All this makes Ello’s raising a fresh $5 million dollars pale in comparison. Some have pooh-poohed the Ello fund-raiser as meaningless, categorizing Ello as a has-been. Perhaps it is; only time will tell.
What we should not forget, however, is that the “tiny” $5 million for Ello, the $1 billion media budget -- or, indeed, the $544 billion of global ad spend -- must all be managed by dedicated and steady hands.
My former boss Chris Burggraeve used to favor “The Starving Artist Model”: The smaller your budget, the more you have to do to make the most of your limited means. In other words: The smaller the budget, the more innovative the budget manager is driven to be.
If you ask the global media director of SC Johnson how that billion-dollar media budget will be spent -- to what end and with what kind of oversight -- he or she will probably be able to give you a big-picture overview. If you ask the entrepreneur or small-challenger brand with limited funds where the company’s next investment will go, you will most likely get a very detailed and considered answer.
If I were Comcast, I would not have entered the fray with $4 billion. I would have entered instead with perhaps $4 million, to be divided into $500K investments. That way would make it easier to keep track of where you are investing -- and, perhaps more importantly, what the entrepreneurs who receive your investment will do with it. Accountability for $500K is much easier to establish than for $1 billion. And you will most certainly find very motivated and driven entrepreneurs looking to make the most of that “tiny” investment.
There have been quite a few articles recently about impatient investors. The investment community (VCs as well as Wall Street) seem to leave businesses -- large and small, start-up or established -- literally almost no time to accomplish their goals. The result is less and less time allocated to considered strategizing or planning for growth. Instead of finding new consumers, we just buy them through acquisitions.
Many investors seem especially drawn to the numbers game: placing enough bets and hoping one will be lightning in a bottle. Never mind all the broken careers, burnt-out people and wasted capital and energy of all the investments not given enough time or consideration.
In the marketing and start-up ecosystem, we all live with enormous responsibility. We manage or influence reputations, businesses and -- ultimately -- people’s livelihoods through the budgets we are entrusted with. It’s good to stop and think about that fact every now and then.