Andrew Lock is a firm believer that entrepreneurs need to think unconventionally and stand out from the crowd, and he's put his money where his mouth is with his new venture, GotBiz.tv.
GotBiz.tv, which launched on April 1, is a WebTV network focused on business training and education for entrepreneurs.
"Most business training is just educational and somewhat staid and boring," said Lock, founder and CEO of GotBiz.tv. "I wanted to provide something different, and I believed that I could bring something that would hopefully revolutionize how business education is taught."
"Anyone with an interest in marketing will certainly benefit from GotBiz.tv," Lock said. "But mostly I hope it finds an audience among business owners who are struggling right now. There's something for everyone, whether you’re in sales, advertising, accounting, Internet business, real estate or public relations -- and it’s all free."
The centerpiece of the network is Lock's own highly popular show, Help! My Business Sucks! One of the inspirations for the network, Lock launched Help! My Business Sucks! in 2008, and it now boasts 105,000 viewers internationally. It's a top-rated marketing WebTV show in the Apple iTunes store, holding its own with competitors like Harvard Business Review, Advertising Age and Business Week.
The show is based on Lock's stance that traditional marketing is outdated and ineffective, and that business schools and corporate training only teach marketers to do what everyone else is doing. And that's the same sensibility he seeks in every show and presenter he brings to the network.
GotBiz.tv – an unconventional business and marketing network of WebTV shows for entrepreneurs.
(Click for larger image).
"The idea really was to create Hulu for entrepreneurs," Lock said, noting that the network's shows, characterized by their irreverent and unconventional content, sit poorly with staid, corporate types but resonate with more independent-minded business thinkers. "The idea is to provide really useful content and training to entrepreneurs."
All the shows are filmed in a professional, purpose-built studio in Salt Lake City, Utah. Along with Lock's own show, GotBiz.tv shows include: GotBiz Buzz, Randy Report, Lessons in Leadership, DotCom Lifestyle, Bad for Business, Keeping It Real, The Lazy Man's Guide, Business Growth and Appetizers. The shows aim to help entrepreneurs improve their marketing, sales, advertising, customer service, bean counting, hiring and firing -- just about every aspect of running a small business.
"We want to provide practical, useful tips that business owners can immediately apply to make more money and to get more done," Lock said. "The top show, apart from mine, is a show called Bad for Business (pictured). That show typifies what GotBiz is all about."
Lock described the business-oriented show as unconventional, irreverent and entertaining. And, he noted, it's about as far from corporate business training as you can get. "Business doesn't have to be boring. We want to provide practical training in a way that people really enjoy," he said.
One of Bad for Business's recurring features is a bit called "Keeper or Crapper," in which the two hosts sit by a file cabinet and a toilet, respectively. Each "Keeper or Crapper" segment is a case study of a marketing effort in which the hosts debate its merits and flaws. At the end of the segment, the hosts decide whether the case study is a "keeper" and goes in the filing cabinet or a "crapper" and goes down the toilet.
So far, the network features 10 different shows, but Lock said that GotBiz.tv is creating new shows that serve different businesses and needs. Longer term, he said he'd like to create shows that focus on specific businesses, for instance shows aimed at dentists, plumbers, chiropractors, etc. Additionally, he intends to create a community around the network, in which like-minded entrepreneurs can help each other.
Reclaiming a Marketing Model
All of GotBiz.tv's show are free and will remain so, Lock said. They're also free of traditional ads. In fact, ever the entrepreneur himself, Lock has reached back to television from the 1950s and 1960s for a model that he thinks best serves his business. The network and its shows are completely supported by sponsorships.
"The sponsorship model has been proven with my show," Lock said. "When advertisers try it they really like it."
Everybody hates ads, Lock explained. They're "interruptive" and degrade the user experience. Instead, GotBiz.tv's presenters talk about the sponsor's products as part of their shows, and explain to the viewers how the products can be used to improve their businesses.
"They're a benefit to the viewer," Lock said.
The sponsors -- which include Web hosting companies, CRM vendors, online backup service vendors, and so on -- also provide extras to viewers, like downloadable reports on the topic at hand, exclusive discounts, free trials, free DVDs and online training videos, etc.
Lock added that once sponsors experience it, they really like the concept.
"It's better than traditional advertising for a number of reasons," Lock said. "The presenter is the one who talks about the sponsor. The viewers have a relationship with the presenter, whom they know, like and trust. The viewers are much more likely to take action based on that message than by the traditional model of just seeing an ad."
An entrepreneur from a very young age, UK-born Lock's first business was selling potatoes door-to-door after he overheard some elderly people on a bus complaining about the difficulty of carrying bags of potatoes home from the store. At 14, he created his first information product: a typewritten and photocopied guidebook to planning Florida theme park vacations.
As an adult, he hooked up with the entertainer and stage magician Paul Daniels, described as the Johnny Carson of the UK. Daniels hosted The Paul Daniels Magic Show on the BBC from 1979 to 1994. Together with Daniels, Lock created a course on how to profit from performing magic tricks for others called "How to Make Money by Magic."
They sold the course via mail order, and then sold the publishing rights to a large UK publisher. Lock then went on to become Daniels' personal manager, which Lock described as a crash course in marketing from a brilliant teacher.
Lock moved to the United States in 2003. After focusing his entrepreneurial efforts on eBay for several years -- he's the author of eBay Exposed! and 7 Unconventional Ways to Profit from eBay, Lock created Help! My Business Sucks! in 2008.
The show's success, together with Hulu's surging popularity and the success of Wine Library TV, a popular WebTV show hosted by Gary Vaynerchuk, were the inspiration for the GotBiz.tv network.
Thor Olavsrud is a freelance writer and a former senior editor of InternetNews.com. He has covered operating systems, standards, telecom and security, among other technologies.
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