Hey classic brands, war is coming your way.. are you ready for it?

Ever since, Tech industry has been the biggest business battlefield. Disruption, innovation, M&A deals, buyouts, and buy-ins, are part of every company’s day to day activities and has become important skill on the way to success. Giants as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Snap and others have to sleep with one eye open in order to identify threats, take aggressive actions and constantly push themselves to innovate and disrupt their industry, by creating or buying innovation. Otherwise, you will lose the war. Competitors are mean, and they want to see you bleed.

But what is happening at the moment in the classic brand’s world? Nothing. Heaven. Almost no one is trying to fight “coca cola” or to kill “head and shoulders” or overcome “Pringles.” It’s something you do only in the tech world — using tech. BUT THESE DAYS ARE OVER.

 

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A term I’ve just made up and didn’t have the patient to wait for a designer to design it

One of the most interesting business battlefields today is the DIRECT TO CONSUMER (DTC) industry. DTC is a company which is a “digital first consumer business.” It sells its product online and builds its community in the digital platforms, and it becomes brands from bottom up, and they are now a real threat to those classic brands we know and some we love. It has started what I believe is the biggest revolution the brand’s world has ever seen, and I call it #brandvolution.

So why should you consider joining the DTC game:

  1. Ripe for disruption industry: think about how many years you have seen the same consumer companies… same toothbrush brand, same soda brand, same apparel brand, same swimsuit brand, same sunglasses brand. We’re definitely at a time consumers are open for a change in their brand’s habits
  2. It’s all about Online marketing: direct to consumer is a marketing business before anything else. Surely, you need a good and solid product, but, this is a marketing formula based company. The formula is [What’s your Spent] + [What’s your revenue] — [ what’s the cost of producing and delivering your product] = good / very good/ bad/ very bad business. Try it and see for yourself.
  3. It’s all about Storytelling: Certainly, you can build an “e-commerce business.” Find a nice product, sell it on Amazon and live good and healthy life. But to build a brand takes more time and more money. Great brands are cults, a bigger idea than a product, and what unite a community of people behind a greater story that starts with their deepest feelings and ends in your product.
  4. New audiences want New brands stories: It all started with those millennials. A huge group of people that have had enough with these old brands and their old and irrelevant stories. We all want our brands to be eco-friendly, natural, with the real benefit for us, and ho my, to the world. New brands can tell a new story better than brands that need to “update” their current story that is established many years ago.
  5. You can cut the f***ing middleman: when you sell directly to consumers, margins are high, and profit can skyrocket. It’s good for everyone, both the product maker and its target audience

And now, for the fun part: EXAMPLES

Toms (link) — Shoes brand

Story: The father and mother of all DTC’s brands + impact based marketing strategy. When you buy a pair of shoes, Toms gives one to a child in need. The word of mouth is built… everybody likes to talk about their good deeds. The Founder, which is a kind of celebrity, built this company after few other successes. 8 years later, he sold 50% for $300M, proving it’s worth ($600M) doing something good.

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Warby Parker (link) — Glasses brand

Story: Reinvented how people buy glasses (“Try at home first” concept + share your new glasses on social media. Hey, it was in 2010) and now reinventing the $5B eye prescription domain, saving people time, money and teaching the whole industry how a real disruptor never stop disrupting, even its own domain.

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Dollar shave club — (link) — Shaving brand

Story: With only one dollar a month, and we’ll deliver new blades to your door. The Founder claimed in the most viral video ever: “You ask if our blades are any good? Our blades are F***ing great!” (link). Apparently, he was right. After almost 6 years, and more than $150M in sales, he got an acquisition deal from Unilever in a whopping amount of $1B.

From 1 dollar shave club to 1 Billion dollar deal (sorry, I had to)

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The honest company — (link) household ethical brand

Story: It all had started when Celebrity Founder, the actress Jessica Alba, searched for high quality, natural, organic and healthy products for her baby. When she couldn’t find it — the Honest Company was born, and a few years later, Jessica got even richer than she already was, as the company got its $1B valuation.

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Harry’s — Shaving brand (link)

Story: To beat Gillett and Schick, this Warbey parker’s co-founder and his partner raised more than $100M and bought a German factory which produces high-quality blade for many years. with the promise of quality, subscription model, and direct to consumer selling methodology, they reached 1 Million users in 2 years (7 years later and with almost $500M in funding, they’re on their way to profitability and real market share)

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Soylent — (link) Food and beverage brand

Soylent is about easy mornings, slow living and the optimisation of your morning routine. Ton and Style are a like if the coolest designer and the geekiest developer had a one night stand. $50M in funding prove sometimes it’s a good idea.

 

Allbirds — (link) Shoes brand

Story: The first DTC brand to threaten Nike, Adidas in their own home court. It is designed for millennials…. wool fabrics, eco-friendly shoes which make the walking and running experience to be the best ever, from New Zealand based founders and flair of nature, success, and innovation. All sales are direct from the brand’s website, and now in their concept store at Manhattan’s Soho.

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Casper (link) — Mattresses / Bedroom brand

Story: The team invented a new concept in the mattresses industry: “bed-in-a-box,” as it sounds, Casper will deliver the bed to your home in a box, and if you don’t like it, after 100 days (!!!) try out, you can easily return the bed. Many people, includes influencers and celebs loved the concept, posted so many photos on Instagram and FB getting the product, un-boxing it, and more. The company got $750M valuation after only 5 years and now plans IPO. Good night and a very sweet dream from the founding team.

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Glossier (link) — Skincare and makeup brand

Story: Founder, Emily Weiss, started a makeup blog “into the gloss” and after 4 years, she turned her 1.5M monthly visitors into the first customers of Glossier, her cosmetic brands, created by and for millennial. The Company has just been valued at $400M just after 3 years, and has extends to the UK and opened the first shop on the west coast.

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Away (link) — travel and lifestyle brand

Story: 2 Warby parker executives learned how to truly disrupt an old industry, and after searching their next move — they decided to disrupt the travel industry, but from a different angle. 2 years later they generated more than $48M in revenues and their trip has only started.

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HIMS (link) — Wellness and health brand

One of the best stories at the DTC domain. Let’s start with the perfect storytelling and branding, making selling viagra and anti-baldness products for millennials the coolest thing ever. Then let’s talk about how they generated $10M in revenues in 12 months and summarized with the fact that they raised $45M in a $200M valuation from some of the biggest and hottest VC’s out there. From the outside it’s a wellness brand, under the hood it’s a f***ing cool medicine company, who sells OTC drugs for millennials. Only in a super sexy way that gives everybody an erection. Customers, founders, and investors.

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Well, this is the #Brandvolution. New brands are disrupting old industries, taking over huge domains which nobody dared to try and disrupt. But today, with the help of great storytelling, algorithmic online marketing, influencers impact, and commodity in the supply chain , it is doable

Happy disrupting!

LMK what you think about this, comment here, send me an email dan@eblagon.com or find me on any social channel, as daneblagon.

Startups are the new brands on the block (Or: Why I left my convenient advertising career for working with young companies (that will one day rule the world)

This is what happened to me a few years ago: I am an ad man, working with the most desirable brands like Microsoft, P&G, VW, Intel, Hyundai and many others. I’m the king of digital, social, TV, print and every marketing channel out there. I have the biggest budgets, the highest salary, and my professional future is smiling at me. But I’m bored and unhappy… something is missing, and I don’t know what it is.


The phone rings. It’s a man, his name is Phil, and he just founded a new shoe company. He asks me to meet him and discuss his new company’s marketing strategy. This was his story:


“I was traveling all over the world after my graduation, and when I got to Japan, I discovered a super cool company that sells running shoes — high quality and low price. I bought the rights for distributing those shoes in the US, and I want to make it an amazing global consumer brand company that will encourage people to do more physical exercises and connect it to practical and emotional reasons. Currently, the company’s name is Nike. A friend suggested it, and I’m not sure I love it.”


“I’ll be happy to meet you,” I answered immediately.

 Phil Knight. Before we met and made him change his haircut.

Phil Knight. Before we met and made him change his haircut.

So, yeah.. it didn’t really happened, but imagine you could do this kind of conversations with the CEOs of young companies that are crazy enough to try and reshape the world. There is nothing better, as a marketer, to have the opportunity to join their journey, help them find their voice and place in the world while building global and disruptive brands.


So I started to work with startups as a marketing strategy advisor, as a co-founder, and as a seed investor.


After almost 5 years of working with startups, I finally understood why this connection between startups and marketers is so native and strong. Not like the big established brands, startups are brands in their baby steps, even if they raised their shiny 10 million dollars, the road is still very long, and it’s exciting to have the opportunity to build a brand from scratch. You can (and should) break some marketing rules and find new models, and startups’ founders are the perfect partner for it — most of them are super smart people who understand the psychological aspects of the marketing, they are super innovative in their thinking, and they expect you to think differently like them. It’s a win-win situation: Founders most of the times have a great vision — and you, the marketer, want to turn big vision into a greater story


Every one of those startups might be the next global brand in e-commerce, payment, insurance, finance infrastructure, financial services, consumer brand, marketplace, cyber security, VR, AR and any more domains. Every one of those founders could be the next big CEO, and you might build the next big global brand her / him.


Well, this is something any marketer would love to do, at least I would.

Want to Understand the Basics of Marketing? Blockchain’s Got You

Most entrepreneurs are totally lost when it comes to creating a successful marketing strategy for their venture. Endless buzzwords, fancy industry lingo and too many marketing channels can be really confusing and distract you from your goal - AKA the basics of any good marketing strategy - A KILLER STORY. Not a killer product description (anybody can do that!) — a story.

That was one of the first and most important lessons I’ve learned when I first got my foot in the marketing door, a little over 10 years ago. From one entrepreneur to another — I believe this is a lesson you should learn as well. Don’t sell products, sell stories.

Allow me to explain it using a few examples, and I’ll start with my favorite one: If you wish to sell a lamp, don’t sell the lamp — sell the light it’ll bring into your life.

Need a few more?

  • Coca Cola is a drink, but they don’t sell drinks, they pitch happiness
  • Nike make shoes, but they don’t sell shoes, they sell a tool that enables you to hit your goals and win at life
  • Apple creates consumer electronics, but they don’t sell that, they sell a status quo and a cool, urban lifestyle

Not enough?

  • twitter doesn’t sell you self expression, but the world’s pulse
  • Linkedin doesn’t sell you a professional social network, it gives you a career boosting tool
  • Airbnb doesn’t sell apartments, it sells an authentic, local experience
  • Wework doesn’t sell a workspace, it sells the power of belonging

And Blockchain? It is by far the most basic, yet super genius case of the bunch

Blockchain’s problem: it all started with bitcoin (which lot of people describe is the first and most popular app based on blockchain technology) . and just as a reminder — bitcoin and blockchain started with a pretty sh*#&y rep. You see, during its early days people and different news channels only talked on the people that were using it to trade weapons or drugs. Further more, movies and documentaries all over described Blockchain as a radical anarchist tech, so needless to say, it was frowned upon by the masses, the banks and governments. It needed a “Don Draper”, type of magic spin in order to rise to the top

The solution: The evangelists stopped talking about use cases or specially about bitcoin. They started talking about the philosophic idea behind the tech: Blockchain’s ability to fully transact without intermediaries (aka banks, financial institutes etc.) and thrive in a mutually beneficial trading community based on TRUST.

A new positioning was born — The Platform Of Trust.

So why is TRUST an idea people all over the world love? Well, firstly it unites us against a shared “enemy”:

  • We don’t trust banks
  • We don’t trust the governance process
  • We don’t trust anyone who doesn’t share our interests

But if you could actually TRUST a platform to guard your money, and if you could actually feel positive about it (sounds surreal, I know) wouldn’t life be much healthier? Along came Blockchain and it’s beautiful, idyllic platform of trust — who amongst us commoners can say no?! Even banks, government branches and big financial institutions were yapping about all the amazing things Blockchain are doing and the conversation around them was getting more and more positive by the minute.

So, the next time you gear up to sell a product — don’t sell a lamp, sell the LIGHT. Don’t sell Blockchain, sell the TRUST. Tell a story, and if it’s a good one — I’ll buy it.

Why your users don't open your push notifications

TLDR: Users’ opt-in rates depend on the time and the relevance of the message. best times to push are morning before work, 3 pm (when people take short break from their job) and 6pm-9pm after work day ends. Check this amazing visualization about people's behaviors during the day. 

Hi all, I summarized few great posts from @AndrewChen to one, about push notifications. when do users opt in and out, and why.  

Leanplum, a mobile marketing automation tool, explains why push notification responses varies at different hours of the day. 

In the morning, push notification activity is seen to be low. This is contributed by the fact that people are busy doing their morning rituals. This goes up to until 12pm. A sudden hike is seen at around 3pm, as this is the time many people take a break from their jobs. It is thus a perfect time to take a quick look at their phones. The after 6pm hour, push notification engagement is seen to shoot up even more. People are out of their jobs and have a lot of leisure time to catch up on social media and quickly see notifications. This trend is represented in the diagram below;

When to push

People are opting out of push notification in some apps while they are choosing to stay in others. You can bet on this, they only want to receive push notification that are relevant, time sensitive and valuable. The industries with the highest enablement, as seen on IOS devices, are all time-sensitive. People with taxi app for instance, would want to be alerted immediately when their rides arrives, thus the relevance of push notification is highly appreciated by the user. Industries that are having low opt-in could be experiencing this because they send self-promotional messages. It gets on most peoples’ last nerve when they receive push notification of things they have no business with. An example is when a user gets Netflix notification of a movie they do not watch. 

Original posts are 1, 2, 3

 

Don't invest time in your logo - invest time in your branding

"Branding is not a sprint. it's a marathon. a unique promise, kept over time". we all agree branding is super important, and we all understand that as a startup you don't always have the resources to paint the sky with your logo, or buying billboards and tv ads. so what CAN you do? 

  1. Decide on that one single message that tells your story in a differentiated way - and repeat it. over and over. In each and every one of your communication channels. On social, PR, in your ads, in conventions, on your youtube channel. tell the same story over and over. and than again. use the same words, same promise. 
  2.  Decide on a specific visual language - colors, fonts, type of visuals (real photos? illustration? gifs?) and use the same rules in each visual you use. On FB, Youtube, twitter, snapchat, Instagram VR, AR, PR and any other communication channel. make your startup memorable through your visuals. 

Most important thing to understand is repetition - If you'll say it over and over, they will remember. If you talk the same and look the same, users, journalists, investors and competitors will identify you in a second, remember you after you leave and before you come. When this happens - your startup is a brand. and it's good for you. 

Is Onboarding = Marketing?

The team at Product hunt created this list of great products with great onboarding - click here to check it out. why do I mention it here? because marketing people work hard to get the users to the product, but if the user's first impression is bad (=bad onboarding) nothing will help you. another thing is think how you can use the onboarding to process to communicate your marketing messages. bottom line - as the company's marketeer - take part in the onboarding process and share your voice. Remember - if it doesn't go well, you can always can blame the product guys ;) 


MY WORK: Sites

One of the most important things to my opinion is the main platform that can tell your brand story the way YOU like it. Not on FB, Youtube, Meduim or any other platform that it is not really yours. For some reason I meet more startups that choose not to invest the time and efforts with creating a great website. This is so wrong. It's your face, it's your presentation for the world, the investors, partners and of course - your Users. It's the first impression, pls make it count. I work with the best designers, UI and UX teams around, and this is one of my favorite sites, made together with the great guys from GoUfo


MY WORK: How we found our place in the crowded messaging domain

When I met shizup's team I knew this project was going to be something special, in part because it was going be really #$%@!&* hard to get it right. Their product is in the "social" domain, and social today is all about "messaging", an already crowded space. Add to this a tight budget, and the result is that we had to get super creative with the marketing strategy for the launch. Shizup's team came up with the great idea to add a meme generator to their product to differentiate themselves in the market, at which point I jumped in with the line "why text when you can meme". Recognizing that we had found the perfect hook, we led a process to change the whole marketing story and all of the messaging to fit with this new direction. Three important lessons can be learned from this process:

  1. When you launch a product and you don't have $1M marketing budget - find a specific group or a community that the product can "talk" to them.  memes lovers are great community 
  2. After you decided to whom you're going to launch - find the influers, the FB pages, blogs and sites that are relevant to your product. make it as niche as you can. focus is the key here, we weren't afraid to talk to a niche  group, and after we'll convince them - we will go after their friends, and their friends   
  3. When launching - pay attention to the funnel and see how the users are doing -  this is how we came up with the "meme-out" idea. we needed to encourage users to send memes to their friends, and it felt like a great way to get low cpi - we go until $0.65 per INSTALL. it's a crazy price in any domain. in messaging domain is unbelievable.

Check out the movie we did with Yoav, Nimrod (design) Lior on writing and translation and pony who produced it. 

All marketing materials made by my good friends, Eylon and Kamil at machisto 

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PR was handled by Blonde 2.0

A Must Read Interview with Slack's CMO

Slack is probably one of the most interesting branding, marketing and growth cases in the startups scene at the last decade. 

Let's leave the numbers for a moment. to my opinion slack is a outstanding branding case study that every marketing student should learn from. They became a product that brand your startups. If you are NOT using slack, you're out of date, you're old, you don't know nothing about startups and you're not going to make it. Do you want to make it? to be an updated startup that knows what is important in life? use slack. and this is an amazing positioning. How did they do it? find out more here (mashable)   

 

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MY WORK: Driving awareness and Growth using youtube content targeting

FIrst -Read this huge numbers regarding the beauty (and makeup) ecosystem on youtube:

  1. 45B views a year
  2. most popular beauty content: makeup
  3. most popular makeup content: product demo (50%) 
  4. 95% from makeup content is created by youtube creators and not brands 
  5. 45% percent from the views are still on desktop

The way we decided to use this data was to give attention to both platforms mobile and desktop. On mobile we used our product video to get installs, and on desktop we targeted our audience when most relevant - while they watch video from their favorite blogger. and most likely is a product demo or a tutorial video. So we bought some media slots ONLY in a specific videos (of popular youtubers) and promoted a youtube banner with the message - "the makeup you see right now on the youtuber may not look the same on you  - now you can try before you buy makeups at the store ;)". Done with Orel and Lutski


MY WORK: How we got 125% funding for Bascula's crowdfunding campaign

Not many people realize that the biggest Kickstarter campaign of all time actually failed its first time around. I came across this fascinating bit of information through an amazing guy who was determined to open a new performing arts space in Tel Aviv. Yuval, the founder of Bascula, wanted to create something unique and magical in the White City, and my job was to help him find the funding to do it.  We considered a number of strategies, and realized that since the space itself was intended to draw people together around a passion for performing arts, the best place to turn was the community itself. Happily, we were right. What follows is the movie we produced as our main marketing tool for the campaign. But first, some things we learned from the experience:

  • Identify and understand your audience so that you really connect with them to promote community based marketing.
  • Carefully think through your script and editing to make sure you stay on message and make good marketing decisions. 
  • Be passionate about your product and let your passion be reflected in everything you do.  
  • Don't ask your audience to make your dream come true, offer them a product they really need and believe in.

In the end, after a lot of hard (and enjoyable) work and help from one the coolest guys in TLV, my friend Kasuto (founder of Pelaozen, the best social agency in Israel), and the super talented Assaf, the founder of "kids are best screenwriters in the world"  , the campaign reached 125% funding.  

Next time you're in TLV, go check it out. Try to stand on your hands, feel bad about the shape your in, and then stay to drink beers and watch a super cool show. 

MY WORK: Why we choose FB to promote a message of peace

In August 2010 a conflict occurred between Israel and Turkey surrounding the events that occurred on the Mavi Marmara, a Comoros-flagged ship that was part of a flotilla headed for Gaza. At a critical moment, while events were still unfolding and before the political situation got worse, we were asked to promote a message of peace between the two countries. Immediately we knew that the only place to achieve this would be on social media. After a bit of thought and research, we realized that Facebook should be our main conversation platform. Turkey has one of the highest numbers of Facebook users in the world, and while Israel is much smaller in size, it has one of the most active Facebook communities on any country. Add to this the massive number of pages with high engagement rates, and you have the perfect platform to speak directly to people on both sides. We identified Turkish Facebook users with large followings who could be considered "influencers", then asked Israelis to send them a personal message with a simple request: let's not fight through our politicians, let's talk about it out between ourselves. The project received extensive media coverage, got high levels of engagement on both sides, and started a powerful conversation within Israel.


MY WORK: driving Growth using new product buzz (or: driving Growth by hacking a new platform)

There are certain projects I love in part because of the people I worked with on them. While the media may focus on the tech side of the start-up nation, personally I am always impressed by the creative talent in Israel. Two people whose talent I love, and whom I worked with on this project, are Daniel and Tomer. With their expertise and talent in tow, we set out to create a lean, mean, Israeli commando style creative campaign for Delta Lingerie. We were looking to promote a "one time sale" for their online store. As it happened, just as we were beginning to conceptualize the campaign Facebook launched their "POKE" app, an app similar to Snapchat. We quickly realized the value and possibility of using this new platform, so we created the very first poke campaign. Beyond the blitz of media attention, we also successfully drove a 25% increase in traffic to Delta's online store. This is how we did it: