Sep 27, 2004 Business & Marketing
I enjoyed a solid hour of my guilty pleasure ‘The Benefactor‘ tonight. Say what you like about the show, but I thoroughly enjoy it…on a weekly basis even. It’s less “let’s play house” like The Apprentice is. The Benefactor seems more real, more plausible. Definitely more entertaining.
On tonights episode, Mark Cuban hands each contestant $1,000 dollars and says “be a star”. The purpose was to expose your weaknesses, jump out of your comfort zone, take some risks, and invest the grand cash in something you believe in (and in theory true competitors believe in themselves). Each contestant had $1,000 and 12 hours to prove themselves worthy of the next round of play.
So, what would you do if you had $1,000 and 12 hours? Let’s not forget that Mark’s good name is a valuable asset in this formula.
For me there are so many directions I could take a task such as this. First, I’d go with the advice of Seth Godin that what you know isn’t as important as what you do. (Although I disagree with him in who you know as not being as important as what you do).
So, the first item of business would be to stick the cash in my pocket, forget about it, and get on the phone. I’d call in favors. I’d call my dad, I’d call my boss, I’d start working my business network. I’d tell these people I trust what my situation was, tell them my 12 hour business plan, and ask them to put me in touch with people that can help me get it done. I’d work that list and get all the business consulting I could before I had to put any money down. Ultimately, I’d try not to use the money unless I had to, and instead reserve it for operating expenses. My goal would be a return on investment in monetary form.
Most of the consulting I would need would be on business ethics. If I was in a contestants shoes, I’d seriously need to ask myself if I should exploit Mark’s name and TV Show, or if I should build upon it. The pros and cons for each would be heavy. At that point in the game, I know that I’d have had the chance to get to know Mark. A billionaire as a friend would not be a bad thing. Not at all. And, knowing my morals and values, I’d probably try to build upon Mark’s name and show rather than exploit it. I’d know that I was in a position to get some real reach for advertisers. Product placements would go for some heavy cash on a high-profiled show such as The Benefactor. It would be a risk, since I wouldn’t be able to guarantee results. The viewers market for The Benefactor wouldn’t have been proven at that point. A lot of advertisers would fear that it was an “Apprentice ripoff” and be very wary of a contestant trying to sneak in a product placement. But that’s just what I’d do.
It would be a risk. A heavy risk. I would risk the production company editing out the content. (As a comforter to potential advertisers, I could at least guarantee some buzz after the night of the showing with a few strategically placed press releases explaining what content was editied.)
I would call up some marketing friends and get in touch with the agencies (preferably with legs in Dallas) in charge of some hot items for the demo market at the time. Mazda, Toyota, Ford, Cadillac, and all other car makers have new models, and since this time of year they are trying to clear out the years models, it might be a good chance for them to get some broad appeal. Or, perhaps Spalding or Nike would like some good product placement, since Mark is so closely tied to the NBA. I could even go after some of the Dallas Mavericks and HDnet supporters and advertisers. And still not spend any of the money given to me, but instead I would actually ask the advertisers to pay me for the opportunity. Perhaps the negotiations wouldn’t last like that, but they definitely would start that way. Either way, I wouldn’t give them a single dime for their opportunity, since in the end it would be the agency getting the placement advertising. Any revenues realized during the process would be presented back to Mark as a return on investment. Imagine his face if one of his contestants said, “Mark, for that $1,000, I bought you a pair of Nike’s, a spalding basketball, a new hybrid Toyota (because that H2 of yours is an ozone choker), and here’s $25,000 one day return on your investment.” Would I be able to pull all that off? Maybe not all of it, maybe more. But sure as hell would come back cash positive and be able to line up at least one product placement. Would it be easy to line up a multi-angled deal like that in a single day? No, it would be very difficult. Would I be out of my comfort zone? Completely.
Now, to be devil’s advocate, I’d also weigh the possibility of exploiting Mark’s show. First people I’d call would be the agencies for NBC, CBS and Mark Burnett. Somehow, someway, I would cook up a plan to plug Mark Burnett or the Apprentice on The Benefactor. Imagine Mark’s face this time if I came back and reported that for me to “be a star” I went out that day and applied to be a contestant for the Apprentice or the Survivor, and presented the demo tape I sent. It would be extremely difficult for the producers to edit out the content of a single contestant, and most likely would have me voted off, but for the opportunity to plug one of Mark Burnetts shows in the middle of a competing reality show. I would demand a price tag of no less than one million dollars.
Of course, I don’t take any legalities in mind while scheming this post. That’s the fun of producing a blog. All-in-all, I’d probably go with my first scenario, with the whole goal of presenting a return on the investment and being cash positive at the end of the day.
There are many many many other ideas that I’ve thought of in the last hour. But, none seem as eye-popping as the above.
Now I’m very curious, to all of you out there, what would you do with $1,000?
Sep 25, 2004 Blog General
I was visiting one of the blogs I visit frequently when I skimmed a headline that almost made Mt. Dew come out of my nose: CNET News.com supports Trackback and Pingback. Yikes! Is this for real? A big media outlet connecting to the independent publishing world in such a way, that’s it’s like the High School quarterback hanging out with the chess club…and playing chess. Trackbacks are the livelyhood of most blogs. They are used to say “Hey, I liked what I saw, I wrote my thoughts too. Thanks for the story idea.” It’s a method for a site to automatically indicate to another site that you linked back to them. Thus, called a track back.
CNET linking back to individual readers is a potential risk. Without moderation (as most blogs and independent sites are well aware), trackbacks can be severely abused. Spammers are starting to discover this method of instant linkage. Luckily, b2evolution (the blog software I use) has an antispam solution that is worth a whole lot more than I paid for it (free).
Les discovered the News.com trackback tests through Photo Matt, who aparently never looks at just the surface of a website. He discovered, maybe he was tipped off, the link rel=”pingback” in the HTML headers. There it was for anyone to see–PINGBACK! Through some mild reverse engineering, he shows you how you too can see all the sites that have pingbacked to a particular article. Nice digging, Matt! Now if we could get the wires in on the act.
Sep 18, 2004 Blog General
Private Patrick Murphy. My little bro. Stuck out in the middle of Oklahoma for boot camp. Dang proud of him too. Only wish there was some way that I could call him today, because it’s his birthday. I hope that he can read this. I don’t even know if they have access to the internet (dunno if there’s a net cafe just off base, but if there is, I imagine it does pretty well). Any way bro, when you finally read this, know I was thinking about you today. Happy Birthday you big lug! Hu ah!
I got a letter from Patrick this week. Sent a reply promptly. They probably scan anything incoming, because I’m told they haven’t been getting mail too quickly. So, I open this up to you, oh wide vast internet. Zap! I beam this from my blazing keyboard to a monitor somewhere near or within Fort Sills, Oklahoma. And to all you loyal internet users, should you happen upon this and want to wish a trooper in training a happy birthday, please help yourself to the comment area below. Family, friends (both mine and his), readers, search engine scours, and any and all strangers feel free to add to the list. (all I ask is you leave the personal politics to yourself (I will moderate) and stay within support and birthday wishes). To be sure he gets this, I will print out all comments and send to him at a later date, perhaps Thanksgiving as that seems like an appropriate time.
Patrick, ahem, Private Murphy, I am very proud of you little brother, for what you are doing for the country, for your faith in freedom, and for yourself. Mostly, I’m proud of you because this is a dream you have had since you were a kid. You are now realizing your dreams, and that really is something. Most people dream but never act towards them, you really are on top of your world. Hip hip Hooray and Happy Birthday!