Archive for the 'Marketing' Category

>Changing the Purpose of Commercials

>It’s been quite a while since my last post, but never fear! During my hiatus, I have been exploring ways to travel from where we are to where we need to be—as a culture, as a country, etc. The biggest problem that is weighing on everyone’s mind is the problem of the economy. Some of us propose drastic measures, and some of us have simply given up. Unfortunately, most of us don’t see any path the individual can take that will make a difference. We hope the experts and government officials will come up with something.

This country had long been supported by the work of individuals in small businesses. Then the industrial age brought us the factory, and many people bought into the idea of a weekly paycheck—trading time for dollars. Of course, things changed again. Now there isn’t much growth in time-for-dollar jobs, and there is stiff competition from other countries whose economic situations have them in a desperate enough situation that they can underbid almost all American labor.

With soaring unemployment, more and more people are sitting at home, vegging out on TV. Technology makes it easy for us to entertain our brains so we don’t have to think about the mess we’re in. However, these financially-strapped, debt-laden couch potatoes aren’t the ideal demographic for TV commercials. Those that don’t ignore the ads altogether can’t afford to buy anything anyway, and they can’t afford any more debt either. The consequence of this is that the value of the TV market block is falling. As it falls the revenue for creating shows also falls, and the quality of said shows suffers.

What I have discovered (and I apologize for what sounds like a shameless sales-pitch) is a website called Varolo (learn more and join our “village” here). This site is founded on the very same principles that I have been discussing over the past year on this blog. In essence, it is the embodiment of the first phase of FITmedia’s vision of a media shift. It has the potential to sever the connection between TV commercials and TV shows.

Varolo is a completely free service that allows anyone aged 13 and above to earn a portion of the money its advertisers pay, simply by watching an average of 10 minutes of commercials a day and inviting others to do the same. This is similar to network marketing, except you watch ads instead of buying products. When you watch the introduction video, you will begin to see how this service could attract a lot of advertising money away from traditional ad-driven television.

Initially, this will hurt the old-school networks, and they will be forced to adopt pay-per-view and subscription-based services to stay afloat. The upside is that with ad dollars being returned to individuals—according to Varolo’s moderately lucrative plan—there will be more money for people to spend on entertainment. AND people will likely only spend money on shows or channels that they actually care about, which will increase the quality of the shows the networks choose to air.

It is therefore possible for a well-organized tribe of media geeks to use money earned from Varolo (and other companies that will likely follow suit) to generate capital that they can use to develop high-quality media to fill this need. In other words, überfans of a given TV show (or TV show idea) have a chance to become the mediators between advertising interests and the artistic expression of content creators.

The TV Revolution is beginning…


>Re-Educating for Zero Waste

>While actually achieving zero waste in the physical sense is impossible, as an ideal it is a worthy goal to shoot for. The degree to which we use (and reuse) the items we buy is the degree to which they hold value for us. Whenever we buy an item, but do not explore all options for extracting value from it, we waste some of the money and time spent acquiring it. Multiply that by the millions of people worldwide who are doing the same, and you have a significant problem with global economics.

Resources aren’t scarce, we just waste them left and right. In fact, we have been educated to do just that. Any ongoing business model requires ongoing saleable products. The faster the market saturates, the sooner the business is out of business. So businesses have two options: continuously generate new and exciting products that people want or need, or use marketing to convince people that they want or need to re-purchase old products. The second is easier to accomplish, especially for a business that has enough money to launch a mass media marketing campaign.

To be successful in marketing required an increase in the volume of products to be sold, which on turn, required an increasing demand. However, numerous products were becoming mass-produced that were really not consumable—and so consumers were becoming satisfied. How many TVs does one family need? So mainstream marketing slowly evolved into a tool for re-educating the masses.

Media was used to create a culture where the newest and best was emotionally important to people, so they learned to disregard the rational idea of conserving waste (“I don’t need a new one, yet.”) and replace it with the irrational idea of status (“My stuff is my worth.”)

All of this was fine as long as the economy was in a state of growth, but as soon as the problem with waste reached a critical mass and wages began to suffer, there simply was not enough money to continue on that path. Unfortunately, the consumer credit industry stepped in, allowing us to differ fate for more time and make the problem bigger.

The solution, of course, begins with a strategy to approach zero waste in our households, businesses, and communities. And I don’t mean just recycling, but actually using every ounce of value from a product before it goes anywhere—even if it has to go to the dump—or using the waste to create something else of value. This goal presents many opportunities to enterprising individuals.

One of my favorite small businesses sells a product called “Turnadaisy.” These lazy-susan style tabletops are made from repurposed power line spools, and are designed to be used in a number of applications, from greenhouse hydroponics to convenient serving trays. They keep trash out of the landfills, provide a useful product, and an income to their creators. I’d bet they could even pay the salaries of a few marketers as well!

Now that’s what we need to found companies on.

>The Folly of the Performer

>It is important to understand one's role in any organization and/or endeavor. Some people have a natural inclination to create. Others possess the ability to sell. Both concepts overlap and people sometimes get confused about their abilities and their proper role.

To create and develop a composition is an invisible enterprise. That is, it is often done by one person or a small group of like-minded individuals behind closed doors. It can be created in its entirety and unveiled all at once, or it can be exposed in stages. Either way, the finished product speaks for itself.

At least, this is the ideal. However, the nature of the discovery-creation-unveiling process gives it the weakness of permanence. Once it is written, it is written in stone. It can be updated, recalled, or added to, but the thing still exists in the minds of the audience—and great first impressions are critical.

This is where marketers come in. Once a thing exists, it is the job of these people to perform the task of finding a home for the thing. They can overcome bad first impressions with the strength of their character and proper promoting of the hidden gems within a misunderstood product.

Their proper role is to find a home for the thing, not to reinvent the thing.

This is often the folly of the performer. Because the fate of the product depends upon their ability to relate it to their audience, marketers often think that the product's real form is irrelevant. They fancy themselves creators, and use words and stories to make a product out to be more than it really is.

But a product—even a fictional story or a piece of fine art—is what it is, and not what a skilled performer can make you believe it is. Any marketing materials that are created must be dependent upon the original creation. If not, then they are devoid of value. Every time a performer "gets away with it" he's really only building himself a house of cards, and it doesn't take long before the edifice collapses under its own weight—often without a clear connection to this root cause.

If you want to tell stories, GREAT! Create stories, and hone your craft. If you're trying to sell a product, I'd recommend selling the product, not some trumped-up fiction about the product.

>Lives Like Rubik’s Cube

>The thing that is both interesting and frustrating about life is that we all start out in a different place. Each one of us is a complicated jumble of different aspects—both good ones and bad ones. In fact, some of us even have aspects each which would otherwise be good, but are in conflict with one another.

For much of the beginning of our lives, we spend time just making the jumble worse. There are as many reasons this is true as there are people for it to be true about. Some lives become more jumbled than others, but they are all solveable—just like Rubik’s Cube. Hey, no one ever said life was easy!

I’m a big believer in the singularity of truth. That is, no matter how jumbled and different we appear at first, there is a path that will lead us to the same place. Now, I don’t mean we should seek to be clones—this is where the analogy breaks down. Unlike a Rubik’s Cube, human lives have layers of depth. The deeper one goes, the more he should find in common with his fellow men, or else he is fundamentally flawed. We don’t need to look the same on the surface, but our hearts should beat as one.

In the name of diversity, today’s media has sold us on the idea that we don’t need to change anything about ourselves. In effect, the masses want to believe that a jumbled Rubik’s Cube is the way they were born and the way they must stay. Mainstream media and mass marketing, then, tend to generate their content accordingly. These two channels are awash with politicians and businessmen who want to make life easier for the little guy.

They mean well from their perspective, of course. Some measure of convenience in every area of life is the advantage that human civilization has over the animal kingdom. However, the other advantage we have over the animals is the ability to continuously improve. The more individuals take responsibility for solving their own small problems, the more prevalent innovation and ingenuity is.

These inventions of the human mind are valuable and can be traded for other inventions. In this way, civilization increases in total value and, subsequently, wealth. When media develops a culture where the widespread belief is that an elite few—those born without a jumbled Rubik’s Cube—are responsible for all the inventions, initiative slows and civilization decreases in value.

But this is just a lie. It is true that some lives are less jumbled than others—and it has less to do with financial advantage than you may think—while others are extremely jumbled. However, there seems to be something in the human spirit that enables us to solve these puzzles the more difficult they are. Perhaps, it’s that the extremely jumbled cases seem beyond hope to the aforementioned politicians and businessmen so they’re on their own. Maybe it’s because these jumbled individuals are more driven to work on themselves and so gain more momentum.

One thing repeats throughout history: more is created by those at a disadvantage than by a king in his throne. So how hard are you trying to solve your Cube?

>The Gap

>Can you imagine if FITmedia as a company were to buy the license to show certain TV shows and movies at exclusive watching parties? The shows and movies would of course be advertising free. The advertising to pay for the event would then come from the distribution of promotional, trial, coupon type deals that each affiliate would bring in their own right—either because they own a business which they are promoting, or because they have found one they can get paid to promote.

When advertising is mass marketed through static media, there is a gap created between seller and buyer; between the creators of value and the appreciators of that value. Because of this gap, even products which a person might want are perceived as being forced upon them by someone who cares little for him as an individual. We would create an environment where friends give friends a good deal on stuff they actually want or need.

If we can organize events around networking and relationships, and distribute media content that promotes conversation and teaches about relationships, the companies that approach us to give us promotional material, commercial trials, etc., will necessarily be the kind of companies we actually want to work with. These companies will be interested in relationships as well and would promote further refinement of our media content’s principle-based message.

The gap created by mass advertising between businesses and people tends to promote a blurring of the hard lines of natural law in the name of diversity. Instead of seeking to base stories and build product campaigns upon the bedrock of human nature (which all people and peoples have in common), they skimp on the difficult work of identifying and standing by these principles. They prefer to spin tenuous connections between superficial facets of everyday life, then promote the false dogma with stories which make it appear true.

Technology companies always think it’s a great idea to use technology to make marketing less cumbersome (for them) by grabbing little snippets of information about people, connecting it with some sort of ad, and shooting it over to them without involving any actual human emotion. Unfortunately, that just seems creepy.

I just heard that Microsoft apparently thinks it’s a good idea to use the new Kinect to take a snapshot of a person playing a game, look for anything around them that suggests some sort of product that they might want to buy, and then uses that information to tailor ads to them. Now I’m all for using technology to tailor ads to people to better deliver them information about products and services that they actually want to buy. How else are you going to know about products unless someone delivers you the information about where to get them?

However, technology companies seem to think that just because the piece of information can be delivered over a long distance to a lot of people that that is the best way to deliver the information. Like robots, they seem not to have any comprehension of how important relationships and the emotions of relationships are. Basically, they don’t realize that every business is a people business.

Basically, customers are cynical that any companies actually care about them. In the age of information, what we need is not more information, but information delivered with a personal touch—and a lasting relationship. Who do you watch TV with?

>Selling Out

>Fans, especially überfans, are very concerned about this concept of “selling out.” However, corner them about a definition of the phrase, and they usually cannot produce anything coherent. Answers range from “Oh, I don’t know,” to “Well, it’s like, um.” joking aside, have you ever tried to define a sell-out? Two things come to mind when I try to answer this question, and I hope my analysis will better equip you to communicate your concerns to your favorite artists and their respective agents, managers, and business executives.

The first is a financial sell-out. This is most readily identified by a connection to a third-party commercial product. Depending on the artist’s intentions and goals, this may or may not be selling out at all. In the Information Age, art is cheap to create and distribute, provided you find your creative spark, and it follows that the end product is expected to be inexpensive or even free.

This doesn’t mean that the artist is bound for poverty, it just means that he or she must also creatively leverage the art to develop revenue. This concept of leverage is foreign to most people in the “work-a-day” world, but entails connecting a third party (who has something to sell) with your fanbase. There are many ways to execute this, but basically the artist earns a commission of some sort off the sales made because of his art.

For this not to be a sell-out, the third-party has to share the same intentions and goals as the artist, and be offering a product that the fans actually want. While generic sponsorship (i.e.: fast food corporations) might lead to short-term revenue, the reputation of the sponsor becomes an issue. When the fans dislike the sponsor, they feel abused by the artist. This has a long-term degenerative effect.

Which leads me to the second, and more critical form of selling out: the compromise of one’s principles. To gain any sort of fanbase, a creator must be equipped to create art which resonates with a number of people. Basically, to “resonate” is to be harmonious with certain universal truths. The wiser the artist, the more universal the art, and the greater the fanbase. (This is different than formulaic elements, which only superficially represent real life.)

When an artist gets comfortable and chooses to stop pushing the envelope of his art, he relies more and more on what worked before. This, in my opinion, means he has actually stopped being an artist entirely. To stop uncovering universal truths or expressing them in new ways is to compromise the very thing that makes your creation a work of art. That being said, the main issue comes in making that choice. Every artist hits a wall from time to time and must backpedal to find his way again.

One must remember the natural cycles of any business, and art is ultimately a business if it’s not a hobby. As the überfans naturally share what they love with those who don’t yet know or understand, the balance will naturally shift away from a heavy concentration of überfans to a general and mainstream appreciation. This is not selling out, but moving on. Some überfans may move on as well, because the less they feel they’re part of an exclusive thing, the less they care to be a part of it.

Ultimately, I think selling out means betraying your fans, especially your überfans. If you can’t sell the vast majority of your überfans on the change, then you’ve bitten the hand that feeds you. On the other hand (pun intended), if the change brings your art closer to its FIT state, then your fans will either come around or they weren’t true fans—either way, you’ll increase your überfanbase.

FEATURED MEDIA: Adaptation – Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is given an assignment to write an adaptation of a book. This not being what he usually does, Charlie can’t help but write a crazy story about a secret love affair and drug trafficking mystery, which himself and his fictional twin brother are forced to solve.

>That 2:30 Feeling

>The media loves to paint pictures of the status quo. They love to tell you what’s normal, including the pain, the drudgery, and the fatigue. These are facts of life, they say. No one likes working for someone else, but “ya gotta do what ya gotta do.” Sure you’d love to eat healthy, but fast food is cheap and, well, fast. partners in crime, consumer marketing, are then on hand to deliver solutions to the “problems.” Have pain? Take pills. Don’t like lots of pills? Take fewer pills, but always take them every day! In a rut? Lease a car! Tired? Got that 2:30 feeling? Drink caffeine. Hate the crash? Drink something worse.

The fact that so many of us can sympathize with the idea of a “2:30 feeling,” ought to be a sign that something is very wrong. It is not normal to be tired at 2:30 in the afternoon.

As a culture, we have some seriously messed up habits. Some are for things we do, and others are for things we avoid. Mostly, however, an open minded and thorough investigation would reveal the following: We don’t get enough well-rounded exercise. We eat, well, we eat toxins. We consume so many preservatives alone that our bodies hold up better than the casket (that might be an exaggeration, but you get the picture).

When we do stress our bodies, it is rarely in well-rounded and productive ways. We overexert at a moment’s notice, never giving forethought to preparation. And I’d hazard a guess that many people would consider that exercise—I know I’m guilty.

If that isn’t enough, the rest of our problems are directly self-inflicted through our lifestyles—and I’m not talking about alternative lifestyles. I mean even the most “straight” people (in whatever way), will stay up way too late. They skip breakfast, race through traffic, then stress out about whether or not the boss is going to say anything.

No wonder you’re dead tired by 2:30!

Discipline and time-management skills are as important to fitness as good exercise and a balanced diet. Consuming excito-toxins, such as those found in conventional energy drinks is no more a solution to the real problem than is having a friend punch you in on time and hoping you don’t get caught.

FEATURED PRODUCT: MonaVie Emv – The world’s first all-natural energy drink. It gives up to 5 hours of energy with no jitters and no crash—the way food is supposed to work. It’s a health drink that gives you energy.

FEATURED MEDIA: Fight Club – While quite dark and overdone, this movie is nonetheless a poignant portrayal of corporate frustration and a rage against consumerism. It serves as a platform for discussion by expressing violence usually boiling just below the surface of a passive-aggressive demeanor.

Get Involved

Promoting art on television starts with you. Take the Varolo user tour, and become part of the change!




"For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction."

- Kahlil Gibran

"All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?"
- Nicholas Johnson, author:
"We need the media to be presenting pictures of possibility not just continuing to be prophets of doom and gloom."
- Kevin Kelly, Wired

"How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it."

- Adam Smith
"And the science is overwhelming that for creative, conceptual tasks, those if-then rewards rarely work and often do harm."
- Daniel Pink, author: Drive

"I wish we had a Problem-Solver Party because we have very big problems that need solving. And I think a lot of our attention is addressed to the wrong problems."
- David McCullough, author: 1776
"The goal shouldn't be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen."
- Seth Godin, author: Tribes
"The role of the media is to disseminate information, highlight important current events, and to essentially stand as a witness, an observer of cultural, political, community, and educational events. A healthy media provides a check on the government and increases the political astuteness of republican citizens."
- Stephen Palmer, The Center for Social Leadership
"Advertisers and politicians rely on a half-educated public, on people who know little outside of their own specialty, because such people are easy to deceive with so-called experts, impressive technical or sociological jargon, and an effective set of logical and psychological tricks."
- Robert Harris
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
- John Adams
"I know no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education."
- Thomas Jefferson
"Fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise--as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine."
- Allan Bloom, author: The Closing of the American Mind
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
(Proverbs 13:20)
"If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all."

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"I learn a lot from TV. Everytime someone turns one on, I go in the other room and read a book."
- Groucho Marx, comedian: Duck Soup
"There are two freedoms - the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought."
- Charles Kingsley