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Just Ask, Part 6

Picture Frame with BogartTalk about “framing an opportunity” — here’s an idea about limiting your exposure while opening up the opportunity for plenty of upside…

Welcome back to my series on “Just ASK!” — a collection of real world experiences where “just ask” was at the heart of the success.

Just ask for what you want even if it sounds outrageous or an overreach. Ignore the naysayers and your inner self who fears failure or rejection. Your chances for success are directly related to your knowledge of the person, company, and industry you are asking and your offer of something of value to them, which is based on this knowledge. Please check back each week and I will share more true stories that prove how this principle has worked time and time again.


The Ask

A license from Time magazine to sell picture frames titled Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, and Baby of the Year so that when the consumer put a picture in the frame, it would appear that the person was on the cover of Time with one of the three above designations. As part of the license agreement, Time would provide us with free ads where we could list retailers that were selling the frames. There would be no royalty guarantees or advances.


I noticed that Time had been selling these frames in small black and white ads as a mail order item as filler ads when they were closing an edition and had unsold space. I had a prior relationship with the circulation manager of Time who told me these ads did well.

The Knowledge

* When thinking of potential customers, they think of impressions.
* They do very little licensing.
* Most often they do not sell all the available space in an issue of their magazine.
* Retailers of all stripes are more apt to buy your product if their name is listed in a national magazine as carrying the product advertised, with no cost to the retailer.

The Offer

A license to sell these frames in major retailers in the US. The frames would then be prominently and permanently displayed in the consumer’s home who bought them. A major brand builder for Time. It would also offer them incremental income. No minimum guarantee or advance on royalty. As part of the contract, the magazine gave us free ads where we listed prominent retailers who were buying the frames.

The Result

The trade in every channel of distribution loved the idea and bought in. This led us to get other magazine frame licenses on the same basis with leaders in their genre like Golf, Sports Illustrated, Field & Stream, Modern Bride, Bon Appetit, Cosmopolitan, Life, and Playboy. I partnered with a frame company, and we sold around $2,000,000 in initial orders with absolutely no reorders. An item that generated great trade enthusiasm but was a failure.

Photo Credit