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By Tom Behan

1. American business is learning there is substantial long-term value in long-term relationships with suppliers. The concept where a supplier is considered a trusted employee--one with whom is shared concerns, praise and complaints and with whom there is a stated commitment to ride things out over the long haul.

Prequalify your suppliers; be tough and thorough. Choose the ones you want and then stick it out. Later if you think a supplier's prices are edging up tell them. Tell them you intend to stick with them but you want the price justified. If you think service is slipping, tell them and ask them to rejuvenate the relationship.

2. Everyone in business wants things good, fast and cheap. The reality is that on any given project you can only have TWO of those options. Remember this when you are a buyer and ask yourself what the priority is on any given project. Same thing when you are a seller; ask your customer their order of preference. Sometimes it's an eye opener and sometime it helps you save money later by not re-doing the project (remember the saying? "Never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over").

3. I think newspaper ads can be improved by taking away the borders most contain. Without borders your ad looks bigger, but at no extra cost. It will stand out more, particularly if it's buried with a bunch of others with borders.

Are there problems with borderless ads? Yes. I'm not sure the print media likes them and you do run the risk of being placed next to another borderless ad. That can be a mess. I know. But I still like the visual impact of ads without borders.

4. Here's another newspaper layout trick. Newspapers are always claiming that extra color in your ads makes them better noticed. Agreed. But at an additional cost. So go against the grain. Run your plain old black and white ad, but run it in the full-color portion of the newspaper--the Sunday comics. Great exposure. Great impact. Usually the same price.

5. Double your mileage with a compliment. Tell the person directly when something nice happens, but also drop a note to that person's boss. EVERYBODY wins that way.


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