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Posts Tagged ‘FREE’

The Future Of Business – The Secret To Customer Acquisition

It used to be, the only way to win at acquiring customers was to buy as much advertising as you could afford. The more you spent, the higher the results. That is and was the traditional advertising model that worked for a bricks & mortar business. Today the game has changed, yes traditional ways still work, not because it’s effective, because it’s what older generations prefer it, and they still have the money.

It’s easy to reach a traditional buyer, just run enough ads on traditional advertising vehicles, and you’ll get their attention. Today the customer with money is getting younger by the minute, and we need to market to them differently. We have to make offers that make us extremely uncomfortable. It used to be, if you wanted to get the greatest reach, you ran radio & television ads, newspaper has never had the same reach. You could run 30 second ads on radio for $30 a piece, but to get the frequency for it to be effective, you had to run more than 3 spots a day. The minimum would be 10 spots a day, because the life span of a radio ad is much like a Tweet on Twitter, about 20 minutes. So to have a successful customer acquisition campaign you had to spend significant amounts of money. The same held true for television, but at a much higher cost, not to run the ads, but to make the ad. Customer acquisition campaigns can also be considered branding campaigns, but they are different.

Today we have the Internet, we can reach more people via the NET than we could with radio & television together, for FREE! I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, I am wondering why there is still such resistance to it. The resistance has the power to kill your business, and you the business owner must guard against it, not succumb to it.

The challenge with having such great reach on the Internet isn’t the cost, it’s being found, and being heard. Hence, we have a new kind of advertising vehicle like Google, Yahoo & Bing. These powerful search networks have really just adopted the traditional way of advertising for the Internet. If you want to be found, land on the first page, you now have a sufficient budget to have that desired result.

Today you can purchase qualified traffic, which, if you speak to them the right way, will become newly acquired customers. The same challenge you had with traditional mediums, holds true with digital ad networks, you need to dedicate resources to get the desired results you’re looking for.

The secret to customer acquisition today, is by leveraging and Open & Free Business Model, where free is the driving force. Like the resistance, free has the same problem, for reasons unknown to me, entrepreneurs and business owners can’t seem to wrap their brains around free. We understand loss leader concepts, but not free, I suspect the fear of giving something away and not getting paid is far greater than we would like to believe.

Companies that have figured out how to use free, have also figured out how to generate revenue because of it. Companies like Google, Spotify, Skype, Vimeo, Twitter, Evernote, Grooveshark and many more. These companies have proven free works, and they have mastered acquiring customers, they have mastered list building to the 9th degree. It does work, but we seem to have more reasons not to use the model. Whatever the excuse is, it’ll work.

You want to get more customers, give them something they want….for free, and then figure out how to monetize your new customers. The old business models are in the genre of win-lose, the open and free business model is about win-win, where everyone benefits. Mater giving products and services for free, and you will have an entirely new market to sell to. The concept makes sense, it just sounds and feels foreign.

FREE is not the enemy, free is your best friend, learn to embrace free, figure out where free fits in your business, because free is the secret to customer acquisition.

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The Future Of Business Is Not Playing It Safe

The title may mess you up a little, but just keep reading and you’ll find the nuggets, if you get what I’m talking about.

A little over a month ago I spoke at a large conference, I was pretty bold, I told people that I hated FaceBook, and that I will offend someone before I’m finished. I did. I also shared that we are hypocritical, for example, I told business owners to give something away for free to those who repeatedly came back to your business, blog, website, anything that you would come into contact with a customer. People actually gasped, I can’t do that one person said. So I asked them, If you won’t give something away, someone else will, but why is it that you won’t give anything away, but yet you are the first one in line when someone else does? Is that you?

Why is it that we build a business, we do everything and anything to get it to a profitable state, we suddenly go into management mode. We actually stop doing what got us profitable, or maybe even successful. We took risk after risk, we didn’t care what anyone said, we didn’t care what anyone thought, we just stepped out and made things happen. We weren’t playing it safe, we were putting ourselves out there, willing to take the hits, the no’s and even the snickers. So what happened?

Giving something away is not a high risk act, in fact, it should be a well thought out strategy. And why wouldn’t you reward those who got you to where you are, they bought you product or service, they even invested time in reading your blog, they probably attended a talk you gave, but yet you still remain closed to the idea.

I’ll bet most of risk something higher in value while building you business, why is it then, once you enter management mode you are reluctant to risk anything? Again I ask you, is this you? If so, maybe it’s time to take a breather and spend some time doing something you may not have done in a very long time.

THANK YOUR COMMUNITY!

Thank them by giving them credit, write about them, brag about them, and maybe even give them something for free. That smacks of the Open & Free Business Model doesn’t it? Without your community you have nothing. In fact, if you fail to do this, you are playing it safe. Don’t do business in a safe manner, always challenge yourself to step close to the edge, learn to trust your community, afterall, they came to trust you first.

The Future Of Business Is Not Playing It Safe, keeping doing the things that made you profitable, and most of all, thank your community.

Pay Walls On News Sites – Just Another Nail In The Coffin

This topic has been beaten to death, but news sites just don’t get it. Without naming which news site I’m referring to, well all of them actually, a paywall is just another nail in the coffin. I’m not saying these news site’s should earn revenue, what should do is, pull their heads out of their butts! The older generations who don’t have the patience to look for the news will pay now, but for how long, that has yet to be determined. We are now at a place on the Internet where you can’t really hide anything, it will be accessed. Why, because everything will generate a stream everywhere. Content will surface eventually, it’s like having a leak in your roof, you can see the water, but you can’t find the source, where it’s coming from.

Mainstream news sites are now asking social networks to shutdown accounts connected to news sources because it is in violation of trademark laws, not sure how, but I’m not a lawyer. If that’s true, we are in for a world of hurt in other situations similar to this case. The world is getting more and more uncomfortable with an open economy, the push back is amazing. Like it or not, an open & free economy will happen, corps / big business need to find a way to participate without trying to control the economy. The challenge is, they don’t know how, or maybe they do and it scares them.

There is the argument that journalists are the trusted reporters, anyone who is not credentialed as such can’t be trusted or does not have the means to verify facts in the same way they can. Most facts can be verified, the truth is, most facts can be found and verified, no one has locked the market on confirming stories.

Paywalls aren’t going to disappear, they will however become somewhat hidden, seamless, and hopefully, invisible. The problem isn’t really the paywall, the problem is how value is measured by the people formerly known as consumers. If value is found in the content, someone will pay for it, if not, they keep moving. It’s not about mechanics, what’s changed is how we value.

The news sites and or newspapers that force payment they will in the long run lose out. We now live in a world where everything is moving to free, or an access first model, and then maybe, people will pay. The commerce model is reversing, things that can’t be copied are the only real value, because they are scarce.

The other reality these news sites and or all news mediums have to come to grips with, they are too slow to break the news now, Twitter is the channel of choice for most when it comes to sharing major events and stories. The problem for these corps is, they can’t staff enough people to be everywhere all the time 24/7.

The Industrial Age of control is dead, wall street and major corporations are running around with their heads cut off trying to stop you and I from doing what we want to do. Net Neutrality, metered bandwidth and paywalls are all they know and all they know how to do, it’s about control and grabbing as much money as they can.

The Future of Business is the opposite of what they know, executives refuse to deal with the paradigm shift of an open & free business model. Having said that, I know some great people they should hire to help them maintain revenue levels they are used to, but they won’t, they don’t trust anyone.

The rest of the world hasn’t even come online yet, and when they do, they will push the paywalls down.

Will you pay for news you can get for free?

One Of The TOP Open & Free Business Model Examples

Just a few comments on what I believe to be a great example, if not one of the top Open & Free Business Model Examples. Skype has been around for some time, and I’m certain most of you use it, but next to Google they have shown us one of the best ways to give something away and generate revenue. Granted, not all of us has the resources or the know how to build a program like Skype or a systems like Google, but we all have an idea, a product or a service.

The Open & Free Business Model provides us a model to give something away and charge for a Freemium Service. Skype gives you the software for free, they even let you make Skype-to-Skype video calls or voice calls for free as well. There are conditions of course but it’s still free. Once you install the software, you can make these calls free to others who have an account with Skype, the account setup is also free.

In order to take advantage of the premium services, you will have to part with a couple of bux, nut only a couple. I subscribed to Skype for a low $2.95 per month, this allows me to call anywhere in North America anytime and for as long as I want. I can dial directly to Cell Phones and Land lines all for $2.95 per month! Your subscription rate will vary based on the package you decide to purchase. Oh, they also let you pay with PayPal too : ) (another FREE Service)

You have three options available to you when you download Skype:

1.) FREE

– Skype-to-Skype calling
– Video calls
– Instant Messaging
– Screen Sharing

2.) Pay as You Go Calling

– This rate starts at 2.3¢ a minute
– Call phones and mobiles
– SMS
– Skype To Go Number**
– Call Forwarding

3.) Monthly Subscription

– This Rate starts at 1.2¢ a minute
– Lowest calling rates
– Choose unlimited calling***
– Best rates with 3 or 12 month subscription

The above features list were taken from the Skype Website. They also have a product called Skype Manager, it lets you centrally manage Skype in your business. Allowing you to make accounts, allocate Skype Credit, assign features and monitor usage.

There is much more to learn about Skype, so the first thing you should do before you even install the software, read all the about the features, the different ways to purchase based on your needs, just like any other purchase you make right? For example, new in Skype 5.0, you can have up to 9 contacts in a Group Video Call…that may be a very important feature for you.

I asked on Twitter, what is your favorite feature in Skype, other than it’s free. Here’s a couple of responses:

@jameswanless of Vancouver, British Columbia said:

Text, vid and voice at same time, auto-saving of transcripts for reference, ability to phone landlines …

@Billy_Delaney of Akron, Ohio said, and jesting of course:

Typing information to someone on a conf’ call about what is being said, and the said person cannot see it :)))

I am a very happy subscriber, and this tool is one of my top valued items in my tool kit. It should be yours too.

Oh, and don’t SPAM me, but you can hit me up Skype to!

Skype Me™!

Give Away Content & Create Attention

This is a Blog Post is in part about my new book I’m currently writing called, ” The Open & Free Business Model – The Future of Business”. This Blog Posts is also a bit longer than my usual blog posts : )

In fact, I held a workshop for some local business owners and walked them through the process of figuring out what this model might look like for them and their business. One of the harder exercises was looking at their current business and asking a simple question, what is your CORE business about? If I was to ask you, what does your business do, you would most likely tell me the the easiest answer, I’m a…. the highest level snap shot what YOU do, not your business. I’m a technology company might be my answer, that doesn’t really say anything other than I’m into technology. I might ask what that means, I would volunteer a more descriptive answer but still not touching on the core. By the third or fourth time of asking what your business does, I might get to the core of what your business really is about, and what it does day in and day out.

Once I uncovered what your core business is, I might ask what your vision is for your business, and then I most likely would want to know what your mission statement is, and does your staff know it. Much of this is traditional in nature, but it is still important to your online presence as well. The next step most likely would be to ask for the results of a S.W.O.T. Analysis, I think that’s useful information. At this point we could start talking about what kind of content your Blog should consider, after all we know what your core business is now, we can start to build on something here.

Once we’ve gotten this far, we can start listening. Listening for what you might ask, well, we want to know who is talking about your business, if they are talking about your business, and what exactly are they saying. I would recommend spending a considerable amount of time here if your getting alot results in your searches. I would be listening in multiple Social Media Networks, other search engines and so on, you’ll be amazed what you find out.

Another fun project is determining revenue streams, pick the highest-margin, low-investment streams (the low hanging fruit). Then advertise your chosen stream to your captive audience, it’s important to have a captive audience, you want generate much revenue without one. In the end you’ll collect money, deliver the goods, and keep your customers happy. Advertising not @vertising, did you catch that? This topic has many levels and many more choices, but you will have to choose more than one to get attention amongst all the noise.

Distribution is key but has already been taken care of by the Internet, what about mobile apps, iPads, iPhones as a way to get your content out there. iTunes Connect is an option, apply and hold your breath, it takes awhile to get approved.

One of the stumbling blocks is, determining what content should be paid for and what should be free to download or read. I too wrestled with this question, but I found giving away good content created readership and eventually revenue and the bigger more important currency, attention. The world isn’t ready for this shift, in fact, the world hasn’t really arrived online yet! The world we know is willing to pay upfront for the most part, but the world yet to come will not be forced into paying upfront for most information and even some products. I’ve said it here on this blog many times, people will keep looking until they can find what you offer for free. If they don’t find it, then maybe they’ll come back and buy it, but they look first before making that purchase. The term PFE, Proudly Found Elsewhere, coined by Gerd Leonhard, is as real as the nose on your face, so get ready.

Another looming problem is the plethora of bad content, we will have to find better ways of filtering before the bad stuff gets out of the way. Eventually, someone will come up with a great way to filter and even curate your social network meta data, then we’ll have something to really sell. There are a couple of websites that take your Twitter stream and make a daily newspaper out of the hot stuff or trends within your stream. One is called Paper.li and another is The Twitter Tim.es, they look neat but you still can’t do much with it once it’s completed. It would be good if we could customize these newspapers a bit and make them work for us in a commerce kind of way.

The primary purpose of giving away content should be to get attention, build relationships, build trust, and then maybe you can sell something. But be careful, you might get what you wish for, it might not be the kind of attention you were hoping for. The truth is, we all want to be recognized, affirmed and we all want to generate revenue, we want to make money here online so we can do the things our hearts desire keeps searching for. We want to have freedom of choice in a more relevant way, where we get to choose, not what the industrial age has conditioned us into responding to.

The Open & Free Business Model is misunderstood for the most part, it is the future of business, most business owners are not ready for it. Being Open instead of closed is scary for business owners and people in general, we just need more practice before fully embracing it. Using Open Systems like FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on are just the beginning to being open, it’s not a place or a thing, it’s a mindset. Being open also means being transparent, willing to let users see and hear more than you have been willing to share in the past. It’s really how you view Open, it’s how you view Free, it’s about how you see what an Open & Free Business Model might look like for you and your business. You may or may not need help with it, there are many around that can help, but very few truly understand what Open & Free Business Model is.

Create compelling content, give some of it away, then look for ways to monetize around that free content. It sounds simple but it’s not, because you have to deliver the goods in such a way it’s brain dead easy for your visitors to get and or buy. If not already, in the future when the other 3 billion people get here, you’ll want to already be in a position of having they’re attention, then it will be a little easier, but just a little.  That’s enough for now, go practice, give yourself away and watch your world change before you, eventually it will click with you and you will see a future you haven’t seen before, ever!

If you are doing it, I would love to chat with you and maybe even use your business as an example in my book. You can be a part of my book, go here.