Category Archives: Finance

Kickstart your next creative project with some crowd funding

When it comes to producing a documentary or putting together a game there are so many expenses before you even get it to market. Now there is a better way to get your creative ideas off the ground.

Imagine a portal where you can tell everyone about your project and then ask them to pledge some money (if they like your idea) in exchange for the chance to be involved, in some way in what you are producing.

I have been following Double Fine Productions on Kickstarter who set out with a goal of achieving $400,000 in pledges to create a new game and a documentary of the game being made. Founder Tim Schafer put together a great pitch video and then subsequent support videos to tell everyone about his project. It was a compelling video, it gave me a great insight into what Tim was wanting to achieve along with loads of personality and an insight into the difference one person could make my contributing financially.   Tim and his team at Double Fine Productions achieved a phenomenal result of over 87,142 backers and over $3 million dollars raised when the listing ended on March 13th 2012.  Check out the Kickstarter page here.

This is one of the powerful ways the internet opens up many new opportunities for people with creative ideas, and best of all you don’t need experience in looking for the one big backer to get the project off the ground.  I love the fact that supporters are global and they can help you taylor the product for the end user, which in many cases is people just like them.

Pozible is the Australian version, not quite as big as Kickstarter just yet.

Pozible have put together 12 tips to a crowd funding success which anyone considering this approach should consider carefully. They can be summarised as:

1. Plan your project and set yourself a goal
2. You’re inviting people to be a part something – so don’t be afraid to ask for the money
3. Collaboration – who can compliment  you with additional skills to get the project off the ground?
4. Influencers – who do you know that is well known that can support you with the project with endorsements etc?
5. Learn from others – look how others have been successful in attracting pledges for their project
6. Be Sociable – talk about your project at every opportunity
7. Share and connect online
8. Another day, another dollar – build momentum and stay in contact with your audience so they know you are serious in achieving your project
9. Say thank you
10. Without an audience, you’ve got very little – get to know them
11. Reward your supporters – be creative with what you can offer
12. A story to tell – why is your project unique and why should we believe you will see the project through, how did you come up with the idea in the first place?

If you check out the Double Fine Productions page on Kickstarter, you will see how they have met all of the above points to attract the level of funding they did.

Yours in Crowd Funding.



Gruen Planet’s first episode airs tonight


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The Gruen Transfer is my favourite show. Hands down. It’s required reading (or watching) for those in our industry and gives the rest of the world an insight into what we advertisers do each day.

So naturally I’m busting with excitement for Gruen Planet which airs tonight on ABC1 at 9pm.

Over an eight-week season Gruen Planet will delve into the world of public relations – the world of ‘spin’ with Gruen Transfer host Wil Anderson and panelists Russel Howcroft and Todd Sampson.

“Persuasion is persuasion,” says Sampson, pointing out that the techniques used in PR and damage control are not dissimilar to those used to persuade consumers to buy a product.

Topics will include a proposal to run an ad during grand final week asserting that footballers should not be role models, the rebranding of Rupert Murdoch and a pitch to persuade Australians they hate the Melbourne Cup.

Tonight’s episode will focus on the political survival of prime minister Julie Gillard, described as ‘The only leader on Earth more besieged than Gaddafi’. The show will look at how she should be repositioned as a political brand but will also cover SABMiller’s acquisition of Fosters to tackle the question: How do you sell Aussie beers that are no longer Aussie? And do brands really need to worry about patriotism?

The last part of the show will ask contestants to come up with a campaign to convince Australians that they should stop expecting our footballers to be role models in the run up to grand final week for the NRL and AFL.

And for those of you miss tonight’s episode: a repeat of the show will air on Thursday at 9.30pm on ABC2 or you can catch-up with iView.

Will you be watching?

Yours in spin,


SmartClinics opens at Westfield Chermside on September 19

I’m impatient, work long hours and not loyal to any particular doctor – I guess I’m fitting right into the Gen-Y stereotype! But seriously, when I need a basic prescription or need some basic medical care I just want to pop in and out of the doctor’s as quickly as possible – and I’d think many working Australians would be much the same (gee, that was a bit ALP wasn’t it…”working Australians”).

This is why I’m excited about SmartClinics – the new medical clinic run by Nurse Practitioners, opening at Westfield Chermside on September 19. Now full disclosure, SmartClinics is a client of ours and we’ve been busily working on their design and advertising in preparation for the launch, but really I can’t wait until it’s open.

I think SmartClinics is going to be a really great service for those of us who are fed up with trying to sneak out during lunch and then suffer the long wait in reception before our 10 minute appointment (although I love the trashy mags, do we really need to spend 45 minutes in the waiting room?). SmartClinics will open from 7am-9pm, 7 days a week – thank you weekend and night trading! Plus the appointments are quick and cheap – only $28 for a basic consultation. Now they just need to come to the south side of Brisbane!

Clinics like this have been operating in the US and UK for quite some time now so I’m not sure what all the fuss is about but obviously some GPs think SmartClinics is a teeny bit controversial…check out this piece on Channel 10

Check them out at

Yours in innovative health care,

Sixty Years Strong

Tonight the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) is celebrating it’s sixtieth year for the Queensland and Northern Territory branches.

AIM members from around Queensland and Northern Territory have been invited to come together to share how AIM has helped them work smarter and also discuss how the institute has grown into what it is today.

AIM facilitates short courses and workshops in any aspect of management so they only concentrate on the areas you need help with most. The bonus of becoming a member is they run members only business related seminars for  week a year. AIM organises local and global inspiring guest speaker sessions for everyone to enjoy. My favourite though is the womens only ‘Onboard to Board’ where a bus-load of professional women are taken to a mystery destination and meet with a super successful woman who has succeeded in getting on a board. We are amazed as we hear their rise to success and we’re welcome to ask questions and mingle. Definitely a great night out!

There will be special presentations and also an opportunity to network with like-minded people.

Congratulations AIM Qld & NT, I’m looking forward to tonight!

Yours in Management,
Amber van Sloten

Slash your advertising spend with Facebook ads and DSPs

When it comes to media planning and buying we all want to reach our target market with little or no wastage. Media is expensive – it often outweighs creative by 5 to 1 – and must be measured in terms of ROI (Return On Investment). While we’re seeing more accountability with MOVE (Measurement of Outdoor Visibility and Exposure) introduced early last year there’s still one media channel that wins hands down when it comes to measuring ROI – digital.

The two most exciting aspects of digital media buying for me has got to be Facebook Advertising and DSPs (Demand Side Platforms) allowing highly targeted advertising and minimising wastage. I’ll start with Facebook:

Facebook is seriously clever. Most people will know that when you fill out your profile – gender, age, location, relationship status and interests – you are providing Facebook with rich data that can be used to serve you targeted ads that suit your interests. Every time you ‘like’ a page you are also signalling to Facebook ‘hey I like this stuff’ and Facebook will allow advertisers to use this information and align you with brands that are suited to your taste.

Now despite what you’ve heard in the media Facebook is not actually handing over your personal data to advertisers and your security is NOT at risk – it’s just storing that data and allowing advertisers to set parameters for their ads. Seriously if you want to remain anonymous you can adjust your Facebook privacy settings or opt out of behavioral advertising here – but I’m yet to find someone who’d prefer to see ads that that they have no interest in, over ones that do.

Here’s some screen grabs showing you a few ways you can structure your Facebook Ad and target only those who might be interested in your brand (I particularly like what I call the ‘peer pressure’ ‘like tool which shows which of your friends like that page:

Now for DSPs:

Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) are changing the way online ads are bought and sold and has only just launched in Australia via Brandscreen. DSPs enable media buyers (and agencies) to bid and optimise across several exchanges in real time as well as manage the buy and creative placement of ads. As opposed to looking for an audience to deliver an ad to, DSP allows for people to be valued and targeted individually and anonymously and then be served a highly targeted ad. A bit like an online stock market for ads. Very exciting stuff!

Their website states: Brandscreen brings all the major exchanges within a single, self-serve buying platform, connecting you with Google DoubleClick AdX, Rubicon, AdMeld, Pubmatic, OpenX and ContextWeb. In Australia alone, Brandscreen is already seeing over 250 milion impressions available every day, covering over 2.3 million websites.

How are you measuring your advertising spend? It’s pretty complicated stuff so drop me a line at Brio Group if you’d like to talk more about getting more bang for your advertising buck.

Yours in behavioral advertising,

Can you really trust your Google search or Facebook feed?

When you “google” something you get the same results as everyone else don’t you? When you post something on Facebook, it has an equal chance of appearing in all of your friends’ news feed right? Wrong!

You may not be aware of it, but developers, particularly those who develop social media sites and search engines, are writing sophisticated algorithms to filter content to make it more relevant to you. Have you noticed that Facebook profiles and pages you view or comment on, or photos of friends you “like”, seem to appear more often than others in your news feed? That’s right, content is being filtered in terms of popularity and relevance to you. But what if you wanted to broaden your mind and find out what’s going on in those less “popular” profiles and pages? Well you have to seek them out, which takes time and effort that many of us are not willing to spare. While these algorithms are designed to filter out the irrelevant information they are sometimes blocking out important information that we might want to hear about.

This interesting TED talk we watched on Monday by Eli Pariser brought up some interesting points about the unintended consequences of these algorithms: we get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

While Facebook is a great source of entertainment and information its quickly becoming a bit of a popularity contest: the pressure for brands to gain exposure by gaining the most comments or “likes” is building and seriously increasing the need for exciting and engaging content. We might not like it, and might prefer a more democratic way, but it’s a jungle out there and only the most engaging brands will survive. At Brio Group we can help you create engaging content for your branded Facebook page and help you claw your way to the top of the news feed.

Filtered content is not the only thing you need to be aware of – the online ads you see are also highly targeted to your interests and online behavior which I’ll be talking about in my next blog post about Facebook Ads and DSPs. So stay tuned!

Yours in information,

PR Disaster of the Year Winner: Vodafone!

Last year BP’s oil spill took the cake, but this year it’s looking like Vodafone is a clear front runner in the PR Disaster of the Year Award. Vodafone is quickly becoming one of the most hated brands with its embarrassing lack of coverage, voicemail & SMS delays, billing issues and poor customer service. Vodafone customers are suing in a class action lawsuit spurred on by Adam Brimo, the founder of and Sydney law firm PiperAlderman. Thousands of Vodafone customer horror stories can be found on the website which reeks of a similar PR disaster Dell Hell that unravelled a few years back where disgruntled customers used internet forums and social media to band together and make a stand against crappy service.

It appears (and this is such a big social media no no) that it seems Vodafone dealers and staffers have been trying to defend the telco on without identifying themselves – says Brimo who’s analysed the IP addresses of the contributors. Even worse, their tone has been “quite aggressive” says Brimo and basically argue that “it’s the customer’s fault and that all of our complaints are about tiny problems”. Their attitude is “if we don’t like it, we should just leave” and judging by the complaints on Facebook I witnessed this Easter long weekend it seems that people are leaving Vodafone in droves (over 22,000 thousand customers have approached PiperAlderman). Brimo, has even had legal threats from the telco and had the site’s logo removed from Facebook due to “copyright infringement” – a move he believes was sparked by a complaint from Vodafone.

Vodafone’s inability to provide SMS text messaging to its customers on the 24th of April (a full 24 hour day), led them to offer customers a half-day (that’s only 12 hours) of free SMS messaging to compensate but with many of its customers on caps that include free SMS anyway, this offer on the first of May seems a slap in the face to customers who are feeling utterly “Vodaboned” as ITWire puts it.

In terms of customer service and social media Vodafone are making some huge mistakes and seem like they’re on a one way path to self-destruction. They could really learn some lessons from Dell in the way they handle complaints and adopt some transparency in the forums they engage in. Every company has problems and will inevitably receive customer complaints but it’s the way they deal with them that matters.

Are you a Vodafone customer? What are your experiences? Will Vodafone survive this PR mess? Unless we see some big changes soon I’m not so sure they will!

Yours in PR disasters,

Design your own shoes with Shoes of Prey

When I signed up for a Small Budget Web Success Seminar with Interactive Minds I saw one of the speakers was Mike Knapp from Shoes of Prey. I thought ‘what a great name’ and got on the old google machine to find out who they were.

What I discovered literally made my jaw drop (it actually slackened and filled up with drool) – here was a site where you could completely design your own pair of beautiful shoes (that are in line with this season’s trends) and have them delivered to your doorstep. You can choose the height of your heel (or go for a pair of super comfy flats), add embellishments like bows, buckles and flowers and even choose ankle boots and gladiators. I was so excited I ran into the other office and blurted out a few words…site. design. shoes. awesome. that’s about all I could manage! I LOVE the idea of designing my own show – yeah they’re expensive but I can get exactly what I want and make a shoe that wouldn’t even exist in the retail space.

Anyway what I learned from the seminar was how Shoes of Prey managed to gain a bit of publicity through blogger Blair Fowler aka JuicyStar07 who made this videoblog (or videolog – I think that’s what the kids are calling them these days) which gave Shoes of Prey a boost of 670,000 hits. Pretty impressive that a 16 year old can have that much influence! Well I hope that was educational!

Yours in delicious shoes,

Biggest PR disasters of 2010

As 2010 draws to a close I thought it might be time to remember those who’ve made our time at the hairdressers reading trashy mags just that little bit more exciting. So I started to do a little searching and came across this article on Mumbrella about the top 10 PR disasters of the year. Quite amusing…

The worst media disaster of 2010 was the Qantas A380 emergency, public relations blog PR Disasters has said.

According to the list, compiled by blogger and PR Gerry McCusker, the near-catastrophe and its aftermath was a bigger PR disaster than CommBank’s controversial interest rate hikes, Labor’s bodged mining tax and the Melbourne Storm salary cap rort.

The ten PR disasters:
1. Qantas – A380 fleet consecutive engine issues and passenger delays
2. Commonwealth Bank – premium interest rate hikes
3. Labor Party – corporate backlash against the proposed ‘super tax’
4. Melbourne Storm – salary cap scandal
5. Stephanie Rice – homophobic comments posted via Twitter
6. Canberra Raiders – Joel Monaghan ‘dog sex’ photo
7. Virgin Blue – reservations and check-in system crash
8. Matthew Newton – after alleged assault of then partner Rachel Taylor in Italy
9. David Leees – CEO sexual assault scandal
10. Lara Bingle – media relations following split with Michael Clark

McCusker worked with online and social media monitoring agency Cyber Chatter to analyse the blunders.

McCusker said: “We’re seeing that social media is increasing influence in determining the impact and duration of PR disasters. As citizen media clearly aids commentary and sharing of bad news stories. It’s essential to have strategies to cope with online sniping and gossip.”

Source: Mumbrella

What do you think was the biggest PR disaster this year?

Yours in Schadenfreude,

The Social Network movie review

The Social Network is the story of the early days of Facebook and the egos, greed and rivalry that comes hand in hand with the billion-dollar idea. It’s based on real life events, but the people in the know claim it’s been ‘Hollywoodised’ to some degree … which has to be expected really. In case you didn’t know, Mark Zuckerberg, a Gen Y Harvard student, built Facebook with some college buddies in his dorm room in 2004. However, like most great ideas that turn global and are worth an absolute packet, you’re bound to tread on a few toes to get to the top.

The film tracks the Facebook story from the beginning, highlighting Zuckerberg’s programming genius with his Facemash site (similar to Hot or Not, but rating college students instead) that scooped an amazing 22,000 visits in its first four hours online. While he gets a Harvard slap on the wrist, his new found college status pushes him in the sights of twins Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss (both played by Armie Hammer). They approach Zuckerberg to program a social networking idea. He agrees to ‘help’ them and then turns the idea into a much better idea: The Facebook (he later ditches ‘the’).

Zuckerberg, brilliantly portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, comes across as a highly intelligent, IT geek with poor social skills. Therefore, it’s rather ironic he pioneered the world’s most popular social networking site that’s all about connection, communication and friendships. He burns his best mate, partner and financier Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield. He becomes chums and business partners with Napster founder Sean Parker, portrayed by Justin Timberlake. And he loses the girl (don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler, it happens in the first scene!).

The Social Network will not only interest Gen Y audiences, but Gen X and anyone business minded will take a message home from this top-rating film. It’s set in college, but most scenes take place in lawyer’s offices where Zuckerberg’s eccentric quips bring a touch of humour to this drama. Zuckerberg comes across as a complex character, who you neither love or hate, but who you do slightly understand. And now, he’s the world’s youngest billionaire. Not bad right?

I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. What did you think of the film?

Yours in social media,


PS: To see what the social media critics have to say, Mashable’s movie review is worth a read. As is The Herald Sun review which gives the film 4.5 stars.