Books and Brain Busting

The phrase “post-literary” scares me. It is a real term, bandied about by the intelligentsia, and speculates that people are not reading books these days. There is no question that the book market is a horrid place, one where the major publishers treat writers like chattel, only big names make big bucks, and where being a touring musician looks appealing by comparison (a common joke in the music business is that a touring musician is the only job that pays less than being homeless). Which makes the book industry a wonderful model for discussing marketing of difficult products, changing channels, and general business dystopia. Changes … bloody changes The book market has changed, but not just because Amazon said so. In North America and many industrialized nations, readership is falling. Pew Research said that in 2011, about 79% of the adult population had read a book – or at least … Continue reading

Swift Sales

Can’t say I care for Taylor Swift’s music, but her marketing skills have me tapping my toes. News broke that her latest album sold more copies in four days that Ed Sheehan’s latest album sold in seven months. Swift has, over time, amassed a large and borderline rabid fan base, who would likely buy her album in droves. Many musicians have loyal followings. Songwriter Tom Waits, who in his experimental phase was nearly unlistenable, still sold records to his very loyal fans (I have a complete collection). But Swift, understanding better than most how social media and the streaming music markets work, leveraged them all to sell over a million albums in less than a week. Some of it was traditional marketing strategy and some was exploiting new channels to drive demand. Stream not my love Swift’s fans … Continue reading

Uber’s Image

An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance. Uber’s image has taken a beating. A shellacking. A bloody thumping. And it started long ago. I’m one of the few humans who finds nothing to like about Las Vegas. But when I’m reluctantly in town, I use Lyft to shuttle around. Upon occasion, the Lyft driver will also have an Uber sticker in the windshield. I always ask them who they like working with better, and why. In a word, they think Uber is a hard-nosed, cheap outfit, difficult to work with. Okay, that was more than a word – but their dislike for Uber is palpable. In fact, they would rather drive for Lyft but they still bow to Uber’s market dominance. Which is fading. Where did Uber’s bad reputation begin? It appears to have started at the top, where all corporate culture begins. From there, the next … Continue reading

In the Moog

Great things don’t die. Among musicians, Moog – the storied innovator and maker of synthesizers – is iconic. This despite the company having once been sold, the buyer disfranchising Moog’s engineering team, then going under, then being revived by the founder (Bob Moog) who later passed away. In an age where digital, software controlled synthesizers are much more versatile than Moog’s analog gear, Moog is growing. Mainstream musicians and Hollywood studios clamor for their products. It is a sign of coolness for a road musician to have at very least a Minimoog on stage. A brand based on somethings Key to Moog’s revival was … Continue reading

Startup Marketing Mistakes

Guy Smith speaking at Draper University on the marketing mistakes that kill startups

How do founders kill their companies? Most often by not understanding the basics of marketing strategy. I spent a pleasent hour at Draper University speaking to students about the top three ways Silicon Valley startup founders crash their own companies. Draper kindly provided video from the event, and you can watch the whole presentation.   For a full course on the basics of marketing strategy, get a copy of our book The Start-up CEO’s Marketing Manual at (if you have technical difficulties watching the embeded video above, it is available at YouTube at … Continue reading

Restricted Brand

censored content google facebook twitter

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not a Republican, Democrat, liberal or conservative. Hence, this article is non-aligned. Are Facebook, Twitter and Google corrupting their brands by being socially underhanded? Of late, both Facebook and Twitter have been publicly accused of censoring non-left-of-center content. Now Google admits to blocking advertisements due to Google’s perception of social desirability. In each instance, these corporate goliaths, which together control the flow of most online human interaction, either admit to or are accused of filtering legal content based on their perception of what should or should not be. The new media is aping the old media, and runs the risk of the same fate. Regardless of if you agree or disagree with the filtered content, the troubling aspect is that large corporations are deciding what content their users should and should not see. Outside of endangering activities (e.g. terrorism, child porn, congress convening), the Internet has … Continue reading

Sopped Sales

Apple has more to worry about than the FBI, courts and the government breaking Apple’s privacy engineering. Apple has a peaked market that appears to be limiting their growth. All markets eventually saturate. The smartphone market, in most first-world nations, is saturated, or nearly so. Thus, the number of people willing to pay a premium for Apple mobile devices is almost capped. iPhones – at least in their current incarnation – appear to have reached saturation. iPhones will not compete in second- and third-world markets against $4 Android phones. All markets are segmented. When the segment you dominate becomes saturated, you have to change something before revenue growth abates and stockholders call for your head. The question remains which action is correct. Apple has a brand built around the high-end of their market, so they are unlikely to trash their brand by dropping prices. Since this is basically a segmentation … Continue reading