I hope you read this post to the end, I think you’ll be surprised at what you learn, and we may have something in common. When I get asked, what do you do, I have to decide which answer I’m going to give, because I do so many things. I shared a while back, but you probably didn’t know, I run and own multiple businesses, one is a webhosting company called Billyhost.com. You would assume I do many things related to that business, and you would be right, but what you probably didn’t know about Owen is, not only do I build websites, but not just any website, I specialize in WordPress and Headway Themes, I don’t do any others. To make matters worse, I actually don’t enjoy the details of building websites, but the truth is, I’m good at it, and you should know, I’m not cheap.
My tech career started back in 1981 when I was in Radio, I was 23 going on 24, I’m now 57, and much has changed. Back then I had to learn how to program automation systems for radio stations, I also was the first radio station manager to run a traditional radio station from a computer, hard drive and DAT tapes, and a microphone, that’s it. That was 1991/92.
The second thing you would learn about me, if you meet me in person, I like to talk…I was in radio, it’s what I do. So I love to do public speaking, mostly on what I share here on this Blog, the open & free business model and how it shapes the future of business, that’s my passion! What I’m not good at is….writing, you probably figured that out already : )
I have worked for many non-profit organizations, sit on a number of boards, and I also check business plans for entrepreneurs, just to name a few other things. I have a background in broadcasting, IT, and Management, and I’m a geek. But I’m a different kind of geek, I’m a highly relational geek that values people over task, I would make a great players coach from that perspective in sports me thinks.
I share this with you because, well…you should know I’m more than just a one-dimensional person, most of us are, but we never tell anyone. I do many things, I wear many hats, which means I’m versatile and bring a lot to the table. That’s the business side of me, academic side if you will. I’m a business man, a visionary type, I have a deep passion for helping people see the changes coming in business. I don’t see everything, but some things seem obvious to me, but not to business owners to close to their problems, therefore they can’t see the forest for the trees. Once I’m inside someone’s business, and I get enough background, I automatically soar to 50,000 feet and look at the business for broken bits, and patterns. This tech career and passion for business, lead me to becoming a Futurist and public speaking on the topic of the open & free business model, the future of business.
I’m jumping all over, but I get like that when I get inside my head : ) Anyway!
The real thing you don’t know about me is this, I’m very insecure, and, I have had a sad broken-heart most of my adult life. I think most creative, artistic people live a life of suffering. I have always felt sad inside, everyday, just heart-broken, because the world I live in is seriously broken. My family and friends would tell me to suck it up, it’s the way things are, deal with it. I should mention, those words have never helped me…or anyone else I think.
I have always had to fight tooth and nail for everything I have, unsuccessfully most of the time, which I’m certain most of you have as well. But I never, ever gave up. When I was younger, I had to be liked, validated by others, I had to be the center of attention, and that’s when the sadness began, way back in High School if memory serves me. Today, I don’t need to be validated, I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, whether you like it or not. I know that sounds wrong, but it’s the truth. I don’t agree or go along with much of what the masses say and do, I know I’m different, even weird, I don’t really fit in. But know this, I care a great deal for people, I believe people are the product, without them you’ll never have success or be fulfilled in anything you do.
I grew up in a time where you didn’t speak up against your parents, other adults, your teachers, or anyone in a position of authority. Hence, I was always in trouble, I always questioned the status quo, mostly because things didn’t make sense. I’ve always gone to the school of hard knocks, I learned more there than through traditional school formats. I always try to find new ways to fail, not on purpose, it just worked out that way. What doesn’t kill makes you stronger right?
I’m not sure if you’ll get anything out of this confession, but I hope you do, I can’t control the outcome of you reading this, that’s your job. My wish, deep down inside, is to change the world. I urge you to dig deep within, find what truly energizes you, the answer to the question of, “If time & money were no object, what would you do?”. I’m almost 60 years old now, I feel I haven’t done that which I was meant to do on this earth, but I journey on. As an encouragement, I don’t believe I have found that thing I was meant to do yet, which means, you’re never to old to find out, or to go out and do it, so don’t stop searching. Listen to your life and you’ll find some clues. Remember, you don’t build a life, you live one.
I’ve cracked myself open just a little so you could peer inside, I’ve shared weaknesses in me, you may think it’s silly, you probably don’t care, but you might glean something from this writing, something that may help you to keep going. The weaknesses in me are many, and now you know a few, but I have a wonderful business life, personal life, and family, and I love to help….I have conquered a few weaknesses in me, what’s your story, what are you hiding, what’s preventing you from being who you are meant to be, and more importantly, how are you changing the world, to make it a better place.
Steve Jobs once said,
“The people who are crazy enough to think they
can change the world, are the ones who do.”
The modem was screeching, trying to make that handshake with another modem, if I could just connect to that modem, I could get the information I need. I had a book with pages of phone numbers for most of the BBS’s out on there in the world, they published books with theme as well. You could download drivers and programs, it was great fun, but it took forever on a 300 or 2400 Baud modem. The days of dialing into a BBS (Bulletin Board System) to get information are behind us, and when the Internet came along, most of these software packages built modules / add-on’s to connect a BBS to the NET. Eventually, that call into a BBS became an Internet connection at faster speeds of a modem, the world changed in one fleeting moment. You remember don’t you, when you had to send email via FidoNet, use a program to download a package of all your messages from the week before. That’s right, it used to take days, even weeks to get a response via email on a BBS. The more games, and or information you had available on your BBS, the more attention, the more visitors. There were almost no GURUS & EXPERTS, just people with some experience, and they were willing to help you for free, for the most part.
While the BBS world was quietly doing it’s thing, TV, Radio & Newspaper’s garnered almost all the attention, in some markets they still do. You didn’t hear about GURUS & EXPERTS that much because those medium’s were closely guarded. Not open, not free. To advertise, to get the word out, the mainstream media was the most effective way. Until the Internet.
The Internet changed the game, suddenly the attention shifted, and then attention game had no rules, no watch dogs, it was wide open, it was free…..for now. Out of nowhere the GURUS & EXPERTS appeared, suddenly there were more authorities on everything than you could imagine. I’ve often said, everyone knows something about something, but no one knows everything about everything. The narcissists would argue that point.
Blogging became the mode of communication, you could write about anything, it is a writers dream, a painters favorite kind of canvas. Blogs had the attention until a bigger beast appeared, Social Networks, and the attention shifted once again. These Social Networks are shifting as I write, a new shift, they want you, all of us to Blog on their network, on their channel, because they want content. Why? They want to win the attention war. It matters not how you access the social networks, it only matters that your attention shifts.
I find it puzzling that many would rather blog on Social Networks than their own Blog. Giving away traffic to the Social Networks, when the Social Networks should be driving traffic to the Blog…..funny how it gets turned around.
Personally, I would rather be the owner a Blog, and use Social Networks as tools to drive customers, readers, viewers back to my home-base, my Blog. Most Social Networks and other mainstream media sites want you to make their site your home-base, they want to be your homepage when you open a browser, much like the Industrial Age of control. They want your attention, they want to control your attention, but so do you the Blogger.
If you give away viewers, readers, and buyers, and traffic….you lose. Big business wins again, they got you to shift your attention, and the attention of those that were paying attention to you. Giving away your followers eyeballs means they make the money, not you, defeating the purpose you ventured in to.
Guard your fans, protect your followers, they truly are valuable, to you, and most definitely to big business. Think about where you put your content, you and only you can control it. There is an attention shift taking place, no matter how easy it might seem, don’t be fooled into giving it to groups and organizations that want to take it from you. Build YOUR platform, your home-base, that’s the only way to survive this attention-getting war.
Considering all that is changing, how business is changing, how global and yet how locally our businesses must be, does your business line up with that future? Is your business social, or is it traditional? Does your business advertise on the Internet as part of its marketing mix, or do you stick with traditional modes of advertising. There are many questions to ponder when starting a new venture, but the main questions is, what kind of business, what structure, what type, and will it meet the needs of the economy.
The new economy is a connection economy, how does your business connect consumers, how do you connect to other businesses. Just using social networks is not connecting, depending on how you use them, most use them as another channel to yell, flood, to do what you’ve always done. You use them with a traditional mindset, it’s not connecting, it’s telling.
The traditional way, meant you had to have ads in the yellow pages, maybe you ran radio commercials, and you mostly used Newspaper. You never had to consider the Internet as part of your mix, and most still don’t have a clear understanding of how it works, and how to you use it for business. Today you have to think about where to best spend your time & money, adding the Internet as another way of enticing consumers to your business, to buy. But consumers act differently online, or do they?
More than ever , there is much to consider, it’s not black & white as it was back 30 years ago. The Internet is 25 years old, and brings with it challenges, and incredible opportunity. Asking yourself if you’re on LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus is the new normal today, knowing what to do on them, and how to leverage them, is not normal, not like Radio, TV, and Newspaper. But you’re already figuring that out aren’t you.
Business is getting much more complicated, it’s causing you to rethink what kind of business. Traditional or The Connected. And what does a connected business model look like, it’s the Open & Free Business Model. And that you can learn here on owengreaves.com.
Isn’t it interesting how much we hear marketing and advertising have changed, yet businesses continue to use old traditional methods to market their business. Why? because it still works! Direct Mail, Newspaper, Radio, and Television still get the lions share of marketing budgets around the world, amongst all this so called change.
Business owners do what they believe works, not what you think works. They want proven success stories and tangible results, not theory or the idea of better results, it needs to be hard copy. The problem isn’t that marketing and advertising isn’t changing, the change is really being driven by the consumers themselves. It is changing, the challenge is…consumers still respond to old methods, mostly because they have been conditioned to respond to the industrial age ways.
Until the shift from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age is fully complete, we will have to compete in those two worlds, our messages will have to be in both environments, because they make money. After all, making money is what it’s all about in business right? If money is your motivator, you will practice old methods and new, and you will invest more in the one that brings you the highest yield.
There is a thought process that no one opens direct mail anymore, no one reads newspapers, and no one watches TV ads, and yet, they still rake in huge revenues. In time, probably not in my time, this will become true, and the digital formats will be where the majority of budgets are spent.
If business owners had any foresight, they would be building infrastructure and systems to leverage the digital age, they will be ahead of their time. They will be the early adopter, and they will be prepared to receive the benefits at a time where everyone is trying to innovate and implement. It’s really not about checking off you to do list, it’s changing the way you see and think about business. Only then will your marketing will change.
Until then, The Status Quo Continues, is that you, or are you seeing something different?
- The warning signs of defending the status quo (sethgodin.typepad.com)
- The Future Of Business – We’ve All Got The Industrial Age Disease (owengreaves.com)
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.
- The Definition Of The Open & Free Business Model (owengreaves.com)
- The Future Of Business – Build Small Loyal Communities (owengreaves.com)
- The Future Of Business – Create. Differentiate. Deliver. (owengreaves.com)