Category Archives: Business/Marketing




This is Rob Hassett with  Today I’m going to be interviewing Charles Lumpkin who is Vice President of Product Management and Innovation at BLiNQ Media.

ROB:                     Charles, tell me something about your business that I don’t already know.

CHARLES:           Well at BLiNQ we do a lot of work around social media advertising, and the largest avenue of social media advertising today is Facebook.  Facebook has over 850 million people active on the site every month.  Half of those people log in every single day.  Over half of those people use mobile devices to access Facebook.  And we’re seeing a major transition from PC to mobile devices.  And there are millions of sites connected into Facebook by the social graph.  So the world is changing dramatically online and just in general.  So we like to place ourselves firmly in the middle for the advertising side of things.  And that’s kind of what we do over at BLiNQ Media.  We do social media advertising, particularly around Facebook at this time, but we’re expanding out.

ROB:                     You were telling me there were a lot of page views, a significant percentage of page views that are on the internet are on Facebook.

CHARLES:           That’s right.  About 20% of all time spent online is spent on Facebook, and about 30% of all page views online.

ROB:                     That’s unbelievable!

CHARLES:           Yeah, it’s huge.  I mean it’s just amazing to think of this site that was of relatively small value just a couple of years ago, and now it’s a juggernaut.

ROB:                     Could I put an ad on Facebook myself?

CHARLES:           You can, sure.  They have a self-service system, and you go in and enter in a credit card number and place an ad.

ROB:                     What do you do different from what I can do myself?

CHARLES:           The differences in what we do is that we have a direct, basically main line connection into their servers through an API.  And instead of going in and launching, say, one or five ads by hand, we go out and launch many, many versions of ads in what’s known as a full factorial multi-variant design, so we might have two thousand ads in a given campaign instead of five.

ROB:                     For one customer?

CHARLES:           Yeah. We work with some of the largest ad agencies in the world and work with hundreds of the top consumer brands. But for any particular campaign, what we do there is we go out and we’re launching a whole bunch of different creatives, so different images, different body copy headlines, etc.  Then we’ll have a whole bunch of different target segmentations, so we might be targeting people who like beer or cowboy boots or Nascar or they like teenybopper stuff or hip hop or whatever it might be.  And so we create large stratifications of targeting and we combine all of that together and create a whole lot of variations of the advertising.  And then we go and we actually optimize all that using some algorithms we built here internally.

ROB:                     How do you know which people to target?   Or are you saying that people, if they click on “like” about something are they put in a particular category?

CHARLES:           Yeah, that’s right, in a way.  A given profile has roughly 200 or more different points that can be used for advertising targeting.  Now this is anything from geographics and demographics to likes and interests.  Now we’re not talking about being able to identify any particular user.   We’ve never, nor do we have the desire, to collect personally identifiable information, but what we’re talking about is things in aggregate, so we know that 50,000 people like punk rock in Georgia, for instance. And we might advertise to that audience specifically.

ROB:                     And you would not only write your ad copies so that it would be interesting to that audience, you would be picking a product you think they would like, or a service that they would like?

CHARLES:           Yeah.  Particularly when an advertiser comes to us, and most of the time the big brands have a reasonable idea, who their audience is.  And so based on that, we’ll go out and create a plan and recommendations, and we have some other tools to help us understand which audiences will work.  So they come to us.  We create the plan.  But a lot of times we’ll find different segmentations or demographics that are really surprising to them.  You know we had a client a couple of months back, a sports bar, and we found that people who like hip hop music love that sports bar.   People who support our troops or support very patriotic kinds of things and like those kinds of things on Facebook, were much more highly likely to be a fan of an orange juice brand we work with.  So, you see some very interesting corollaries.  You know we found one segment for a brand, and it’s like “Women Who Like Manly Drinks”, like the brand, you know.  There’s just some crazy stuff that you’ll find out about these different niches that really construct your total brand and your audience.

ROB:                     And people that are patriotic are more likely to like a particular brand of orange juice than other people?

CHARLES:           Considerably more likely.

ROB:                     What do people who aren’t patriotic like to drink?

CHARLES:           I’ll have to run a specific study on that one, Rob.

ROB:                     Are there correlations between people who like Chic-Fil-A and coke or anything like that?

CHARLES:           We can definitely run those kinds of studies, and we do that on a regular basis for our clients.

ROB:                     And you’ve amassed a lot of data on that already?

CHARLES:           We have.

ROB:                     Are there other companies that do what you do, what BLiNQMedia does?

CHARLES:           There are a few other companies that have API access to Facebook.  We have different approaches.  So you have some companies that were originally search engine and marketing tool companies and they’ve kind of come over and bolted on to Facebook, but they’re not necessarily creating and innovating in the space like they should be.  Then you have companies that are analytics companies such as Omniture that come in and they really are looking at things from a statistical standpoint.  So we have a handful of competitors, but I’d say we’re one of the top guys in the industry, particularly because of some work we’ve been doing recently.

ROB:                     Now what advantage does it give you to have an application interface right into Facebook?

CHARLES:           It allows us to use computers to do all of the network scale work, and to do all of the data selection and analysis.  I remember a couple of years ago when the Facebook advertising program had just come out.  Back then there were no tool sets whatsoever to do the automation of ads other than browser scripting where you’re going in and programming your browser to do specific actions which is a major pain . You had to go in and set up ads one by one by hand.  It might take you three or four minutes to set up one ad.  But in my world, the world of online media, it’s really super important to be testing a lot.  You want to be able to advance your knowledge of this client or this campaign, or who their audience or how the Facebook algorithms work or whatever it is.  So back then, it’d take you three or four minutes per ad to do it, and so if you wanted to try ten ads, you’re going to be sitting down for 45 minutes, and that’s if you got everything super organized beforehand.  Whereas here, we can pop out, 2,000 ads in 15 minutes if we’ve got all the resources collected ahead of time.

ROB:                     How much does it cost to hire you guys to do the ads?  Do you have to be a large company?

CHARLES:           We typically work with agencies and brands, and …  I’ll have to get with the sales team.  I don’t know if they’ve updated those.  But we work on basically an insertion order basis.  And I remember an insertion order is about five grand.

ROB:                     And that’s just for one ad to be placed?

CHARLES:           That’s for a campaign, to put out lots of ads for a particular initiative.

ROB:                     Would that be over a 30 day period or a year, or a week?

CHARLES:           It would be probably a 30 day period, somewhere between three and six weeks probably.

ROB:                     Other than Facebook, which social media are most interesting to you guys right now?  What do you find that you think has the second or third highest potential?

CHARLES:           The one that we’re looking at in particular right now is Twitter.  Twitter has a lot of scale.  It has about 150,000,000 monthly actives right now.  But it’s a totally different beast.  We are running some advertisements though there.  You know we’re also looking at LinkedIn.  And then Google Plus.  Google Plus is a new entrant on the scene.  They have a lot of users already and pretty quickly at that.  I’m sure it will happen because Google’s really good at advertising, but so far they haven’t used Google Plus for advertising purposes, so you don’t see any ads on it.

ROB:                     And how does advertising on Facebook compare in effectiveness to advertising with search words on Google?

CHARLES:           Sure that’s a good question.  So it’s a totally different kind of thing.  In search, people are expressing their intent.  So if you go out and want to buy some patio furniture, you type in patio furniture or lawn furniture or whatever, and then people advertise to you.  You go to their sites, and you’re able to potentially sell them something, but it’s a lot closer to the point of purchase.  We use Facebook more for demand generation and branding.  Especially the large brands that the face of advertising is changing.  You have people doing these conversations, you have to understand that people can’t just sit on their laurels as a brand anymore, that people are talking about you, irrespective of whether or not you’re in the conversation.  So you probably want to be in the conversation.  So you’ve got brands that are going out there and, for instance, we do some things called liking campaigns where we’re building out a fan basis for brands, but that’s really just the first step in a more cohesive marketing plan.  So you gain fans for your brand page and you’re certainly going to be engaging them through their Facebook walls.  But you will also want to use the ads to re-market to them and make sure that you’re getting messages out, and the advertising has had an effect through  recall and stuff like that.  You know, it’s very  effective in the branding space for continuing to stay top of mind and as an actual demand generation vehicle. Search is not a demand generation vehicle.  The demand is generated out in the marketplace.  And basically you’re seeing an ad for Sears and they’re  advertising their appliances.  And that’s keeping  buying appliance at top of mind.  I may be thinking that I need to replace my dishwasher.  It’s breaking down.  Or it’s about to break down.  So the demand generation is done elsewhere.  And search has the benefit of being a demand facilitator vehicle.  So we liken this more to being on the demand generation side and helping brands tap into the right audiences and make sure that they’re getting their engagement rates up as high as possible.

ROB:                     What does Facebook charge?  You mentioned $5,000.  Does that include what you have to pay Facebook?

CHARLES:           Yeah, we do.  We charge on a CPM basis.  So yes, it’s all inclusive.

ROB:                     When you say you charge on a CPM basis, what do you mean by that?

CHARLES:           We sell advertising on flat cost per thousand impressions.  That’s a CPM.  So I don’t know what our rates are.  But right now I think it’s $1.50 or $2.00 CPM.  So that’s for every thousand impression we charge a dollar or $2.00.

ROB:                     And how much of that goes to Facebook?

CHARLES:           It depends on the campaign.  We take on the risk of that because we understand the advertising environment.  And so we know the tricks of the trade.  But it’s totally different for every campaign and every target and market.  So we’re bidding for each one of the constituent segments in an auction environment.  So there’s a lot of auction dynamics at play.  So it’s all over the board.

ROB:                     If I were to try to advertise on Facebook myself directly without an API, would I have to go through the auction process?  Is that how the price would be determined?

CHARLES:           Yeah exactly.  You probably wouldn’t even realize it, but you are.

ROB:                     Because the search on Google keywords is auctioned off.

CHARLES:           It is.  Oh yeah.  It’s a highly competitive auction.  However, it’s kind of a black box auction.  Used to be a lot clearer.  But they’ve added some factors in that made it a heck of a lot more difficult to understand the real dynamics of the auction marketplace.

ROB:                     You mean Facebook’s done that or Google?

CHARLES:           Google.

ROB:                     Oh it’s gotten much more difficult to know how that’s working?

CHARLES:           They’ve gotten a lot better at separating our collective money from our wallets.

ROB:                     Okay.  Now what about YouTube now that it’s owned by Google?  Are they an effective place to advertise?

CHARLES:           Yeah.  We’ve done some YouTube advertising in the past.  It’s not something we do regularly but yeah it’s a good market right now.  It’s fairly cheap in the comparison of things.

ROB:                     If someone had a small business that they started in the last year and the gross was $1-5 million dollars, would you suggest that they hire you to advertise on Facebook?

CHARLES:           It really depends on the circumstance and the business.  You know some businesses are going to be more likely to succeed.  Internally we say is it a fun brand.  What kind of industry are you in?  I can tell you there are some things that are just not particularly going to set your hair on fire in social media.  So I’d have to know more on the specifics.

ROB:                     Among large companies, which ones would gain the most or do gain the most from advertising on Facebook.  What are some that would work well?

CHARLES:           There’s lots of companies that do very well.  I mean large consumer brands do very well.  The entertainment brands do very well.  You know if you’re a well known brand, you’ll probably do well.  There are some in some industries that it’s not particularly interesting.   People are attracted to the brands that they know.  And it is a very effective channel across a whole variety of industries.

ROB:                     I guess Apple would be a good example of one that would do well.

CHARLES:           Oh they crush it.  They would crush it!

ROB:                     I guess Disney?

CHARLES:           Disney would do very well.  They do very well actually.

ROB:                     Coca-Cola?

CHARLES:           For sure.  Coke doesn’t do much advertising per say, but actually their fan base was started by just a Coke loyalist consumer, and eventually they did take it over from him once they had a couple million fans.

ROB:                     Charles, it’s been great talking to you.  Is there anything else that you’d like to say?

CHARLES:           I’d encourage everyone to go out there and take a look at Facebook and the changing nature of advertising because it’s really changing dramatically.  It’s changed a lot over the last few years, and will continue to.  So just understand how it might apply to your business.  Certainly, if we can help you, please let us know.

ROB:                     How would they contact you if somebody wants to talk to you about this?

CHARLES:           Sure.  You can contact me at  And I’ll be happy to answer any questions that someone might have.

ROB:                     Thank you, Charles.

ROB:                      After the interview, GM announced that it was ending its advertising on Facebook.  I asked Charles for his view of that decision and he pointed to an article by his company’s CEO, Dave  Williams, on the AdAge website.  Here is a link to the article.




This is Rob Hassett with Tell Me Something I Don’t Already  Today I am going to be interviewing Udaiyan Jatar, CEO of Blue Earth Network, who is most often referred to as “U.J.”  U.J. is an acknowledged authority on what it takes to develop an “iconic” brand.  U.J. are you on?

U.J.      Yes, I am.

ROB    U.J., what can you tell us that most of us don’t already know about iconic brands?

U.J.      The thing that the average business person doesn’t know about iconic branding is that the world’s greatest iconic brands were all created by small entrepreneurs, who came from outside the industry and had virtually no experience in that industry. It is amazing that iconic brands like Coca-Cola, Nike, Apple, Harley Davidson, and Gatorade were launched, not by big corporations, but by small entrepreneurs with no money and no industry expertise!

ROB    What is the difference between a “great” brand and an “iconic” brand?

U.J.      Whether a brand is iconic, or “merely” great, is determined by the depth of the loyalty it commands from its customers.  If some of a brand’s customers demonstrate their loyalty to the brand by using the brand in contexts unrelated to the product, like tattoos on their skin, it is iconic. Harley Davidson is a great example of that.  You’ll find athletes have tattoos of the Gatorade lightning bolt or the Nike swoosh.  I’ve even found Apple logos on people’s Dell Computer covers and on minivan bumper stickers! Great brands like Tide or Folgers don’t get this level of loyalty. How many Folgers’ customers have that brand tattooed on their skins or stickers on their car bumper?

ROB    What does it take – what is involved in creating an iconic brand?

U.J.      The key to unraveling the secrets of how iconic brands actually get created, lies in truly comprehending that small entrepreneurs, because they had no money and no industry “mental models,” did things exactly the opposite of what a well-resourced business would do.

  1. Possibly because these folks were by and large not business school educated, they did not follow the norms of what traditional business education would teach you to do.  The first question I see most entrepreneurship programs in different business schools asking is, “what is your market?” That is the worst place to start. Iconic Entrepreneurs focus on identifying and satisfying unmet human needs. This creates new markets where previously there were none. Business school programs ask you to substantiate demand for your product/service by conducting consumer research. Unfortunately, there is a profound difference between satisfying a “human need” and satisfying a “consumer need.” By definition, a consumer is a consumer of an existing product.  Someone looking for a human need is identifying needs that are not adequately met by any existing product.  So this “human centric” thinking forces you to develop a new product altogether to solve needs not met by current products.  There is a massive advantage in learning how to see things from a perspective that is not filtered by your  industry!
  2. Also, because Iconic Entrepreneurs were small and had no money, they weren’t able to sell these products to big retailers, so they had no choice but to start small.  Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, sold his shoes from the back of a pickup truck at universities’ athletic fields.  Coca-Cola was an elixir sold to pharmacies long before it became available in large retail chains.  You look at Apple – one of the first, most important areas of distribution for them were public schools in California.  If you look at Red Bull, an energy drink, it wasn’t sold at Wal-Mart and 7-11 here or in Europe, but rather it began to be successful once it got into nightclubs.  Alternative channels not only helped iconic brands win loyal consumers, but also kept them under the radar long enough until it was too late.
  3. Another key factor is the “innovation process.”  When you have a strong passion, but little to no money, you innovate in a totally different way. You might Think Big, but you are forced to “Start Tiny,” get rapid feedback and evolve versus stage-gate your product innovation. This prevents the biggest reasons for new product failure – scaling too big too fast, or killing an idea before it has been developed through adequate trial and error. There is an optimal pace for product evolution, and ironically, it actually gets results faster than the usual process which only gives the illusion of speed.
  4. There are a bunch of other things that you need to do, of course, if you want to create an iconic brand. This includes learning the principles of communicating what your brand stands for, as opposed to merely touting its features and benefits. This is unintuitive and opposite to conventional wisdom! Again, remember, these Iconic Entrepreneurs had virtually no money, so why was their advertising so effective?
  5. The decision-making processes of an iconic organization are critical. How the founder infuses the essence of the brand into every single thing the company does is vastly different than most organizations that operate in functional silos in the best of cases. Steve Jobs was notorious as a micro manager who even designed the buses that ferried Apple employees around Cupertino. Jobs, a college dropout, intuitively understood that everything communicates. Iconic Entrepreneurs make sure that the brand remains true to the purpose behind which they invented the brand in the first place.  This is usually not done with as much integrity, dedication and vision by even great, but non-iconic, organizations. And especially not by most large corporations, which tend to be governed more by quarterly targets rather than achieving the brand’s vision. Steve Jobs exemplified the principles of Iconic EntrepreneurshipSM right to the end. He always told his employees that Apple was not about selling computers or gaining market share or making money. Jobs’ focus was to help people be as creative as they can be without the stress of dealing with technology.  And that truly is a human need and not just a context of how to sell more computers.

ROB    Would you consider the iPhone to be iconic or is that just based on the Apple brand?

U.J.      To my mind, the real brand is Apple.  All of these products that he launched under the Apple brand are brand extensions.  Even though, to be honest, they are transformational products in many ways, but to me, it’s still the Apple brand that defines the experience you have with each one of these products.

ROB    If something is iconic starting out, is it harder to access?  Is that part of what leads to the brand becoming iconic since it’s not in the big retailers?  Is that part of the charm: that the less the majority of people know about it, the more that those who do know about it feel more privileged?

U.J.      You’re absolutely right.  It is indeed one of the phenomena that we stress a lot on when we build iconic business plans for our clients.  The key is to understand and leverage the innovation adoption curve. The curve for iconic brands is similar to how social movements form and how transformational ideas gain adoption by the masses.  Now there are two ways to gain market share.  One is to distribute the product in every single outlet that you can get into.  What that does is, it instantly makes the brand ubiquitous and at the same time removes any charm of someone discovering it because obviously we can’t be the first to discover something that is available everywhere.  You get sales and large volumes quickly, but you also attract the competition before the brand has gained real traction, and commoditization ensues.  What happened, serendipitously, with iconic brands is because they didn’t have the power or resources to attain wide distribution as quickly as brands launched by corporations or VC backed entrepreneurs, iconic brands ended up being distributed only where the brand had the most salience or resonance in their early life! This is the leading edge of the Innovation Adoption Curve (IAC). Innovators and early adopters like discovering things for themselves and telling other people about what they’ve discovered.  It gives them a sense of pride and a sense of being able to help others.  Also because innovators in the IAC tend to be expert consumers, they’re trusted by other people in a peer-to-peer network.  If you know someone who is an innovator or an early adopter of a certain kind of solution, whether they’re an artist who likes to paint with new kinds of brushes or techniques or if it’s a sportsman or an athlete who uses all kinds of different gear, and who tells you he or she has used a product and likes it, it is very convincing – much more so than any ad or even celebrity endorsement could ever be.

ROB    How does that compare to celebrity endorsements?

U.J.      Everyone who sees a celebrity endorsement knows that the celebrity is being paid to say what he or she says.  A recommendation by someone you know who is not being paid is likely to have a much stronger impact. So that leads to what we call Evangelical MarketingSM, which gains brand loyalists at the start of the IAC (innovators) who are tenacious and love to help other people discover what they have discovered.  They tell people that they know about a product or service that they really like and that news spreads from person to person to person, creating a far more loyal consumer base than would otherwise be possible.  After a tipping point is reached, conventional marketing can be used.

ROB    As far as being an iconic brand, would the Beatles rank as an iconic brand?

U.J.      Indeed, the Beatles are an iconic brand.  Some of the greatest movements and leaders in history have become iconic like Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi. The Occupy Wall Street movement could learn a lot from how iconic brands and personalities become iconic. If you see the history of how movements form and how iconic brands form, it is not too different. They all had humble beginnings, a higher True PurposeSM, engaged in a lot of trial and error initially, gained traction through a small group of early “evangelists,” and gradually built purpose driven organizations that were globally scalable in terms of ideas. In the modern world, Muhammad Yunus’ Social Business concept is similarly gaining traction not only in Bangladesh and developing countries, but even here in the United States! It usually starts with an individual with great vision who tries to make change happen in the world.  The social reform folks were trying to change society and the business reform folks were trying to help people do better things with their lives.  Phil Knight wanted to help people run and exercise and be healthier.  So he started a movement – the fitness movement.  Pemberton wanted people to feel a little better about themselves and developed Coca-Cola, the ultimate affordable luxury providing moments of joy to paupers and princes alike for the last 120 years. It starts with that vision and purpose, it moves towards establishing a core group of people, who are the innovators and earlier adopters to that idea and that vision, who then embrace it and spread the movement on their own so you’re harnessing the energy of evangelists to move the brand forward.  Music is kind of the same thing.  The Beatles in the early days in Liverpool used to play in little pubs and clubs and the movement started from there for them.

ROB    I suppose you’d say that there are companies that have done extremely well that are not iconic – like maybe Facebook and MicroSoft or (as a brand of a product) Tide?

U.J.      Yes.  We deliberately try to make a big difference between brands that became truly iconic and brands that are merely great.  I joke when I say they’re merely great because a lot of people would give their right arms to have been the founders or the owners of businesses like MicroSoft of course.  But, the downside of a great brand versus one that is iconic is that merely great brands keep their growth coming not so much because of deeply loyal customers but through having to continuously earn their leadership every year through sheer hard work. It is much easier for iconic brands to maintain their edge. And the greatest advantage of being an iconic brand is that occasionally when a competitor outperforms you (which is inevitable) you don’t lose your loyal customers and margins. You have a much longer rope, better margin protection and, ultimately, more breathing room to innovate and make mistakes. Take Coca-Cola for example.  The one time they actually tried to re-invent the formula, it backfired on them.  So the product’s not had to fundamentally change for 120 years.  How many non-iconic brands can claim that?  Almost everybody else has to continuously innovate and keep changing.  Just think about Tide — how many innovations has it had and how many other reformulations has it had to take to be able to maintain its leadership? Not that innovation is bad. It is great, especially when it is driven by human need and not merely because of decreasing margins or competitive threat. People could argue that Apple has had to innovate too. But, the truth is, they usually take existing technologies and package them better. And when they make mistakes, like with the iPhone 4 antenna fiasco, consumers forgive them – a luxury Microsoft doesn’t have. Take the case of Harley Davidson – it is probably one of the most iconic brands on the planet, but one doesn’t refer to Harley as the most innovative motorcycle technology out there.  And they don’t need to be.  Many motorcycle brands out there can claim to have better technology or ride etc., but Harley is the talismanic icon. The sad thing is their target audience is aging out of the market, and Harley is struggling to figure out how to tap the next few generations. The answer for them lies not in consumer research or clever innovation, but in looking deep within themselves to their iconic True PurposeSM.

To summarize, we help our clients replicate the Iconic EntrepreneurshipSM code, what we call the Six Disciplines of Iconic EntrepreneurshipSM so that they can invest less, and get a bigger bang for their buck. This model requires lower investments and has higher returns.  It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t innovate and you shouldn’t have a big organization like some of the great brands and obtain investments into the business.  You can continue to do what Apple did – and maintain a massive lead versus competition.  But you could also be like Harley.  Sometimes it is better to be a relatively small business – a small but iconic brand and be able to sustain your competitive advantage for a much longer time. To quote Steve Jobs again, Apple was never about market share – it was always about creating tools that unleash people’s creativity and doing it better than anyone else. Ultimately Apple Inc. has higher market capitalization than others that were market share focused.

ROB    U.J., this has been very interesting.  I would like to let the audience know where they can get in touch with you.  Your company is Blue Earth Network.

U.J.      That’s right.  They can reach us at our website,  They can contact us through there.  They can also follow us on Twitter @blueearthnetwrk.

ROB    Very good.  Thank you very much U.J.  Is there anything else you wanted to say?

U.J.      I’d like to say that if one of your readers is a true change maker who wants to transform the world, or they have an idea in the non-profit or for profit world, that is truly game changing, or they believe that they might have found a human need that they have a solution for or want to develop a solution for, we’d love to work with them.  We work with organizations that range from startups all the way to Fortune 100 companies, from NGOs to Governments.  Our mission is not driven by a category or sector. The 6 Disciplines of Iconic EntrepreneurshipSM apply to anyone that has a transformational idea. We’d love to hear from folks like that.

ROB    Thanks, U.J.

U.J.      My pleasure, Rob.


Iconic EntrepreneurshipSM, Iconic EntrepreneursSM, True PurposeSM, The Six Disciplines of Iconic EntrepreneurshipSM are service marks of Blue Earth Network Inc.