Start Up Blog

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 Crazy, outdated advertisers who haven’t been told that TV is dead?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.


A great moment in advertising

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 11, 2010

There is a Nike commercial that was shot in Kenya with Samburu tribesman speaking in their native language Maa. The slogan “Just Do It” appears when the tribesman is talking. In reality he was saying, “I don’t want these. Give me big shoes.

How to make your business appear smaller

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 7, 2010

I was inspired by a recent article from the Australian Anthill about making our business appear bigger than we are. But in the age of authenticity, do we really want that? Sure, appearing big can be a good thing depending on our audience. Certainly, the key point in the article to me was ‘How to appear professional’. But why should professional be inextricably associated with big?  Maybe the strategy should be to appear as small as possible. The current market place is not short of large corporates who are starting to understand the importance of personal service again. An example that comes to mind is the Bank of Queensland moving to a franchised branch model – where local ownership is of strategic importance to customers. Especially in such a tarnished industry as banking.

So why would we want to appear smaller than we are? Here’s a couple of thought starters:

Service – it is implicit that service is better when dealing directly with a small group of people rather than a faceless corporation

Trust – Smaller companies are way more dependent on you as a customer. You matter more, so you can trust the fact that they will do all they can to keep you.

Underdog - People love to support the up and comer. The person having a real go. Being small should be embraced and leveraged. Often this might be the only reason people do business with you.

So in the spirit of small = good, here’s the startup blog top 10 list of how to act small. Regardless of our actual revenue:

  1. Have personal contact details of team members on your website. Email, Skype cell phone.
  2. Remove pointless gatekeepers from your office who insulate hierarchy members from real customers
  3. Use real language in all written forms of communication. Use a human voice not corporate PR brochure parlance.
  4. Be honest when you stuff up. Admit it openly and quickly. Don’t make decisions based on repercussions, but on what’s right.
  5. Write terms and conditions (if you must have them) in a language anyone could understand
  6. Never call your audience your target. Business is is not skeet shooting, it is about delighting. You are performing for an audience, who can get up and leave at any time…. or even throw rotten tomatoes.
  7. Give responsibility to individuals not committees. Give them decision authority. It’ll get done quicker and better.
  8. Don’t gag your people. Allow anyone to comment on the company and what’s happening. It’ll be the best research you can ever do to find out what’s really going on in your company. No ships will be sunk.
  9. Have a policy of common sense. Not written manuals no employee will ever read.
  10. Say, “Yes we are only a small company…. and here’s why we are better…”


My new startup

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 19, 2009

I’m launching a new startup. For those who don’t know about it here are some of the key points:

  • The brand extension comes from an already successful enterprise
  • The partnership & legal agreements were entered into over a year ago
  • The idea is not an original one, rather a new execution of a proven formula
  • We didn’t pitch the idea or ask for permission, we just did it
  • It’s a brand extension
  • It’s a self funded project with no external capital. But we wont have ownership
  • We will give away the corporation, once it is cash flow positive
  • It’s a very long lead project
  • It wont be cash flow positive for more than 20 years
  • Estimated cost of the project is around $500K
  • We do expect to however, to yield emotional & community benefits very early after launch
  • It’s an industry we’ve never worked in before, but have a natural flair for it
  • Some of the product development will be outsourced to 3rd parties
  • Outsourcing will occur in 3 large segments of up to 6 years each
  • The most important product development will be done in house
  • There wont be any major advertising, brand awareness will be driven through family & friends
  • We already know it’s unique, but wont require any intellectual property protection
  • However, major security measures will be taken to protect the asset, especially in the incubation phase

My new startup is my baby due January 25th, and it’s the most exciting one I’ve ever been involved in. We’re involved in more startups than we think…

Startup Blog says: Let’s not define ourselves by what we own, but the cool stuff we do.


Startup School – 1 seat left

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 2, 2009

I’m very excited that Startup School Melbourne is this weekend. We still have a single seat left which is currently being warmed by this guy….

Picture 128

But we’d love to replace him with you. And if you need any more convincing then I’m pretty sure I’ll have done the job once you finish reading this blog entry.

Firstly – here’s a list of topics we’ll be covering in detail:

  • Idea Generating
  • Creativity in business. Creative thinking
  • Raising Capital
  • Art of Pitching
  • Legal tips, shortcuts and administration
  • Successful outsourcing (digital & production)
  • Building an international work force
  • Cash flow for startups & budgeting
  • Simplified project management
  • Personal & business branding
  • Selling like a guru
  • Generating PR and media
  • Building a Team

All of which is fully documented in a take home working manual so you’ll leave knowing exactly what to do and how to do it. Like I have.

We are also being joined by Yvonne Adele – Globally renowned Creativity and ideas guru!

You can’t learn this stuff in school, books or at University. And I should know as I teach Marketing at Melbourne University. You also get me as an on going mentor as a Startup School graduate with unlimited help in your start up. Which is incredible value give what most consultants (with less real experience) charge by the hour.

We are holding the event in the groovy boutique Lindrum Hotel. Where the space is great and the food and espresso is awesome. I tested it.

Picture 132

All of which is included in the price. You’ll be one of 10 people in an intimate learning environment. Not in a room full of people.

If that’s not enough , Startup School comes with a money back guarantee to blow your mind. I can say this because I know the 2 days will.

No, it’s not priceless – it’s priced at $998.

It will be the best investment in your entrepreneurship education you’ve ever made. it will make and save you thousands. This event is a one off, there is no next chance. If you want to chat about it – call me on the phone number in the right hand side bar of this blog.

Click here to book now.

(Seats still available for Sydney 21st & 22nd of November)

See you on the weekend, Steve.

Picture 116

Startup School just got better

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 16, 2009

For those of my blog readers already locked and loaded for startup schoolGood News.

For those thinking about coming long – Another great reason to join us.

The uber terrific Yvonne Adele from at Ideas Culture has just joined us for the 2 events. She will be facilitating and helping us out through the two days. But don’t think she’ll just be giving the intro’s and outro’s – she’ll be giving us her spin on creativity and ideas, as well as getting us pumped up, motivated and thinking. Which will also blow our minds!

Picture 106

For those who don’t know, Yvonne’s business was recently featured in Springwise and has a list of credentials and testimonials as long as both my arms.

So, if you’ve been on the edge of booking startup school. Time to get moving. The Melbourne event is about to close the door with only a couple of seats left. And Sydney is filling quickly.

Feel free to contact me if you have any queries and want to chat in more detail about it on 0438 779566. Steve.

Why iterations matter

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 8, 2009

When it comes to startups iterations matter a lot. They are evidence of the business pulse. They mean we are progressing and building momentum.

But there are some deeper reasons why iterations matter so much. Iterations give us a reason to go back.  To go back to the market ‘our people’ and re-engage in a conversation. It gives us something to talk about,  stimulate interest and demand. To glean feedback from, regardless of who this conversation happens to be with. Our business is essentially a large complex set of conversations, and the changes we make facilitate them.

So who can we go back to with our iterations?

- Our customers who want to know how these iterations help them out

- Our employees who can get excited about the cool stuff they have been / will be working on

- Our suppliers who can get excited about the prospect of more business

- The media want to report on innovation, updates and the industry

Nintendo EvolutionPic via Alex Figueroa

All of these conversations stimulate our business, our industry and ultimately the market place. Our iterations have a much bigger impact than we think. It’s far more macro.

Iterations are social, and we are social creatures. If nothing has changed or improved, then we move on. It is human nature.

Kraft needs lesson in ‘Crowd Sourcing’

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 30, 2009

The bungled Kraft Vegemite iSnack 2.0 comes down to a really simple problem. Something they (Kraft) do all the time, and I should know, I used to work there.

They can never seem to fully embrace new ideas in their entirety. They want to innovate, but leave the final decisions to senior management. They tend ignore research, or take snippets from consumers. They only ever go half way.

Vegemite iSnack 2.0

Latest news is that they are changing the name – your jar might be a collectors item in 10 years!

What Kraft should’ve done:

Not ask for ideas to chose from, but let the crowd choose and vote – like Digg! It’s crowd sourcing 101. If you want an opinion from the crowd, then you’ve got to let them decide too. That way you have them ‘on your side’.  To choose a brand name for 48,000 is as pointless as letting a very uncool CEO decide. Which is ultimately what they did.

Startup blog says: Embrace the crowd entirely, or don’t bother engaging them.


How to generate media for your startup

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on May 4, 2009

Here’s a recent Article I wrote for Anthill Magazine:

When aiming to generate media coverage for our start-up or business, we often get one thing wrong. It relates to our training as marketers. We are too targeted.

In fact, we need to do the reverse and cast the media net wide – as wide as possible. What needs to be targeted is ‘the message’, not the media organisations we aim at. The message needs to be written for the forum. But, in truth, most of us have way more messages in our business than we have bothered to think about, or even invent. Yes, we can invent messages.

The message or pitch needs to be all about them, their readers and their viewers. Never us or our start-up. So before you pitch, work out how many angles you’ve got and you’ll be surprised what you can dig up. In fact, you’ve got to give a bit before you get anything – especially for start-ups, who can exchange a few learnings from the battlefield.

Here’s an idea-jam for potential examples of media angles for Start-up X.

  • Altruistic – helping people
  • Business methods you’ve used
  • Helping people make money
  • Saving money by using your products
  • Productivity improvements of staff
  • Web news – first of its type
  • Start-up stories
  • Technology used
  • Ecologically sound (no, we don’t mean carbon offset)
  • Green message
  • Making the web-physical connect – going beyond virtual
  • Helping the financially challenged
  • Help people connect with customers
  • It’s über new
  • It’s the old world reinvented
  • Vicarious living….

There’s more, but you’re bored already. I’m just showing what’s possible. Stuff like this equals free media. Pages/slots have to be filled.

Frequency vs Depth

While we know we need advertising or media exposure, the thing we need most is frequency. Advertisers talk about depth and frequency. (Depth being how many people we reach on each occasion. Frequency being how often we reach them.) It’s great to let zillions of people know about our start-up as quickly as we can. We may even be lucky enough to get some kind of viral campaign working for our start-up – we may be featured in the newspaper, on TechCrunch or we might even be lucky enough get a TV spot.

After the event, here’s what happens: people cook dinner, pick up the kids from school, pay the bills, kick the dog and get on with life. Our start up doesn’t really matter to them… straight away.

Consumer awareness goes something like this:

Exposure 1: “That’s a cool idea/product/concept.”

Exposure 2: “Oh, yeah, I must remember to check that out.”

Exposure 3: “There it is again. Might be worth having a look.”

Exposure 4: “Hmm, Ok – I’ll check it out when I’m shopping/online next.”

Exposure 5: They finally act and go look at / investigate / touch / feel / try….

After many exposures we have “a chance” of selling to them. Sure some people check it out first time, some buy straight away, but the large majority need to be reminded, over and over again. This doesn’t mean you need to spam them or do terrible interruption marketing. It means you need to send frequent and relevant marketing communications to the people who might care.

It’s a lot like us never noticing an advertisement for a car until you are in the market to buy one. They’re always there, we just have selective perception.

This is why advertising frequency is king. No point having a big launch campaign if your prospective new customers aren’t looking on that occasion. For entrepreneurs, the big launch concept is a hoax. It’s unsustainable. We’re far better off being there all the time, in some way – then we don’t have to predict when people will buy.

And before you waste a shipload of money on a PR agency, the truth is the media aren’t listening anymore. Well, listening to PR firms…. Once upon a time, a PR agency had the secret access keys to journalists. That made them powerful. But things have changed. Now we can access anyone with a few Twitter messages and some Google magic. And the PR agency messages are very 1993. In an age of authenticity, we are far better off going direct. Developing a relationship with media contacts is far more valuable than wasting money on outsourcing PR. People want to talk to the person, and that person is you.

Want proof ?- check out the about page and scroll down to see the media we have generated – none of which has been paid for.


In order of preference

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on January 23, 2009

Face to face chat with single perosn who can make decision
Live internet video chat (skype / ustream et al)
Phone call
Internet chat (IM style)
Direct tweet
Text message

(Pic by Christian Gates)

So is this for Customers, Suppliers, Investors or Media?

All of them – they are all people.



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