Jeff Bezos has a lot to teach us.
It has now been three years since online retail visionary, Jeff Bezos, bought the Washington Post.
On NPR this morning I heard about how the tech entrepreneur has changed the newspaper. There are lots of things Bezos has done, but the major change will come as no surprise. Bezos completely redesigned the way the company operates. Bezos transformed the Post from a newspaper company to a technology company.
To do this, he commissioned in-house software to run all aspects of the business, from the newsroom, to production, to ad sales. Being an ad guy myself, it was these changes that I found most interesting.
Thanks to Bezos’ understanding of the online environment, not only does software run the Post’s ad department more efficiently, but big data also makes their advertising more efficient.
Thanks to Bezos’ changes, the Post’s ad revenues are up to almost $100 million. This is significantly more than they earned before the changes. And in a day and age when all we hear about is how newspaper profits are falling, this is startling news.
Ironically, most people find that the online Post now includes fewer ads than the former print version. In the past, newspaper consumers complained about the number of ads that were blocking their enjoyment of the paper. But the Post has found a solution to this problem as well. What happens now is that the ads readers see are specifically targeted to specific audiences. These targets are based on those audience’s propensity to look at specific parts of the Post’s site and purchase the specific items advertised.
But advertisers are okay with the lower volume of ads being served. That’s because today’s savvy advertisers realize that circulation and frequency are not what’s most important. Instead, they care about being in front of the right people.
That’s worth saying again. Today’s savvy advertiser realizes that what’s important is being in front of the right people. In other words, positioning is now more important than frequency. Advertisers understand that they will get a greater sales return, and greater ROI, if they talk to the people who have the highest propensity to purchase their products. And technology now allows advertisers to specifically target their perfect audiences with greater and greater accuracy.
The old days of “Let’s run it up the flagpole and see who salutes” or “Why don’t we toss it against the wall and sees if it sticks” are over. Ironically, this idea is not new.
It’s about a son who thought it was time for him to take over his father’s business. Unfortunately, his dad was not ready to relinquish control. And so the son asked to run marketing and advertising for the company. The father did not agree with this either. But instead of giving up, the son got strategic. He asked his dad to simply give him a small budget to see if he could make their advertising work. The father agreed.
The first thing the son did was buy ads for the company in the newspaper his father read in the morning. Then he bought posters surrounding the subway station he knew his father walked through on his way to the office. Next, he bought the placards inside the subway that his father rode to work. And, as you’ve already figured out, he also purchased the posters outside the subway station near his dad’s office. Finally he bought ads on the one radio station he knew his father listened to at work.
You know what happened.
After a few days of this onslaught, the father told his son how great his ad plan was because he saw it everywhere. Based on his son’s ad successful ad schedule, he named his son the company’s marketing director, and eventually made him CEO of the company.
The moral of the story? Positioning that reaches the right person at the right time is what matters. Understanding your audience, understanding who they are, what they want, and where they spend their time, is the key to spreading your message. The business owner’s son proved it 70 years ago. Jeff Bezos proved it today.Published on June 14th, 2017
How My Brand Can Help Your Brand
I’ve got some great news for both of us. My fifth book, All About Them, is on press and will officially release on August 16 from Da Capo Press. YOU are a big part of this book which is why I’m sharing the news with you on my blog.
I’m hoping All About Them becomes the instruction manual for getting ahead in a world that’s spinning faster and faster and where function is becoming mere cost-of-entry for success. Here’s a hint: Being successful will require creating your brand and marketing it in brand new ways for brand new times.
Over the next few months I’m going to tell you all about what’s going on with All About Them. I’ll introduce you to the concepts discussed in the book and show you lots of ways to get involved; Special programs, social media opportunities, exclusive events, and many other ways to build your brand and help me make a big splash for All About Them.
If we can generate significant upfront interest it will further convince my publisher that my book is going to be a big success and that they should produce more and make sure that it’s available from coast-to-coast.
I’ve sent pre-release copies to business authors who matter and will share their comments with you too. Here’s are some very nice words from Tim Sanders, author of Dealstorming and Love Is the Killer App.
“A must read for modern marketers who want to cut through the noise, forge deep connections, and create memorable experiences.”
“A brilliant guide to becoming an icon. Bruce Turkel is the branding expert of branding experts.”
I am justifiably proud of my new book. And I’ll feel even better when I know people are reading All About Them and using it to build their own brands and build their businesses. Thank you for helping with my brand and thank you — as always — for your warm and gracious support.Published on June 7th, 2016
A recent story on public radio talked about the logistics of pursuing smugglers of coveted black rhino horns. The officer interviewed made the point that the discoveries made in this case also helped uncover smugglers of guns, drugs, and even human traffickers. His point was that the skills needed to bring in the banned aphrodisiac were applicable to smuggling all sorts of things.
In 2014, Uber, the logistics app that facilitates a new type of taxi and limo service, moved into different areas too. The company introduced UberRush, a courier service designed to move stuff instead of people. According to The Washington Post, “The same back-end technology that Uber has built to track drivers and connect them to riders can easily be used to order and follow deliveries. All that changes is the cargo on board and the mode of transportation, a detail around which the company is becoming increasingly agnostic.”
Back in 2004 when IBM made their momentous shift from equipment sales to software and systems consulting, it capitalized on the protocols and practices it had constructed to run its previous business model. These proprietary programs became the foundation of what has since become a global business with over $22 billion in revenue. What’s more, the new model provides IBM with both higher-margin recurring revenue and reduced volatility.
So what do black rhino horns, Uber’s logistics, IBM, and your business have in common? Quite simply, you’re sitting on a gold mine of proven protocols that are both marketable and monetizable. The programs and procedures that you have created over the years are exactly what other businesses are looking for.
37 Signals, the creator of Basecamp, was a web design company founded in 1999. But in mid-2004 the company’s focus shifted from web design to web application development when they found a significant market for the management software they created to run their own business. The transition was so successful that 37 Signals changed their company name to Basecamp (their first product) to focus entirely on their flagship.
Many successful speakers in the National Speakers Association, from Mikki Williams to Lou Heckler to Patricia Fripp to Doug Stevenson, have taken the things they’ve learned over their years on the platform and turned them into valuable programs for all the people who want to succeed in the speaking business. Some of their programs teach stage skills, some teach business logistics, and still others are about marketing and promotion. But while all of them are simply a reutilization of proven programs that the practitioners have already used to build their own businesses, each has produced new business opportunities and new revenue streams for their creators – sometimes rivaling or even surpassing the success of the original business they’re cribbed from.
The Washington Post says, “Uber foresees – as Amazon and eBay do, too – that the next growth opportunity in a shifting economy isn’t facilitating digital marketplaces: it’s moving physical stuff. It’s figuring out urban logistics in a world where crowded cities will only become more so, where e-commerce is actually making congestion worse, where the rise of ‘sharing’ has created a need for coordinating the mass joint use of cars, tools, tasks, and dinner.” Most importantly, these companies have figured out that what they already know how to do creates valuable practices and unlimited opportunities.
You can take advantage of what you already know, too.
“As the Holiday Season is upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and on those who have helped to shape our business in a most significant way. We truly value our relationship with you and look forward to working with you in the year to come. We wish you a very happy Holiday Season and a New Year filled with peace, love and prosperity.”
I haven’t actually done business with the company that sent me this sentimental bit of falderal but if I had I don’t imagine I’d feel truly valued regardless of their promise that I am.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like a card picked out of a catalog and imprinted with a company name and a mailing label offers much more heartfelt sentiment, especially when the postage comes from a machine and not a stamp. But still.
While I’m busy bashing the holiday spirit with my bah-humbugging, let’s not forget gift cards. Believe it or not, gift cards were the most requested holiday gifts again this year, specifically, cards from Visa, Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Wal-Mart, Target, and Starbucks. Besides echoing the “I did as little as possible” sentiment of generic e-mail holiday greetings, gift cards both telegraph a complete lack of interest in the recipient’s interests, taste, etc. as well as confirming the giver’s complete lack of imagination, enterprise, and thoughtfulness.
Sure the cards allow the receiver to buy whatever they want and certainly eliminate the concern about what to do with the ugly sweater, foolish gadget or inappropriate gag gift, but they also negate the carefully chosen book, the delicious hand baked cookies, and the breathless “how did you know I wanted that?” or “I LOVE it!!” response that a little thought and enterprise generates.
Of course asking for gift cards is even more bah humbug loathsome than giving them. For some odd reason, people who would never think twice about begging for money on a street corner have no shame about asking for spare change as long as it’s digitally transferred on a little plastic sheet. Why not just have friends and family members send money towards your car loan or mortgage payment? Or better yet, just give them your bank’s routing number and have them make a direct deposit directly into your account. That would be easier for everyone.
From a branding point of view, gift giving is not only a great way to show your clients, customers, coworkers, and cohorts how much they mean to you but also the perfect way to express a little bit of your authentic self in your gifts and greetings. Regardless of the amount of money you spend, the effort you make and the thought you contribute is what tells your recipients exactly what you think — or don’t think — of them.
When I was in college, moving into the dorms was an arduous ritual.
First we’d set up our stereos. Of course they were enormous – mine was comprised of big JBL speakers, a separate Marantz amp and McIntosh pre-amp, a Pioneer turntable and Aiwa cassette deck. The system cost me an entire summer job’s pay and if I was paying by the pound it’s no wonder why it was so expensive.
I also had a couple of apple crates full of records (remember those?) and boxes of tapes.
Along with the stereo, I had a typewriter, an alarm clock, an SLR camera with lenses and a shoebox full of photos. I didn’t have a TV but my roommate did, and that took up even more room. My clothes — a few pair of jeans, some tee shirts, and a down jacket — probably took up the least amount of space.
Today’s college student has all those functions and data (music, photos, etc.) stuffed into their four-pound laptop. In fact, with a couple of duffel bags stuffed full of clothes and a laptop and cell phone tossed in a backpack, they’re ready for school.
Today I needed a storyboard drawn up for a commercial we just wrote. All the art directors in my office were busy so I went online, uploaded the rough sketches we’d drawn, and posted the assignment along with my budget, deadline, and specific requirements. Within hours I had estimates from artists in Georgia, Indonesia, Mumbai, and more places around the world.
The other day I wanted something changed on my blog site. I sent an email to Werner, my blog master in Germany, and showed him the change. It was 5 PM EST here at home so I figured I’d hear from Werner the next day, after all it was 11 PM there. Instead Werner responded right away and said he’d have the programmer make the change immediately. “Where’s the programmer?” I typed. I assumed he was somewhere in Eastern Europe or Asia. “Ohio,” Werner responded. “It’s only the afternoon there,” “he’ll do it right away.”
When I leave the office in the evening, sometimes I take my laptop, sometimes I take my iPad, and sometimes I don’t take anything at all. Of course we’ve got a computer at home and all of my company’s files are stored on the cloud so they’re accessible wherever I am. No more running back to the office in the middle of the night or on weekends to retrieve a document I need to work on. And even though I work most weekends, I can’t remember the last time I went into the office on a Saturday or Sunday even though that used to be a weekly occurrence. In fact, my wife and I just got back from a wonderful overseas vacation and you might have noticed that this blog went out on time just the same. Besides pre-scheduling the postings online, a Wi-Fi hookup was all I needed to keep everything running smoothly.
I just moved my enormous music collection from the hard drive in my office to ITunes Match, Apple’s cloud-based program. This way, no matter where I am, I have all my songs available. This comes in handy not just when I have a hankering to hear something specific but when we’re at band practice and someone wants to hear a particular version of a particular song. Of course, with most songs available on YouTube anyway, I can access them anywhere I can get a Wi-Fi or cellular signal. Needless to say, the stacks and stacks and stacks of CDs in my office and at home are just taking up space and collecting dust. If I knew someone who actually wanted a couple thousand rock, blues, and classical CDs, I’d burn them all and happily ship them off.
The more we interact with the mobile world, the less we need bricks and mortar. These days, BestBuy has become a showroom for Amazon and it’s not unusual to see customers in the aisle scanning SKU numbers into their smart phones to check for lower prices online. Online bill pay keeps us out of banks and post offices. Digital downloads to our iPads and Kindles keep us out of bookstores. NetFlix, iTunes, and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks such as Demonoid keep us out of movie theaters.
As I’ve asked here so many times before, WTF??!! (Where’s The Future?). Clearly, legions of old-school face-to-face (F2F) businesses are going to go the way of Borders, Circuit City, and more. But there’s another, less intuitive opportunity. The analog activities that can’t be replaced by digital experiences — gardening, sewing, participatory sports, acoustic music making, cooking, travel, and more — are going to see a startling resurgence. Sure, those activities will be enhanced by the online world — downloadable patterns for knitting or Web-enabled music lessons, for example. But as the world continues to move to a ubiquitous high-tech environment, high-touch will become all the more important and profitable.Published on June 24th, 2012
Someone sent me an article that asked successful CEOs what they would rather do if they weren’t in their current positions. Doctor? Lawyer? Indian Chief? No, everyone wants to be a rock star.
Guitar Center has built an enormous business selling guitars and amps to musicians and wannabes who were raised on 60’s & 70’s rock and roll and want to live the dream for themselves. Some of these folks find satisfaction in learning to play their new instruments and some give up after a lesson or two. But I’ll bet odds are that the overwhelming majority of them never reach rock star status.
For years and years my musician friends and I have been playing in garage bands and getting gigs at bars and festivals. But regardless of how much fun we’ve had, none of us have become rock stars either.
About six years ago, Phil, Andy, and I, all members of different bands, were at a local Irish pub when Andy suggested we start a new band together. After all, he reasoned, we all play instruments and we all write music. Why not start a new band to play our original songs?
“Who else will we get to play in the band?” I asked.
“The usual suspects,” Phil answered.
For the next three years, The Usual Suspects played gigs around South Florida and developed a small but dedicated following. We built a set list of about 50 original songs and worked out the harmonies and arrangements. The band was truly a labor of love and we loved playing together.
The next natural step in our growth was to record a CD, so we spent the next two years recording, mixing, and producing 16 of our original compositions. Thanks to digital technology and the talent of my bandmates we did almost everything ourselves and finally created a very professional product that we’re real proud of.
Along the way we had to change the name of our group. Needless to say, the trademark wasn’t available for “The Usual Suspects” and being in a band with three attorneys and a paralegal (and a distribution manager, by the way) meant we had to have all our legal ducks in a row. After hundreds of name suggestions, someone came up with “The Southbound Suspects,” and thanks to my decades-long love of The Allman Brothers, that worked just fine for me.
Next it was time to name our CD. We also went through scores of titles and couldn’t come up with a solution everyone could agree upon. It got so frustrating that I finally suggested we make the album eponymous. “Eponymous?” one of our members asked. “Eponymous is a stupid name. Why don’t we just use the band name instead?”
I couldn’t argue with that logic. “The Southbound Suspects” it was.
Besides our songs, our CD offers something unique that I think is perfect for today’s fans. We’ve recorded an album of music created by baby boomers for baby boomers. Our songs tell the stories of our lives, from memories of cross-country trips we made in our twenties to staying in love after the kids are gone to the dream of buying a mid-life crises Harley Davidson.
While the music industry hasn’t yet woken up to the burgeoning baby boomer demographic (80 million Americans who control 70% of wealth in the U.S.), today’s distribution technology makes it very easy for us to put our songs directly into our consumers’ hands. And even though our website isn’t quite finished, you can already click on the following links and sample and buy our album on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.
Truth be told, none of us believe we’re really going to become rock stars (okay, I think one guy actually does). I’m not even sure that everyone in the band would be willing to give up their day jobs to go on tour to support the album if we got the shot. But there’s an enormous opportunity to sell our songs to other performers and generate income, notoriety, and the chance to present the other songs that aren’t on our CD.
Will any of this happen? Who knows. The point is not whether the dream will become a reality but how ubiquitous technology has completely democratized the opportunity for self-expression. From consumer-generated videos on YouTube to home-recorded CDs to this blog, the barriers to entry have been eliminated. There’s now no excuse not to tell your story or sing your song.
Old world institutions such as publishing houses, movie studios, and music labels that used to control the distribution of art and ideas have seen their competitive positions erode with the onslaught of technology. The creative world has only begun to wake up and take its rightful place creating content. After all, everyone wants to be a rock star.
And us? We just want to sell a few CDs.Published on June 4th, 2012
I am fully committed to traveling light but this is ridiculous! Still, if you have a spare $250 burning a hole in your pocket how can you travel without them? Oh yeah, you’ll need shirts with French cuffs.
Polished Silver Oval WIFI and 2 GB USB Combination Cufflinks feature a 2GB of storage for all your must-have documents and presentations and a WiFi Hotspot, which opens your WiFi to multiple devices.
If you want a set, click HERE.Published on January 24th, 2012
When I started my business my father called my action “the confidence of ignorance.” I didn’t really know what I didn’t know so I held my nose and jumped right in. And with some long hours, perseverance, the hard work of lots of great people, and some good luck it turned out pretty well. Yet almost thirty years later it’s finally dawned on me that my dad was right – I often have no idea what I’m doing.
Social media has become a critical part of our agency’s branding and marketing. I’m promoting my ad agency, my speaking, and my books on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and whatever new technology has emerged since I wrote this post. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
I blog about branding and marketing and my own personal opinion about what’s going on in those worlds. I post it all online and send it out to my mailing list and try to promote it on all the social media sites that’ll have me. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
I travel around the world speaking at conferences and corporate meetings and attend acting classes and speaking workshops to try to make my platform skills better. Even with all the time spent and experienced gained, I still have no idea what I’m doing.
I’m starting to shoot videos and produce podcasts about branding and marketing and post them on YouTube. I’m taking videos of speeches I’ve given and learning how to edit them in Apple’s Final Cut and sending them out online and on CDs. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
I wrote a couple books on branding and produced them with traditional publishers. Then I self-published the latest book and we distributed it ourselves. Finally, I wrote a novel called The Mouth of the South and didn’t even self-publish it, just uploaded it to Amazon as a Kindle book. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
We’re creating a new website, trying to make it as interactive, mobile-friendly and user-friendly as possible and all at the same time. But I have no idea what I’m doing.
When people ask me if they should promote themselves or their companies on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn; if they should blog, tweet, email or send handwritten letters; if they should shoot videos, record podcasts, write books, or speak at conferences; if they should offer discounts on couponing sites, or run ads on TV, radio, newspapers or billboards, my answer is a resounding “yes.” When they tell me they don’t know how to do it, I say, “don’t worry, I have no idea what I’m doing either.”
I’m not smart enough to figure out SEO and SEM. I don’t have enough time to respond to all the tweets I receive. I don’t like Facebook enough to really want to dive into it. I think I only use about 11% of the capabilities of Final Cut. And not one of my books has become a bestseller regardless of how much time, effort, and money I’ve spent on them.
Why not? Could it be because I have no idea what I’m doing?
My marathon times aren’t dropping, my harmonica playing’s not getting much better, and the TV show I’m trying to create isn’t rushing itself into production. You already know the reasons why. It’s because I have no idea what I’m doing.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Have you gotten the message? As much as I’d love to use this page to brag about all the brilliant things I’m trying to accomplish I have no idea what I’m doing.
I think that my feeling is the true zeitgeist of what’s going on today in the world of online marketing, new entrepreneurship, and personal development. Of course we can listen to the experts pontificate about whatever it is they know about, but just like the tip of the metaphorical iceberg, what they know and talk about is just a small portion of what’s really out there.
What I have in common with those experts is that they don’t have any idea what they’re doing anymore than I do.
They just do it anyway. And so do I. And, truth be told, so should you.
The key, as Nike taught us, is to “Just Do It.” Microsoft has built an enormous company around the notion of implementing first and perfecting later. Or as my dad also used to say, “There’s never time to do it right but there’s always time to do it over.”
So blog, post, tweet, self-publish, promote, and sell, to your heart’s content. And don’t worry if you don’t quite know what you’re doing. Why not? Because I have no idea what I’m doing, either.Published on September 6th, 2011