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Price Posting and Discussion at Signs 101

Discussion in 'Polls' started by Fred Weiss, Nov 27, 2008.

What should be the forum policy as to price discussion and price posting?

  1. It's fine the way it is

    66 vote(s)
    34.0%
  2. It should be less restrictive

    25 vote(s)
    12.9%
  3. It should be more restrictive

    66 vote(s)
    34.0%
  4. It should totally forbid any price discussion or posting

    4 vote(s)
    2.1%
  5. It doesn't matter to me

    33 vote(s)
    17.0%
  1. iSign

    iSign Major Contributor

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    Skyhigh, maybe the real question is who is paying for signs101, and for that question, BOTH of 2 categories of members are paying the bills here, and the lion's share is covered by the group that is helped, not harmed by exposing prices. We pick up the smaller share.

    Vid has a valid point, in acknowledging that Fred is not a remote dictator. He is a sign maker who used to be one of the most helpful & prolific posters on 4edgetalk.com, and soon thereafter became the same kind of helpful contributor over here... later buying the site, maybe in part so it could be saved from extinction, and at least in part, if not entirely so he could try his hand at making it a viable business as well as an excellent community opportunity.

    My point is that the evidence is there that our feedback is sought, considered, and acted upon around here. If we, the signshops, want to move into the role of paying the lion's share of the bills, we most certainly would also have our wishes carry more weight.

    Edited to add that "More" of us, is a key word in my theory, as is the point of paying "Double" ...I don't know the real numbers, but you get the idea. I know I would pay $100 for the keys to this place, if it was going "members only" ...I don't know for sure that I would vote for that, because I like the volume, and diversity of posts filling this place up each day, and that would go down for sure... but if the decision had been made & I had 2 choices, being locked out, or paying more... I'd pay more!

    Didn't cable TV used to be commercial free, or am I imagining that? I'd love commercial free TV, but if my cable bill went up, I'd have to think twice about it. Can't have it both ways as someone once said!


    Mike, I once had a customer google his own new business name, and found a thread where I was talking about him & although I didn't say anything i wouldn't have said to him, it was momentarily awkward because other people were commenting on his logo & not always favorably.

    I still got his work, but only after he questioned me on if I really wanted it, as the discussion centered on who's jobs we might pass on for risk of a possible unhealthy business association. His logo was a bit over the top for some, but for me it was one I wouldn't sign my name to, not one I wouldn't do, and in the end, he was ok with that.

    The reason I am addressing this point to you, is that I was surprised to read a few times, that as a result of your misinterpretation of the benefits of a Premium forum, you no longer planned to value the $50 subscription highly enough to maintain it.

    Since your last post brought up that you see value in hiding, not only the general exposure of prices, but also the individual price/client discussions that any one of us might wish to engage in with the security of a members-only section.

    While we didn't get everything some of us thought we were going to get for our $50, we did get a lot of what we were after, and in my opinion what we got is worth the $50 a year.

    In fact what we had before Premium forums was worth $50 a year, which is why a lot of us have been paying it for a few years before the Premium Forums existed.
     
  2. vid

    vid Very Active Member

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    :ROFLMAO: ...good observation. As of this posting, the numbers are still leaning towards your preference.

    IMO --- I'm still seeing a green light for a well reasoned and fair policy. It could be posted in the Site Rules, Policy, and Etiquette Forum.

    I don't know their specific marketing strategies. However, in my retail and wholesale experiences, I like wholesale customers because of their knowledge and potential for a greater volume of business. I don’t have to train them on every order and their orders turn faster. Retail is fine... as I use it, it pays considerably more in labor fees (buried and specific). As you know, the issue with the sign and graphics industry is that more and more “hobbyists” feel they have adequate skills to deserve wholesale pricing. And, as witnessed by the vendor that prompted this thread, it’s not real good PR, either.

    Yet, there are vendors at Signs 101 that do offer “fair” pricing on products and services. Signfonts, Big Squeegee, GraphixCALC, Marketing Partners, CADlink, Activity Software, SignProof Pro... I can’t type them all, but all the merchants are listed here.

    So, are you proposing that we stifle their ability to market themselves as professional sign people?...
     
  3. sarge

    sarge Active Member

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    Skyhigh i am confused .. i may be wrong .. but i have got prices from SW's website and fellars all you have to do is call them .. isnt that is the same with SW .. i am just saying this more out load then anything else .. i normally dont get involved with buying stuff .. i just say get it .. but here is a deal about the wholesalers .. are they the bad guys as well cuz they will beat the other guy in pricing?
     
  4. vid

    vid Very Active Member

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    Sorry to see you've abandoned your enthusiasm for the forum.
     
  5. iSign

    iSign Major Contributor

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    no, they are only bad guys if your lifelong established sign company was going to get a digitally printed banner for $3 a foot, so you could sell it to your next door neighbor for $8 a foot... until the neighbor finds the same wholesaler to sell her the PTA Christmas banner she needs for $3 a foot, and you not only lose a sale, but have an irate customer bad mouthing you for price gouging.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2008
  6. Bradster941

    Bradster941 Very Active Member

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    To address this point about the Merchant Members, then a simple solution, if the software will allow it, is to Not have the Banner Ads etc. appear to anyone that is not a registered member and for those who do register, not have the Ads appear until after the first 5 log ons.


    .
     
  7. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    Doug, no question that this site is a great place....lets start off with that.

    While we didn't get everything some of us thought we were going to get for our $50, we did get a lot of what we were after, and in my opinion what we got is worth the $50 a year.

    What exactly did you get besides the title CM? While a CM can post in a premium section and discuss price (hiding as you call it), did it really help when others are not?

    Skyhigh, maybe the real question is who is paying for signs101, and for that question, BOTH of 2 categories of members are paying the bills here, and the lion's share is covered by the group that is helped, not harmed by exposing prices. We pick up the smaller share.

    No arguement with what your saying.... nor am I trying to say anything derogatory about the site....but, it is what it is (IMO), a "free enterprise internet site" rather than the "Professionals sign forum" that it was before. Does that change the value of the information here? Absolutely not. Does it change how I interact here? Probably so.

    Actually my thinking is not too far off from yours. I would pay substantially more, but NOT when those that DON'T contribute (regular members) are allowed to undermine my principles for which I paid to uphold (or which I thought I was paying for)...and MM that don't play by the same rules as the wholesalers I mentioned above.


    Doug, I did post a link to the thread you asked about. What was your thinking? Also, you didn't answer my question about the wholesalers and "hiding" their prices.
     
  8. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    Pull your foot out anytime there buddy. :ROFLMAO:
    (you can add, right?)

    As of this posting, its 66-62.... NOT in my favor.



     
  9. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    you stifle my ability to talk religion in an open forum.....

    What I'm saying is, there are rules no matter where you go.

    Would you be stifling their marketing abilities if you didn't let your competitor post a business card at your front counter??? I guess so.

    Last I looked, this WAS a Professional forum, not the friggin yellow pages.
     
  10. iSign

    iSign Major Contributor

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    As has been mentioned numerous times, as I'm sure you are well aware, there are at least 2 if not more issues being discussed here.

    Regarding the protection of anyone visiting this site ever getting a look at any pricing, by anyone, that is not as big of a concern to me as it is to others. However, if it was packaged with the right trade-offs (cost/benefit) I might be swayed to vote with you.

    A second issue seems to be the discussion of retail pricing, which gets responses ranging from "who cares, it's different all over", to "why help them hobbyist cut-throat *&^%#!'s"...

    ...so, as to your question "...did it really help..." on the two parts of this question I just identified, no it didn't solve those concerns. If exposing price info is a bad thing, is exposing MORE pricing a worse thing? Is exposing LESS pricing a better thing? I don't know, so I'll concede the point that the CM investment did not help those concerns at all.

    ...so, for the other part of the question "What exactly did you get"

    Well, the quoted section of my post preceeding this question was address to Mike as a response to his most recent post at that time, where he said:

    I don't know if he really mean NHB, or just the Premium forums, but to me it address's the one area that I feel we did get something of value, && I tried to identify an example of where I think that value delivers specifically to part of what Mike wants out of a Premium forum.

    Besides the 2 areas of concerns identified above, and agreeably not solved by the current Premium forum policies, a 3rd area where I feel we did "get" a ROI as a CM, is in having place to speak about our specific prices or customers, where those specific customers will never see what we wrote unless they lie their way into a signshop subscription to signs101. This is why I recounted the awkward situation where a client told me he found my posts about his company. Over the years, I have read several other posts where clients have read things on-line that they were not intended to see. Now we have some protection against that, should we choose to post accordingly.


    This is the first I've realized that anyone feels that we have lost something. I thought the only gripe was to have invested in a subscription, and not gained all that we hoped to gain. How was the forum more of a "Professionals sign forum" before, and when did that change? (when is "before")


    Agreed! And in my not entirely hypothetical scenario... (if I remember correctly, Fred actually mentioned a preference to this type of arrangement when his discussion of a new Signs101 Business model first came up) ...the forum would be ALL pay-to-play, so those that don't contribute wouldn't be able to undermine anything on this site, as they wouldn't be on this site any longer.


    Thanks for the link. I read a bit, but there was a lot there. I remember going to 3 or c or whatever you said. I don't recall having the same perception of policy that you did, but once again, it has never been as important of an issue to me, as to others, so for that reason I may not have really tried to figure out what exactly the changes would be, and instead turned my attention to whatever was of more concern to me at that time.

    Ask me the question again & I'll answer it. I couldn't find it.
     
  11. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Olympia, WA
    My management style is to attempt to provide solutions to the few without harming the many. That is why the No Holds Barred forums were created where you can talk religion or politics or anything you like with little intervention ... but also with no disruption to the experience of all those who come here to talk signs.

    It is neither. That choice was put forth in May in THIS POLLING THREAD where it was discussed at length and then soundly defeated. The issues of privacy, which were a large part of that discussion, were addressed with the creation of the premium forums ... which also included the moving of the Sales, Marketing and Pricing forum to that area. This was primarily an issue of retail pricing discussion. I do not recall any discussion of publishing of wholesale pricing in open forums and nothing about the premium forums was ever intended to address anything about wholesale price announcements as advertising.

    If Signs 101 uses a business model like something else, it is like a print publication for the trade. I know of no rules at Signcraft, Sign Business, Signs of the Times and others that in any way governs whether or not I can display aggressive prices to attract business.

    What has been done here at Signs 101 is for Stacy and I to screen new registrations more aggressively. We not only ask a lot of extra questions but also run IP lookups and compare for spammers and banned member attempting to rejoin. Our stated policy is that Signs 101 is a forum for professional sign makers and those who want to be. That results in our rejecting two or three registrations a day out of the roughly 20 a day we process. Our efforts have made Signs 101's membership a higher ratio of "professionals" which by my definition means that one makes signs for others and receives payment for it.

    My feeling is that you may have picked up some notion from the discussion of Signs 101 going to a "smaller, higher quality forum" and transposed them into an expectation that was never adopted.

    In summary, the changes that took place were to provide a privacy option to those to whom it was important. Retail price discussions were encouraged to take place in the private, premium forums but were never prohibited from discussion in the open forums. Price announcements from authorized merchants at Signs 101 were never part of our rules and we have never regulated them or even discussed them until LowenDirect came along.
     
  12. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    All this over pricing but some are failing to see something, a lot of times we are telling people why they should charge more when they come up with low ball quotes. A customer will most likely come away with an opinion that our profit margins are pretty low just as much as they think we are raking in the big bucks. Most people who want to talk pricing will not be paying the 50 bucks. The 50 bucks is not the issue, I have been giving sign advice for free for nearly 10 years as many others on this site have been doing. In my experience, customers who deal with price only will always go low ball and they will always find it cheaper. Them knowing our actual profit margins (which ain't much) is not going to hurt anyone and in fact may help with arguing that you have to make a living at this too.

    By the way this site, like most sign sites, will probably always be a mixture or sign pros, newbies and part-timers. It would be pretty boring if it was just pros who shelled out 50 bucks. We give out valuable information all the time. What sparked this was a 3 buck a square foot digital printer who has a huge retail company behind it... he is not the only one charging that and it should probably give you an idea where digital printing is going. We have weekly request of newbies purchasing a digital printer... like vinyl cutting was 10 years ago, digital print is now entry level. Digital printing is not the sign industry, we just happen to have quite a few here that do it. What you all are going to have to learn is that any monkey with only a brain stem and credit can press print, and laminate, it takes hard work to sell, design and install it. and thats what we are getting paid for.

    I thought the 50 bucks was to pay for running the site which has gotten to be a very time consuming thing for Fred. the reason for the sites success is the flow of information. We may be stifling that flow and growth more if we start limiting more access.

    As with any stale mate there needs to be a compromise, those not able to do that can go on their marry way, I am sure Fred will make the best decision possible.
     
  13. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    Good Point! Definately a plus over the pre-premium days.
    I find myself posting more examples of work, & retail pricing, where as I avoided that before.
    :toasting:
     
  14. Rick

    Rick Certified Enneadecagon Designer

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    This is where I am paranoid, I don't worry about clients seeing me post work, it's sign shops who are trolling for work that will contact a client. I usually post work after the work is started or completed.
     
  15. vid

    vid Very Active Member

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    I'm either interpreting the results too literal or too liberal.
    39.73% for the restriction holds the majority of opinion on the question.

    or

    Your math: 66-62, BUT THERE'S THAT 18 DON"T CARE..... 66-80.

    As the thread has progressed, better arguments for restriction have been stated since the voting has begun. Personally, I wouldn't count out some change of mind votes. In any case, it's my feeling there's enough doubt ...heck, just the idea that most everyone despises spam advertising would win a lot of hearts.

    skyhigh, I'm not stomping your opinion. I'm encouraging anyone to develop a fair and reasonable plan for advertisers to pitch their wares. ...or a plan that generates enough CM participation to fund Signs 101 without MMs.

    One idea might be to cease the MM option and call it a Sponsor Membership. Reduce the cost and offer only a rotating banner with logo and tagline for a fee... I dunno. That's going to depend on the membership and how it votes with its dollars.

    Signs 101 members have never been shy about taking a vendor to task. From that perspective a "preferred vendor" could be a very strong partner in the forum offering discounts to Premium Members, only.

    There are 8 new members today. Who's to say one of them isn't a lowend supplier, or, the next generous contributor to the forum. I dunno. But, I don't believe it's good sport to lock everyone out. For the forum to maintain it's existance and grow, IMO, it needs to offer a taste of professional opinion on the sign industry. Otherwise, I'd think it'd become an elitist "franchise" of thought and function.

    Finally, as Rick points out, price discussions also reveal the value of signs beyond the cost of materials. That's important for a customer/lurker/noob to understand. That's another reason I'm have a difficult time with this topic...






    As long as we're at it, we might as well point out where someone might get more information on becoming a Premium Member --- here.
     
  16. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    Here's where the problem lies.

    Signs101 is not like a print publication. Signcraft magazine 99.999% of the time only finds it way into the hands of the sign professional.

    Anyone with a computer and the internet (lets just say EVERYONE for the sake of arguement), only needs to do a search for banners, coro, wraps or just plain "signs" will undoubtly get a link to signs101 on that list. The more polular s101 gets, the closer to the top of the list they are.

    I would tend to think, if MM were only allowed to post wholesale pricing in the premium sections, you would have a rush of members who pony up to get that info. (a win win)

    Thanks for keeping an open mind Fred. :toasting:
     
  17. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    Thats because your a "class act", and a gentleman.

    Thanks for your spin on things.

    That wouldn't happen....would it? Now you have me paranoid.
    Rick, have you ever known that to actually happen?
     
  18. iSign

    iSign Major Contributor

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    Surely you're joking right?
    The same guy who points out that a MM advertising their name alone, is cause enough for the interested buyer to pick up the phone, or click on their web link... and now you have the interested buyer sending in a paypal subscription fee instead, just so they can read the price here on the Premium forums, instead of option A or B :help

    no ****... us being here is why they are here, but still, money talks bullshit walks... and someone has to pay the bills. Take away some of what MM's get for their money, and expect some of that money to dissappear!

    like I said in the second post on this thread:

     
  19. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    It's the closest cousin I can think of. Signcraft for example is sold in art supply stores all over the place and has the highest "pass around" numbers of any trade journal. In addition, nearly all of the trade journals have gone over to electronic versions that can be read without restriction by anyone with internet access. They all are seeking advertising dollars by providing the largest readership they can. And they have no incentive whatsoever to limit their readership to sign professionals.

    If that doesn't suit you, then consider most of the other sign forums who largely feature unmonitored forums or, if monitored, don't spend much time telling their advertisers what they can and cannot say in their advertising.

    Oh boy is your memory or available information running on empty. Inkfish generated more complaints than any merchant other than Lowen and RapidTac. He was rude as often as not and even stood accused of stealing accounts.

    Bottom line ... you or anyone else is invited to submit a comprehensive, written plan for the rule changes you would like to see implemented. If you choose to do so, be prepared to deal with back and forth Q & A. As I stated back in May, I was willing to make Signs 101 a smaller, higher quality forum, supported by paid membership. So I'm not opposed to a change in the business model that would better tie in with your ideas. Unfortunately, 72% of those who cast a vote at that time were opposed.

    So until such time as the sign company owners decide in large numbers to financially support the operations of Signs 101, we will continue to accept merchant subscribers and banner advertising while providing an audience that is sufficient to attract their dollars.

    I will make a rare reference to Dave Darlak and his Signs 201 adventure. He felt like he had answers that were different and better than mine to forum issues he cared about. So he opened a competing forum and used the back channels here to get about 250 members after two or three months. The actual results of his thinking resulted in a forum that rarely discussed sign making, had a higher percentage of banned members to total members than we have here after five years, and closed for whatever the reasons ... which I suspect was his own lack of willingness to actually do the work of managing and moderating a forum.

    My point is that you have a viewpoint and toss out ideas to support it that are largely based on the limited information available to you which is incomplete and partially erroneous. If you had been a co-admin for the last five years sharing the work, you would never entertain them in your own mind much less propose them as changes we should make.

    I respect your viewpoint and the time you've taken to express yourself. Please respect my experience and caring for Signs 101 in the choices in make in managing its operations.
     
  20. skyhigh

    skyhigh Major Contributor

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    Just throwing some things out there for discussion.:thumb:
     
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