Creating My First Digital Media Campaign

My sister and her boyfriend are in the process of birthing a great business model. It has been christened the Train Station ™, a great name considering one of the founders’ last names is train. It aims to connect people inspired to become healthy and strong with personal trainers/coaches (PTs) dedicated to inspiring such-minded individuals. Think of it as an eBay for PTs. Potential trainees shop around for trainers based on specialty, location, price and performance reviews.

With such ventures, exposure and clientele base are paramount to success. That is to say, the more people that are using The Train Station ™, the more successful it will be for the founders and clients. There are many ways to generate a user base; cold calling, sending out emails, running ads, posting in forums and specialty groups. The more of these avenues that are used in conjunction with each other, the better. The more overall exposure, the better. The overarching goal is to create awareness of the site, and attract its first customers.

Just after the business starts, and the first clients are being connected to the first PTs promotions such as free PT sessions for inviting friends for clients, and double paid sessions for PTs who recruit clients or other PTs to the site can be run to increase the traffic and consumer base to the site. The only goal here is to increase the user base and generate exposure.

In conjunction with the above promotion, brand promotion and brand styling can be made. A lot of businesses focus on function instead of aspiration. Function meaning what the business actually does. Aspiration meaning what the client could become, what the client aspires to, through using this product. The best thing about aspiration is it doesn’t have to relate in any way shape or form to the product. Picture someone drinking a coke. In my mind I picture an attractive fun person. We all aspire to be attractive, fun people, so if I drink coke I am attractive and fun. It’s complete nonsense, but that is the way our brains work, through connection and association.

Another example focusing on the Train Station™. If we were to focus on function, we would promote ourselves as a place to connect to PTs and find new and different ways to work out. If we focus on aspiration, we would brand ourselves as a way of becoming fit and healthy, of effecting positive change in our lives and the lives of others. We could associate our brand with taking control of our bodies, of our mind. With getting the body we want, the lifestyle and health we want. With achievement. Winners use Train Station, are you a winner? We would do this through the use of videos of clients. Through hashtags and creating a slogan and propagating the slogan throughout the internet so people become aware of it and comfortable with it.

This whole process would take, in all likelihood, around a year from here to fulfill. It’s a daunting amount of work with unknown setbacks and obstacles, but with dedication.teamwork.friendship we will be able to achieve all our goals and build a successful small business. In this blog, I will outline each step in detail, and explain how we implemented our plan and how we overcame the obstacles we come up against. Stay tuned for more. Also, if you haven’t already, check out the Train Station™.

Na Na why don’t you get a job

I’ve decided to get a job. That’s right, old smiling Joel is traversing his way into the world of the gainfully employed. Not that I’m unemployed now, just underemployed. In the quick moment of making that simple decision a lot has shifted. I’ve clarity and purpose. I’m well aware that sounds pretty wanky, yet here we are.

I want a job in the digital media field. Controlling digital content, the online presence and brand of a company. It’s still a relatively new frontier that is rapidly developing and changing at an ever increasing rate, especially since we are becoming almost permanently connected to the internet. For better or for worse, we are all plugged into the matrix. Most of us sleep next to, or near our phones. Most of us are on our laptops or computers less than an hour before bed. Most of us on our phones minutes before bed. The opportunity to reach a nation of people and change their lives for the better has never been greater, the opportunity for embarrassment and self-ruin has never been greater. The likelihood of being lost out at sea and forever forgotten has also never been greater.

It takes a steady hand to guide through these waters on the precipice of perpetual opportunity and ruin and not find yourself lost. And that is where I come in. If you’re an employer reading this, there’s no steadier hands than mine. I’ve the hands of a concert pianist well learned in the art of neurosurgery. The hands of a wide receiver, a wicket keeper and handball player rolled into one. The hands of sculptor, painter and microcircuit worker.

There are companies that do digital media well. Then there’s companies that have no idea. Unfortunately I see so many companies that fall in the latter category and it makes me sad. It makes me sad that they think an intern who gets coffees and donuts can also run their social media and manage their online presence. It makes me sad that companies think that their online presence doesn’t need to consist of anything more than an occasional tweet or Facebook post.

Again this is where I come in. I have so many ideas. So, so many ideas. Most of them are unique, I believe, mostly because I haven’t seen them yet. I don’t want them stolen so I shan’t divulge just yet. Maybe later though. Maybe in an interview.

What do I really want in life?

What do I really want?

Sometimes all I really want is to be happy. That calm, deep seated, serene sense of happiness. The kind of happiness that knows that everything will be okay. That unwavering, unfaltering, oak tree happiness. The kind of happiness that radiates from your heart, like the gentle heat from embers that burns slow, long and warms all that is near.

Other times what I really want to do is to snort coke off the thick ass of Latina with a tiny waist while she eats out an impossibly long legged Russian, with boobs so big you know they give her back problems. We fuck wantonly for days on large piles of money, indulging in only the finest and unnecessary foods money can buy. Out of season fruits picked and harvested by Guatemalan child labourers grown from Monsanto seeds you know have destroyed entire fertile regions. The flesh of endangered animals, I hear giant turtle is especially delicious. We drink Bordeaux’s finest red wine out of the horns of white rhinoceri, which we carelessly spill on our polar bear skin rugs. I do weird things because what was thrilling is now mundane. I offer people watermelon, needlessly insisting it is of the seedless variety, and declare I’m a generous god when they thank me. I look upon happy families knowing they couldn’t even conceive the pleasure a modern day Caligula like me experiences with a mix of triumph and jealousy because I will never have that life. I’m a wilted flower, drunk with too much sunlight.

Other times all I want is a family. A wife who believes in me and supports me. The smell of her neck being the most intoxicating drug to me and only me. I want kids of whom I’m proud. I want the biggest achievement in my life to be that I raised a stable nuclear family. Kids have had their issues but through encouragement and persistence they pulled through. Their personalities being unequivocally shaped by myself and amazing wife, but yet are unique in fundamental and endearing ways. I want to inspire my kids to create, to grow them into the most genuine versions of themselves. I want my wife to be a source of happiness for everyone around her. I want her to be a fundamental part of her community, I want her to pursue the things she likes. I want her to be fulfilled in a world that has taught her to be unfulfilled. I want to do some of that filling.

The life plan I have right now though is none of these things. Before 30, I want to amass 100k selling my soul as a desk jocky, get my CELTA and move to Russia to teach English as a second language for 3 years. Whilst there I want to take up boxing seriously, learn Russian and work my way through the young and hot my smallish town has to offer (750k people). After I’m done with Russia, I move to Dubai and do the same thing. Whilst in Dubai I learn Arabic, learn how to cook properly and get a stable girlfriend of 3 years to look after me. After that I move to Chile, get another job as an English teacher and learn salsa intensively for 3 years. After I’m done there, I move to Switzerland or Brussels and get a Law degree, with the intention of realising my lifelong dream of working with the UN with my proficiency in Arabic, Russian, French, English and Spanish stacked with my background in political science and international relations.

While I’m living abroad as an English teacher I would like to write a lot, concerning myself with anthropology, sociology and politics. I want to focus on the implications of long winters. I want to assess the impact of warfare on the development of technology. I want to research fecundity, monogamy and nuptuality and show how these things affect the progress of a civilisation as a whole. I also want to write a novel about modern love. How a couple meets, gets together and inevitably entropy rears its ugly head and they fall apart. But who knows if I will ever become that wanky.

All in all that doesn’t sound like a bad life. Here’s to making dreams come true.

 

A simple (ot easy) way to make money in a way that’s good for your soul

The simple explanation:

Step 1: find something you enjoy doing/a problem you have in your life

Step 2: connect to/create a community that relates to your activity/issue

Step 3: document your progress from journeyman to expert

Step 4: create a presence in your community

Step 5: create a product

Step 6: market to your niche community and sell your product

 

Let’s take yoga for example. My sister enjoys yoga, she loves it. In fact she recently spent six weeks in India acquiring accreditation to be able to teach it. However yoga is a saturated market, with well-established teachers, various styles as well as thousands of hours of dvd’s and YouTube content and walkthroughs etc. What isn’t a saturated market is yoga for people whose life is complicated via stressful workloads, balancing social and romantic lives and family planning in their 20’s and 30’s. This is a surprisingly large market that not only is my sister positioned within, but all of her friends are as well. If my sister decides to have a family she could then enter the market of yoga for pregnant and child-rearing women. We now live in the world of the long-tail, it pays better to cater to increasingly niche markets compared to the masses. So with that in mind how would she approach step 1 and 2?

Her activity is yoga. She has a passion and love for it and engages in it every day, willingly too. She doesn’t even consider it work. So this is step one solved. For step two she has three choices, she can:

  1. Choose location independence and use YouTube videos, live streaming on platforms such as twitch or periscope, personal coaching sessions for her exclusive market of young professionals struggling to get that work/life balance.
  2. Choose to tap her social network and run boot camps and classes. Friends, friends of friends and family will arise early and start their day in the best way possible through gentle exercise and social connection.
  3. Both!

I would personally recommend doing the second and then when she has a solid clientele base, branch out into the first option. It’s her choice however.

When creating/connecting to a community it is absolutely necessary to harness the infinite power of social media. The breadth and depth of social media is unfathomable, it’s changed the world in breathtaking, irreversible ways – for better or for worse. She will NEED to create a presence on Instagram and Facebook. Twitter could be useful but not so much as the other two. She will need a personalised website. It wouldn’t hurt to be listed as a business on google and be on LinkedIn. She could post ads on craigslist, gumtree and meetup. She could join forums and micro communities centred in her area. These are not hard to find. There are so many ways to join micro-communities and build a network of potential clients as well as a network from which she can source invaluable information.

In conjunction with her personal website, I strongly advise keeping a blog. I might be biased because I am a writer, but I believe the most important and most overlooked step is step number 3, documenting the journey. This step has three benefits. The first being the whole world enjoys seeing the process of progress from novice to expert, the second being it will allow Rebecca to keep an eye on the bigger picture. How far she’s come, how far she has to go to reach her goals, her progress, her pitfalls etc. The third being documentation will further immerse her in her journey, a little more dedication and motivation if she needs it to keep on track.

With her blog as a testament to your expertise, she can place herself as an authority on the subject in her community. Rebecca will also have word of mouth and friends to vouch for her. When she has created a presences, anywhere from 3 months to 6 years, she can then think to market a product. In Rebecca’s case, I believe she should start with small, free lessons around holidays marketed toward a specific goal; ‘end of financial year stress relief,’ ‘summer body blitz,’ or even classes for people in white collar jobs, ‘wrist and carpal tunnel workshops,’ ‘opening hips and lower back’ and things like that. After leading a few of those classes and receiving feedback, she could charge for classes. This would be a relatively quick process, she could do this after 3 months. She could then transition these classes into videos that she could market and sell once she’s become more of a presence in her community. Videos, coaching sessions etc.

Voila, she’s taken a core passion of hers, put work into marketing and getting her name out, and now she is able to make decent money out of a hobby.

NOTE: this is simple, not easy. The process will take, on average, 3-5 years and will require around about 400 hours work outside your core activity. Marketing and advertising, maintaining social media, creating meet-ups, dealing with accounts and other stresses etc. The upside of this is that it probably won’t feel that much like work. You are doing something for you, and you will be a kid again, kicking the ball against the wall for hours and hours on end, everyone staring at you wondering how you’re not bored yet. What’s more is that you will genuinely be uplifted that you’re providing a service that directly benefits people. Something you created is positively affecting other people and that is one of the, if not the most rewarding thing in this world.

The Attention Economy

In this podcast I discuss how in the future and even now it is our attention that is being sold. There is an abundance of information and our ability to focus on that information is the scarce resource. Corporations, media franchises, small businesses and individuals compete for our attention. The abundance of click-bait articles, sensationalised stories and flashing ad banners is testament to this fact.

Being able to control our attention and dictate where our focus lies will become an invaluable tool. We are tested every day by outrage circuses, puppies and kittens, delicious foods, things we’d rather be doing and places we’d rather be.

What’s in a Brand?

Capitalism is a foul amoral creature. On one hand it rewards ingenuity, co-operation and a certain empathy needed to appeal to people to buy your products. On the other hand it rewards slave labour, wanton destruction of the environment and disgusting business practices such as planned obsolescence. It seems like an arms race, for every new regulation that is made (standard minimum wage) a new shady business practice is created (outsource production to underdeveloped countries were labour is cheap).

Take Apple for instance. They came under a lot of scrutiny because the image of their brand – globally conscious, user friendly, simple and easy to use – came into direct conflict with their business practices. They outsourced the production to Foxconn, a company in China who runs factories with appalling conditions. I cannot stress how atrocious these conditions were. 12 hour shifts of back breaking work without a break or being able to sit down, working with constant toxic fumes, no talking, no socialising just work. In 2010 18 workers attempted suicide, 14 succeeded. These 14 workers were deemed to have previous mental issues before coming to work for Foxconn and this is why they eventually committed suicide. Foxconn’s response? Put up safety-nets so people couldn’t commit suicide anymore.

When this story broke, people’s outrage went up, their indignation went up, yet Apple’s profits went up. Which, in all fairness, is what I expected. We’re so disconnected from the suffering of people it would probably take a trip to Chengdu to see these appalling factories for ourselves before we would boycott Apple products. There is too much incentive to buy a cheap iPhone and enjoy your shiny new product than there is to effect any meaningful change. It’s much easier to tweet from your iPad that you’re disgusted with Apple and continue to use it than there is to sell your iPad, or better yet give it to a less privileged person and demand that Apple ensure it cares about the way their products are made.

Nevertheless, people protested and Apple responded. They issued statements that they would launch a formal investigation into the situation and ensure that Foxconn treat its workers better. Did it work? A little, but not enough. It took 14 people dying before the issue was even talked about. No one bothered to ask. But that’s capitalism. It’s a beautiful yet treacherous thing. I sit here with my subway salad, the plastic container probably comes from China, the tomatoes from Pakistan, the lettuce from Queensland, the chicken (if it even is chicken) from Peru. Spinach from South Africa, Carrot from New Zealand, plastic fork from India. I can’t even begin to imagine the face of the person who hand-picked the tomatoes, or shaped the plastic container into the modern work of art that it is. And to be honest, is it bad that I don’t really care to? Until I find out that a 2 year old was forced into doing it and his parents were tortured if he didn’t work fast enough I probably won’t end up caring. Does this disconnect from the things we buy and the food we eat a bad thing? I’ll think about it while I eat my salad.

References:

‘The Labor Question in China: Apple and Beyond  R Litzinger, 2013

“The truth of the Apple IPad behind Foxconn’s lies”  SACOM 2005 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3YFGixp9Jw