I had drinks with a good friend the other day and he talked at some length about wanting a new job. He’s a great guy, really capable, and one of the best people managers I’ve known. So why isn’t he looking? In a word: Fear. He worries what will happen if he doesn’t get a job. He worries what will happen if his current employer finds out. He worries what will happen if he does get a job, if he’ll be any good at it. The one thing he doesn’t seem to worry about is how to change his situation for the better. Weird, huh? It’s a good thing you wouldn’t do that. But, just in case, what’s stopping you from changing your situation for the better?
Seth Godin’s got an interesting notion today on how publishing could benefit from the web. It’s an interesting point of view and brings into focus some of the things that the web is good at. Here are 5 other businesses where consumers have benefited from the web:
- Travel – The killer app of e-commerce. More travel is sold online than any other product
- Financial services – When was the last time you called your broker?
- Personal ads – I’d include not only Craigslist in this, but also eBay. Obviously, newspapers are really feeling the heat from this.
- Music – OK, this isn’t necessarily benefiting the record industry. But consumers have access to greater diversity of artists through iTunes, Rhapsody, last.fm, MySpace and the like than they ever did a decade ago. To say nothing of CD’s from Amazon.
- News – Like music, not necessarily the television networks or newspapers gain. While the traditional members of the value chain face challenges, consumers have access to more news – and more opinions about that news – than ever before.
And here’s why:
- Reduced distribution costs – Note that each of these businesses generally requires little in the way of a physical product. Chris Anderson explains this brilliantly in "The Long Tail". But don’t assume that your product couldn’t also take advantage, regardless of how difficult it is to distribute today. Seth’s post shows one way. What are others?
- Access to information previously held only by "experts" – This is the whole crowdsourcing phenomenon. Whether it’s reviews of travel destinations, seller rankings on eBay, recommendations of great bands on Amazon or Facebook, the web opens information up to consumers. Google has built its whole business on putting some order around that information. Have you made it equally easy for your customers?
I’m sure there are others. Feel free to add yours to the comments. There’s one that doesn’t belong, though:
- Low prices
Whether it’s cars on eBay, high-end workstations from Dell, opening high net worth accounts on financial services sites, or what-have-you, your product doesn’t have to sell cheaply to sell on the web. And, yes, I consider lead generation part of a sale. But don’t assume that’s all you can do. Make it easy (or easier, anyway) for consumers to access information and eliminate needless costs and you can grow your business online. In fact, I’ll issue a challenge for myself. I’ll buy one reader who comes up with the toughest business to sell online the book of his or her choice on Amazon (up to $50). Post your ideas in the comments or via private email by the Wednesday, July 27th, 2007 and I’ll post my perspective on how that business could improve the following week. How simple is that?
Weird, stressful day. I work right around the corner from where the explosion occurred in NYC. Cell phone coverage was non-existent. All the folks on their phones in this picture must’ve gotten through, but I had nothing. The best I could do was tweet and txt to let my family know I was OK. While I’ve never been a fan of Twitter – my posts until now having been largely experimental – I gained a new appreciation today. Anything that gives your loved ones piece of mind is worth its other issues. As I watched firefighters racing down 40th Street towards Lex – not knowing what might await – all I could wish was that their families had the same assurances mine did. I hope you’re all safe and sane tonight and that the same is true for the people you love.
Clickz News reports that players in Madden ’08 can receive their very own Super Bowl ring from Josten’s (the high school/college ring people) for hitting certain goals within the game. It’s one of the more brilliant offers I’ve seen in some time. Here’s how they did it:
- Offer a simple, clear goal – No, really. It’s a ring. A Super Bowl ring. For playing the game well. Is there anyone in Madden’s audience – or most others – who would have trouble understanding this?
- Play to their emotions – Who in Madden’s target audience wouldn’t want a Super Bowl ring? This offer meets more than just a basic need. It offers the player fulfillment. Or, at the very least, bragging rights.
- Give customers something they’ll never expect – Did anyone see this coming? Did anyone imagine it was even possible? Win a Super Bowl ring for playing a video game? Yet even though it’s unexpected, it fits perfectly with the theme of the game. Offering $1 million – while it might be unexpected – wouldn’t make near as much sense. Offering Super Bowl tickets is too typical.
Whether it’s with your product or your promotion, what can you do in your business to meet these criteria?
Credit where due: Chip and Dan Heath’s "Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die" provide great background on why ideas like this work and how you can create them, too.