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Meet Vee Banionis – Flip180 Leads Remote Design Production for Niche Periodical Publishers

Today we have selected Vee Banionis to take his interview. He is the CEO of Flip180media.

First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?

Thanks for the opportunity for the interview. Yes, it’s been tough out there recently. We feel the pain out there about COVID-19. It has affected so many people both in and outside of our industry. I think we’ve had it easier than many because we’re accustomed to the remote work model. 

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined this company?

I started Flip180 after having been a co-founder for a digital marketing agency for several years. When I sold my stake, I became a consultant for a time (who is better than a co-founder). I planned for my next company, and then I saw the opportunity within the periodical industry — specifically magazine publishers.

Specifically, I saw that while print magazine editions might no longer be a growth area, digital magazine publishing was becoming one due to the increase in digital media consumption with the new generation of media heads out there. More people are buying digital magazines today — and are consuming them even more than they consumed print magazines in the past. Digital magazines are actually in a growth stage, and so are magazine publishers (and magazine advertising, for that matter).

How does your company innovate?

We focus on the sore spots of new or understaffed publishers and try to unify what often gets separated in digital magazine website production: layout and cover design, digital marketing, and of course, overall brand cohesion. Today, the brand often suffers in newer magazines as DIY publishing options don’t always make it easy to communicate the brand. Our periodical design services and solutions allow the magazine publisher to skip all of those headaches.

We’re super focused on the brand. We create brand books for some of our new clients and then do their cover and layout, typography, and other issues. Our clients often move on next to try out our digital marketing services, which have also become a strong offering for us — especially for lower-cost organic methods like SEO, email, and CRM, as well as social media marketing — but also for advertising on search and social once the client is ready to ramp up faster.

How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?

COVID-19 has ravaged a lot of the US, just as it has everywhere else, and we’ve tried to be a part of the solution in several ways. I think it’s largely about the digital work mode and the fact that we’ve had a broader outlook on the market from the start with a greater emphasis on digital production methods. That’s allowed us to help publishers during the COVID-19 workplace shutdowns find a remote staffing solution via our Prod Squad™ service, which is geared toward the booming digital periodical industry and print edition design production. 

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

We found that we had fewer lessons to learn than our clients did. They were the ones having to deal with shortages of in-house talent, the general disruption to the in-person aspects of running a magazine office, and cut-backs due to a similar dynamic at the printers.

Keep in mind that some of our clients are publishing print, as well. Not to mention the personal toll on the health and lives of their team members. We’ve heard many COVID stories from our clients, and we try to respond to that reality adequately every day. I know we’re blessed to be doing well and to be able to help our clients through tough times.

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Aside from Prod Squad™,  we also started 360UXto disrupt the automated platform tool space for periodical publishing and help make publishing easier — even in weird times like we’ve been experiencing lately. Our 360UX™ isn’t automated or DIY because we don’t think that can drive professional design results.

Still, at the same time, we make the CMS side easier for publishers to continue to grow their control over issue content in-house. And that’s the value to the publisher: more dynamic options, more speed, and more control while still having a superior issue design and brand representation visually. We’re working to make our 360UX(™) sites easily adaptable to major Google algorithm updates, for example, not just those already happening but those we can anticipate.

360UX™ allows publishers to make their publication issue more consumable and tantalizing in literally any format and situation — something which is not typically available and certainly not at the total level we can provide. From ultra-customizable notification systems to always-logged device cooperation to note-taking and sharing. 360UX™ will work on any commonly-used device on the market today, no matter the iOS (Apple, Android, Google, etc.).

As we’ve seen, COVID-19 doesn’t appear to be over yet:

The Delta variant is mounting an assault on the unvaccinated and many who already are. So, we also introduced a program just for economically depressed cities and towns who’ve been affected by COVID-19 thus far and who will be perhaps in the future. It’s called the Town Life Magazine Program™, completely created and maintained by Flip180 LLC. It allows city planners, city councils, and storefronts on Main St. USA to build back faster using the communicative and promotional power of a digital community magazine that isn’t difficult in terms of cost or work entailed, even when there is no money for such programs and fewer resources to provide leadership on Main St.

We offer a certain initial period and work and hosting for the magazine for free, committing to helping these communities further as they regain traction. We also offer a PDF print-ready edition whenever possible for those who want to take it to the streets and shops to boost recovery times when every bit of help counts.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

They have primarily been other design houses in the past. I think to a large extent, our competitors have also become the automated and DIY solutions, once we came out with 360UX™, because it can replace those DIY solutions by allowing the publisher to have the freedom of a highly usable and versatile CMS while being backed by our own in-house periodical design expertise.

Our magazine publisher clients get the best of both worlds: the professional periodical design on the one hand and a first-class CMS that exceeds all others currently available. We’re 100% committed to making it the best digital periodical platform on the market with all the best media-consumption options and none of the typical past problems or glitches. That’s our goal.

Your final thoughts

I want to invite publishers to take advantage of our 360UX™ service and our ProdSquad™ remote magazine production team when considering how to cope with the pandemic crises. I’d especially like Chamber of Commerce offices of COVID-impacted cities and towns (regardless of size) to consider our Town Life Magazine Program™ to build back better, faster and safer. 

Aside from this program, we always try to work with publishers in whatever ways we can be of use, case by case. We want to support the periodical industry and the small business communities out there, not just our most profitable clients. I think we’ve been blessed, so we want to share that to help Main St. and magazine publishers alike overcome the obstacles and thrive whenever possible.

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