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.