Fans, Brands and Cultural Communities

 I just read a very smart analysis about how to be successful in the music business.  It was written by Terry McBride and Brent Muhle.  It’s called Meet The Millenials: Fans, Brands and Cultural Communities.

Terry is one smart cookie. He understands the music business and he understands digital media.  His company, Nettwerk, has sold 150 million albums during a time when the industry was crying the blues about lost sales.  

One of his artists, Avril Lavinge, has a video on YouTube that has been seen over 90 million times (the report even provides a case study about how they did it).  

To me, the most important part of this report on Fans, Brands and Cultural Communities is the insight about the need to experiment and tinker if you want your entertainment business to succeed online.
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It’s Time to Monetize YouTube

According to AC Neilsen, 119 million Americans watched video online in May.

And, they watched a lot.

In just one month, they watched 7.5 billion video streams.  The number is staggering.  Billions of streams in just one month.

And, YouTube got most of them.  Its 74 million unique viewers watched 4 billion streams.   

For comparison, Fox Interactive Media was a distant #2 with about 329 million streams watched.  

Yet, even with its huge audience and multiple views, Google is making less money from YouTube in a month than the Superbowl makes with just 7 commercials.

This is crazy.
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Don’t Make Me Think

Confusing signIt still surprises me that there are so many bad websites out there – especially since some designers act as if there is nothing new left to learn about design.

To me, a bad site is one where you don’t know where to start when you land on the home page and where the graphics don’t help you make decisions about what to click on.  Even a big consulting company like McKinsey could use some help.

That’s why I’m still a big fan of Steve Krug and his wonderful ‘basic’ book on Website design called Don’t Make Me Think.

His common sense thinking is focused on ‘usability’ – how customers or visitors ‘use’ your site.  And, he suggests that many sites are too complex, too difficult to navigate and too hard to figure out.

In his book, he says that when someone visits your website, they start by scanning the page and then click on the first ‘reasonable’ option to get them closer to what they want.  He calls this action ‘satisficing’ -a word coined by Herbert Simon – meaning to suffice and/or satisfy.

He suggests that every web site should be subjected to ‘usability testing’ — an inexpensive, powerful way to root out the obstacles in a site while highlighting what’s really useful.

It’s gritty, real-world research.

Whether you just started building a web site or you’ve been designing sites for years, Don’t Make Me Think is a valuable tool.

The Seven Essential Connections

New media has shifted marketing perception suggesting the rules for brand building have dramatically changed.

Actually, the rules haven’t changed — and neither has the end goal. Rather, it’s the methods and choices used to build those brands that have changed the way brands are marketed, with some new powerful tools gaining popularity and other previously-strong tools losing power (or already lost it).

Here’s what remains as true and essential today as always: for significant and meaningful brand building connections and branding engagement, brands have to share common ground with the desired customer.

What does this mean?

The relationship between brand and customer must represent something real to the customer; otherwise, the brand doesn’t matter in the customer’s world. Miss this connection and you certainly won’t motivate brand advocates.

Successfully-built brands have to be genuine and based on the real values and vision of the brand.

Larger brand audiences and market share dominance happen when the brand links distribution of the brand intention with the brands perception.

It’s the bedrock of trust and common ground, allowing the relationship between brand and consumer to grow and prosper.

What are the Seven Essental Connections for Successful Customer Brand Building? The brand MUST share with the customer:

1) Life values (self-identity)
2) Core “roots” (history, heritage, religion, etc.)
3) Cause (forward-moving purpose)
4) Mutual interests and/or benefits (time spent together)
5) Lifestyle (community)
6) Hobbies (interactivity)
7) Preferences (like and shared dislikes)

Brands that connect with customers on all seven levels consistently are engaged. Look at some of the biggest successes: Apple, for example. BMW and Toyota for cars and Ford for trucks. Even TV shows like American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Lost, Heroes, 24, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Each connect on all seven levels…and deliver financial results and customer buzz.

But not all brands connect on all seven levels.

Why not?

Most brands don’t consciously concentrate on servicing, staffing or budgeting the brand on those 7 levels. Which is too bad; if they did, the brand would earn the cherished “X Factor”…that special extra oomph in brand value making it superior than any competitor.

How well is your brand connecting?