At Mighty Ape, we get asked a lot when we're going to "start advertising" and we're told that "no body has heard of you" - which is kinda funny, given that over half a million people visit our website every month.
Of course, Mighty Ape does advertise on platforms such as Google Adwords and Facebook, and plenty of people have heard of us through friends and word-of-mouth. So I think what people are really asking, is "why don't you take out a few billboards? Why don't you advertise on TV?" (i.e. why don't you advertise to me while I'm busy driving my car to work, or interrupt me in the middle of the six o'clock news or my favourite TV show...:P).
I wouldn't rule out Mighty Ape testing out traditional TV advertising at some point in the future, but there are some good reasons why we haven't done that yet. Like any small business (are we still small?) - we want bang for our buck, and we believe there are better ways to acquire customers, retain customers and build a business for the long-term.
I grew up with Nintendo, and I've never quite been able to shrug off my childhood obsession. To this day, Mario and various other Nintendo paraphernalia hold pride of place in my apartment, and my office. I don't play games as often as I used to, but Nintendo is still special to me, and my recent foray into Mario Kart 8 reminds me why.
Mario Kart is the sort of game Nintendo makes best. It's hugely fun. Highly addictive. And most importantly, it's best enjoyed with friends. A throwback to the glory days when gaming was truly social, fun, competitive…when two or more people actually played together…in the same room!
I recently finished The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday, and I think you should take the time to read it.
Ryan is a 26 year old author from the USA. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was Director of Marketing at American Apparel and author of a couple of great books on media and marketing: Trust Me, I'm Lying and Growth Hacker. I've read both, and a lot of his thinking around low-cost marketing and business growth strategies has been applied to Mighty Ape.
But it's been Ryan's personal philosophy, most of which can be found on his blog, that I've been most interested in for the past five years. The Obstacle is The Way is really the sum-total of that work.
Google Adwords is a hugely important channel for many online businesses today. Adwords has been fundamental to building Mighty Ape’s brand in New Zealand over the past 5 years, and has been responsible for introducing Mighty Ape to thousands of new customers.
Fresh out of University and straight into a marketing job at Mighty Ape, my good friend Paul Minors has recently launched a Kickstarter project to teach university students Google Adwords skills.
If you’re interested in marketing, growing a business or maybe you know someone who is, I highly recommend checking it out.
Recently I finished It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini and was introduced to the concept of "Anchors" which I thought was pretty cool and worth sharing.
Ned's concept of an Anchor is something constant in your life that makes you happy. Really happy. Something you can retreat back into when life becomes difficult or overwhelming.
In the novel, the protagonist Craig (based closely on Ned's own life) is a teenager from Brooklyn New York who experiences depression. Often overwhelmed by the most routine daily tasks (eating, sleeping, attending school, socialising with friends) Craig discovers the simple act of drawing clears his mind, reduces his anxiety and keeps him anchored when the outside world feels hostile and out of control.
I had my haircut tonight, and it got me thinking about Christmas. It was 7pm at night. The salon was packed. They were serving wine. Everyone was happy. I was happy. Apparently they had appointments through until midnight. Fancy that, on your feet and cutting hair until the clock strikes 12.
Christmas is a funny time.
When we think about Christmas, situations like I described above aren't unusual. Everyone is busy. Everyone is making last-minute appointments. Everything is booked up, and everyone is squeezing as much as they can into the days and weeks leading up to the day itself.
Much earlier in the year I blogged about starting things, because I believe more young people should team-up with friends and create businesses, projects, causes...the future.
I was, at the time, full of optimism and in the process of starting something myself, and now as 2013 draws to a close, I'm in the process of finishing it.
And I've (re)discovered something. Finishing things sucks.
For as long as I can remember I've put other people's needs ahead of my own. I don't say this to gain sympathy, and I'm not a martyr. I do it because it works for me. It makes me feel useful and valuable. Making other people happy, and meeting their needs, makes me happy.
Right? Well kind of.
I stumbled upon a book recently called Choose Yourself by James Altucher. It's available on Kindle or as a paperback. It's a business book, a #1 best seller on Amazon, and it's widely regarded by people I admire from afar as a book worth reading. I like it too. It acknowledges the world is changing, jobs are disappearing, industries are being disrupted and traditional educations are becoming less and less relevant in the new economy that's rising from the ashes. And it teaches you how to use that to your advantage. It teaches you that the world is hyper-competitive and you can't just tick a bunch of boxes and expect to land the perfect job and keep it forever. You need to put your hand up, create your own luck, and choose yourself. Constantly. If you're just starting a career, or you feel you're in a rut, I strongly encourage you to read this book.
The NZ Labour Party needs to wake up or risk narrowly missing out on Government in 2014. The constant attacks on John Key's credibility aren't working nearly as well as they could be. They're not working because Labour is struggling to be perceived as a credible alternative for Government. At last, New Zealanders have had enough of John Key, but now we have a situation where many swing voters don't know where to look.
Putting a Labour leadership contest to one side, to win the 2014 election Labour needs to come out strong on the key issues that matter to most New Zealanders. GCSB and our fundamental right to privacy, asset sales and tax reforms. On all three issues, there is a clear majority position that is different from the position adopted by the National Government.
The vast majority of New Zealanders value privacy. It's why we install curtains and blinds in our homes, and it's why stories regarding the leaks of private information have dominated our news headlines for the past several months. Thanks to the proposed GCSB bill, the Dunne/Vance fiasco and various other leaks earlier in the year from departments and agencies such as WINZ, ACC and EQC, it's easy to position the National Government as a Government with a cavalier disregard for privacy rights. This should remain an election issue through to 2014. Labour needs to stop talking about inquiries and compromises, and come out with strong alternative policy, and go on record that it will be implemented in 2014.
When the Third Reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill (a.k.a Marriage Equality) took place a Parliament on Wednesday, Mighty Ape showed support for the Bill by posting this image to our Facebook and Twitter accounts, which together are followed by over 200,000 New Zealanders.
Mighty Ape is a business reliant on paying customers, so obviously the decision to show support for a potentially divisive issue wasn't without risk. We are primarily a retailer, after all.