Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Evolving Your Business or Ministry...Not So Fast

According to the late Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould, the "trade secret" of paleontology is sudden appearance and stasis. That is, creatures suddenly appear in the fossil record and largely stay the same thereafter.

Of course, this phenomena presents all sorts of problems for Darwin's theory of slow and steady, slight modifications leading to the complex organisms we now observe. But sudden appearance and stasis should be quite instructive for your business.

Contrary to the much-touted though altogether ambiguous mantra that business must evolve to survive, you should consider your own company or ministry's evolution in micro, not macroevolutionary terms. That is, what small changes can you make that will ensure that you thrive, even as you survive? Your goal should not be to locate the missing links that will transform your business from a shoe company to a broadband provider or your ministry from a church to a homeless shelter, but to firm up the parts that are lacking to maximize sustainability and effectiveness.

Darwin prophesied an abundance of missing links easily detectable within the fossil record. 150 years later, paleontology has produced little more than debatable transitional forms.

Today the prophets of business and ministry trumpet evolving to survive, pointing to Darwin and friends. Perhaps in view of sudden appearance and stasis, you should keep your own "trade secret" that encourages micro-innovation within a constant whole.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Not to Launch Live Streaming - Ministry and Business Marketing & Media Blog

Major League Baseball recently announced that they're launching live, locally-available online streaming of baseball games, with the net proceeds to be split between the League, teams and local media interests including cable TV providers. Check out this quick article on the move.

This effort has been years in the works and as the article relates, MLB brass still aren't sure exactly how things will pan out, particularly in regard to fan interest. If I may be so bold, I predict that their current modus operandi will either be a colossal failure or will not net nearly the viewership (read cash) that could be realized through a better game plan.

Chief among their mistakes is the requirement with all of their streaming agreements, that users be existing subscribers to the local cable company or otherwise with broadcast TV rights.

Yo estoy no stupido.

I get that cablers and others are wanton to smash anything that threatens their lucrative broadcast audience. Still, MLB must realize that the existing subscriber requirement will utterly hamstring their online audience building. Perhaps a better way would be to cut the broadcasters in on the action.

Regardless of your industry, MLB's missteps should offer a useful object lesson for your online broadcasting. Namely, don't erect self-defeating barriers to audience growth be they cumbersome registration, unsustainable fees or lack of content mobility (read virality).

Decide beforehand what will be allowed to spread unfettered and to which content you want to attach audience capture efforts and even revenue generation. Otherwise, your home run cut will be a swing and a miss.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bringing Live Concert DVDs Online - Ministry & Business Marketing & Media Blog

Earlier this month I trekked to Pagosa Springs, Colorado for our annual "man trip" featuring paintball, Texas Hold 'Em and plenty of Wii. Concert DVDs by Matchbox 20, Eric Clapton and Rush provided the soundtrack for our extravaganza.

If you're a music lover or just a big fan of a special group of bands, you've no doubt plunked down $35 or more for these concert DVDs, which according to our trip DJ--whom himself is a killer percussionist--is the next best thing to being at the show. This from a guy who's seen literally hundreds of concerts including U2, Elton John, Tim McGraw, Rush, Billy Joel and many more.

Frankly, it amazes me that such a solid musician and huge audiophile would want to see his favorite bands on the small screen. But my friend's love for concert DVDs got the gerbel in my head back on its wheel...

Why don't bands sell online season passes to all of their shows? Unless fans are utter Dead Heads, Parrot Heads and/or perpetually unemployed, they won't be able to make it to every show. But with the advent of synching your computer with your TV, killer home audio and unbelievably fast broadband access, any true fan should be able to see every show.

Imagine a concert DVD that features every tour stop! How much would you spend on that? $49.95? $99.95? More?

And what about music festivals? Imagine Alive Fest, Lilith Fair and the thousands of other music fests--either with several stops or one multi-day show--offering live online concert packages! Add to that user-gen contests leading up to the show and fan video uploads after the show(s) and you've got a recipe for huge fan response and big revenue? Did I mention online title, video and banner sponsorships by existing sponsors?!?

The concert DVD was just the beginning. Now it's time for bands, promoters and fans to bring the show online.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hulu Social Networking and Making Money Online - Ministry & Business Marketing & Media Blog

Hulu, the second-most popular online video destination, is adding a host of social networking features to its community, including member profiles and video sharing. This makes for coverage by the Wall Street Journal and friends, but as Shelly Palmer of Media Bytes asks" "are they making any money?"

Hulu and YouTube cast a big audience net, but this often fails to translate into big cash for those sites and the producers featured therein.

Content producers of all stripes should utilize mass market video websites to generate views. But producers must be uber-diligent to drive that traffic to their own custom-branded communities. In the words of a top Disney digital exec: "what is most monetizable is the social activity around our branded content..."

Even if Hulu and YouTube add loads of goodies to their communities, thus enabling folks to spread content far and wide, the end result is the same: their brands will benefit first and foremost. Better to harness these biggies to drive traffic to your own playground, where social media tools can provide you with the most oomph, i.e., brand identity and revenue.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Niche Online Video + Loyal Audience = Big Ad Dollars

On the heels of Comcast & Time Warner's murmurings about offering cable content free-of-charge to existing subscribers, CBS has nearly sold out $30 million in ad inventory for its upcoming March Madness on Demand.

Through MMOD, basketball junkies can stream all of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games. MMOD even comes with a "boss button" that pops up a fake spreadsheet if at-work fans sense The Man approaching (sponsored by Comcast, of course).

If you're sitting on a niche content library with a faithful audience--be it entertainment, ministry-related, or otherwise--think about the implications of CBS' success for your online offerings. While you're at it, consider that other networks are capitalizing on tremendous demand for niche content through paid subscriptions for video on demand and live online events. In one previously unreported case of which I'm intimately aware, a Christian ministry netted thousands of subscriptions and a whopping profit from a recent live-streamed convention.

Whatever your model, if you've got a niche content library that's already generating interest, you're halfway there. Now you simply need to combine your content with an easy-to-use/easy-to-manage Internet TV platform.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Social Networking That Pays the Bills - Ministry & Business Marketing and Media Blog

Check out this insight-packed interview with Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the Disney-ABC Television Group. Among his many worthy observations, Cheng asserts:

"Tying into Facebook and other social networks doesn't mean we can necessarily monetize our content, because open social activity is going to be more monetizable in our branded environments. What is most monetizable is the social activity around our branded content anywhere."

Translation: your branded environment, not YouTube or another mass market website, is the best place to encourage social networking around your brand. And be sure that folks can access your content in any place and on any device.

Too often brands deploy the right social networking tools but do so within the wrong context. That is, folks can add your content to their Facebook pages, comment & link to your goodies, reference them on Twitter and more, but not enough of this activity leads them to and occurs within your branded environment.

Encouraging social networking around your offerings is great. Using social networking to drive traffic to and spur interaction within your brand-centric setting is what pays the bills.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Video Producers Cannot Survive on YouTube Alone - Ministry and Business Media & Marketing Blog

The world's most popular online video site is easily the top choice for amateur and professional producers looking to post their video content online. However, media creators large and small pay a high price for using YouTube alone. Playlists featuring other artists, search bars and even the pending wave of Hollywood-produced content threaten every company that relies on solely on YouTube for online video distribution.

A better strategy is to utilize YouTube in combination with a custom-branded Internet TV platform in which you or your company are the only star.

Unlike what you'll get with YouTube alone, a fully-branded video platform such as Endavo Media's service will allow you to capture subscriber information, generate a much greater CPM than YouTube's paltry payout to Partners and give you a dedicated distribution network that performs better in peak times than YouTube's over-burdened network.

Perhaps best of all, a sophisticated Internet TV platform will allow you to maintain brand vitality and avoid the Expedia Effect. The Expedia Effect refers to the watering down of the brands of most major airlines that sell tickets via Expedia.com. Do most passengers differentiate between Delta, Continental, American, United and others? A big part of this brand dilution is due to these airlines relying solely on a mass market website to sell their services, much in the same way that many video producers lean exclusively on YouTube, Vimeo and friends.

Tap into the reach of YouTube. But be sure to use your YouTube presence as a means to drive traffic to your custom video platform. Your brand and your bottom line will thank you.

For a live example of utilizing YouTube and your own brand-friendly video platform, check out Dave Days' YouTube channel and new Endavo Media platform.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

YouTube and William Morris To Team for Premium Content - Ministry and Business Marketing & Media Blog

Word is swirling online that YouTube and major talent agency William Morris will team up to place premium content on the world's largest video portal. This serves the dual purpose of meeting YouTube's need for content they believe they can fully monetize and the needs of William Morris clients to have yet another platform to market themselves, perhaps after they've been rejected by major film and television studios.

This brings a couple questions to mind concerning both the William Morris clients and existing YouTube partners.

What will appearing on YouTube do for top-shelf WM talents? It used to be that top film stars refused to appear on television becuase the small screen was perceived to be for small-timers.

Clearly, for those closer to the bottom of the food chain YouTube could represent a killer opportunity to build a fan base. But for those already doing well, how many will be willing to appear on YouTube and how will doing so impact their brands? Brad Pitt and friends showing up for a Jimmy Kimmel bit is one thing. Showing up on YouTube in a low-level star's video is another.

On the flip side, what impact will the appearance of established stars have on the traffic of YouTube partners such as Smosh, Fred, Dave Days and others? Perhaps new Hollywood talent will bring new viewers to YouTube? Then again, if the decreased audiences of top-tier TV shows in a sea of 300 channels is at all instructive, then existing YouTube partners should seriously consider branching out.

Also consider the impact of YouTube's overall efforts to make their site more user-friendly and keep folks on their portal longer.

Search bars, menus of related content from other producers and other functionality is great for fans, but most assuredly dilutes the brands of individual YouTube producers. What then will a flood of not just prosumer but studio quality content do to existing YouTubers?

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