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.
You will read much about this a great deal here, and you will hear about it in many other circles, the world has yet to arrive, but when they do, an Open Economy will emerge and swarm the Internet like never before. An open economy will bring about a new way of thinking, a new way of planning, and a new way of generating revenue. Much will change and then some things will remain the same, out of fear and creativity.
One thing that will change, regardless of you or your businesses participation, customers will take charge in this open business model, they’ve already started if you haven’t noticed. In fact, you probably are seeing a shift to where the middle-man is dead, small is the new big, it’s happening because we used to succeed by controlling, and businesses are no longer in control in this open economy. Good companies will have to find things users can do in order to keep them, open things, give users more control.
Jeff Jarvis, author of , What Would Google Do? he used an example of the auto industry, wouldn’t it be interesting if one of the big auto companies would let you order a car unpainted. Then you would talk to your friend who can paint it and knows you, you could ask him to paint the car you. It could be anything that screams who you are, imagine a world where cars are painted by a persons personality. Or if you could order a car with Skype in it (my idea). Would you allow that to happen in your business? Being open is a huge shift in thinking, a paradigm shift, one filled with fear and uncertainty. One where you have to relinquish control to the user (customer), show them more than you ever thought of doing before.
In the new model, attention will be the new currency, getting attention will be central to your success. In fact, if you want to be found, you will have to be in “the public”, in the open, the model will demand it. You will place value on different indicators, you will learn the value of being involved in the conversation, with your customers, do what they are asking you to do, will you listen to them?
Here are a number shifts that are going take place, some have already begun. Taken from Gerd Leonhard’s Slide presentation:
1.) A Web-Native Business Model – the Internet (Web) will be the primary way of doing business. It’s no longer just an add-on.
2.) Shift from the Network to Networked
3.) Mobile & Social 1st
4.) Open Platforms (Google)
5.) From Control to Trust
6.) From Egosystem to Ecosystem (Collaboration will be everything for survival)
7.) From walled gardens to the Jungle (You can’t keep things behind walls and generate new money)
8.) Everything will shift to the Cloud
9.) Friction to Engagement
10.) GUI (Graphical User Interface) to NUI (Natural User Interface)
11.) Linear to Fuzzy Logic
12.) New Qualifications
13.) A Shift from Denial to Foresights
14.) Yes / No to Maybe
The world is coming, and it bringing a new way of doing business, it’s called an Open Economy, an Open & Free Business Model, will you learn it, will you embrace it?
The world we live in is always changing, as much as we try, it keeps on changing and shifting whether we like it or not. The truth is we can’t control change, we hang on to it with all our strength but still the change takes place. The world of commerce and how we interact changed years ago but we keep trying to hold it back, keep trying to stay in our comfort zones, it feels better that way. I am change agent for the most part, but if someone moves the forks in my silverware tray I get this disturbed feeling like I was just violated. That shows just how easy it is to get stuck in a rut, there is a saying, the difference between a rut and a grave is the dirt on your face. Are you stuck? Do you like change or does it make uneasy?
I talk frequently about the future and the change we have yet to experience, technology is growing at an exponential rate that we can’t prevent or control. If you look close enough and you are being completely honest with yourself, we are in for a very painful shift in the next 3 – 5 years. How we do business, how we interact with each other, how connected everything is and will be, is going to turn our comfort zones upside down.
Change is hard, change to an Open Business is even harder. Open is scary because it will feel like we are all out of control, it means KAOS! The part that scares most business owners is, the customer is taking some of the control away from them, the customer is now making decisions differently and that makes the world of commerce a very different environment. People are re-grouping on the fly, they are swarming into Tribes, they are reshaping what it means to be a trusted brand, and business is struggling with this shift.
Being open means you as a business owner have to talk to your customers, you must give them more access than you are currently comfortable with today. The world is coming, no the world is not here yet, but when they do arrive they will force you to do business in a very uncomfortable way.
The world is broken up into many many incubators that communicate and act in a way that is acceptable for each incubator. These incubators eventually will all be connected and will reshape how they act and communicate, bringing about change and innovation. This can’t be stopped or prevented, because you can’t stop a connected audience, they move to quickly and resist control, especially on the Internet.
The Internet is THE Platform that has changed the way we think, the way we communicate, and it is allowing for the reshaping of commerce, not too mention bring new meaning to Copyright and Sharing. Social Media is a bad name for the future we are entering, today we think having an account on Twitter makes us an authority on Social Media. The fact is, Media goes much deeper than using these Social Networks, they are tools, they allow us to connect and share, but that’s primarily it. The Media part is what we need to pay attention to, how we get paid for what we do through being in media, is a shift that is still unclear.
We are all becoming the Media, we are going more and more mobile, getting paid will be based on getting Attention, bringing value, and making your value feel like free, that is the secret. How you view the world matters in this new paradigm shift called Open & Free, where you put the toll booth will be even more important. Pay attention to what’s happening to the world of business, what technology is allowing us to do, and pay special attention to who is connecting with you and your business.
Change is hard, the change or shift to an open & free marketplace is coming, and not changing will be much harder in the future.
I know your scratching your head wondering what I mean by this, stay with me and let me share some thoughts on the topic. We’ve been and still are under the bondage of control & protectionism, just look at the Newspaper & Music industries as an example. I’m not opposed to the creators, writers and artists from being compensated for their work, I’m suggesting that there is and will be a better ways to ensure that compensation happens.
I’m a firm believer that making content readily available and free will create new ways of monetizing, eventually most will figure out how to monetize around that content. If the music industry is smart, they will make collective agreements with those distributing music now, especially those doing it illegally by today’s laws. Pirates if you will, are not really the enemy, they are however breaking new artists all the time, the music industry benefits while the pirate(s) don’t get paid for finding them. The model is now beginning to reverse and is becoming open, the pirate will still find and break new music while everyone else benefits including the pirate. Collaboration is far better than the closed system of control we have today in the music industry. In Matt Mason’s book The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism (affiliate link) he states, “To compete or not to compete” that’s the question music labels have to answer. That is, to compete with the pirates not against them. The pirate is not going away so it makes more sense to change copyright to usage rights, to rewrite these binding, closed mechanisms to open collective agreements. So instead of fighting the pirate, work with them and feel the benefit, distribute the music freely through systems like Apple’s iTunes. Apple could essentially pay the labels a fee for that distribution, hence they still make there cut and everyone is happy. It sounds simplistic but it’s not, I’m merely sharing this is how it will be in the near future, I don’t know the details of making it work.
You & I won’t tolerate gate keepers and closed systems, you can’t put content behind walls and generate new money, only in an open & free environment will you make new money. Those words are Gerd Leonhard’s , he is a media futurist and his focus is the music industry. From his book called Music 2.0 he makes an interesting statement in the segment called, Access Will Replace Ownership and the Consumer Will Drive the Business:
In three to five years, consumers will have access to “their” music anytime, anywhere, and the physical possession of it will in fact be more of a handicap, or a pastime for collectors. Music will feel (and act) more like water, and music providers will become utilities.
Keep in mind this book was written prior to 2008, it is a collection of essays previously released. I’m not an authority on the music industry, I do however preach his message and see open and free as a sound business model. His new book I have yet to read but you can get it here: Friction is Fiction: The Future of Content, Media & Business (Affiliate Link)
Gary Vaynerchuk has also seen the shift long before it started, he produced 40 minute video’s on Wine Library TV and gave you the content free for 17 months before anyone really knew who he was. How do you think he is doing today, he took the family business from 3 -4 million a year to over 60 million a year doing that show. Today he has a 10 book deal due to the open & free business model, he continues to build his legacy in this new model. His goal is simple, buy the New York Jets NFL team and spend more time with his family. Gary’s message is simple, embrace who you are, your DNA, work hard, work really hard, and never give up on your passion. He doesn’t promise you you’ll make it big, nor does he claim you will be a millionaire, he does however promise, if you do what your passionate about you will win. Winning does not mean lots of money, it may however mean you will enjoy and maybe even love what you do. he preaches his message everywhere and to anyone who will listen, his book hit the New York Top Sellers List and is still available, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion (Affiliate Link)
There are other examples of this business model working, the true test will be if and more like when Industries see the revenue streams around what they sell, how they look for gaps, create vehicles and harness the power of their audiences.
How will you embrace this new environment of Open & Free as a business model?
If your are interested in coming to one of my Open & Free Business Model Workshops, please email me Here