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The Future Of Business – Fight Off The Mainstream Media & Big Business

Here at owengreaves.com I have my own voice, I talk about other people’s work, I even applaud them, but I try to give you my voice, even if I agree with the others I promote. Even if there is a guest post, if you know me, you know what I like and what I am looking for. The truth is, most bloggers don’t create, they borrow, they beg, and even steal, it’s like they don’t have an original thought of their own.

Let me give you an example of what’s bothering me, and why I’m writing this blog post. I will write in general terms, because I know you’re not all guilty.

I read 200 – 400 pieces a day, not everyday, but most days, I read these pieces in Google Reader. Yep, I follow many of you, your RSS feeds, and something has been happening out there that has lead me to believe, that either you don’t have an original thought of your own, or you have been sucked in by mainstream media & big business.

Since Steve jobs passed away, all everyone writes about is Steve Jobs! Most of you never met him, but you write about him like you did. And frankly, it shows a lack of respect when you do this, you are merely drawing attention to yourself. Most likely for the wrong reasons. I mean no disrespect for Mr. Jobs, but come on people.

Another consistent thing that happens, and this really gets me going, we write about social networks, we compare them, we complain about them, and we keep score like we have some input or control over these free services. How did that happen, how is it that we actually believe we own these networks, because we use them? We don’t run them, if we did, things would be different now wouldn’t they.

It seems to be a waste of time in my humble opinion, I’m being sucker punched by writing this, the mainstream has sucked me in, and now I’m giving it my attention! The HELL! I would rather we all paid more attention to our businesses as if we cared about the betterment of mankind. All this technology is not all that important that it consumes our writing too, or is it?

So what’s my point? I could easily tell you to go read everything written by Seth Godin, that most likely would be enough. The truth is, IAuthor Seth Godin at PDF 2007

want you to fight off mainstream media and big mainstream business, and have an original thought of your own. As Seth said, GO! Let’s hear your voice, let’s hear your story, not the regurgitation of everyone else’s version of something they most likely no nothing about.

The Future Of Business will not change until the behaviour changes first, but only you can do that, only you can do it, how? Speak, your own voice, write your own voice, share things that matter to you, that are real and in your face issues. Just remixing someone else’s version is not your voice, it’s just another way of gaming the system. There’s no integrity in that, be heard, share your feelings, share your story, and let the world know who you are. Show us all that you are a real person, and you have a powerful story to tell, one from your side of the table, that no one else could write or share.

So I beg you, fight off Mainstream Media, Mainstream BIG Business, don’t let them draw you in, stand strong and let your voice be heard, GO and make a difference, GO and change your world. Maybe even change mine, because you shared all that you could share. In fact, write a book!

Try to visualize how you want your business to be, to interact with consumers, how you listen to them, even visualize the lifestyle you want to have, right down to how many hours a day you actually want to work. Is the path you’re on today taking you there, are you telling anyone about your vision, are you taking the right steps to be that business of your future.  If so, carry on. If not, STOP and make a new plan, but share your vision, and let’s here your voice.

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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?

What's Happening To Local Newspapers?

This has been on my mind for some time now, and I know I’m not the first blogger to share his or her thoughts on this medium. Having spent 15 years in Media via Radio & Television mostly, I’ve considered Newspaper a distant cousin rather than the opposition in my years of selling advertising. The Media mix for marketing has always been these big three, Radio, Television & Newspaper, but something happened along the way and they seem to have missed it.

If you’ve noticed, the paper has been getting smaller, or shorter. The paper is getting fatter with inserts and more grocery coupons than one person can count. The content is smothered by ads, there are more ads in the paper than actual content for us to consume. What used to take two cups of coffee to read, takes less than minute. There is always the big headline trying to get your attention, it is almost always a headline like – Another Hit-And-Run! After all, blood and guts is what sells papers right?

So what’s happening to local Newspapers? It’s as if they are in a different world, a world of their own, and we’re not invited to participate in that world. We don’t have a say in what goes into the paper, in fact, we have virtually no hope of being heard by our local Newspapers. I just don’t understand that way of thinking. The old saying comes to mind, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, and I know business owners are tired of being bitten.

Radio used to be theatre of the mind, a real connecting point for communities, a huge service during the war, they used to get involved with communities without charging you to be in your community. Radio reached more people than any other medium, it was the 1st medium on the scene really, and it almost didn’t see the light of day. Why? It was free! The music industry alone tried to stop it, but then they figured out how to monetize Radio, there was an acceptable business model. That business model was the 1st real Open & Free Business Model.

Television captivated us by the sheer magic of how they were able to make it happen, TV used to be live not pre-recorded, those were golden times for TV. They too figured out the Open & Free Business Model, just as Radio did, Newspaper’s like the other two lost their first love, being truly connected and got involved in their communities. They provided a service, and for the most part it was free until money became the primary focus. Money is and always will be the 1st love of almost every business on the planet, that’s why so many businesses fail, they focus on the wrong things because of money, and most still do today. But that’s changing.

I will give Newspapers some credit, they are adopting the Internet, they have to, that’s where the people are. Just because papers are moving to the Internet, doesn’t mean they will survive, it merely means they are making a shift to a digital format. One of our local papers has started using Twitter, they have 13 followers as of this writing, they have a ways to go to get attention of the Twitter crowd. In fairness, there is more than one local paper, one with 1006 followers, the rest with less 1,000 followers. The problem isn’t following & circulation, the problem is….the way they think, the paradigm shift is too difficult for many, they look at the problem with old industrial age thinking, and then try to solve this shift problem internally. No, they don’t need to hire a Social Media Guru, they need someone to come in with a fresh pair of eyes, someone who sees the future of business and what it’s really doing. Business, not the Newspaper Business.

If 60% of commerce is going to be done online in the next 2 -3 years, why are newspapers so slow to adopt this movement? They should have begun the move, from denial to foresight, but sadly they are resisting, eventually they will subcumb to this global movement. The times are a changing baby!

The control they are trying to hang onto is a greased pig. Consider the life span of one simple Newspaper Ad, about a day & a half. Radio would have you run campaigns that require multiple ads in an hour or a day for consecutive days. Television does the same thing, you must run 10 ads a day to reach as many consumers in a day. Ka-Ching! If it takes 30 days to develop a habit, imagine how many days it takes to keep a brand top of mind, the numbers get staggering.

The future of the big three has been at risk for some time now. Individuals are now the competitor, so pay attention. I challenge Newspapers to make one change, this one simple change: listen to what your readers want, let them decide, don’t get in the way and question it, just do it. Just once don’t let money think for you, Don’t tell readers how wrong they are, don’t treat us like we don’t have a clue what we are doing, just do it! You’re already loosing money and more importantly, readers, so why not try it, trust the people formerly known as your readers (consumers). If you don’t, they’ll find local news a different way, like here: The Fraser Valley Daily

There is so much more to say on this topic, would love to hear your thoughts. Someday we will see the end of the Newspaper Editor, why, because he/she will be redundant.

What do you think, do you think your local Newspaper is failing you & your community?

Paywalls Have Their Place

There has been so much talk about paywalls in the Newspaper industry lately, for the most part they aren’t needed there, but they do have there place in that industry. The issue of paywalls today is not about money, it’s more about control, or the fact of that industry is losing what control it felt it had over you & I.

I preach an Open & Free Business Model, this model does have paywalls, and they are well throughout in placement. As I have said before, Open & Free does not always mean Open & Free.

I would suggest that industries that are trying to maintain control by forcing users to pay first, they consider better less friction type mechanisms. The paywall isn’t going away, it is however going to feel like you’re not paying because it will be seamless in your interaction with that product or service.

Rupert Murdoch is a man born & raised at the beginning of the industrial age, he’s 79 years old, and we shouldn’t be shocked at his narrow view of how newspapers should function on the Internet. It’s not his fault really, he has been conditioned into believing something that is no longer true. The Independent website released an article called, “Has Rupert Murdoch’s paywall gamble paid off?”, yesterday. It’s very well written, and it raises the question again about paywalls and the stand many are taking. Rupert is almost viewed as a criminal for his stand on paywalls, and I don’t see him backing down any time soon. The move to prevent content from being found through search engines has to be suicide. This is not the kind of attention he should want to have, it’s negative, and it eventually will not make money.

Two months ago, he had paywalls erected on The Times & The Sunday Times, which prevents search engines from accessing that content. One of the first things to happen, traffic to the site dropped through the floor. You & I both know that traffic is paramount for any website trying to make a buck. Rupert’s primary concern appears to be about muscle, he stated that newspapers will have less muscle in Internet advertising campaigns than they do in print. That statement alone screams control over what you & I can have access to, and he wants to force you & I to pay for his control. But is it control he wants, or is it meta-data? It is suggested this paywall move is more about gathering consumer information than selling content, what do you think?

In the new business environment of the future, being open & free will bring about better results than Rupert Murdoch is suggesting. There are countless number’s of sites using paywalls, and there even more moving to a open & free business model, and having great success. As I have said before, Open & Free is not a skill set, it’s a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking, a new way of doing business.

The best paywall, one that doesn’t make you work hard to make payment, one that is seamless, and one that doesn’t give you that uneasy feeling of throwing your money away. One of the biggest concerns about open & free, it will raise the level of bad content, that’s going to happen anyway when the other 3 Billion get here online, so get over it.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Traditional Business Is Still In Denial

Here it is, September 1st, 2010 and two things jumped out at me this morning after reading some business news. Newspapers still think they have something solid going, and Mall’s are still being touted as a good investment. With all the evidence that traditional business is failing in most sectors, those incredibly smart people are making critical errors in judgement.

Yesterday, a company called POSTMEDIA/Network announced that they have a new logo. Now it’s not the logo that has me scratching my head this morning. Former President of Roger’s Paul Godfrey is the President & CEO of Postmedia Network, this group’s list of brands should make you wonder why they continue down the futile path of print. Considering that Newspapers are dropping like flies these days, the predicting doom of book stores and other outbound media, why would you or anyone else invest in this venture? Not one but 11 brands under the Postmedia Network umbrella, all newspapers! They handle the National Post, Times Colonists, The Vancouver Sun, The Province, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Leader-Post, The StarPheonix, Ottawa Citizen, The Windsor Star and The Gazzette. These are probably the most read newspapers in Canada, and are also failing.

You can find Canadian Newspapers listed in iPad, you can’t read them, the list is of their websites you have to go visit, this will have to change if they want to survive. Newspapers should scrambling to make as many mobile apps as possible, build other ways of generating revenue. The online ad market is staggeringly huge, but for some reason print & TV are merely poking a stick at it. They will all but be forgotten when the other 3 billion people come online in the next 2 -3 years.

Another confusing move this morning, I was actually surprised how I responded when I read that a Mall in Surrey, B.C., Canada was sold for $91 Million, that’s cheap by today’s standards but it still sold. But a mall? Granted this mall is anchored by some heavy weights, SAVE-ON FOODS, Canadian Tire, Staples, Winners, HomeSense, Cactus Club and HSBC, plus 26 other businesses. Back in the 70’s & 80’s, he who owned the channel of distribution, had a secure future, would never be in danger of being out of business. Now, we still need some box stores, we will need warehouses, forklift drivers and so on. But you can also see where most of these mall businesses will either be 100% online or gone.

So the questions begs to be asked, why would you buy a mall? The investment of the land? Maybe. The longevity of these businesses remaining long time anchors in a mall? Maybe, but I doubt it.

These moves in of themselves are not life threatening or even bad for that matter by today’s standards, but in the next 3 – 5 years, I suspect they will be asking themselves what they were thinking.

Consider these two small movements today, and I quote, profits in Canada’s non-residential construction sector will fall to a five-year low this year, that’s according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada. Pre-tax profits for this year in this sector will be 1.2 billion, down from $1.4 billion in 2009, and will not recover to pre-recession levels until 2014, at it’s earliest, it’s survey forecast. If at all I wonder.

In Washington there is more bank demise, the number of problem-ridden US banks rose to the hihest levels in 17 years, just in the second quarter! The number of institutions on its “problem list” rose more than 7 percent in the second quarter.

Traditional business is still in denial, they keep doing business as usual thinking everything will turn out alright. Really? Do you really think things aren’t changing, do you really believe that a global population who screams to be heard, to be served the way they want to be served, they want it to be almost free or extremely low cost, they want it in an Open & Free Business Model. Today’s public will look until they find it the way they want it, no longer can you force people to do it your way big business, you best pay attention, because if you won’t, someone will pay attention and take your business. Wake Up!

On a positive note, today the Bank of Canada interest rate hike has been delayed : )