YouTube vs the Boob Tube

What do you want to watch?  The answer to this question used to be relegated to whatever the networks or cable affiliates decided to serve up.  But not anymore.  While networks continue to turn out the same old, same old, served up with ubiquitous four minute commercial breaks, many viewers are breaking away from the Boob Tube to embrace YouTube.  In fact, in 2011, it was reported that web viewers watched more than one trillion YouTube videos. One trillion. That's more than 3 billion views per day or 140 videos for every person on the planet.

Known chiefly in the past for airing junk videos chock full of funny cat tricks, dorm room pranks and millions of amateur videos replete with shaky camerawork, the stage is now set for a whole new level of web TV programming that while short of the mark set by the major networks, is nonetheless compelling and well produced.  Just as with the networks, the success of a web tv shows is measured by viewership.  Recently, compiled a list of the top 10 YouTube series, which generated anywhere from 4.27 million for the tenth place “Back on Chart” to a whopping 49.26 million viewers for “The Annoying Orange.”  Not bad for a wisecracking piece of animated citrus fruit. (A recent episode of Annoying Orange generated more than 100 million views.)

While most of the current lineup on YouTube is hardly giving the major networks a run for their money when it comes to production value and budget, that doesn’t mean that they can rest on their laurels.  Every day new reality series, variety shows and homegrown sitcoms debut on YouTube.  Some of them are even sponsored by local businesses.  The reason that it is so easy to get into the game is due to the fact that unlike TV, you don’t have to beg a network or cable affiliate to carry your show.  It’s plug and play when it comes to web TV.  Anyone can get into the game. 

This factor opens up the floodgates to companies and individuals who can produce must-see-online-TV shows.  Just think of the possibilities.  Instead of merely producing blogs and tweeting your head off to get the word out about your business, why not create a series where you can engage and build an audience.  Unlike producing an infomercial or shooting a cable show, online episodes are not shown in the dead of night to a negligible audience.  They aren’t aired one time only.  They air on demand and are online all the time.  This means that someone tuning into your series at episode fifteen, can watch all fourteen preceding episodes at the click of the mouse.

Also production costs are much less for online productions.  Where it takes several days to shoot a typical cable episode, it isn’t unusual to be able to shoot four episodes (enough to air an episode per week for a month) in one day.  This means that the cost to produce a web series is much less than anything that can be done for traditional broadcast television.  Plus, every episode can be used to enhance all your existing marketing by being embedded in your blogs, linked to your social networks and included in every piece of printing, advertising and direct mail you produce by the inclusion of a QR code.

The bottom line is that if you truly want your business to break out of the box and do something that your competition has not yet tried, Web TV could be just the ticket.  This way when someone asks you “What do you want to watch?”  The answer could be, “Have you seen my show?”

Carl Weiss operates a Web TV production facility at  His web series include and 
 Stay tuned for breaking news.

Everything I Know About Online Marketing I Learned by Playing Blackjack

by Carl Weiss

While I have been making my living as an online marketer and consultant since 1995, before that my professional life revolved around beating the casinos at their own game.  My game of choice back then was blackjack.  As anyone who has ever ventured inside a casino knows, the gaming halls are better protected than NORAD.  Between the eye-in-the-sky and trained personnel on and off the casino floor, most people would be hard pressed to devise a system that could take money from them on a regular basis.  In fact, if you ask any pitboss, he or she will tell you that they welcome system players with open arms.  Why?  Simply because most systems don’t work.  And those that do, well let’s just say that the casinos don’t like it when you do to them what they do to everyone else.

So, how did I manage to make my living month in and month out for better than twenty years right under the very noses of a virtual army of people who were paid to prevent me from doing just that?  It boiled down to just four things:

  1. Having a game plan that worked both on paper and in the real world.
  2. Hitting them where they weren’t looking.
  3. Developing a team that was committed to playing the game over the long haul.
  4. Hiring a captain who would be tasked with organizing, training and managing the team.

The other thing that separates the pros from the amateurs is a little thing called commitment.  While amateurs only look at the results in front of them, a professional is only concerned with long term gains and losses.  What this meant in realtime was that as the play progressed over days and weeks, accurate records were kept and adjustments were made to optimize every player’s earning potential.  Everyone on the team was trained and tested on a regular basis.  Due to such factors as joint bankroll, every player was able to wager higher amounts without incurring the risk of depleting their bankroll and going bust.  While we didn’t win every time we played, we never had a losing month.  And we never, ever, lost an entire bankroll.

Exciting stuff right?  Sure, but what does all of the above have to do with online marketing?  You see, the same principles that worked in the green felt jungle can also be employed in cyberspace.  From a mathematical standpoint, online marketing is nothing more than a game that if played properly can result in a profitable outcome.  In fact, there have been a number of online marketing professionals who have been accused of “Gaming” the Internet, by employing Black Hat tactics designed to unfairly favor their clients.  (It would come as no surprise to any casino professional that where there is money, there are cheaters.)

The problem with black hat tactics is that once detected, not only do the professionals that employ them incur the wrath of the search engine operators, so do all their clients.  Besides, just as with blackjack, you don’t have to cheat them to beat them.  All it takes is a mathematically sound system, accurate tracking and playing consistency to come out ahead.  Plus, just as with professional card counting, utilizing team tactics online actually accentuates the gains that any individual can hope to achieve.

How can team work pay dividends?  In any number of ways.  First of all, you have to understand that modern Search Engine Optimization (SEO) takes into consideration a number of factors, such as blogs, social networks, reviews, recommendations, videos and the frequency and quality of content updates.  All of these factors can be favorably enhanced by using the buddy system.  For instance, I will review your site if you will review mine.  You can like me on the social networking scene and I can do the same for you.  These are tactics which can be employed by virtually anybody.  Even from a motivational factor, having someone holding you accountable to continuing to publish regular updates is in itself invaluable.  But if you want to really play with the big boys, you need to take your game to the pro level.  The only way to do that is hire a pro, someone knows the game, plays it full time, has the resources to stay ahead of the competition and can organize and manage a team. 

A professional online marketer not only has the experience to keep a team on track, he or she also has the knowledge,  resources and time to advise, train, and  manage a group of busy businesspeople.  A pro will take the time to keep up to date and can reach out to other professionals to see what’s down the road.  The web never sleeps and as a result by the time most laymen have gotten a bead on something that is of value to their marketing mix, it is usually too late to fully exploit it.  Plus, there is the daunting task of organizing a team, which is not for the faint of heart.

The best online tiger team team ideally consists of businesspeople who work the opposite side of the same street.  Excellent collaborations can be made between service providers and contractors.  Home remodelers work well with plumbers, electricians, roofers, home inspectors and other subcontractors.  Advertising agencies are a good fit for marketing firms, website designers, printers, sign makers and videographers. 

Once the nucleus of a team is formed, the next step is to get everyone to agree on a regularly scheduled face-to-face meeting on at least a monthly basis.  While a lot of what goes on in team play can be handled remotely, such tasks as training and review need to be done live.  Anyone who can’t commit to taking 60-90 minutes out of their busy schedule every 30 days should be left on the sidelines.  The first rule of team play is that, “There is no “I” in “T-E-A-M.  This translates to everyone committing the same amount of time to the effort.  If you don’t play, you won’t get paid.

Rule number two is, there is only one team captain and everyone must follow the leader.  The greatest system in the world will do you no good if everyone isn’t using it.  More money is made in Las Vegas from weekend warrior card counters then from greenhorn players, simply because they don’t stick to the plan.  They start to let their emotions take control.  They are no longer driving the bus. 

Online, this translates into momentum gained or lost. If you are supposed to post a review for your teammates in the next few days, then that’s what needs to be done.  If everyone else on the team posts a review on your site and you don’t post one on theirs, then you aren’t holding up your end of the deal.  Moreover, by doing so you are showing a lack of respect for everyone else on the team.  This is the surest way of being removed from a team that I have seen.  A team can’t afford slackers.

While using a team approach can be one of the best ways to take your Internet prowess to the top level, it can also be one of the most daunting.  You see, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, either on the gaming tables or on the Internet.  Just like you can’t get a little bit pregnant, you also can’t be on a team if you aren’t prepared to do your part, pull your weight and listen to the coach.  That’s one of the reasons that more people don’t take advantage of this winning technique.  It’s just like card counting. Virtually anyone can learn how to count cards. But most people don’t.  Why?  All I can tell you from twenty plus years of professional play is that most people are either too undisciplined or too lazy to learn a winning system.  As I used to say back in my casino days, “We thank all of you players for keeping the lights burning for us winners.”

What is the Best Social Media Site

by Hector Cisneros

There is no such thing as "what the best" social media site for a small
business. A small business should create a presence all on as many
platforms as they have time for.

I tell people they need a presence on all of the top platforms. Facebook,
LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ You Tube etc.. More is they have time to set
them up. These will all provide backlinks and traffic to their website
which most businesses already have.

However, using a social media site as a marketing platform is a different
matter. This requires some planning, some analysts, a pre-determined budget
(either money or time) and the understanding of what their USP is (unique
selling proposition) and who their ICD is (Ideal customer demographic). On
top of this they should set goals. Goals should be SMART in nature and of
one of three types. Goals for network development, goals for positive
interaction and goals for closed business.

In the beginning it is easier to  setup and achieve network development
goals (i.e. grow your following). Having a decent size following will help
you with achieving positive interactions (buzz, viral messages spread ...)
and be able to close more business. It's much easier to get a response from
a marketing message when you send a message (email, tweet, post etc...)
1000 or 5000 people than it is if you send your message to 124 followers.
The rule of ten follows here Ten in a hundred suspects will have an
interest and one of the ten interested prospects may purchase.  Therefore
it's better to start with 1000 suspects which will yield 100 interest
prospects which, inturn, will yield 10 possible customers, than to start
with 100 potential suspects.

If a business wants instance gratification they can do PPC, (pay per click)
on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and others sites.

People who are successful today start by creating a marketing plan that is
measurable, testable and executable within  their budget. Most small
businesses can afford to pay for consulting help if they don't know where
to start. A marketing consultation can usually create a plan for about
$500. This is a good deal if the consultant is not selling you the service
and they have provided you a plan that can be bid out.

For a person with no budget but time on their hands, I suggest that they
create a schedule and stick to it. They should also invest in some tools
that will let them create message post conveniently (tablets, smart phones
etc...) and also use aggregation software (like Hootsuite or TweetDeck)
which will allow them to post to multiple platforms simultaneously and also
schedule their post for future dates.

If they do these three things they will be able to create a social media
campaign on a shoestring budget.

I hope this email helps you. If I can be of service in any way let me know.


Hector Cisneros

Hector "The Connector" Cisneros
With BNI where "Giver Gain"
Website Know How, Inc.
Mobile 904-887-0946

The Art of the Online Deal

 by Carl Weiss

For the past couple of years one of the hottest tickets online would have to be daily deal sites.  The online business of serving up daily deals has attracted millions of online users and spurred dozens of clones of market leader Groupon.  But even the big dog hasn’t fared all that well. Consider the fact that less than three weeks after Groupon went public, share prices fell from an opening price of $20 per share to $14.58.  More recently, the aftershock of Facebook’s announcement that it would soon go public gave Groupon a boost.  This morning’s opening price of $23.51 puts the stock back beyond the IPO price, but not by much.  Still, Groupon is faring better than many of its competitors.  So why is it that the art of the online deal seems to be so elusive?

The premise of offering discounts to members certainly seems like a plus in these tough economic times.  From a consumer standpoint, it would seem that this model should have nowhere to go but up.  That’s not to say that consumers have all been delighted with the services vended by Groupon.  Google “Groupon Complaints” and you will currently see more than 1 million results, many of which lament the fact that the service that was promised by some vendors was not what the consumer received, or was deficient with regard to quality control. In 2010, there was even a class action complaint filed in Chicago.

Of course, as with all deal of the day sites, it is clearly impossible for companies like Groupon and Living Social to police every vendor that signs on with its service.  At least not until after the fact.  Just like any business, to establish and grow a daily deal site it takes money to makes money.  That’s where many daily deal sites have been getting caught in the squisher. 

For example, in the first quarter of 2010, Groupon spent $7.99 to acquire a customer.  By the second quarter of 2011, that figure had jumped to $23.46, nearly tripling their cost of acquisition.  Writ large, this meant that the king of online couponing shelled out a king-sized wad of cash to keep the mill running, spending $378.7 million on marketing in the first half of 2011, up from $35.5 million in the same period a year earlier.  And that doesn’t take into account the cost of sales.

As the market grew, daily-deal sites also had to hire more salespeople to line up coupon offers from local merchants. In 2011, Groupon had 990 sales employees in North America, up from 201 a year earlier.   During the same period, LivingSocial, the No. 2 player in the marketplace, watched its sales force rocket to 700 employees from 191 a year before.  Experienced salespeople do not come cheaply.  Groupon pays sales associates about $35,000 a year before commission, after which their compensation can jump to as much as $100,000.

While the big players in this high stakes game have been able to keep feeding the kitty, a number of lesser known daily deal sites have not.  In 2011 alone, nearly one-third of all daily-deal sites nationwide—or 170 of 530—either shut down or were sold.  Even major players like Google, Facebook and Yelp have either tried and discontinued similar services, or are still playing with the mix.  Other entrepreneurs have seen the industries growing pains as a sign to take action by evolving the business model.

Take Jacksonville’s Value Hound. Instead of offering daily deals that consumers need to look through and select, their business offers a discount card that is good at a number of local establishments.   What’s interesting about this new concept is that it doesn’t require members to clip coupons at all.  All they need to do is present their card to participating businesses and they will be able to take advantage of exclusive discounts.  For the business, this concept offers a lot of appeal as well, since it doesn’t require them to give the consumer as well as the coupon purveyor a cut of the pie, which is another sticking point with the Groupon model.  For instance, if a merchant was to offer a 25% discount ala Groupon or any of its clones, not only would the merchant have to reduce their selling price, they would also be required to pay Groupon a fee equal to the discounted amount.  (In other words, if a merchant offers a $20 item at a 25% discount, after the cost of sale they will only be reimbursed $10 for the item.)  Value Hound on the other hand, doesn’t charge the merchant to participate.  They make their money by selling memberships to consumers.

While the game is tough, the stakes are high and with the economy still on shaky ground, I don’t see this model disappearing in the near future.  Over the long haul, we will see how the concept evolves.  For businesses, the advantaged and perils of these sites must be weighed on a case by case basis.  For consumers, the thrill of getting something for less will always hold a magnetic attraction that is hard to beat either online or off.

If you want to explore this idea in greater depth, go to and enter “Working the Web to Win” in the search box to listen to our live online radio show at 4pm February 7.  Or you can go to after the fact to hear our broadcast, plus see a videotaped interview with Value Hound VP Julie Morton.  Carl Weiss’ other sites include and