ethanbeute

Marketing | Environment | Culture

Tag: business (page 2 of 2)

If You Can’t Keep People in the Seats, What Good Is The Game?

You can build the stadium, field a team, schedule the game, arrange concessions, and sell corporate sponsorships, but if you can’t keep fans in the seats all season, season after season, what good is the game?

Answer: if it doesn’t work for the audience, it doesn’t work for anyone.

empty, chairs, crowd, audience

If you can't keep people in the seats, what good is the game? (Image from: theemptystadium.blogspot.com)

I received an email from a colleague at the office alerting me to a new offering from a competitor.  The offering’s a new website; its url alone was enough to inspire this post.  I’ll go straight to my take.

There are three primary stakeholders here: the website users, the advertisers on the site, and the company building, running, promoting, and selling the site.

This is the list stakeholders who were considered in rank order: the company themselves, their advertisers.  It’s a basic selling orientation, rather than a proper customer orientation.

The website, KRDO.biz, is a combination directory, deals, and portal site from a local television station.  Established competitors in this space include Google, Groupon, Craigslist, DexYellowPages, SuperPages, and dozens of others.  And that’s to say nothing of all the local and regional competitors with similar offerings, especially in the deals space.  The market’s saturated – both for audience and for advertisers.

It immediately reminded me of a site they offered up and backed with tens of thousands of dollars in local television advertising inventory a couple years ago, GColorado.com, a local classifieds site.  A visit to that site today is similar to, but far less interesting than visiting a ghost town.  There’s absolutely nothing on offer in most of the categories.  In the common “Cars for Sale,” there are three cars.  More importantly, there’s nothing the site offers that Craigslist didn’t bring to this market nearly a decade ago.

The problem: neither of these sites meets an unserved or underserved market need, solves a problem, makes something easier, delights or entertains, or provides anything unique or new.  A television ad may motivate you to visit (that’s a stretch, I know), but a tired initial experience won’t bring you back.  I would also add that the other audience – the advertisers – does not really have anything new in this offering, either.

Instead, the sites fit these criteria: we can definitely build it and we’re pretty sure we can sell it to advertisers.

The website users, of course, are absolutely critical to long term success.  Even in the short term, though, their interests supersede those of the two other stakeholders.  Yet they feel ignored in both of these offerings.

If there’s no sustained traffic, the sites will slowly die, as advertising contracts fail to get renewed.  I don’t know what the fate of the directory/deals/portal will be, but the classifieds site was DOA and never found its pulse.

Entirely Different Angle

Would the same people who are building, selling, and marketing this site invest in it the project with their own money?  Would they sacrifice their employment within the television operation to dedicate themselves to it exclusively?  If so, there’s more at play here than I’ve observed.  If not, then to whom does the offering seem viable?

Qualifier

My purpose here is not to denigrate a competitor.  They’re not alone in their approach; this is certainly happening everywhere all the time.  Bonus points do go to them for trying to open up new streams of revenue from non-television sources.  And it’s not like I or the local television operation in whose employ I remain for a few weeks is aggressively and insightfully innovating online (on the upside, we remain focused on continuing to be the top-billing station and most-watched news product in the market).

Admittedly – and finally – there may be more at play than I’ve observed (I hope there is).  It’s not like I’m on a “explain your underlying strategy to me” or “describe for me the finer points and assumptions of your business model” basis with these people.  If the site finds success, I’ll stand corrected and be served my own foot.

The Bottom Line

For whom did you build your product or design your offering?  If it’s not for a stakeholder necessary for long term success, it’s time to double back, review, and take another go at it.  Or … what good is the game if you can’t keep people in the seats?

Click here for an excellent overview of a successful local media company.

 

 

Naming Your Business: Mix and Match for a Perfectly Generic Name

You’re welcome in advance for this one.

Naming your business can be challenging.  Do you use your name?  Do you include explicitly the kind of business it is?  Is it more abstract and evocative?

For your next cemetery, golf course, apartment complex, condo development, housing subdivision, retirement home (err … senior living center) or any of a handful of other business ventures, just mix and match the words below into pairs.

Obviously, I’m devoting insufficient time to this blog.  Not only should there be more posts more often, this list should have been produced as an infographic or – better yet – a little interactive program.  Regardless, your generic name awaits!

sign, business name, generic name, name game, naming your business

Your generic business name does not belong in such a beautiful place.

ALL-PURPOSE (can be used as first or second word in your name)

Hill(s)

Meadow(s)

Willow(s)

Pine(s)

Forest

Park

Glen

Aspen

Grove

Hollow

Valley

Wood(s)

Pebble

Boulder

Canyon

Farm(s)

Gable(s)

Garden(s)

Cove

Creek

Stream

Lake(s)

Spring(s)

Spring (season)

Winter

 

ONLY TO START (can only be used as first word your name)

Whispering

Rolling

Running

Flying

Thundering (use with caution)

Bear, Fox, Deer or other animal (bonus: need not be regionally appropriate!)

 

ONLY TO END (should only be used as the second of the two words in your name)

Crossing(s)

Run

Manor

Estate(s)

Terrace

Plural of any of the all-purpose words

 

Have you been to that new golf course Boulder Terrace!?  Have you visited my new apartment at Whispering Pines!?  Did she just buy the last home in Fox Valley!?  Is your grandfather buried at Forest Glen!?

Again, you’re welcome.

I have certainly missed some of the wonderfully generic words available.  Please use the comment section to:

a) add more words (and qualify them if necessary) and/or

b) add more business ventures for which this mix+match is appropriate

As always, thanks for visiting and for reading.  Disclaimer: I do not advocate for generic naming of businesses.

 

Who Trumps How Many: This Week in Startups with Jason Calacanis

Earlier, in my brief examination of social whoring, I included a mention of “who” being more important than “how many.”  The basic idea: 10 Twitter followers truly locked in to you – your persona, your concept, your product, your service or your brand – are more valuable than 1,000 followers who are just hanging on for the follow-back.  Not genius, but fundamental and oft overlooked.

For several  months, I’ve been watching This Week In Startups with Jason Calacanis.  This morning, I realized that a) I should bring this excellent, entertaining production to your attention and b) it perfectly illustrates the idea.

Regarding TWiST itself: It’s a YouTube channel under the This Week In web TV network.  It’s a round table format about – obviously – startup companies, entrepreneurship, venture capital, angel investing, founders, CEOs, etc.

Guests have included Gary Vaynerchuk, Groupon founder Andrew Mason, David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals, the founding developer of WordPress, the director of search at Bing, the founder and CEO of Gowalla, the founder and CEO of EventBrite and more than a hundred others.  Themed segments and episodes include Shark Tank (very frequent, idea pitch and judgment), Founders Roundtable, Global Meetups and more.

Regarding who versus how many: Dozens of the episodes (of which there are 120 or so) have fewer than 100 views.  Most have views in the 100-1,000 range.  A handful of views are in the 2,000+ range.  Total subscribers … 402.  Note: this does NOT take into account the live audience of each show.

A traditional take on these kinds of numbers – unimpressive.  A local television station provides 2,000 simultaneous views for even poorly-watched programs.  Though insanely inane, other YouTube channels have far greater reach – like ShaneDawsonTV2 with 250,000,000+ video views and 1,600,000+ subscribers.

So how do Calacanis and company land sponsorship from leading software companies like email service provider Mail Chimp?  (Note: my ESP of choice is BombBomb, who’s putting video inside the inbox).  Those few hundred subscribers and few thousand viewers represent a tight, high quality community of entrepreneurs, tech/web people, investors and financiers.  It’s probably as dense a concentration of these types as you can reach.

I guarantee that buy isn’t on an old school cost per thousand basis.  I’d also bet that if you looked at the sponsorship (however it’s structured) on a CPM basis, the CPM would be astronomical compared to most online buys.  There’s a premium on concentrations of smart, shrewd, softwarey people.  Yes, I made that last adjective up.

The point?  Sure, more viewers and subscribers would be good for TWiST, but who makes up that audience is far more important than how many there are.

Here’s an embed of a recent episode with Tony Conrad, co-founder of About.Me (sold to AOL for $800M four days after launch) among many other projects and successes.  If for no other reason, you should watch this to learn how the About.Me team lined up that killer url – obviously a fundamental piece of their overall strategy.

More on Jason Calacanis on Wikipedia.
Follow Jason Calacanis on Twitter.
Check out my About.Me page.

Gary Vaynerchuk on Being a Good Human

Reading “Crush It!” set me on a short course of watching some of Gary Vaynerchuk‘s live presentations and interviews.  This one, from RailsConf 2010, was one of the more comprehensive in terms of conveying who he is, what he’s about and what he’s currently thinking and doing (though it’s from June).

I posted it to my Facebook page, but it got no likes or comments.  I get it – you had no idea what it was about and didn’t want to bite off an hour of the mystery behind door number 2.  So, I decided here to provide multiple in-points to encourage some viewing.  Find your topic and jump in wherever you’d like.

A few notes off the top: Ruby on Rails is a web app framework developed by 37signals.  This gives the conference its name; it’s a Ruby developers conference.  Vaynerchuck refers to “freed” and “DHH” a few times.  These are the leaders of 37signals, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  (Read my short review of their book Rework here).

Though he’s speaking to a group of developers, it’s a talk – plus a great Q&A session – about marketing, branding, social media and general business.  The guy really loves life and loves people, so it transcends these topics regularly.  In this way, it moves toward life, philosophy and being a good human.

Here are your in-points:

2:00    Family emigration from Belarus to US

3:35    Entrepreneurial start (lemonade stands and baseball cards)

4:40    Doing awesome – 13 year old with six grand under his bed

5:40    Goonies reference

7:10    Collecting wine = collecting baseball cards

7:50    Brand damage from being part of co-op/franchise

11:45  Finding happiness in community

12:30  Getting repped by CAA

13:15  New book: “The Thank You Economy”

14:50  Building long-term, real relationships, beating competitors on culture (Zappos/Amazon)

16:40  Consulting with big companies, trying to help them get in on conversations

17:40  If one person follows you, you should be ridiculously thankful

18:10  Riff: “If I get a hundred more followers, I’ll donate $100 to Haiti”

19:30  Shout out to his great, great grandchild (writing your legacy right now)

22:00  Becoming self-aware, showing people who you are

22:45  Huge Twitter fail

23:50  Work your face off, be thankful, have gratitude

25:40  Gatekeepers controlled the game forever, now lost the keys, we can go direct to consumers

26:50  Freemium debate, app culture opens the door to begin charging

28:30  Q&A starts

31:20  Why it’s difficult to impossible right now for big companies participating sincerely in online conversations

34:15  Killing on cost effectiveness of traditional media – outdoor, print, TV, “Don’t even get me started on fucking Nielsen”

37:00  Why our elders are more properly positioned to be successful in 2012 and beyond

39:30  Rework and Crush It book deal customer, nice story of community support – results in a hug at 41:10

42:15  “It was very tea and rock climbing in 2006”

42:40  Why he’s going to jail soon

44:00  Who’s trying harder than him (hint: no one)

44:50  Quoting Jay-Z

45:30  Customer complaints as a gift – results in kiss at 45:50

47:10  Why the corporate game is built not to do this

49:00  Why you need to taste things

49:30  Rocky 4 winter training reference

50:30  Why he loves old people and what matters to them

51:30  Revisiting freemium debate

53:40  Why he’s backing off speaking

55:40  Overlooking the good in favor of the bad

56:40  The “shark and hippo thing”

1:00:20  Why he showed someone his tax returns at Starbucks

1:02:10  “I’m bullish on human beings”

Here is the video, compliments of O’Reilly Media by way of YouTube:


Rework by 37signals: Setting Conventional Wisdom Ablaze

16 employees in 8 different cities on 2 different continents serving more than 5 million customers, including some of the world’s biggest brands.  How do 37signals do it?  They’re really eager to tell you.

Before I take on their book, I’ll give you a sense of the company, which exists almost completely online.  They design web-based software to that helps you run your small group or business.  The table below, including the names and images of each offering, is as stylish and clear as the book.  This product/service line was developed for their own use; they run their company on their own applications.

37 signals, basecamp, campfire, highrise, backpack, software, online, SaaS

The software offerings of 37signals.

Back to “really eager to tell you” … from the 37signals perspective, teaching is marketing.  That’s a perspective about which I want to learn more.  Of course, they’re really eager to teach me.

In addition to countless interviews, speeches and presentations – many of which are available online (here or here) – founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, along with several other members of the crew, put together a couple books.  I’ve read only one of them; this is my review.

Rework is their go at a “general business” book.  In it, 37signals explain how they do what they do – how they built and how they run their business.  I won’t belabor it in detail, since there’s already several tons of love and press about this publication.

In short, they set ablaze conventional wisdom about how business “needs to” or “should” be done.  Instead, common sense is put on its proper pedestal.  Meetings waste time.  Interruptions slay productivity.  Resumes are ridiculous.  Press releases are spam.  More features do not a better product make.  And on …

Though the hardcover contains 270+ pages, the layout and style make for a very quick read and begs for a re-read.  There are loads of wonderful illustrations accompanying each “verse,” which vary in length from three or four paragraphs to a page or two.  Each verse is one of maybe a half dozen pieces that make up a chapter.

It makes sense that Seth Godin’s endorsement stripes the top of the cover.  Rework is a collection of short essays as efficient as Godin’s blog posts.  An idea is introduced, supported by an example or two, then wrapped up.  The lessons are communicated so cleanly that they seem overwhelmingly obvious.  The writing is so straightforward and clear that these essays read in sequence as a series of punches.

As a sample, here’s the lead from the “Speed Changes Everything” verse from the “Damage Control” chapter:

‘Your call is very important to us.  We appreciate your patience.  The average hold time right now is sixteen minutes.’  Give me a fucking break.

As you might expect of a book that torches conventional wisdom about hiring, PR and marketing, growth, culture, management, venture capital and so much more, Rework is irreverent and refreshing.

Needless to say, I recommend the book highly – especially for those with an entrepreneurial bent.  Really, though, it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the structure and running of an organization.  For no other reason, you should read it for the gentle, but meaningful open-hand slap to the face it’ll give you about what’s happening in your day-to-day worklife.

I may write a couple follow-up posts about how the book functions as marketing and manifesto for the 37signals community and about the other companies 37signals name checks as illustrations of their points.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this interview of Jason Fried from O’Reilly Media:

Also, here’s a link to the 37signals “about us” page with company history, executive team profiles, statement of beliefs and more.

Happy 5th Birthday, Here’s Your URL!

Chalk Flood

This 4-year-old’s name is Ethan Beute.  He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  This photo of him was published to the Grand Rapids Press website earlier this year.

Coincidentally, my name is Ethan Beute and I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan for at least 20 years of my life.  I would add that he looks a little bit like I did as a child.

The day a friend of mine posted this as a link on my Facebook page, I knew I had to buy ethanbeute.com.  What parent of an Ethan Beute wouldn’t want to give his or her child ownership rights to  “ethanbeute.com” as a fifth birthday gift!?  A stretch, I know, but I didn’t want to risk it.

With regard to my surname, my wife and I were the only “Beute” in the Chicago phone book for the 4 years we lived there.  When I witnessed a child with my name living in my hometown, however, I knew that I had to claim my online real estate immediately.

I’m Ethan Beute on Facebook and LinkedIn.  I’m ethanbeute on Twitter and Flickr.  As a natural extension of my personal brand, ethanbeute.com is the only way to go.

Claiming a url is a simple process; my technical knowledge and skills are limited, yet I had no problem doing it.  I used GoDaddy.com and paid $10/year for the rights.  I set it up to redirect to this blog site.

I have no idea where all this is going – and by “all this” I mean life online in a very general sense.  I do know that I need to be easily found online.  This online presence is necessary if I’m to have any future in promotion, marketing, and branding.

Recommendation: consider your personal brand.  As a primer, here’s a years-old article from Fast Company (1997!) from the exceptional business mind of Tom Peters (yes, that’s a link to tompeters.com).

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