Month: February 2015 Reboot

Written by Marketing Wisdom

My first website kicked off in 2003, when I returned to being an independent brand-marketing consultant after a four year partnership with a Santa Rosa ad agency.

Since then, it has remained untouched except for periodic updates to my various portfolios over the years. In an effort to both understand and exploit Google’s dominance in Internet searches (84% in 2004), I also wrote a blog titled Marketing Wisdom that featured anecdotes and life lessons gleaned from day-to-day encounters.

Today, my blog, Marketing Wisdom and – more importantly a link to the Rustad Marketing website – appears mid-screen on the second page of natural results when one searches “marketing wisdom.” As someone who advocates that websites need to be regularly refreshed – if not redone entirely every few years to take advantage of the ongoing evolution of the Internet – I have to admit to ignoring my own advice. As they say, the cobbler’s kids go barefoot.

That said, over the years I’ve received regular praise for my first website’s economical design and focus on brand marketing.

Truth told, I probably would have avoided the hassle and retrospection demanded of a website upgrade for another few years were it not for my daughter’s website ( which, I must say, she built without any help from her “marketing pro” dad.

Not that Valerie needed my help. She graduated from Chapman University last spring with a BFA in Graphic Design. More to the point, she benefited from an excellent education in the craft thanks in great part to her faculty mentor – Eric Chimenti (

But the bigger issue is that Valerie is a part of a generation that never knew a world without the Internet. As such, she’s comfortable in a world that’s still foreign to folks like me who are more than two generations removed.

Yep, it’s a fact that I’m not a “boomer” but a “war baby” having been born in the last year of WWII. I grew up with national radio programs, the then new medium of television, black rotary dial phones, and the ice cream man driving down the streets of my post war tract neighborhood to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel.”

Though I’m committed to staying current with software and technology, it’s a challenge understanding Valerie’s generation – the so-called millennials – and their take, not just on the Internet, but media in general. Hint: they don’t watch TV or read newspapers and upon waking in the morning the first thing they reach for is their phone.

Oh yes, I did help Valerie’s web presence in one important way: I bought her name as a URL many years ago. As it happens with most names, Valerie is not the only Valerie Rustad in the world nor, for that matter, am I the only Stephen Rustad. Google me and you’ll find my namesake is a teacher in Minnesota. However, both Valerie and I own our respective URL’s – something I believe is essential to our Internet “visibility.”

Anyway, when I saw Valerie’s shiny, new, crisply designed, mobile-friendly website I knew my time had come. Enjoy. And, please don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts.

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Internet Killed the TV Star

Written by Marketing Wisdom

Currently, the most popular channel on YouTube is Pewdiepie. Episodes record a twenty-year-old Swede named Felix Kjellberg (self-described YouTube guy according to his Twitter feed) while he plays video games.

Felix’s YouTube channel stats are amazing: 395, 814,000 views in the last month. He has 34,649,705 subscribers to his YouTube channel with a total of nearly 8 BILLION video views worldwide to date.

The 5,200,000 people who have followed Felix’s more than 20,000 Tweets and his 5,775,739 Facebook “liker’s seem like chump change by comparison.

Social Blade ( estimates that Felix hauls in somewhere between $100K and $1.6MM each month, a range which suggests that they don’t actually know how much he makes. However, if we take the low-end that means this 20-year-old slacker is hauling in more than a million bucks a year sitting on a basement couch toggling a game controller.

I’m including no links, thank you. If you want to know more about Felix, you already have enough information. Besides, this guy clearly needs no help from the likes of me to carry his water.

I bring the subject of YouTube channels and “stars” up because I’m currently in the process of developing a show for YouTube. Prior to the phenomena of YouTube channels, or the fact that YouTube is pervasive enough to create these “stars,” developing a TV show would have meant knocking on the door of some basic cable TV network, if I could even locate the proper door or figure out the secret knock. Might as well try to pitch a movie studio a script on the Avengers or start a new comic strip. The odds of either of these ventures succeeding are roughly equal to those of winning the lottery.

YouTube, and its assorted minor competitors (50 and counting) have changed all this. Assuming that you own a video capable phone and have access to the Internet  the cost of entry for a YouTube presence is virtually zero.

However, there are (at least) four criteria –

1) An interesting personality – a concept so broad that it’s almost meaningless. Think of a spectrum that begins a one end with Peewee Herman and ends at the other with Martin Luther King. Put another way, it stretches from weird to wonderful, vulgar to saintly, banal to exquisite. I’ve heard it said that online video celebrities are simply ordinary people without inhibition. No talent required, just a willingness to bare one’s soul, or bottom.

2) Interesting content – again an incredibly broad category that extends from portraying (or recording) the wildest of fantasy activities (I won’t even hazard an example) to others that are so simple they challenge my comprehension such as video of someone (only the hands are visible) opening a “surprise” package.

3) An audience. “Build it and they will come,” hasn’t worked since, say, Valentines Day 2006, a year after YouTube was founded. Finding an audience for your “interesting personality” to deliver your “riveting content” is brass ring online video. The good news is that since YouTube was purchased by Google it has become ingrained with what is still the most powerful search engine (

Yes,  Google is the river, but you still need to lead your horse to it and make him drink. The logic (and logistics) to building an audience for message haven’t changed since drummers stood in the 19th century town square, or ancient Grecian agora, and….yes…beat a drum to attract passersby to hear their message.  You have to tell a friend and give them reason tell another, and another, etc. If you’re in hurry you have to tell everyone you know and a bunch more who are strangers. And you have to tell them something that will get then to your YouTube channel.  That said, if your content is provocative enough – on camera executions come to mind – you won’t have to tell many people. But I’m not in the business of peddling prurience and I’m pretty sure you aren’t either.

4) Monetize the broadcast. Unless you possess a crackling personality (a huge ego and lack of shame are also desirable), provocative content that can be created with a cell phone, and the world’s biggest Rolodex, producing even the simplest YouTube show is going to take money. If you involve others in the effort they will want to get paid. Interestingly, this is not the biggest hurdle. Assuming you’ve achieved items 1 through 3, the world will beat a path to your door just to get a share of the eyeballs glued to your YouTube channel. Thank Google for this. Given their penchant for promoting, publicizing and categorizing website traffic, advertisers hungry for those eyeballs will pay you – minus Google’s cut, of course – to insert messages at the start of a successful YouTube-cast.

If you’re thinking of adding snappy captions or a voice track to static video of inanimate objects such as grass or foraging cows, forget it. The field is already crowded with competitors.

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It’s Not Her Father’s Internet

Written by Marketing Wisdom

When my just minted BFA daughter was about to leave the warm bosom of Chapman University for the mean streets of the So Cal marketing world, I was brimming with advice on what she should do to promote her graphic design and illustration skills.

Of course, she would need a professional website and, lucky for her, she had a marketing pro dad who could call in a few favors to whip up a state-of-art Internet Portal.

How quickly parents forget.

When Valerie was six, or so, she asked for my help to learn to ride a bike. “Absolutely,” I said, “when I get home this evening from work.” I guess my help wasn’t fast enough – nor apparently needed – for when I got home that evening she was riding her bike up and down our driveway. It’s worth noting that In those days we lived on a hill and the drive was pitched like ski slope.

Before I could say, “cascading style sheets,” Valerie had located a free website tool and whipped up her own well-designed and mobile-friendly site. Check it out:

Still, the full impact of my irrelevance had yet to dawn until I’m counselling Valerie on what she needs to do to promote her artwork the world.

Valerie politely waits for me to take a breath so she can get a word in. When I do, she tells me that a website is fine and all, but she’s going to use social media to promoter her artwork.

“Ah, Facebook,” I mutter proudly. I’d been on Facebook for a couple of years.  Dad was no social media laggard.

“Hmm, no, dad,” Valerie replied. “I’ll use Instagram and Tumblr. They’ll reach more of the people I’m interested in.”

I felt like a buggy whip salesman just introduced to Henry Ford. “Tum-bler…really.”

According to Wikipedia, Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website owned by Yahoo! Inc. Tumblr allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Users can follow other users’ blogs, as well as make their blogs private. As of February 1, 2015, Tumblr hosts over 221.3 million blogs.

It’s true that Facebook numbers its users in the billions, but like its nearly forgotten predecessor  MySpace – Facebook has long since fallen out of favor with millennials.

Today I’m a Tumblr subscriber with my own mini-blog showcasing my homemade movie posters that pay tribute to my favorite films. I have no followers. I also have an Instagram account with a whopping 28 fans.

Valerie’s Instagram fan base is – at last count – 641. A drawing she posted last summer garnered over 1200 “likes” and “41” shares.

Her most recent Tumblr post ( has over 8,300 notes, a category that includes both likes and shares.

Lest you think that I’m in some sort of competition with my daughter, let me put that suspicion to rest. In the world of social media content and personality rule: two areas where she has me beat hands down.

I’ll settle for being an old block off the young chip, thank you, and I’m proud to be so.

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