4 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn From: BILLY MCFARLAND
Posted on January 23rd, 2019
3 min read
Billy McFarland is probably America’s most hated entrepreneur. In case that name doesn’t ring a bell for you, McFarland is the subject of Nexflix’s new documentary: Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. 

Here is a video of the trailer: 
Now that you’re up to speed, you know McFarland promised Coachella on a tropical island with jet skis and bikini models but ended up delivering a real-life version of Lord of the Flies for rich millennials.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re probably thinking: “This guy sucks! I’m nothing like him!” And that’s probably true. But even the most honest people can learn from a lying jerk’s mistakes.  

So without further ado, here are four lessons every entrepreneur can learn from the Fyre Festival documentaries.

1) Holding a Negative View of Your Customers is Bad for Business

“We’re selling a pipe-dream to your average loser, your average guy in middle America.”
-Billy McFarland, during a video shoot for a Fyre Festival promotional video

If McFarland had a more positive view of his customers, the process of organizing the Fyre Festival would have looked very different.  

Think about it: if you’re planning a party for a friend you really care about, you probably won’t make all sorts of inflated promises to her before you start planning the actual event. You want to make her happy by giving her an experience she’ll never forget, not just sell her on the idea of it.

On the other hand, if you’re a CEO who thinks your customers are “losers,” selling is going to be all you care about.  

Even if McFarland didn’t intend for the Fyre Festival to be such a colossal disaster, he focused on advertising the event first, and implementing the event second.  

That’s because giving his customers the experience of a lifetime wasn’t what drove him. He was far more excited about finding clever ways to get them to empty their wallets.

If you own a business, it’s crucial not to fall into this type of mentality. If you care about your customers, you’ll run your business in a way that takes their needs into account. That is ultimately what will make you a successful entrepreneur.

2) It’s Better to Cut Your Losses Early

Here’s a popular idea that holds a lot of merit: When things get tough, successful people grit their teeth and push through.

Here’s another idea: When failure is inevitable, you should bury your head in the sand and work even harder.

The first idea is responsible for the success of Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey. The second idea helps people win Darwin Awards.  

Billy McFarland loved the second idea.

Shortly before the scheduled date of the festival, a Fyre employee sent Billy this email:

I want to paint a picture for you of 300 guests landing on a remote island, being herded into 8 yellow buses, brought to Roker’s Point [the festival location] only to realize they have nowhere to sleep and they are trapped here…

This will be much worse than any cancellation blowback. I don’t have another option for you. 

In other words, there’s no way we’ll be ready for this festival. However harmful a cancellation might be to our business, allowing people to come to our event will be even worse.  
 
Billy didn’t care. His head was buried in the sand...and his wallet.  

Ironically, the festival did end up being cancelled, but only after the guests arrived, and everything the employee predicted ended up happening!

And his customers weren’t the only people who suffered. His investors lost money. And even worse, his employees in the Bahamas, many of whom did intense physical labor for months on end, never saw a penny for their hard work! (Basic Business 101: Pay your damn employees.)

No matter how badly you want things to turn out a certain way, it’s important to keep a solid grip on reality. Sometimes “giving up” is the best thing an entrepreneur can do.

3) Good Marketing Doesn’t Scam People

You might think Fyre Festival had great marketing, and it was just the implementation of the event that went wrong. That’s not quite accurate.

From Hubspot:
Marketing is the process of getting consumers interested in your company’s product or service. This happens through market research, analysis, and a solid understanding of your ideal consumer’s wants and needs. Marketing pertains to all aspects of a business, including product development, distribution methods, sales, and advertising.

Notice the part we put in bold. Sure, Fyre Festival had really effective sales and advertising, but their product development and distribution methods were absolute garbage.

“Okay,” you’re probably saying. “That’s kind of interesting, but all you really did was explain the definition of marketing. Got anything else for me?”

Glad you asked.

Traditionally, digital marketers think of businesses as funnels. Picture the shape of a funnel for a second. Or if you don’t feel like doing that, we’ve put one here for you:
This is the best funnel on the internet. You’re welcome.

The top of the funnel represents everyone who knows about your business. So in the case of Fyre Festival, it was everyone who saw a post about it on social media, or heard about it in some other way.

The middle of the funnel, which is a bit narrower, represents everyone who interacts with a business. People who visited Fyre’s website, signed up for their mailing list, commented on their Instagram page, etc, are at the middle of the funnel.

Finally, the bottom of the funnel represents every prospect who buys a product or service. Which means everyone who ended up stranded in the rain on a desert island with no infrastructure, successfully passed through the bottom of Fyre’s funnel.

“Great, you explained a silly metaphor that marketers like to use. WTF am I supposed to do with this?”

Believe it or not, the fact that some marketers never deviate from this framework has real world consequences.  

Why?
  
When water passes through a funnel, you don’t think about where it goes next.  

But in a real-life business, what happens to a customer after a business makes a sale matters a lot. In the case of Fyre, failing to deliver their product didn’t only result in a PR and legal disaster. Their mobile app, which the festival was supposed to help promote, had to be tossed aside.  

Seriously, who in their right mind would still pay for something with the Fyre brand name on it?

If Fyre’s marketers had adopted a more holistic view of a business, like Hubspot’s Flywheel Model, perhaps they would have been able to stop, or at least postpone the festival.

Here’s the main takeaway: satisfied customers will help grow your business, while dissatisfied customers will do the exact opposite. Creating happy customers is a crucial part of your marketing strategy.

You also need to plan for the inevitable event that you eventually do have an unsatisfied customer. For example, a money-back guarantee is a great way to mitigate the negative impact an unsatisfied customer can have on your business. (Billy had one, but surprise...he didn’t follow through with it!)

4) Trust Your Instincts

We’re not sure what Billy’s instincts were, but we’re pretty sure the people who invested in his company understood on some level that he was more style than substance. But for whatever reason, they let themselves get sucked into his vortex anyway.

As a business owner, if you suspect someone isn’t who they say they are, don’t second guess yourself. Run the other direction.

Here at I Want Digital Marketing, we also take this to heart.
  
If you’re a scam artist like Billy McFarland, don’t bother working with us. We’ll find out, and we’ll kick you to the curb.  

But if you’re an honest, hard-working entrepreneur who delivers amazing products and services, we’ll do everything we can to spread the word.  

Unlike Billy McFarland, we believe business isn’t just about making money, it’s about helping people. We want to help you do both of those things at the highest level possible.

Interested in working with us? Start by taking a look at our homepage to learn more about our 6 Pillar Digital Marketing System. We’d love to show you the way to growing your business...simply ‘Request a FREE Digital Audit’ on our website, and we’ll send you a comprehensive look at how things look. 

Wishing you the best in 2019!


Jonah

This is the best funnel on the internet. You’re welcome.

The top of the funnel represents everyone who knows about your business. So in the case of Fyre Festival, it was everyone who saw a post about it on social media, or heard about it in some other way.

The middle of the funnel, which is a bit narrower, represents everyone who interacts with a business. People who visited Fyre’s website, signed up for their mailing list, commented on their Instagram page, etc, are at the middle of the funnel.

Finally, the bottom of the funnel represents every prospect who buys a product or service. Which means everyone who ended up stranded in the rain on a desert island with no infrastructure, successfully passed through the bottom of Fyre’s funnel.

“Great, you explained a silly metaphor that marketers like to use. WTF am I supposed to do with this?”

Believe it or not, the fact that some marketers never deviate from this framework has real world consequences.  

Why?
  
When water passes through a funnel, you don’t think about where it goes next.  

But in a real-life business, what happens to a customer after a business makes a sale matters a lot. In the case of Fyre, failing to deliver their product didn’t only result in a PR and legal disaster. Their mobile app, which the festival was supposed to help promote, had to be tossed aside.  

Seriously, who in their right mind would still pay for something with the Fyre brand name on it?

If Fyre’s marketers had adopted a more holistic view of a business, like Hubspot’s Flywheel Model, perhaps they would have been able to stop, or at least postpone the festival.

Here’s the main takeaway: satisfied customers will help grow your business, while dissatisfied customers will do the exact opposite. Creating happy customers is a crucial part of your marketing strategy.

You also need to plan for the inevitable event that you eventually do have an unsatisfied customer. For example, a money-back guarantee is a great way to mitigate the negative impact an unsatisfied customer can have on your business. (Billy had one, but surprise...he didn’t follow through with it!)

4) Trust Your Instincts

We’re not sure what Billy’s instincts were, but we’re pretty sure the people who invested in his company understood on some level that he was more style than substance. But for whatever reason, they let themselves get sucked into his vortex anyway.

As a business owner, if you suspect someone isn’t who they say they are, don’t second guess yourself. Run the other direction.

Here at I Want Digital Marketing, we also take this to heart.
  
If you’re a scam artist like Billy McFarland, don’t bother working with us. We’ll find out, and we’ll kick you to the curb.  

But if you’re an honest, hard-working entrepreneur who delivers amazing products and services, we’ll do everything we can to spread the word.  

Unlike Billy McFarland, we believe business isn’t just about making money, it’s about helping people. We want to help you do both of those things at the highest level possible.

Interested in working with us? Start by taking a look at our homepage to learn more about our 6 Pillar Digital Marketing System. We’d love to show you the way to growing your business...simply ‘Request a FREE Digital Audit’ on our website, and we’ll send you a comprehensive look at how things look. 

Wishing you the best in 2019!


Jonah

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