Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ask not, "Does advertising work?" but instead, "Is the Pipeline working for the community and am I benefiting from this information?"

Ah, advertising, does it work? That is the million dollar question, isn't it?

This past Monday we had a very long yet fun day on the streets, raising awareness of and participation in the Pipeline and OurUrbanTimes's jointly produced Holiday magazine.

Many thanks to The Ark Thrift Shop, City Soles, Flash Taco, Delish Diner, Picante, Vintage Underground, and Lucia Restaurant for being early pioneers in the project, and particularly Ellen and Carlos of Vintage Underground for being the very FIRST participants!!

We snapped a few fun photos at Vintage Underground, thanks to help from Vintage Underground employee-turned-model, Grace! Many thanks to Lucia and Dominick of Lucia for being so patient as I snapped picture after picture, and even came back a second time, until we finally got "the shot."

Back to advertising... someone told us that he is "not sure advertising ever works" for him, though he also said that he reads the pipeline each week. Naturally, just like when the good comebacks come hours later and only after you are already home and on the couch, we wondered if we should have replied with, "...You might not be sure if advertising works, but does the pipeline work for you? Do you rely on it for local news on what's opening and closing, which residential properties are selling, and what's happening in the neighborhood, etc?"

Without support from the community, we would not be able to continue doing the pipeline, or at least not to the level of energy and attention and detail we've put into it these past 2.7 years. Back when I had a full-time corporate job and was averaging three hours of sleep nightly and losing hair from stress, I was able to pay Nandika and Pat and Phlash on a regular basis to a fault- all three can attest that I was writing them checks for their hard work.

Yet, now that I have made the commitment to the pipeline, and have made all sorts of personal sacrifices to keep it going, the checks are fewer and far between for the efforts of our small group.... While I've offered the option of seeing if any of our team would like to assist me with selling advertising, naturally few outside of Phlash are jumping at the chance, and when I think about it, there should be more of a separation between editorial and sales because things can get too personal, i.e, when I am receiving information from a gallery or a shop for the eighth or ninth time, even after they did not commit to even a $10 basic listing in our summer booklet after perhaps reading the pipeline enough to tell me all of the things wrong with it, I am naturally biased toward this news when I should, in a perfect world, be thinking objectively and just about how cool the exhibit might be!

For this reason, my role is changing quickly at the pipeline. Sales in any economy is tough, and the hardest thing to sell is oneself. In the beginning, the pipeline was mainly just me, which is why I struggled so hard with charging rates that were in line with what they needed to be in order to produce a truly quality publication. Now, we have a strong core team, and when I go out and sell participation in our next printed magazine, I am selling on behalf of this awesome and amazing team, with our driving goal being that we want to have strong enough participation from the community, so that we can print lots of editorial and photos and awesome feature stories-- as well as pay the team for their efforts-- and not just print a bunch of ads because I need to pay a very big printing bill.

The biggest criticism we got from the first booklet was, "There are too many ads and not enough stories." Had we not of given huge discounts and done a lot of barters, we could have afforded to print at least a few more stories. This time around, we are very excited to be partnering with Elaine Coorens of Our Urban Times! Elaine is an incredible local resource and brings decades of publishing experience to the table, along with business expertise. She will be providing operational assistance as well as overseeing editorial and content quality, along with many other tasks too numerous to list. We got an email from Elaine at 2:45AM the other day containing an invoice we need to get to a new participant and a spreadsheet, if that gives you any indication of how hardcore Elaine is about making this Holiday magazine truly spectacular!

So, in conclusion, as I pop back onto my computer's other screen and work on the next newsletter, full of juicy news and the stuff you REALLY want to read (that's why I am hosting this here on streets blog!) due out today, perhaps ask not, "Does advertising work for me?' but instead, "Is the pipeline working? Do I want to help make the pipeline and our urban times stronger and the next printed edition much better looking and more interesting while dually promoting my business inside of 30,000 copies of a magazine celebrating Wicker Park and Bucktown?"

Thanks for reading!

P.S. COVER CONTEST!!! Are you an artist? Would you like to submit an entry to our cover contest? Read more here. Deadline, Oct. 25- fast approaching, spread the word!

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