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Advertisers Beware: 2013 Is the Worst Year in Traditional TV’s History


The past 12 months have made up the worst year in traditional TV’s history. Advertisers need to be wary of TV as a primary marketing channel, and may need to invest in other marketing channels to reach younger crowds.


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by Fausto Mendez / graph & data by The Atlantic, Quartz (Ritchie King), Moffett Research, Netflix

    If you’re a young person in America, the likelihood that you’ll ever sign up (or continue paying) for a traditional TV subscription, such as Cable, is at an all-time low since TV blew up as a staple in American culture. The total number of cable subscriptions continue to free fall off the charts, and satellite and telecom service providers can’t attract new customers fast enough to counter Cable’s fall. It looks like the trends will only get stronger over time, but your TV shows aren’t in peril.

    Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and iTunes will take care of your shows (and even produce new shows and/or episodes) as TV producers, directors, writers and actors take to the Web as a primary, first-rate broadcasting channel. Actually, it’s the TV networks that have a lot to worry about. Their cash cow, the TV commercial, is losing value fast, and other marketing channels are eating up all the left-over profit.

   Suddenly, companies with innovative and incredibly sophisticated targeting techniques, like Google and AdRoll, are moving in on TV’s territory while historically stable marketing channels, like promotional giveaways, trade shows, direct mail/email, and billboards, remain strong.

    Furthermore, mainstream social networks tout massive audiences that dwarf those of even the biggest TV networks, and it’s easier than ever to accurately target your audience on these networks, ensuring that you don’t pay for irrelevant impressions or clicks. Topical blog sites also do a great job of attracting smaller niche audiences of the Web, and many of those sites employ creative advertising teams that partner with businesses to build and serve relevant ads to their audiences.

Ditching Traditional TV in My 20s 

    In my own experience of 27 years on this planet, I ditched cable on my way to college. I was an avid TV fan growing up in my parents’ home with Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, The X-Files and much more. Sadly, I would often construct my daily schedule around my favorite shows and not the other way around. Clearly, that’s not how life should be. TV should adjust to my schedule. 

     As a college student with robust university-grade Wi-Fi, I discovered a beautiful truth. The Web and a-la-carte methods, such as Netflix DVD subscriptions, are more liberating and satisfying ways of watching TV. The best part is that it costs much less than cable or satellite.

    No, scratch that. The best part is I’m no longer forced to sit through long stretches of ads in between cliffhangers of my favorite shows. 

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind the occasional commercial as long as it’s relevant to me, but I can’t stand a long stream of irrelevant commercials every seven to ten minutes. Neither can my peers.

    For example, if I was ever in the mood for Saturday morning cartoons during a weekend study session, Cable would force me to sit through tons of relentless ads for too-sugary cereals, poorly-designed action figures, and make-your-own jewelry kits. As a 19-year-old male, these ads would be wasted on me, but no matter what I watch on the Web, the shows either come ad free or only slightly interrupted with very relevant ads.

    As a result, TV’s fatal flaw is that it can’t segments audiences very well, and TV networks are way too greedy, steadily and stealthily increasing total ad-broadcasting time throughout the history of TV. Marketers, be careful of your strategy on TV; depending on your audience, the marketing channel could turn into a huge waste of money for your business. If your goal is to reach folks under 40, your best bet is probably not TV.


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How to do Better Business: Making Brand Evangelists


The brand evangelist is the holy grail of any marketing team. He/she promotes your brand to the most relevant audiences, and the best part is evangelists are free, unlike employees. But how exactly do you make a brand evangelist? 


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by Fausto Mendez / photo by Marcleh

    Brand evangelists are difficult to make, and some brands can never figure it out. Some companies never even give the concept a shot, assuming brand evangelists are impossible for their respective companies or industries. While it’s true that brands like the NBA have a much easier time developing evangelists than brands like Delta Airlines, it’s not true that it’s impossible to make evangelists for your specific business. Think about it…

Success Story: Virgin Airlines

    Prior to Virgin Airlines, it’s hard to believe that an airline could ever be a hip brand like Coca Cola, especially in social media, which is where many evangelists do some of their best evangelizing. But if you take a look at the company’s online presence, it’s clear there is an army of evangelists out there working on behalf of Virgin, and it could not have been as successful as it is today without those evangelists.

    What is Virgin’s secret? More importantly, what is the brand doing that other airline companies are not doing? The answer is actually pretty simple: Virgin has Richard Branson, the company’s CEO and ultimate brand evangelist.

    Branson is one of the most famous businessmen on the planet right now. His fame and work rival that of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. More importantly, the global impact of his companies are literally changing the world as I type out this article, not just in terms of technology but in terms of philanthropy as well. Don’t believe me? Check back in ten years when Virgin Galactic is shuttling tourists in space as one of the first space “airlines” for consumers. Oh wait, it’s already happening, and you can reserve your seat right now.

    You could argue that space flight is actually the answer to making brand evangelists for Virgin. After all, that is another major difference between Virgin and the rest of the airline industry, but you’d be wrong. There are a handful of other companies that have achieved similar feats as Virgin Galactic, but most people have no idea those companies even exist. Branson, it turns out, is the key to making brand evangelists out of Virgin customers.

Steve Jobs Illustrates the Importance of Public Leaders

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photo by / LJR.Mike

    Steve Jobs, Apple and its customers have a similar relationship with each other, but don’t misunderstand this. It’s true that you need to have a great product/service and a stellar marketing team to make brand evangelists. However, the company’s “fearless leader” is ultimately the foundation that ensures the existence of brand evangelists. Without the fearless leader, there’d be little to no die-hard fans, or evangelists.

    The Brand Mentalist describes the relationship between Apple and its fans in an excellent piece titled “Evangelism”. 

"Apple users are evangelists because they truly believe in the values of the company. They feel that the company’s motto (“Think Different”) is a reflection of who they are as individuals. Apple evangelists feel inspired and connected when they see Apple commercials, as these advertisements show people who share Apple’s beliefs, messages that challenge the status quo, and people who actually “Think Different.” Most importantly, all of Apple’s products are a reflection of this belief. The company has always innovated products that actually do “Think Different” from what the mainstream version of that product is.

It’s not a coincidence that the leader of Apple held the same beliefs as the company. Steve Jobs was a misfit. Everything he did in life followed the mantra “Think Different.” In fact, you can even argue that one of the reasons he died is because of this belief.”

    Apple represents Jobs, not the other way around. It’s important to keep that in mind when making evangelists. If your company doesn’t represent its fearless leader, you’ll never make evangelists.

"If you, as a leader, live a life that embodies your company’s meaning, and you make sure that all company decisions are a reflection of this mantra, your users will slowly begin to join you. Your users will start to advocate for you, and truly believe that your company is a representation of who they are. They will start to feel that your company always has their best interests, without even questioning you." 

    As long as your customers feel that your brand’s fearless leader shares their beliefs and values, they will trust the company and its decisions. They will even promote it to their friends and family for free. After all, who doesn’t love to share good news?

"This kind of loyalty has nothing to do with design or features; this is about the innate need of social creatures to join groups that represents their values."

    You can always break down any marketing strategy to basic psychological elements that accurately predict the customer’s behavior, and in this case, people naturally feel a primitive desire to join groups with members that share the same values. Exploit this psychological tick with your company’s fearless leader, and you have yourself a competent brand-evangelist-making strategy.


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Illegally Perfecting All-Natural Ice Cream with Nitrogen in Silicon Valley


Stanford Grad Robyn Fisher started her business by illegally selling all-natural ice cream on the street next to unemployed chefs. Today, she’s the proud owner of the super popular Smitten Ice Cream shop.


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By Fausto Mendez / Photo by Robyn Fisher

    Wired interviewed Stanford Grad Robyn Fisher on her recent successes as the owner of a made-to-order, all-natural ice cream shop that started out as an illegal operation on the street.

Wired: When you launched, it was sort of a pirate ice cream enterprise wasn’t it? Not strictly legal?

Fisher: At that time I started getting my ice cream out there in 2009, all these chefs had been laid off from restaurants. So they went to the streets to sell their food, and I joined them. We used Twitter and Facebook and about 12 of us would set up in a park or on the street and say “come and get it before the cops come.” It was totally not legal. We would get hundreds of people coming, and it was amazing. I learned so much from all of those street food chefs about pricing, marketing all sorts of things.”

    Fisher partnered up with laid off chefs to improve her recipes and business model. Around the same time, she also perfected the art of using nitrogen, all-natural ingredients, and a custom mixer to instantly freeze the ice cream sans freezer, and it’s not just flashy tech for flashy tech’s sake.

    The nitrogen technique creates the perfect texture in ice cream because the instant freeze enables her to skip some of the chemicals that ice cream makers inject into their product in order to achieve similar textures. Fisher does a really great job of explaining the science behind the cream during the interview.

"Wired: I know ice cream is cold, but what does the nature of ice crystals have to do with how good the ice cream is?

Fisher: The general gist of it is freezing speed makes all the difference in crystal size, and the smaller, the better for mouth taste and creaminess. Freezing speed is correlated with freezing temperature. So if you can freeze it really, really cold, you can get smaller ice crystals.

And if you can freeze really cold, you can freeze really fast. The benefit of that is if you make small enough batches you can freeze to order. Therefore you don’t need any of those extra ingredients that make ice cream far from natural.”

    Smitten Ice Cream is now one of San Francisco’s favorite ice cream spots, and it continues to reach new heights of fame as travelers from around the nation and the world visit the shop during their stay at the Bay Area.


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Four Tips to Help You Pitch to Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors


Pitching is perhaps one of the hardest things to do in business. You’re asking for a lot of money and - even more terrifying - faith in you and your ideas. Here’s some tips to seal the deal for your next pitch.


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By Fausto Mendez

    Back in March, Kate Rogers published an insightful piece on tips about pitching your ideas to VC investors, but the same tips can apply to many other types of pitches. These tips will stay relevant for decades to come. Here’s the second one.

Tip #2: 

"…one of the biggest mistakes companies are making today is thinking too small. That won’t get this VC veteran’s attention."

Finish reading this article at Fox Business.


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