ethanbeute

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Tag: software

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.

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.

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