Down to Business with Tony Pytlak, President/COO at SFG, LLC
Describe what you do and how you can help AAMP members.
We offer AAMP members an all-in-one solution that combines our flexible and scalable order management system, FlexOMSTM, with our integrated operational services, FlexOpsTM. Combining FlexOMSTM + FlexOpsTM supports the many new ways in which companies transact with their customers – as well as the more traditional types of support like customer care, printing and lettershop, mail processing, back issue fulfillment, etc. As AAMP members extend their brands using multiple business models, SFG can help them create a seamless customer experience across all their models in one location and in one system.
What is the profile of your typical client?
The typical SFG media publishing partner (we consider our clients “partners”) is a forward thinking, innovative publisher who is looking for the advantages of a technology-focused provider that can anticipate and innovate in tune with the changing market. Our partners are looking for great ways to extend their brand by applying business intelligence to their marketing efforts or adding new programs such as membership, donations, products, or subscription boxes to its media content.
What is the biggest challenge your clients are facing in 2020, and how are you able to help them over the hurdles?
COVID-19’s takeover of 2020 is raising the stakes for all media publishers. Some our partners’ marketing efforts are actually doing better than anticipated so far this year, probably in response to stay-at-home orders. However, some publishers are facing circulation decline and the proliferation of free information online. SFG’s technology and support of a wide selection of programs has helped some of our partners implement quick tests of new business models, including:
- switch to or test into a membership-based model
- expand into new product sales or new packages of existing products
- begin taking donations
All of this is supported by SFG’s real-time system backed by our truly relational database, designed with the customer at the center.
What new and exciting services and/or technology are you working on?
Later this summer we are launching SFG’s FlexPage™ System 2.0. The original FlexPage™ System allows our partners to design their own online/mobile order pages on the fly within minutes, but FlexPage™ System 2.0 adds the capability of combining multiple business model offerings on a single order page. Imagine the power of offering print and/or digital magazine subscriptions, products, subscription boxes, memberships, donations, or any combination to your customer in a single order page and transaction – and designing and launching it within minutes!
In addition, our list of secure application programming interfaces (APIs) continues to grow, enabling us to respond to customers in real time, no matter where the data resides.
What is your favorite kind of pizza?
I grew up in the Chicago area, where deep dish pizza reigns supreme, and Lou Malnati’s Pizza is a Chicagoland legend. My favorite pizza is The Malnati Chicago Classic, made with Lou’s lean sausage, some extra cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce on buttercrust, with pepperoni added.
Down to Business with…ESP
As most of you know by now, we are not able to hold the AAMP Conference 2020 this year due to the ongoing pandemic. However, our vendors are still a vital part of our organization, and we would like to keep you in touch with them throughout the year. In each e-newsletter, we will spotlight one of our vendors and what they can do for you. So without further ado, we bring you Stefan Beeli, newly-promoted CEO of Enterprise Subscription Processing (ESP)….
STEFAN BEELI, ESP
AAMP: Describe what ESP does and how you can help AAMP members.
STEFAN: At ESP, we pride ourselves in being a full-service and versatile fulfillment provider with a full suite of circulation and data services required for subscription, membership and product fulfillment. Our detailed and flexible database allows us to cater to both B2B publishers as well as the larger B2C conglomerates. In short, we provide all the services required for subscription fulfillment, from soup-to-nuts. (SEE MORE….)
From real-time data entry, file uploads, order processing, and customer service, ESP maintains an integrated, detailed, and comprehensive view of your customers. We can customize a fulfillment system for you, including product fulfillment. So yeah – we can help you with all of that.
AAMP: What is the profile of the typical client at ESP?
STEFAN: We have a diverse portfolio of B2B and B2C clients ranging from small to mid-size publishers, many with several titles and related products. Quite a few of them derive a large portion of their revenue from subscriptions instead of advertising, so at ESP, we pay special attention to paid subscriptions. In fact, our very first customer was an audited B2B publication with a daily frequency and a remarkably high subscription price. The demanding requirements of that first customer enabled us to create a responsive system that works well for both paid and controlled titles.
AAMP: What is the biggest challenge your clients are facing in 2020, and how are you able to help them over the hurdles?
STEFAN: Right now, clients are concerned about protecting subscription revenue, engaging and retaining their audience, and staying relevant in our ever-changing digital world. We provide the services to keep those subscribers on file, the reporting that shows you how your retention efforts and new customer promotions are working, and the programming services that work with all your 3rd party vendors. We know publishers aren’t just using one service – they’re using a plethora of different marketing, sales, and CRM tools to stay current and move ahead of the competition. Our easy web hooks and seamless API services turn what used to be a nightmare for some into a comprehensive, cohesive, and straightforward integration.
AAMP: What new and exciting services and/or technology are you working on?
STEFAN: Our dynamic development team has been customizing software to allow our clients to leverage some of the web’s open source packages to take advantage of things like customized AI chatbots, interactive digital editions, and multi-tenant custom product stores with shipment from multiple warehouses. We’ve also been working on a pilot project with WordPress to create plug-ins for our clients. For our smaller clients, we will be able to offer a custom solution that allows them to host their content and have full access and control of the design, layout, and look of their subscription pages simply by using the ESP fulfillment plugin, complete with gatekeeping and all the other bells and whistles that come with WordPress.
AAMP: And last but certainly not least, what is your favorite kind of pizza?
STEFAN: I’m a glutton. My favorite kind of pizza is a thin crust with lots of stuff on it. Sausage, bell peppers, pepperoni, onions, jalapenos, you name it, even anchovies and – horrors – pineapple. (EDITORIAL OPINION: Fruit was not meant to go on pizza. Ever.)