Category Archives: General

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Unilever’s Six Buyer Personas for Axe Body Spray

How Unilever targeted their ad campaigns for Axe Body spray:

“Unilever first analyzed the potential Axe user by breaking males down into six profiles:

  1. The Predator — He takes advantage of drunk girls, and lies about his job and where he lives
  2. Natural Talent — Athletic, smart, and confident. He doesn’t need to lie to score
  3. Marriage Material — Humble and respectful, he’s the sort of guy you want to bring home to Mom and Dad
  4. Always the Friend — He always hits that glass ceiling
  5. The Insecure Novice — He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, and things get awkward fast — the geeks and nerds
  6. The Enthusiastic Novice — He has absolutely no clue what he’s doing, but he’s outgoing and tries valiantly anyway

Then, they determined that The Insecure Novice would be their natural target, since he needs the most help in getting women, and would be easily persuaded into buying a product that could aid the woes of nerdhood.”

How Axe Became The Top-Selling Deodorant By Targeting Nerdy Losers

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The End of the On-Demand Dream

Farhad Manjoo writes in the Technology section of The New York Times:

Other than Uber, the hypersuccessful granddaddy of on-demand apps, many of these companies have come under stress. Across a variety of on-demand apps, prices are rising, service is declining, business models are shifting, and, in some cases, companies are closing down. Here is what we are witnessing: the end of the on-demand dream. That dream was about price and convenience.

Like Luxe, many of these companies marketed themselves as clever hacks of the existing order. They weren’t just less headache than old-world services, but because they were using phones to eliminate inefficiencies, they argued that they could be cheaper, too — so cheap that as they grew, they could offer luxury-level service at mass-market prices. That just isn’t happening. Though I still use Luxe frequently, it now often feels like just another luxury for people who have more money than time.

But Uber’s success was in many ways unique. For one thing, it was attacking a vulnerable market. In many cities, the taxi business was a customer-unfriendly protectionist racket that artificially inflated prices and cared little about customer service. The opportunity for Uber to become a regular part of people’s lives was huge. People take cars every day, so hook them once and you have repeat customers. Finally, cars are the second-most-expensive things people buy, and the most frequent thing we do with them is park. That monumental inefficiency left Uber ample room to extract a profit even after undercutting what we now pay for cars.

Full article: The Uber Model, It Turns Out, Doesn’t Translate

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Zenefits CEO Resigns, New Focus: Integrity

Part of the problem with the “who’s gonna stop me?” attitude of Startuplandia is when companies try to move into heavily regulated industries. Leaders they can just ignore decades of entrenched bureaucracy and regulation simply because they’ve got a high valuation.

Employee management cloud software company Zenefits (which has raised $500M in 2 years at a $4.5B valuation) hit the fan earlier today when their CEO Parker Conrad resigned over compliance issues:

In an email sent to employees today:

We sell insurance in a highly regulated industry. In order to do that, we must be properly licensed. For us, compliance is like oxygen. Without it, we die. The fact is that many of our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong.

In December, we hired a Big Four auditing firm to conduct an independent third-party review of our licensing procedures that we will turn over to regulators as soon as possible.

Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company.

Effective immediately, this company’s values are: #1 Operate with integrity. #2 Put the customer first. #3 Make this a great place to work for employees.

They literally have to call out integrity.

Twitter IPO Raises $1.82 Billion With Value Topping Facebook

The 2 Smartest Things You’ll Read About Twitter Today

As talks of a purchase to go private loom, I found Ben Thompson’s post on Twitter’s tribulations:

Facebook always had an inherent advantage over Twitter in that its network, at least in the beginning, was based on networks that already existed in the offline world, namely, people you already knew. That made the service immediately approachable and useful for basically everyone. Twitter, on the other hand, was more about following people you didn’t know based on your interests. This theoretically applied to everyone as well, but uncovering those interests and building an appropriate list of people to follow had to be done from scratch.

and

[T]the use of mobile devices occupies all of the available time around intent. It is only when we’re doing something specific that we aren’t using our phones, and the empty spaces of our lives are far greater than anyone imagined. When it comes to “the empty spaces” most people don’t want to do work, but work is exactly what Twitter required. You had to know what you were interested in, know who to follow based on those interests, and then, to top it all off, you had to pick out the parts that you were interested in from a stream of unfiltered tweets; Facebook, in contrast, did the work for you.

Stratechery: How Facebook Squashed Twitter

Image from this Wired article.

Uber Class Action Lawsuit Expands to Include Over 160k Drivers

From Vice:

“This past September, US District Court Judge Edward Chen granted the suit class-action status, clearing the way for drivers across the state to be included. Uber then tried to limit the size of that class, by saying many of its drivers had signed an “arbitration clause” — a legal agreement designed to force employees to settle grievances outside of the courts — that barred them from filing suit. Uber quietly inserted the clause into its driver agreement back in 2014. But on Wednesday, US District Court Judge Edward Chen rejected the validity of the arbitration clause, expanding the group of drivers eligible to sue Uber to as many as 160,000. He called the clause “both procedurally and substantively unconscionable,” since there was no clear way for drivers to opt out.

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Unicorns vs Donkeys: Let’s Do the Math

Abhas Gupta writes about the impotance of the ratio of lifetime customer value to cost of customer acquisition – and what it means for startups on Medium:

Like Newton’s laws of gravity or momentum, most tech startups (see exceptions below*) who sell directly to their customers — both enterprises and consumers — must eventually obey the Fundamental Law of Growth: LTV/CAC > 3. There’s a lot of nuance as to why — a discussion that is better suited for a semester-long class than a blog post — but suffice to say that the LTV/CAC ratio speaks to a startup’s revenue trajectory, capital needs, and in turn, how much “irrational exuberance” is demanded of its investors. The lower the LTV/CAC ratio, the less efficient a company is at deploying capital and the more money it needs to fuel growth; conversely, the higher the LTV/CAC ratio, the more efficient the company is and thus the more value it creates for the same amount of capital. Though this can be derived, many before me have empirically observed that 3x is roughly the threshold needed to build big, sustainable businesses.

Read Gupta’s apply this analysis to startups like HelloFresh, Evernote, Oscar, and ZocDoc: Unicorns vs. Donkeys: Your Handy Guide to Distinguishing Who’s Who

Featured image from Flickr user Cathering/rumpleteaser.

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Lucidworks CEO Will Hayes and Clef BD Head Darrell Jones III on Why Diversity Starts at Home

Lucidworks CEO Will Hayes interviews Clef’s head of biz dev, Darrell Jones III about how individuals can make a lasting impact on youth and breed inclusivity in the organization from the ground up – and why Oakland is poised to be the Atlanta of the west coast – in this snippet, Hayes ask Jones about the common tech habit of hiding behind meritocracy:

“When I hear people talk about meritocracy… I question whose history they’ve been reading, whose life they’ve looked into and how objective that really is. You can’t expect children growing up on welfare with no access to education and mentors to be able to compete. For every thousand kids, you have one Barack Obama. You will have one Jackie Robinson. But far and away, the odds are not in that favor. That is privilege. When 50 out of 70 privileged kids do well and only 1 out of 70 kids here do well, I don’t want to talk about how the other 69 should have been better. I was a bright kid and when I was in the inner city of Chicago, I was surrounded by plenty of other bright kids. I’m here now and a lot of those equally intelligent kids, who had similar family structures — if not better because I had a single parent — don’t have the same outcomes. You can’t look me in the eye and tell me that’s meritocracy.”

Full inteview on Forbes.com: Why Diversity Starts at Home

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LinkedIn Expands Blogging Platform to All English-Speaking Users

Previously US-only, LinkedIn has expanded their blogging platform to include all English-speaking users.

The professional network expanded its publishing tool late Wednesday, granting long-form publishing power to more than 130 million English-speaking LinkedIn members outside the United States, according to LinkedIn’s Head of Content Ryan Roslansky.

From their blog:

Each week, members publish more than 40,000 posts on average. Posting on LinkedIn is a powerful way for members to underscore their expertise in their respective fields, extend their professional reputations beyond LinkedIn, and have valuable conversations with the largest group of engaged professionals ever assembled.

Venturebeat:

With many other channels available on the Web for networking, LinkedIn has been careful not to become stagnant and follow the likes of Bebo down the path of social networking irrelevance. By opening up its platform to more user-generated content, it’s looking to help drive engagement and encourage people to spend more time with the service. More eyeballs means more advertising dollars, after all.

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How Pulp Paperbacks Changed Publishing

The New Yorker looks at how pulp fiction changed the economics of book publishing:

“Instead of relying on book wholesalers—”jobbers”—who distributed to bookstores, de Graff worked through magazine distributors. They handled paperbacks the same way they handled magazines: every so often, they emptied the racks and installed a fresh supply.

Pocket books were priced to sell for twenty-five cents. De Graff is supposed to have come up with that figure after paying a quarter at a toll booth. No one, he concluded, misses a quarter. Penguins sold for sixpence: Lane believed that his books should not cost more than a pack of cigarettes. This meant that people could spot a book they had always meant to read, or a book with an enticing cover, and pay for it with spare change.

This stuff was not trying to pass itself off as serious literature. It was a deliberately down-market product, comic books for grownups—pulp fiction.

The paperback presented the publishing industry with a dilemma. Many people in the business, whether they actually read books or not, believed that they should be packaged as upmarket commodities, cultural goods for people looking for something superior to mass entertainments like Hollywood movies and, after 1950, television. “Read a good book” is a phrase that has the ring of virtue. It implies that what is, after all, just another form of distraction is more than that. It recommends taking some private time away from the world to immerse yourself in a mode of enjoyment and edification that belongs to an ancient and distinguished tradition.

This marketing philosophy may have reflected the fear that, if books competed directly with the movies, the movies would win. Whatever the thinking, Pocket Books and its progeny defied it. De Graff packaged books as just another form of distraction, and one completely compatible with everyday life. He imagined people reading books on the way to work, during the lunch hour, standing in line at the bank—exactly the way that millions of people listen to music through their earbuds today.”

Full article Pulp’s Big Moment: How Emily Brontë met Mickey Spillane.