

For her part, Rubin hints that the changes at Scrapbooks Etc. aren’t finished yet. She says that, while her title and the staff working for her remain the same, “an exciting refresh of the magazine’s look—to deliver more of what scrapbookers want—is under way.”

Scrapbook Trends Offering Digital Issues

One of the biggest complaints about Scrapbook Trends is the cost of $14.95/issue. Northridge Media has just introduced a new way for readers to still enjoy Scrapbook Trends and the other beautiful Northridge publications (Cards, Simply Handmade, Bead Trends and their idea books) at a lower price by subscribing to digital versions for as little as $4.99/issue. There is also an option to subscribe to all of the Northridge publications and idea books for a $9.99/month subscription price.

Northridge is marketing the digital edition as environmentally friendly, and pointing out that it is printer-friendly for subscribers who like to archive their favorite ideas for later use. The issues also feature clickable navigation – readers can go directly to an article from the table of contents, or to an advertiser’s website from an ad. It also features a keyword search that includes supply lists for finding all projects created with certain products, etc.

Scrapbook magazine subscribers have always been notoriously resistant to the concept of digital publications in the past. But the significant price discount on a magazine that they already enjoy but can’t afford on a regular basis may be enough to overcome the built-in resistance to the digital format for some people.

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Monday Reading On Marketing

Here’s a round-up of interesting and useful links – let’s call this one “Marketing Monday”:

Three Secrets To Make A Message Go Viral: Fast Company uses Brains on Fire’s Fiskars campaign as a case study in how to make a company’s marketing message go viral online.

Movies, Music, Newspapers, And Now The Bike Business: A great article on what the small bike retailer can learn from the challenges faced by the movie, music and newspaper industries. Just mentally substitute “scrapbook” for “bike” as you read it.

Twitter, Zappo’s. and the science of Happiness: A report from SXSWi on the keynote given by the Zappo’s CEO about the company’s focus on the goal of making their customers happy, and the integration of Twitter into that strategy.

Twittering Tips for Beginners: If you’ve been thinking that you or your business need to be on Twitter because of all the buzz about it but don’t really “get” Twitter, this is a great read. NY Times tech columnist David Pogue – the everyman’s tech writer – explains the inner workings of Twitter and its usefulness in non-geek language.

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Swine Flu: An Emergency Planning Reminder For Your Business

Anyone who has been watching the news the past few days knows that the world’s medical systems are responding to an outbreak of a swine flu strain, which many fear could be the start of a flu pandemic like was experienced in 1918-1919 and killed an estimated 30-50 million people worldwide. Public health officials are responding aggressively and the outbreak is not at this time a reason for panic, but for business people, now would be a good reminder to review certain emergency plans for your business. The whole point of emergency planning after all is to have a plan before you need one.

Dr. Richard Besser, the Acting Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, spoke directly to business people this afternoon in his news conference about steps they should be taking to prepare for a flu emergency in their community. Specifically, he said workers and business owners should ask themselves two questions:

  1. What would I do for childcare if my child’s school were closed? Would I be able to work from home? Would I be able to make other arrangements?
  2. What would you do if some [a large portion] of your workers couldn’t come to work?

Yes, we don’t like to think about worst-case scenarios that might cause us to need the answers to questions like that. But a little preparation can go a long way in an emergency if it ever does happen.

And just maybe having that plan in place will help you sleep a little better at night too.

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New CHA-Summer Resource Available On Scrapbook Update

For those of you who are coming to my neighborhood in the Sunshine State for CHA-Summer 2009, there is a new resource being made available on Scrapbook Update today that I hope will make doing what you need to do in an unfamiliar city just a little easier:

CHA-Summer 2009 Local Shopping Reference

This reference page on Scrapbook Update now contains information on the store locations that are closest to the convention center that attendees may need in the course of business or in an emergency: Target, Walmart, office stores, drugstores, and many other stores. There are addresses, phone numbers, links to maps of their locations, and other information.

For your convenience, the CHA-Summer 2009 Local Shopping Reference is also available as PDF download for portable use: Download CHA-Summer Local Shopping Reference.pdf

If you can think of a useful store that should be on this list please post in the comments and I will add it!

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Companies Focus On Therapeutic Effects of Scrapbooking

As the economic recession leads to a rise in depression (or at least has many people feeling “down”), some scrapbook companies are choosing to focus their marketing efforts on highlighting the therapeutic effects of scrapbooking.

Big Picture Scrapbooking, the site started by Simple Scrapbooks magazine founding editor Stacy Julian which offers online education to scrapbookers, did a survey of their students about how scrapbooking affected them and promoted the results to media outlets. They shared what students said about the positive effect scrapbooking – and BPS classes – had on them:

Where else are you going to find, tucked into scrapbook design medium, a class on choosing joy and gratitude in your life instead of dwelling on the negative things that surround us every day? Where else will you learn secrets that will change the way you view life from top photographers and artists in simple, do-able steps? Big Picture Scrapbooking has changed my philosophy in life. I am learning from amazing women to savor life a little more and capture that in a form that my friends and family can enjoy and learn from for years to come.

Big Picture is also highlighting quotes from student reviews on the front page of their website that reflect the same marketing philosophy – their classes are not only about how to scrapbook, but are uplifting as well:

bps-quote

Stampin’ Up! is also focusing marketing effort on the positive effects of scrapbooking. During the month of April, the stamping and scrapbooking direct sales company has been trying to encourage people who are stressed by the recession to relieve stress by adopting a new hobby.  The company says that it believes that the “scenario of friends crafting together and enjoying a fun hobby may just be the ticket to relieving stress and helping people ‘get connected’ during these tough economic times.”

Even those among us who are devoted scrapbookers and have known the help that scrapbooking was getting us through a hard time in the past (the loss of a loved one, for instance) can get pulled away from scrapbooking when we are stressed and other things seem more important. Scrapbooking businesses can do their industry and their customers – and their own individual business – a service by reminding people about the intangible benefits of their hobby.

It’s value-added marketing: We’re not just selling paper and stickers. We’re selling relaxation and comfort, too.

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