Early Bird Gets the Attention

If you are first in line, there will be more water in the pool to make a bigger splash. If you hit the market first, it will be much easier to make some noise. Get in people’s queues first, and you will be read before the next guy. I have seen a direct correlation to the number of people who read my blog per day and the time of day I post – the earlier, the better. The early bird gets the worm. Or in this case, the attention.

There is a flip side to being first: a responsibility to quality. While you may secure for yourself a smash hit opening weekend by launching first, sustaining that hit overtime is a completely different story. In journalism, it’s always a race to publish first. But if the accuracy of an article doesn’t check out, the premature launch could adversely effect the organization’s credibility. To build a sustainable hit, you must keep quality high and consistently beat everyone else to the punch.

While my blog has little at stake to post “first,” I doubt I could have earned your readership if I published daily nonsensical poop jokes. Without question, quality counts in the long term. But if all you want is attention and immediate gratification, you better cross the finish line in first place.

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Film Friday: The Project Triangle

Project TriangleThe Project Triangle concept was first conceived in the engineering world and has helped me navigate countless managerial decisions in Hollywood. For those not familiar, the Project Triangle rules that you can only pick two of the three: Good, Fast or Cheap.

The logic makes sense and can help you rapidly prioritize through difficult, urgent decisions. In film, there are many – especially as a studio executive, producer, or coordinator.

If you want quality work done quickly, you cannot expect things to be cheap. Talented artists who can move fast without missing a beat are extremely rare and therefore extremely expensive. Want a Director of Photography who can make 45 setups a day look like Leibovitz? Start at $3,000 per day. 3D conversion of a feature film in 45 days? $12-15 Million base.

If you want the project resolved promptly and to cut costs, do not expect top-notch work. Running and gunning a show with cheap labor opens the door for creative and technical mistakes. Many independent films do not gain traction because they simply lack the resources and time to reach distributable or marketable quality. Entire companies like The Asylum have embraced mediocre output to sustain business and cut substantial costs.

If you want to win awards and save money, be prepared to wait a very long time. If you are lucky, the material is strong enough to inspire great talent for scale cost – but you have to work around their schedules. Everyone needs to pay the bills – and my pro bono contribution to your breakout short will take the back seat to my full-time job. Sorry.

I think you can accomplish all three triangle points in one project, but most likely as a weekend passion project or a random conceptual twist of genius. Very rarely, great work is created in little time with no money. As an administrator or producer, you cannot bank on that roll of the dice.

Be prepared for only two of the three; hope for the third.

Fansource Five: How Your Fans Can Help Offset Risk

New trend: crowdsourcing. Inspiring the masses to perform a service for your company and engage them in your brand. Core systemsbrand identitycustomer service, logo design, commercial production, word of mouthproduct development, recipes and more. Cheaper, doubles as a marketing effort, and empowers your strongest audience.

It’s not always a good idea to call out to the whole world. Gap’s logo redesign failed in part because a large number of submission artists were not regular Gap customers; they were not familiar with the brand. Certainly not as familiar as the customers who lashed back and reset the logo.

Enter: fansourcing. Fansourcing is more focused than crowdsourcing because it challenges your fanbase directly – the people who know and care about you the most. A new record label in the UK invites fans to invest (for a share of the profits) in an album before the music is even recorded. This model threatens rule #4 of my true fans definition by blurring the line between fan support and ROI profiteering. Nevertheless, sharing profits with your strongest fans is an unrivaled channel for gratitude. It could empower your supporters and win you more true fans.

Fansource financing can offset considerable risk in your venture for the following five reasons:

Reason 1:  Upfront Recoupment

Traditionally, you raised money to produce and then recouped costs when customers paid for your product. With fansource financing, raising money and recouping costs happens simultaneously. Pay before or pay after? As long as you can deliver on your promise to produce, what’s the difference? Less risk when you’ve already satisfied expenses before the product is made.

Reason 2:  Less Emphasis on Profit
Investors expect a financial return. Fans expect an experiential return. When your investors are your fans, the product takes first chair to profit. Investors are very important and should not be undermined. But I promise you: fans will give you less hassle about the dollar – if you do good work, of course. Less pressure, less stress, less risk.

Reason 3:  Fans Have Skills
By building a community around your project, you have thousands of supports who have talents and connections that could help you. Be resourceful (or perhaps fansourceful?). Know your fans. Do not be afraid to ask. They might love you enough to lend a hand.

Reason 4:  The Quality Committee
Investors want your product to turn a profit. Fans want your product to be great. By bringing in fan investors, you are building a community populated by your toughest critics and most loyal supporters. Build a relationship with them, collect their expectations and improve your product. Better quality, less risk.

Reason 5:  Fans Have Friends
With their hard-earned money in the pot, fan investors have more at stake in and therefore more attachment to your project. They want their friends to support the project and fuel their return. Fans will help you do the marketing legwork and reach more people.

While fansourcing reduces financial risk on your part, it increases fan retention risk. A fan invests thousands of dollars into your project and your project fails, no return on investment. Uh oh. You will lose the fan. They may even tarnish your reputation, hurting your ability to adopt new fans. That is why it is imperative to earn true fans who do not expect a return. Churches are really good at this. Kickstarter is kickin’ ass.