Oh, The Horror!

Years after the internet gave birth to ‘viral’ marketing, the industry is experiencing the early stages of a cultural shift: the use of memes to push commercial interests. Memes, ideas or behaviors that spread from person to person in a social environment, are now being communicated mostly through the media and the internet.  The impact is significant to consumers, whether consumers are aware if it or not.

Traditionally, scary themes would make an appearance around Halloween.  And yet, now, these prominent memes no longer resurface just for Trick or Treat.  Vampires of both the horrific and harmless variety have become increasingly prevalent subject matter in books, television, and film, spawning a ‘vampire mania’ and creating numerous successful media franchises. Borders Books, although closed, had an entire section dedicated to “Teen Paranormal Romance.”  TV shows such as AMC’s The Walking Dead capitalize on society’s fascination with the idea of a zombie apocalypse. This premise is so powerful that it has fueled an entire segment of the film industry for nearly 50 years following 1968’s Night of the Living Dead.  Fear of the supernatural, the mysterious, and the macabre is an experience shared by all people, making these subjects appealing and easily relatable for audiences. Leveraging this idea, publishers and studios become wildly successful as these series garner remarkable followings.

Not every meme needs to become incredibly popular to achieve some commercial success. Meme creation and promotion is geared to many of the same goals as viral marketing, meaning that often times, a meme may only create a small but very solid following, which can constitute effective internet marketing in certain niches.

So as All Hallow’s Eve approaches, consider how effectively many businesses utilize memes in marketing. Campaigns built upon these ideas work because they are tuned to experiences that are shared by users. Make a connection with these touchstones and tap deeper into a market.  And watch out for zombies!

Which Way is Up?

The state of the advertising industry has received mixed reviews by the media. The New York Times reported from the annual conferences of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) that speakers and audiences were worried about the ‘sluggish’ pace of the industry’s growth. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs reports that online advertising will grow by 14% this year and 10% next year.

The prospects for digital advertising are certainly still bright. Yahoo introduced two new formats for advertisements within its popular Messenger and email applications, showing confidence in the promise of social interaction platforms. On a similar note, PricewaterhouseCoopers released findings of soaring advertising rates on social networks, claiming that the slower economy encourages a shift from traditional to digital media. The cost efficiency and high level of visibility of the digital social space are key indicators for advertisers.

Following this industry conversion, social networking today also fuels trends in traditional media. No longer is it just the early adopters engaging with digital advertising, but people from all market segments and demographics. Even traditional outlets such as television viewership are now heavily affected by the general audience’s level of exposure to interactive ads, viral video, and social media during their time online. With literally billions of clicks through these channels every hour, there is more than plenty of incentive to push advertising towards this space.

So what is the next step for advertisers? One speaker at the ANA conference suggested that uncertain times increase willingness for risk-taking. For advertisers, regardless of the medium, the challenge is to innovate more than ever before.

Serenity Now

As an entrepreneur, stress levels are typically high.  On any given day, it could be launching a new website, product, or marketing campaign; dealing with customers, reconciling financials, or hiring new employees.  Working around the clock becomes the norm to the chagrin of friends and family who are competing for a portion of that time.  The daily grind becomes a labor not a love.

There is truth in the expression that the night is darkest just before dawn.  Even the most seasoned and hardened entrepreneurs or business owners become vulnerable to the pressure.

In lieu of a spa day or a round of golf, here are a few tips for enduring long days:

1. Switch Gears: Step away from the computer.  Take a break from the office if only to run an errand, have coffee with a friend, or get in a quick workout.  It’s like hitting a reset button.

2. Ask for Help: Reach out to like minded folks or family. Don’t be afraid to share ideas, strategies, or challenges. It’s ok to ask for advice. Leverage the support system in place to find a fresh perspective.

3. Trust Your Instinct: Starting and growing a business isn’t just about strategy but also instinct.  Trust that it will guide decisions.

4. Look Ahead: Take a look at the big picture.  Instead of placing emphasis only on pressing goals, objectives, daily tasks, etc., celebrate the achievements, no matter how small.

A Bottle of Red or White?

Any entrepreneur will agree that passion is an essential ingredient for success. Winemakers are particularly passionate about the art of making wine.  The process of marketing and selling the product can be just as laborious. Fortunately for vintners, the 21st century has given them powerful tools to reach customers effectively.

Technology coupled with the Internet continues to redefine the entrepreneurial business model. The logistical challenges for growing a business through branding and marketing have been drastically mitigated by the social media revolution. The digital age has brought unlimited access to informational resources, fully open lines of communication, and a culture of user democracy where customers become vocal brand advocates.

Entrepreneurs like Gary Vaynerchuk, a bestselling author and entrepreneur who transformed a family owned wine shop into a national industry leader by harnessing the power of the internet, understand this message of opportunity. Take advertising as an example. His small shop purchased a billboard in a high visibility area for 2 months, costing $9,000. On the billboard was a coupon code, that when seen by thousands of people, generated 250 new orders. Using social media, he offered the coupon code through his twitter account, and leveraged an expansive network of followers, generating 1700 orders in 2 weeks. The cost of social media = $0. The advantages are glaring.

The wine market in the US is becoming a crowded market, with thousands of bottle options lining store shelves across the country. With sales continually on the rise, there is too large a potential windfall to risk ignoring the power of new media. Successful winemakers and merchants are reaching their customer bases through their online networks, building brand affinity and driving increased brand loyalty and sales. Without effective digital solutions, it’s a struggle to keep up with the curve.

Many would-be entrepreneurs are unsure or even afraid of using the internet, but it is unwise to think that traditional marketing methods can create the same opportunities as digital tactics. There is a lot to learn, but a little effort and some adaptation can mean a huge payoff for winemakers.

Brain Scans to Board Rooms

The role of medical practitioner is evolving from clinician/academician to business owner/entrepreneur.  Doctors are known for rapid decision making, analytical skills, and independent thinking, all important characteristics of an entrepreneur. However, the transition does require a significant shift in the mindset.  Some universities now even offer joint M.D./M.B.A. programs. For doctors already in practice, seeking guidance from external sources provides essential insights and strategies for venturing into business.

As if diagnosing and treating infectious diseases, hereditary disorders, and emergency medical issues isn’t hard enough, the ongoing changes in healthcare make practice increasingly complex for doctors.  Private practice isn’t as appealing for those looking to mitigate regulations changes, rising operating costs, and lawsuits endemic of the industry.

So why then, facing a convoluted regulatory environment and the potential for extended periods of negative salary that come with the territory of starting a business, are doctors moving towards entrepreneurism? It seems counterintuitive, but so is the fact that the weakened economy actually reduces the opportunity cost of starting a business. For many doctors, independence from hospital scheduling equates to freedom of lifestyle and, with reasonable success, increase in earnings; plenty of incentive to take the plunge.

Liabilities ring true for all businesses, but successful entrepreneurs across various industries have always proven that the willingness to invest the time and effort and make the right decisions can have major payoffs.

Jobs Well Done

**From the pages of Junction’s notebook: Read about the experiences, perspectives, and ideas of Junction team members.

Wednesday evening, the world learned the sad news of the death of the defining visionary of the tech boom.  Junction is saddened by the loss of Steve Jobs, a truly rare innovator who continually set new benchmarks for how we interact with technology. For many, including the Junction team, Jobs’ legacy remains entwined in everyday life.

JMA– “You don’t have to be a ‘Mac’ to understand how devices like the iPod or iPhone have shaped our modern lives. A brilliant and dedicated originator, Jobs will be sorely missed, but his influence will be felt for generations.”

TLS – “Jobs had great knowledge and vision that impacted millions. He truly changed the way the world thinks, works, and plays!”

RJE – “Jobs made using computers, iPods, iPhones, iPads easy and fun! And that’s what it is all about, ease of use for everyone and fun for all. Thank you, Steve.”

MLC – “Jobs revolutionized the computer industry with his vision and dedication to seeing a dream through to reality. His innovations and forward thinking will be missed by young and old alike. Thank you Steve. You will be missed”

JCG – “Steve Jobs, akin to the greatest visionaries in history, defied the boundaries of technology, business, and marketing. May his impact on the industry continue to motivate and inspire.”

The entire Junction staff extends our condolences to the Jobs family as well as Apple. Few individuals will remain in our memory as steadfastly as Steve Jobs.


Publishers, once the go-to source for news, information, and editorials, have been forced to reinvent the space due to total digital domination.  The decreased demand for print copy has posed a challenge to publishers.  In February 2009, PEW Research Center Publications reported that the print losses were considerable and the digital era was making a significant impact in the minds of consumers.

A reactive shift in strategy has helped publishing houses adapt, incorporating digital distribution methods and allowing advertisers to reach greater audiences through multiple platforms. Smart implementation of new strategies has helped recover a portion of the business initially lost to the internet.  Few magazines of these could survive the loss of ad revenue if they were to eliminate print in favor of a web-only publishing model. What works for these publishers is moving timely and directed content to web media, and utilizing print to preserve income from advertisers. In this model, subscribers also have increased access to content that is updated more quickly, an increase in quality of service – a benefit to the publication’s brand.

The change is paying off. For magazines and newspapers, the rate-card-reported advertising revenue for the first six months of 2011 represented a 4% increase versus the same period in 2010. In fact, the sector has posted increases in ad revenue and pages for 5 consecutive quarters. We’re seeing a resurgence, and we’re seeing it across all markets — trade, academic, professional,” said Tina Jordan, Vice President of the Association of American Publishers in the New York Times on August 11. “In each category we’re seeing growth. The printed word is alive and well whether it takes a paper or digital delivery.”

Despite the industry’s heavy favor for digital distribution, publishing isn’t yet a sinking ship. Smart adaptation has helped plug holes in the hull, but there may still be uncertainty as to how long the dollars will continue to come in for print. Although it’s difficult to predict where publishing will be in 10 years, it’s safe to say that it will be shaped by changes in consumer behavior and digital innovation.