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When a Business Model Fits Like Your Favorite Pair of Headphones?

November 20, 2004

On last night’s Apprentice, the contestants were tasked with creating an in-store catalog for Levis. As usual, my mind was cranking through how I would solve this business problem. What does Levis mean to me? What emotionally attractive image would I create to sell more jeans? How would I present this to customers in a catalog?

I was watching the show off my ReplayTV, skipping the commercials. But midway through I realize, this is an hour long commercial for Levis. And I like it.

Now my mind shifts from the narrative, to the real story – this is a moment of business genius. How often can a marketer engage even a single customer so deeply?

So how does he do it? By presenting a problem that’s fun to try and solve. If that is too challenging, you can just evaluate the merits of the two team’s solutions. Either way you consider how you feel about the problem and its potential solutions. If the problem is related to a product, bingo, the viewer becomes involved with the product in a way much deeper than a 30 second spot. Throw in aspirational characters and attractive images and you have a marketing program bordering on mind control.

This is way beyond a simple, money for airtime, product placement deal. Burnett got a big check and a story from Levis. Levis got millions of viewers to sit still for an hour and get emotionally and intellectually involved with their product. Everyone wins except maybe Jen, who sold lots of jeans last night, and probably did not get paid. Butt I’m sure she will be a money-maker on the backside. Sorry.

It’s like Google, the product and the business model work together to create greater value. So does the Apprentice point to a business model for more modest media, like blogging or Podcasting?

At the risk of becoming the “I heart Adam Curry“ blog, I will point out that Daily Source Code spends a huge amount of time asking and answering questions about technologies related to PodCasting – microphones, headphones, editing software, Radio Shack, blah, blah, blah. He throws out problems that are fun for his audience to try and solve, and in return, gets material for his show. Now he needs to close the loop with the sponsors. Thanks to his web site, this could be QED.

So I will throw out a problem. If you were me, how would you monitize this site beyond AdSense?

And don’t worry, unlike Jen, I won’t take all the credit for the idea.


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