John Paul DeJoria
I just started reading Entrepreneur Magazine again after a long hiatus.
Three articles in the July 2009 issue caught my eye.
The first article talks about learning how to alter customers buying habits in order to get your sales going again. In this economy, customers must be jolted into buying again, not unlike the jolt one receives from a defibrillator in order to get the heart started again. Customers have hunkered down and have learned a new pattern of buying behavior: they aren’t buying. This is causing a downward spiral that by now we know only too well. To get them to buy, you have to do something drastic like offering them something that’s almost free, just to get them to learn how to say “yes” again.
Another article lists 5 ways to ramp up marketing in a downturn:
- If your product is a great value, scream it from the rafters.
- Use social media like your life depends on it.
- Cause marketing can bring in new customers.
- Take the fear away from buying by giving an iron-clad guarantee.
- Give stuff away to generate some good PR
The last article tells the story of John Paul DeJoria, the entrepreneur who turned a $700 startup into Paul Mitchell Systems, a $900 million hair care empire. Not yet done, he co-founded Patrón Tequila, accidentally creating the ultra premium tequila market and becoming rich in the process. He’s worth an estimated $2.5 billion, making him one of the richest men in the U.S.
John hails from an immigrant heavy part of Los Angeles that I’m very familiar with. On his way to making his fortune, he sold Christmas cards when he was 9, delivered newspapers at 4am and sold encyclopedias. John was homeless twice; he was sleeping in his car while getting Paul Mitchell off the ground.
John’s story is an amazing rags to riches story of determination. He says the biggest hurdle in business is rejection. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the ability to handle rejection and soldier on. Pretty good advice.
The New Richmond.com
I was lunching today with Dave Saunders, the mastermind behind the new Richmond.com ad campaign.
While wolfing down Fish and Chips at Penny Lane, the topic of conversation turned in a familiar direction. The discussion of the future viability of newspapers raised its hand, asking to be recognized yet again. This subject matter is far from academic in a market where the fate of a venerable 150 year old newspaper is far from certain.
The conversation reminded me of a recent article I had read about The Bakersfield Californian, which continues to lead in the nascent field of newspaper innovation. The Californian is experimenting with web-based niche publications. The paper launched Bakotopia.com, a local social media network designed to reach non-readers. The network has launched Bakotopia-The Magazine, published twice monthly and distributed to 20,000. The Californian has also launched Printcasting.com, which allows locals to publish their own on-line magazines. Other media companies are aggregating local content from a variety of sources and selling ads against that content.
Whether or not these efforts succeed is not the point. The fact that newspapers are trying to find new business models speaks volumes to their struggle to survive. Newspapers have been the poster child for how arrogance and inertia can kill a pillar of the community. There is a window of opportunity for change and innovation, but that window is closing.
I’ve blogged on this topic before and I believe that like the strategy adopted by The Californian, newspapers are in the best possible position to create social networks based on geography and they should attack this opportunity with gusto. There is a ton of local content available from websites and bloggers, just waiting to be aggregated and monetized.
I think that daily newsprint is short-lived and that dailies will go web-only, publishing and distributing paper versions a couple of times a week to accommodate advertisers who need physical delivery of their ads. Web-based papers should morph into news and social networking sites, creating conversations between the paper, advertisers and readers.
Conversations create relationships and building relationships is what media does best.
A Brave New World
There is a great article in the New York Times about the future of journalism.
I was excited to read about how the journalism school at Arizona State University and other top j-school meccas have been leading the charge into a brave new world of the unknown. It’s a poorly kept secret that the newspaper business model is badly broken and that publishers around the country are fighting for their survival as they thrash about trying to find a new model that will work in this digital age.
It’s refreshing then to know that academia is taking the lead in cross training journalists to transcend all existing media platforms and to report the news regardless of the medium.
Perhaps journalism is not dead. It’s just waiting for a new Champion.
A recent article in Forbes found that despite massive job losses in journalism, journalism school admissions are booming. College students are seldom accused of being practical, but this boom borders on lunacy.
Consider these ugly facts about the status of journalism: The Pew Research Center estimates that 5,000 newspaper jobs were lost in 2008. Paper Cuts reports that 7,500 jobs have been lost so far this year. Here in Richmond, the Richmond Times-Dispatch dismissed 28 news room staffers on April 2nd.
So why in the name of Edward R. Murrow would top j-schools like my alma mater University of Maryland be seeing a 25% increase in enrollment?
Each student may have different motives for entering j-school and many may be doing so to enter the field of teaching. But regardless of their reasons, a j-school degree offers some very real benefits to those entering affiliated fields such as public relations and marketing communications as well as less obvious careers such as law, public service, non-profits and even many areas of business.
J-schools teach students to be skeptical and to ask questions like journalists and to communicate effectively with all audiences. Those are certainly great traits. But the one intangible that I think is most valuable about a journalism school education is that it instills an active intellectual curiosity about the world around us that fuels our enthusiasm for life. I have found that curiosity and enthusiasm to be invaluable.