Start Up Blog

Consumer is a dirty word

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 21, 2012

For a long time I’ve hated the word ‘consumer’. It has very little to do with marketing, let alone delighting people who give you their custom. After a recent tweet about it – I was asked by Marketing Magazine to write an article about it.

Click here to read the article I wrote about it. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this dirty word.


Maxibon Manchew – Radvertising

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 2, 2011

This is the best advertising I’ve seen so far this year. Really love the concept and the execution. Made me hungry.

If you’re going to advertise your startup then I reckon we can learn something form the radvertising above. And the lesson is this:

Don’t get lost in the middle. Go as close the edge as possible. Make outrageous tongue in check claims and be hilarious, or be 100% authentic and truthful. Everything in the middle of either of these two extreme edges is simply, wallpaper.


What drives people

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 3, 2011

I had an interesting discussion with a child psychologist yesterday. He was telling me that one theory says there are three main motivators for all human behaviour. I am sure there are a zillion counter theories, but I really think this can be useful for anyone working in the ‘influence’ arena.

The three motivators are based around the desire for:




The theory states that 2 of the 3 will be very important to us, while 1 of them will be very low on impacting our behaviour. It also says that this operates at a very deep subconscious level. Without knowing too much about, I already think I could pick what motivates many people I deal with in business. It might also be worth thinking about next time you’re negotiating something or working on a project with others.


It’s our audience, not a target

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 8, 2010

There’s quite a few bad words used in business and marketing. Words which quantify, extract and segment. They dehumanise business. I’d like to see them removed from our vernacular. Here’s two examples worth sharing.

Target & Consumer. I prefer Audience and People and here’s why:

A Target is something we aim for, shoot at, maybe even kill. An Audience is something we try to impress. An audience gives us a chance to prove our worth, they invest their time in us and we must respect it by trying to over deliver to their expectations. In the hope that, they throw flowers on the stage, cheer and ask for an encore. But we enter the stage knowing we may get rotten tomatoes thrown at us, if that’s what we deserve. The onus is on us.

A Consumer is someone who buys stuff. Their primary purpose is to devour whatever we provide. They are faceless, nameless and irrelevant. We want as many of them as possible to fulfill our financial needs. A Person however, is someone we know. A person has emotions, ambitions and meaning in their life. They have opinions which we must value, and a life which we need to enhance. A person is someone we hope to relate to on a human level. A consumer is machine like and undervalued.

The best startups and brands, know that they need to perform for their audience. They know that audiences are made up of people.


How not to run a promotion – the Chef’s Hat

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 4, 2010

I had a discussion with Luke Waldren who had a very poor customer service experience from the Chef’s Hat in Melbourne. For those who don’t know, the Chef’s Hat is regardred as the premier retailer in our city for restraunters, cafe owners and hard core Foodies. They sell a range of appliances and all things related to food retailing – except for the actual food.

Luke went down to buy a a Kitchen Aid appliance, for which he knew there was a promotion at the Chef’s Hat retail store. The offer was pretty simple: Buy a Kitchen Aid blender and recieve a free Kicthen Aid knife worth $49.95. A nice bonus offer for consumers. The offer is below – which mind you is on the front page of their website.

So when Luke arrives at the cash register to pay, there is no mention of the free knife. He then proceeds to ask and says. “Hey, isn’t there a free knife that comes with the blender.” The retail assistant claims no knowledge of the promotion. But luke brings out the iPhone and shows the bonus offer straight from their website as proof. The retail assistant then asks for the manager over the load speaker to come and help. When the manager arrives this is the conversation that transpired:

Retail assistant: “Are we giving away knives with these blenders?”

Manager: “if we have to…”

The manager then leans over to a draw filled with said knives, grabs one and throws it across the table to give to Luke. As though he got caught out. As though he lost one of his precious inventory to god forbid, a customer who entered the store because of the promotion.

If you are going to run a promotion. You have to mean it.

We have to advise those who didn’t know about it. We need to share the benefit with delight. We have to share the message that we go the extra mile and create more value than our competitors. If we are going to act like we don’t really want to participate, then we shouldn’t. Or worse, if we are going to treat our customers with disdain, then we’ll end up on blogs like this spreading the bad word.


Design Idea

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 3, 2010

What is the shortest path from the front door  to a smile. It doesn’t matter if we play in the web space, retail or have a factory… Once we map that out, we have defined our core utility.


Convention busting – retail

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 11, 2010

Long held wisdom in the retail industry is that items must be displayed on shelves by category. Idea being that we know what thing we are looking when we shop. But what if we’re just browsing? What if we don’t want anything in particular? Bring on Smiggle – stationary retailer who display their range by color.

Eyeball worthy…. I better go check out what they have in purple.

They aren’t the only ones moving towards it, as  on line retailer etsy also display their range on line by color, with an amazing interface – check it out. It just works.

What other conventions need to be busted in your startup category?

New York Series: Naming a Brand

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 10, 2009

This is the oldest marketing lesson in the book – What to call our brand. It seems it doesn’t matter how many times the story is told, but some businesses never seem to learn. Here’s a bad example of a clothing brand name which I saw in Bloomingdale’s today.


Yep, Acne. Which means pimples here in Australia. I’m surprised it even made it instore. So here’s the startup blog rules for brand names. Which I’ll keep short:

  • Try to invent a word that currently has no meaning. (our job is to invent meaning under it)
  • Ensure you can ‘own it’ globally. (No confusion, registerable)
  • Make sure it doesn’t mean something ridiculous, in your country or another.

That’s all that matters in real terms. Other rules are made up by people who are focused on stuff which doesn’t really have much to do with brand building.


New York Series: So much advertising

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 6, 2009

I am absolutely flummoxed at how deep the media channels flow in the USA.

I’ve never such visual pollution in one city. So much advertising.The thing I’m most surprised about is the ethical (pun intended) pharmaceutical category. TV advertisements for Drug X, encouraging people to go to the doctor to see if they have disease Y, in which case they should ask the doctor to prescribe drug X. This is so wrong, on so many levels. Start ups out there, please be in business for good – sales should be your secondary objective – helping people your first.


Sure, Times Square is kind of cool to look at, a real visual orgy. But it just never ends.

If you’re in the media business in Australia or Europe, there are plenty of new spaces which can be leveraged. I’ll provide a summary of new media channels with a photo essay at the end of the trip. But in the interim here’s a link to an historical advertising photo stream I found on flickr. Quite interesting.



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