Start Up Blog

Our writing really matters

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 26, 2011

This guy put some effort into writing the words that appear on his website. The result of his writing is around 10,000 people shared it with their friends. Read it.

www.alittlebitofsomething.co.uk

The words we publish matter a lot.

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60 seconds on the web

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 16, 2011

The world moves fast. When we we’re unconnected the speed of change went unnoticed. Now that we all have digital footprints, we can track all that happens. This amazing and statistically rich infographic is solid reminder of the world we live in. It’s also very cool that most of these business are startups that aren’t even teenagers yet. I’ve pulled out the numbers and got the pic below.

60 seconds on the web:

  • 12,000+ new ads posted on Craigslist
  • 370,000+ minutes of voice calls on Skype
  • 98,000+ tweets
  • 320+ new twitter accounts
  • 100+ new Linkedin accounts
  • 6,600+ photos uploaded to Flickr
  • 50+ wordpress CMS downloads & 125+ plugins
  • 695,000 facebook status updates, 80,000 wall posts and 510,040 comments
  • 1,700 firefox downloads
  • 694,445 google searches
  • 168 million emails sent (of which 92% is spam)
  • 60+ new blogs & 1500+ new blog posts
  • 70+ new domains are registered
  • 600+ new Youtube videos are uploaded. 25+ hours in duration
  • 150+ questions are asked in Question forums
  • 13,000+ iPhone apps are downloaded
  • 20,000 new posts on Tumblr.
  • I new definition added to Urban Dictionary 
  • 1,600+ reads on Scribd.

And here is what it looks like:

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Super Bowl Advertising – Tor Myhren

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 14, 2011

I’ve been a big advocate for the web changing communications and advertising forever. I’ve been heard to say that TV is in irreversible decline in terms of broadcasting. I believe it’s future is one of narrow casting.  But before we close on the Super Bowl for another year, I wanted to share this interview with Tor Myhren, Grey NY explaining what the hype is really all about:

The Best $3 Million You Ever Spent

One commercial, 2.9 million bucks. Who buys this stuff? Crazy, outdated advertisers who haven’t been told that TV is dead? Or the smartest marketers on the planet, taking advantage of the biggest bargain in today’s scattered media environment? I say the latter. And here are three reasons why;

1. Pregame buzz – You’re not buying 30 seconds; you’re buying two weeks of pregame hype as well. And amid all this media madness, the advertisers get as much attention as the football players. The PR and buzz is unparalleled. Late night and morning show hosts, news anchors, magazine and newspaper writers, bloggers, and tweeters are all talking about who’s on the game and what to expect. Most importantly, this is all free media, consumed by people as editorial content rather than paid advertising. This is the kind of brand exposure that’s nearly impossible to buy. Last year the E*Trade baby was being talked about by Jon Stewart, ESPN, Good Morning America, The Colbert Show and The O’Reilly Factor—all before the Super Bowl even started.

2. Game time – 110 million viewers, all experiencing the exact same thing at the exact same time. The Super Bowl is America’s last campfire. It’s the only event left that we as a nation sit down and watch together. All those emotions you feel watching the game, and watching the ads, are being shared by 110 million other people at the same time. And shared experiences make for better stories. Period. More than one-third of all Americans watched the game last year, and more will watch this year. In this way, the Super Bowl is an anomaly in today’s fractured media landscape, which is why the actual 30 seconds you’re buying is worth its weight in gold. TV isn’t dead, but must-see TV is—with one exception: the Super Bowl.

3. Postgame echo – You’ve got a day or two of conventional media buzz to extend the life of the idea, but that dies pretty quickly after the USA Today poll and other news flurries. Postgame is where digital and viral take over, exponentially increasing the value of a Super Bowl ad with each additional view, comment, blog posting and Twitter comment. The firestorm a great Super Bowl ad can start is pretty awesome. Pop culture sites pick up the content, and news sites feature it. YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, Hulu and thousands of other popular sites all heave their Super Bowl ad contests that get not only massive viewership but also great two-way dialogue going on about the brand. And all of this doesn’t cost a dime. It’s part of the package—the nearly $3 million value package that we like to call a Super Bowl ad.

The Super Bowl is America’s last campfire. It’s when we all sit around and watch. And talk. And pass along our shared stories for days and weeks to come. It takes courage (and a boatload of coin) to play, but I, for one, believe the rewards outweigh the risks.

It all sounds like a pretty valid viewpoint to me – so long as the product and brand is already established, and it’s not a 30 second gamble on the company like it was in the late 90’s for many web startups.

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The authentic phone message challenge

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 16, 2010

I’ll start by saying the concept of getting customers to “hold” on a telephone is a pretty bad idea. Then I’ll tell this story….

Today I was on hold for Optus telecommunications, which gave me a reasonably standard phone message:

“Your call is important to us. At this time we experiencing high demand for our telephone support staff, and we’ll be with you as quickly as we can. Please hold the line for the first available operator.”

Here’s what I seriously would prefer to hear:

“We’ve made a deliberate choice to only have X number of people to answer our phones. They are incredibly expensive and having any more than this would impact our profit too much. We’ve done studies which have worked out the number of people that hang up for waiting too long, and how much revenue the average phone call generates or loses for us. The number of people employed to answer our phones is just about optimal. We check this every few months. The average wait is about 5 minutes, so it’s a cool idea to put the phone on load speaker while you wait. Then you can do other stuff. If we answer and you’re not at the phone immediately, we’ll do you the the same favour of waiting a bit while you run to the phone to talk to us once we actually answer. We hope you appreciate our honesty. We reckon it’s better than giving you a load of shit that tells you how important you are. Cheers.

And so the challenge goes out to any startup or business is prepared to develop the worlds first authentic phone message be sure to let us know here at Startup blog so we can spread the awesomeness.

There’ll also be a prize for the best comment with a phone number to a company that has a message of this ilk – and the prize is $100 Amazon gift voucher.

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Blogs are a stadium

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 9, 2010

I was asked today about how blogs should be built and leveraged from a commercial perspective. It seems to be a regular question I’m asked. The giving element that is required in the blogosphere seems counter intuitive to the way our minds have been trained via the industrial complex. They often struggle with the fact that we just have to give, and the law of natural economics just kicks in. So I came up with this analogy which I think makes sense and explains how it should be approached philosophically.

Blogs are like a football stadium.

The game is played in the middle of the ground.

In blogs the middle of the ground happens to be where our posts are geographically placed.

This is why people come to our blog. To see the action. To learn from and be entertained by the actual game (posts)

But like all good stadiums we have related infrastructure around the edges. Our details, company, tweetstream, contacts.

If they like the game we play (our posts) they return. The crowd gets bigger, and they tell their friends to come.

Like the stadium the revenue comes from all the related elements like the concession stands, the parking and the sponsorship. The stuff that generally lives around the edges… both in stadiums and our blogs.

But we must never forget why they are here. To enjoy the game. They only ever return because the enjoy the game (the blog posts). So what we need to do is build our industry around the game, rather than charging for tickets at the gate. Charging entry just doesn’t work beause there is far too many games they can attend. (more than 200 million in fact)

So when someone asks you about how to make a blog work. Remind them of ‘stadium economics’ and that it’s the quality of the information and entertainment which earns us the right to sell them the occasional hot dog.

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And now it’s in print

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 28, 2010

I caught up with all round good guy Ned Dwyer yesterday. We chatted about many things, of which the top of the list was the recent launch of “And now it’s in print.” A project Ned is heavily involved with. Let me just say this. It’s one of my favourite startups this year. The world over. For many reasons, but here’s one:

I asked Ned what the business model was, and this was his reply:

“It’s too important to have a business model. We decided instead to just make something awesome and see what happens”

That’s it my friends, the startup ethic we all need to aspire to. Doing it because it matters.

A couple of other smart ideas entrepreneurs can take note of.

- They limited their production run to 500 copies (invent demand through limiting supply)

- All the articles and visuals are from content they found on line (blending off line & on line worlds)

- The idea was borrowed from South by Southwest (share ideas, re-interpret)

- They proved print can still be awesome. (Print isn’t dead, print industry management is brain dead)

- They set themselves an impossible launch deadline, and made it. (Don’t think too much, get it out there)

Kudos from me.

Some fun pics from the launch here. More info here: andnowitsinprint.com

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Mixing it up

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 22, 2010

I’ve decided to run a few guests posts on startup blog.

I’ve never done this before and on the surface it my seem to lack purity. But here’s what I think.

The blog isn’t about me, it never has been. It’s about providing valuable information to those interested in the topic (startups, entrepreneurship, marketing). Which the guests posts will do. Heck, it might even facilitate spreading the startup blog word a little further and connect a few people…. Yep, that would be cool.

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Why scoreboards matter

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 20, 2010

Humans are compelled to count. We count everything. Days, weeks, months, years, birthdays, money in the bank, salary levels, years of experience. It’s part of the human condition, maybe it helped us evolve to a civilised existence .

As startup entrepreneurs we need to let our people count something. Whether it’s the savings they made or they friends they have, there needs to be a way for them to keep track. So our people know they have made progress. Commerce is an anthropological game of football. So we must keep score. But it must go beyond the corporate scoreboard of profit, share price, turnover, number of employees… it has to be an audience focused score. Like followers on twitter. It has to be about them, not us, it’s how humans roll.

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Quote about design: Steve Jobs

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 5, 2010

In preparation for teaching a Brand Management Class today at Melbourne University when I came across an important quote from Steve Jobs about the industrial design of the iPod. When the first generation iPod was finally complete and ready to be unveiled to the public Jobs looked back on the process of how the iPod was designed:

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s the veneer – that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it feels like and looks like. Design is how it works.”

Startup blog says: When it comes to design – it should facilitate function before fashion. After which time the human instinct takes over…. the function becomes the fashion.

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The white collar underclass

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 3, 2010

Before the Industrial Revolution the average number of hours worked in the western world was less than 6 hours per day. Some say we worked less than two and a half days a week.

I won’t quote what the average number of hours are today, but it’s more for everyone I know personally. I’m certain many people reading this would work in excess of 12 hours on certain days.

So what happened?

We got stooged. The  industrial revolution made it possible for a larger segment of the population to work year-round, since this labor was not tied to the season and artificial lighting made it possible to work longer each day. Peasants and farm laborers moved from rural areas to the factories and work times during a year has been significantly higher since then the important  innovation of piece labour. That is, the ability to earn income based on output. Think bolts in car doors.

Over time longer hours lead to greater amount of industrial accidents and workplace injuries. Unions formed and laws changed on the factory floor. But, the office was a different place altogether.

Office workers – salary based workers who where historically in management worked for salaries. A fixed wage for a fixed number of hours. My father constantly reminds me that in his day office workers only worked from 9am until 4.30pm. That tradesman and factory workers were the only people who did extra hours. And they did this to make up for the pay discrepancy which was favour of salary workers.

Clearly times have changed. If you are working in a large corporate, cubicle farm, in front of a screen or any place where you don’t get your hands dirty then chances are your are part of the ever growing white collar underclass. Here’s the some of stuff that defines members of the White Collar Underclass:

  1. A fixed salary with no overtime (factory workers, tradesman, retail staff all have overtime)
  2. Regularly working beyond the ‘official hours’ including weekends.
  3. It is expected that you arrive before and leave after your official hours.
  4. No representation in your industry to protect employment conditions.
  5. No tax benefits or uniform allowances, because your work clothing doesn’t have a logo on it. Even though it is in real terms a ‘uniform’ and costs you 10 times what hands on workers wear to work.
  6. Your annual performance review is based on the subjective assessments of your direct manager who may or may not like you.
  7. You work in a large building full of people who look and act like you do, and no one really knows what anyone else does.
  8. In an economic downturn, you panic, because you know what you do is essentially expendable.
  9. Large parts of your day are dealing with procedure, invented by other workers to justify their own existence.
  10. You look at a screen for large parts of your day, but have restrictions on what information you can bring onto the screen from the outside world.
  11. You feel as though your rarely use the skills acquired in the formal education you needed to get that job.
  12. You can work for days, weeks and months without any physical evidence of tangible outputs of what you have done. You don’t make or fix anything real.

If some of the above apply to you, chances are you are part of the white collar underclass. A group of people who have been victimized by efficiency. A group of people who don’t do anything real. Which is why there will be a significant value shift and higher pay going to people (like tradesman) who make stuff. Simple supply and demand. In the past 50 years companies have became so good at what they do, that very few people really do anything, including you. But you are giving so much of your time… you know it, and it eats at your soul.

Startup blog advice: Earn your living. Do something that adds value, not takes up space. Even if it must be done at nights and on weekends. Even if it provides no income. The human soul feeds on real activity, not simple economic existence. Feed your soul in 2010.

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