This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur Travis Chambers. Travis is the founder of Chamber Media, a firm that takes companies from being product and service sellers to brand builders by doing what he calls story selling through creating scalable social video ads that drive millions in sales.
Travis led distribution and content strategy for “YouTube’s #1 Ad of the Decade,” Kobe vs. Messi which amassed over 140 million views. He’s worked with some of the biggest brands in the world including Yahoo, Kraft, Old Navy, Coca-Cola and has been featured in AdWeek, Forbes, HuffPost, and Inc. Magazine. Travis regularly speaks at conferences such as INBOUND, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google Growth Summit, VidCon, and VidSummit among many others.
But, what I love most is that Travis built his business to suit his lifestyle. It was goal from the start. And I’ve asked him to come on share how to do it.
Everything started when Travis was a kid with 8 mm cameras. He got into the film industry and in his early 20’s had his first kid, his dad got Parkinson’s disease…and cancer…and divorced after working 70 hours per week his whole life. Everything hit him at once. He was working at 20th Century Fox in his dream job making commercials for the movies. Entrepreneurship had never crossed his mind. His “mid-life crisis” hit when he was 23 years old and made him ask what he really wanted to be doing with his life.
He realized there was so much more out there, so he left and started Chamber Media to live life on his terms. What are those terms for you, your ideal lifestyle?
- Autonomy and flexibility
- Time with family (his was missing the early years with his kids)
- Work needs to be means to an end
- Find something you don’t hate that you are good at, that makes you the money for your lifestyle.
- This is one of the reasons his company has a 4-day workweek for all employees. He could not get this from a job, so he created it and helped others get it.
Where does someone start? What do they need to consider to build a lifestyle business?
- You cannot go and compete in a mature market – it is a race to the bottom.
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel had a big influence on Travis.
- You should never start a business that cannot be a monopoly. It needs to be so unique and so much its own thing that it can’t be easily replicated – you may get competition, but they can’t do it exactly like you or get the results you can get.
- Find your “blue ocean”
“Start with a service first. You can always sell yourself as an entrepreneur. And if you can sell yourself to one person, you can sell yourself to 100 and have a successful business.”
- Get good at your primary niche before branching out.
Tell us about what you do and your principles you used to build and now run your business…
- In the Art of War, one of the main rules is to choose the battlefield.
- Too often people see a market leader and think they can do it. At that point, it’s too late. Once there is market leader in a mature market, the game is over.
- You’ve got to choose the pond that is growing into the ocean.
- The niche Travis found was video ads and buying them doing them before Facebook ads, etc. had even come about.
- Knowledge does not equate to wisdom. You have to understand industry in and out and use the wisdom gained to see the future.
- You cannot get good at anything until you say no to almost everything.
- The values of having a lifestyle business, staying boutique, etc. were extremely important and governed how they operated. Starting out they would only take on projects of $100k in above and would turn down ones below that.
- 5-6 years in, Travis and the team noticed that they really had a strong leadership layer and had replicated themselves and could now really scale.
What have you put in place to allow the business to scale and let you step away?
- People and process.
- A lot of things broke as the company grew and their processes got seriously challenged and had to be worked through and improved over and over.
- Hiring people with the same values, hopes and dreams, and direction that the team has. They also have to believe what Travis and the team believe. Things like making a little less to have a 4-day workweek, etc.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on your journey so far?
- The art of doing nothing.
- Being too aggressive can be the wrong route and Travis is prone to it.
- Surrounding himself with a leadership team that balances him ad helps bring logic as a group.
- Most problems don’t have to be solved “today.”
- Emotion kills.
What is a “Story Seller?”
- A lot of the Fortune 500 focus heavily on building brand and making people feel a certain way about.
- When you are a small brand, you cannot play the same game as someone with a 100-million-dollar marketing budget.
- When you are small the best way to go is direct response marketing. It’s the only way to grow.
- Over the last 30 years, direct marketing has been primarily infomercials and direct mail.
- You can’t do that with digital or social as people have too much choice. They scroll quick through the newsfeed.
At the 34 min mark, Travis talks about developing the “Everything Ad” and how they did it and the results of it. It is best to just listen.
What makes a #1 video ad? What are the components that go into it to drive engagement and sales?
- 7 Ad categories perform best and vary by industry.
- Category 1: Spokesperson Video. It’s the highest performing. Only 2% of the top 1% of ads are spokesperson which offers a lot of opportunity.
- Category 2: Product Demo. 50% of the ads are product demos.
- Category 3: Social Proof. Press reviews, consumer reviews, ratings, etc. Anything to prove the solution is good.
- Category 4: Dynamic Ads. Creative that is made based on what the person has seen.
- Category 5: Case Studies. Any kind of empirical evidence that appeals to logic. Before and after, side by sides, scientific, etc.
- Category 6: Lifestyle. Showing what could be or feel like if someone had the solution.
- Category 7: Unboxing. Think Christmas morning and opening the surprise, etc.
- What Travis and his team found by chance is that most of the successful ads that they have done have all 7 of these in them in some way and you should strive to do so in yours.
- The Everything Ad ideal length is 90 seconds. Hook, Teaser, Problem, Solution, Another Problem, solution while weaving in all the categories (Spokesperson, social proof, unboxing, etc.)
Anything else around marketing with video we should know?
Best Quote: Start with a service first. You can always sell yourself as an entrepreneur. And if you can sell yourself to one person, you can sell yourself to 100 and have a successful business.
- Pay attention to the news.
- Apple has highjacked Facebook somewhat. Apple has blocked the ability for ads to continue without an opt-in on its platform which is causing a big drop in ads being served.
- Travis explains everything that Facebook knows about you, a lot of it coming from paying credit card companies for data.
- Facebook is going to become more like TV as they won’t be able to retarget at the levels they have been able to do in the past, so the ads are going to really have to make an initial impression to stick.
Travis's Misfit 3:
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- Work to live. Don’t live to work. Success and greatness are not the most important thing. Be truly present.
- Smart has the brains, but stupid has the balls. You can get really far with grit and strategy.
- You’re live will be judged by how you treat people, either by a higher power or by yourself depending on what you believe.