Wednesday, May 31, 2006

An Open Letter to Mark Cuban

Have you ever heard that people are natural-born producers? It’s true. We either produce results…or we produce excuses.

I read recently where Mark Cuban copped to being a whiner. Claimed that his “whining” led him to form (what became), to buying the Dallas Mavericks and to starting HDNet (see his “I’m a whiner” post on dated 5/10/06). There’s a difference between whining and making excuses. As Cuban points out in his post, whining can be constructive if it inspires you to fill a void, make a change or capitalize on opportunity.

Recently I read more Cuban bellyaching about being forced to pay a kings ransom to promote his movies and HDNet in print periodicals. In fact, he issued a challenge to print media to either be proactive or be forced to be reactive.

HAH! I normally like Mark Cuban. I admire his accomplishments, even beyond that tho, I admire his passion.

What are the two things that successful entrepreneurs all have in common? First they all have a blistering passion for their business. Second, they have the money to overcome their mistakes.

Cuban’s made his share of mistakes. Just ask him. Everyone does. He may be in the midst of making a huge one right now.

I have been known to whine about things as well. Last Summer I found myself whining about the fact that there was no daily sports periodical that provided in-depth coverage of every game, every day. Closest thing to that was the old “The National.” That’s why I started XXL NATIONAL Sports Daily.

XXL NATIONAL is a superstore of sports information. When we officially launch on June 19th we will be the “Home Depot,” the “Staples,” the “Toys ‘R Us” of sports publications. People will read XXL NATIONAL because they will know that the information that they need and want is in there. Our intent is not to give the competition a run for their money, we’re out to eliminate it by design.

We are pioneering a new trail of media. In this world, you are either a pioneer, or a settler. If you are a settler, then you will have to settle for the exorbitant prices of advertising in traditional media and settle for hoping that your advertisement does not get lost in the clutter.

Cuban is settling. He says that he is looking for the best way to promote his movies and HDNet. Went on to say that they are experimenting with EVERY POSSIBLE option.


Generally, the goal of a branding campaign is to expose the consumer to the exact same message at least three times a week, consistently…week in and week out. As a daily sports publication, XXL NATIONAL provides an ideal vehicle for achieving branding success.

Sports fans are rabid. Our publication provides opportunities for companies like HDNet to reach our readers multiple times daily via section sponsorships. True, as a start-up company, our readership numbers are not where more mature publications are. But here is where opportunity lies.

Are ya listening Mark? Is it better to reach 100% of the audience and convince them 10% of the way? Or reach 10% of the audience and reach them 100% of the way?

The key to success in advertising is to deeply impress whoever you reach and then count on them to champion your cause to their circle of influence. Traditional print media charges you thru the nose because of their “reach” but you can’t be effective unless you also reach that audience frequently. THAT costs money.

So Mark, if you are truly looking for the best ways to promote movies and HDNet and you are experimenting with every option possible, then it’s time for you to step up and put your creative whining to use.

XXL NATIONAL is your Holy Grail of promotion. PDF publishing will be huge. It’s already accepted for business publishing. We can embed movie trailers directly into our PDF as well as provide links in your advertising which will allow readers to click-thru to the website of your choice to purchase movie tickets directly.

Teaching people to download a PDF won’t be overly challenging. Gen Y has grown up downloading music and podcasts. With the viral marketing program that we are about to launch, critical mass is not far off.

Mark Cuban is such a lightning rod, that attaching the “Cuban” brand to XXL NATIONAL would provide all the kindling fire that we need. It’s a classic Reeses Peanut Butter Cup moment, “hey Mark, you got your ‘celeb’ mixed in with our trail blazing media platform.”

To quote Cuban, “Be proactive or reactive.” If you wait for traditional media to “create programs that (are)… DEMONSTRATIVELY more cost effective and impactful,” you’re going to be waiting a VERY long time. Don’t hold your breath on that one buddy.

Do you really want to hit traditional print media where it hurts? Forget about giving them a run for their money, join our crusade to eliminate them altogether. XXL NATIONAL has created an unbelievably cost-effective alternative for you.

I hear ya whining about the price of advertising, the question is…”are ya gonna produce results (as you traditionally have) or are ya just gonna create excuses?”

Thursday, May 18, 2006

We don't need no estinkin' parity!
(Or do we?)

Main Entry: 1par·i·ty
Pronunciation: 'par-&-tE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
Etymology: Latin paritas, from par equal
1 : the quality or state of being equal or equivalent

It wasn’t all that long ago when the Pete Rozelle first mentioned that “parity” was a goal worthy of working towards in the NFL. Rozelle passed the Commissioners mantle on to Paul Tagliabue who in turn carried on with “parity” mantra.

Outside of San Francisco, who wanted to watch the 49ers win all those Super Bowls in the ‘80’s? Not the folks in DC, they were ecstatic when Joe Gibbs led their beloved Redskins to three Super Bowl titles of their own.

So what does the NFL have for all of its trouble? The Patriots have won 3 of the past 5 Super Bowls,

In baseball, we have a completely different story since the turn of the millennium. Since the Yankees last won a World Series title, there have been five different champions. Can ya name them?

2001 Arizona Diamondbacks
2002 Anaheim Angels
2003 Florida Marlins
2004 Boston Red Sox
2005 Chicago White Sox

That’s an interesting mix there. Two teams that were less than 10 years old and three teams that broke decades long “curses.”

The NHL is assured of having its 5th champion in 6 years (no league, no Cup champion last year), so parity seems to be alive and well in the game on ice.

This of course brings us to the NBA. I grew up a Lakers fan. They won their first NBA title in Los Angeles on my 9th birthday. Magic Johnson led the Showtime-era Lakers to their first title when I was in high school. No team in any sport has won more titles than the Lakers have over the last 26 years. Phil Jackson taught Shaq and Kobe how to win together and this decade began with three consecutive titles.

Ask any Laker fan in 2003, if they thought that parity was a desirable goal and the answer would have been a resounding “HELL NO!” We all wanted to challenge the run that the Celtics had in the 1960’s.

Then came 2003.

In successive years the Lakers fell in the playoffs to the eventual Champion Spurs and then Pistons in 2004. Last year, the Spurs and Pistons just decided to leave the Lakers out of it altogether and played a seven game NBA Finals series all to themselves.




Although the Lake Show made it back to the playoffs this year (played well for three games…DAMN that best four out of seven format), I find myself pining, longing, ACHING for parity.

The LAST THING I wanna see is another Spurs-Pistons Finals. ARGHHHHHHHH! So….I find myself becoming a Mavs and Cavs fan. Lo and behold, now that I don’t have the Lakers to watch, that LeBron is pretty damn entertaining…growing into a man in his very first playoff run.

The Mavs? They seem to be growing up as a franchise as well. Gone are the days of the offensive machine that was the Big 3 (Dirk, Nash and Finley). Finley is now the enemy down in San Antonio. The Mavs hope Nash is next. Balance is now the name of the game in big D.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know the Clippers are still in it, along with the Suns and the Heat (hmmm Suns….Heat…a coincidence???), but I guess I’ve heard Ralph Lawler shout “BIN-GO” a few too many times as we’ve been watching the playoffs here at the XXL Corporate offices. Maybe it’s the obnoxious XXL NATIONAL staffers Gil and Brian who bleed Clipper Blue (in their veins) and Red (once they are cut) that have soured me on the “feel good” Clipper story. But the Clips blew their chance in Game 5. When Cassel didn’t make it across midcourt in the required 8 seconds, there went the Clips chance to make it to the Western Conference Finals. Maybe next year Clippers.

The Suns? They beat the Lakers (don’t let him shoot that 3 Kwame! Guard against the 3! DAMN, he drained the 3!) so I can’t cheer for them.

The Heat? Too many ex-Laker connections for me. Shaq, Gary Payton, Pat Riley. Kinda like cheering for an ex-girlfriend to find the love of their life. While it may be noble…I’d be happier for them if I find mine first.

So, a Mavs-Cavs Finals will do it for me, thank you. King James vs David Hasselhoffs biggest fan. What a showdown! The series to determine the NBA’s "haves from the have-nots" (or is that the "Mavs from the Cav-nots?" Or Vice-versa?).

Each team is one win away from advancing to their respective Conference Finals. Each team is headed home to close out their series on Friday.

Do it now Mavs! Close out the Spurs. Finish what you started. I don’t wanna hear any more jingle jangling from the Riverwalk. I don’t want to be told to remember the Alamo anymore.

Do it now Cavs! Close out the Pistons. Finish what you started. You have a King to lead you. The Pistons? They have but a Prince. If you don’t get pissed off in game 6 you’re likely to get Pist-on in game 7.

Which brings us back to parity. I guess what we are really saying is that no one wants parity as long its THEIR team that is dominating. When our team is not on top, we cheer for the underdog. We cheer for the underdog that is…until they win. Once they win, then we cry out for parity once again.

It’s a vicious cycle.

So here’s to parity…at least until the Dodgers, Lakers and Bruins win Championships again…then damn parity all to hell.