The Mix Tape, Vol. 64
Welcome to this week’s Mix:
🛒The curator as modern shopkeeper
🗣The power of referral programs
⚾️Baseball in Nashville
☕️A new DTC coffee brand
As content overwhelms us, curators take on the shopkeeper roles of yesterday
As both direct-to-consumer brands and digital content grow unabated, the value of curators—people and brands we trust to show us the best stuff—grows right along with them.
Curation isn’t new, of course:
We can go even further back — classic examples of successful curation businesses are record shops and bookstores, and examples in tech include Spotify (for music), Netflix (for TV and movies), and Uber (which bundled its UberEats offering into one app, thus increasing Uber’s TAM, or total addressable market).
Today’s curators build audiences by selecting interesting content—and third-party products and services—they know their audience will enjoy and consume.
It’s clear that curating content within a particular niche can be an incredible way to build an audience and add value. Content curation hooks people in with the promise of learning new skills while saving time, and it keeps them coming back by building a sense of community around a particular subject or vertical.
Call curators influencers, or affiliate marketers. But they have simply taken on a role that’s been around for thousands of years and moved it online. Whereas once local shopkeepers provided a lifeline in constrained product situations, today’s curators do the opposite, providing a filtering mechanism against an infinite number of product and content choices.
Referral programs drive the most loyal customers
Referral programs, done well, drive incremental sales and loyal, high-LTV (lifetime value) customers :
“In most cases, word-of-mouth customers have the highest LTV [lifetime value] when compared to traditional marketing channels for customer acquisition,” Sharma told me.
Every brand I spoke to agreed that referrals built loyal AF customers—and they typically turn into obsessed communities. “We often see organic communities form [...] who love Rothy's and pass their referral codes around the workplace and in other social settings,” Gehring said.
To make it work, companies need:
A cool or interesting brand and product/service worth sharing
Something customers actually value as the referral incentive
Value can mean money, sure. But value can also be derived from uniqueness and scarcity. The Morning Brew newsletter, for example, uses stickers as it’s first-level referral incentive.
The stickers can’t be acquired any other way, and people slap them on their laptops as a signal that they are tied into a young and savvy business brand.
Referral programs work. Many companies dismiss them as eating margin from sales that would occur anyway, and that’s a mistake.
Baseball in Nashville
High-powered baseball exec Dave Dombrowski (Tigers, Red Sox) won’t pursue front-office jobs this winter, instead choosing to to remain with a group trying to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville:
Dombrowski, former D-backs GM Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa joined Music City Baseball, LLC back in July — an organization endeavoring to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville, Tenn. While La Russa was clearly open to other opportunities — he’s since been the surprise managerial pick of White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf — Dombrowski tells Rosenthal that he signed a four-year contract and has no plans to change course.
“I’m staying in Nashville,”Dombrowski plainly stated, adding that he made “…a commitment when I moved here that as we continue to pursue a new team — expansion, relocation or if it goes nowhere — that I would stay here with them.”
The potential ownership group is committed to minority club ownership and front office opportunities:
“So all we’re going to ask him [MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred] to do,’’ said Dave Stewart, the three-time World Series champion and one of only five Black GMs in baseball history, “is to give the city of Nashville a baseball team. That’s all we’re asking you to do. We’re not asking you to do anything more than that.
“We’ll do the rest.’’
Stewart is on the board of directors and advisory committee of the Music City Baseball group trying to acquire a team, either through expansion or relocation, in Nashville, Tenn.
Awarding an expansion team to Nashville—which would call itself the Stars in honor of the Negro League team that played there—would allow Major League Baseball to make progress in minority ownership while hooking itself into a fast-growing and exciting Southern city.
But let’s make it an expansion team. Just leave the Rays in Tampa Bay, ok?
This isn’t an ad, I promise
Speaking of direct-to-consumer brands, a friend from Write of Passage Cohort 5, Greg Frontiero, launched his new coffee brand—Flow State Coffee—and my first bag arrived this week:
What’s unique about Flow State?
Flow State Coffee is specialty grade coffee with L-Theanine and Raw Cacao that has better energy, focus and mood than a regular cup of coffee, while decreasing the negative side effects like anxiety and blood pressure.
If that sounds interesting, give it a try.
It’s the least you can do after the weird looks I received at the neighborhood pool while lying on my stomach, taking pictures of a bag of coffee.
I had to get the right shot. It was worth it. I suspect Flow State Coffee will be, too.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
Please hit reply if you have questions, comments, or open rebuttals. (Or just want to say hi.)