Archive for the ‘Business strategy’ Category

“My business model is screwed up, please help me look an idiot too”

January 28, 2008

… is the message going out loud and clear from Business Week. The company actually hires public relations people to get blogs to link to it, which is probably a bit daft, but it’s a coherent strategy. Then it hires lawyers to tell bloggers to stop linking.

Business Week’s content is often good , when I can be troubled to navigate the slow and ad heavy site, about once every three months. If you ask me, they need more linking. I love the following comment on Techdirt by Hellsvilla:

Right hand, please do come in and sit down. I have someone I want you to meet. His name is wrong hand. Watch him closely and slap the hell out of him when he gets out of line.

At stake is the ludicrous attempt by a company to put information on the Internet and then STOP people linking to it. It’s very simple: don’t provide permalinks, use flash pages. I promise I won’t link to you! I won’t read you either… come to think of it, how about saving some serious money and stop publishing online. No one will “steal your bandwith” then.

I hope Business Week is pleased that I haven’t linked to any of my favorite articles in their publication.

And here’s the story of a business model that works…

January 13, 2008

I don’t like pointing the finger at losers all the time, although the RIAA’s legal strategies deserve constant denunciation and ridicule.

Here’s a good example of a good idea made good (despite rocky economic conditions), written by the inspiring Virginia Postrel.

The sea/land/rail container has transformed the global economy:

Just as the computer revolutionized the flow of information, the shipping container revolutionized the flow of goods. As generic as the 1’s and 0’s of computer code, a container can hold just about anything, from coffee beans to cellphone components. By sharply cutting costs and enhancing reliability, container-based shipping enormously increased the volume of international trade and made complex supply chains possible.

”Low transport costs help make it economically sensible for a factory in China to produce Barbie dolls with Japanese hair, Taiwanese plastics and American colorants, and ship them off to eager girls all over the world,” writes Marc Levinson in the new book The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (Princeton University Press).

The key moment was when a businessman stopped looking at shipping in terms of each component, but decided that customers care about the start and finish points, the time it takes and cost. From there, and the added reduction in pilfering, speedier loading/unloading and border control processing, there has been a tremendous improvement in global trade. The nearest equivalents in the past I can think of are the amphora and the barrel.

I found Virginia Postrel’s article via Reason Online. Only sad note, her column was the last of its kind in the New York Times:

This is Virginia Postrel’s last Economic Scene column. She has written columns under that heading for the past six years.

However, the same blog post on Reason’s ‘Hit and Run’ describes the use of containers for building homes, shops and even a Ukrainian shopping mall. I hope Brian Micklethwait tells us what he thinks about it all.

Save Our Salaries! The business model is jacked

January 12, 2008

Via Instapundit.

IN 2006 EMI, the world’s fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. “That was the moment we realised the game was completely up,” says a person who was there.

The Economist reports on the decline and fall of the music studios.

OK, now for the fun bit. The Instapundit was linking to this on Samizdata.

So the “thieves” who copy music didn’t want free goods?

Maybe the thieves aren’t.

Maybe the goods aren’t either.

The State should force those youngsters to go back to EMI, take some CDs and feel grateful. Otherwise no music will ever be written again.

Or EMI’s new owners could try to find a different business model, which would be little less silly than having people jailed for backing up their CDs to an iPod.

Just so we’re clear. I will never buy a CD, DVD or similar technology until the RIAA stops treating the entire enternment industry’s customer base as criminals. That means not listening to new material except non the radio. That’s a couple of hundred dollars a year “lost” right there.

Too bad.

I hope everyone either rips everything or boycotts. Recording executives will have to fuel their cocaine addictions and run up tabs for “flowers” [prostitutes] at someone else’s expense. The musicians will be fine: touring, merchandising, donations and people wanting the genuine article.

Me 1, WSJ 0

November 14, 2007

Last year I was on a panel in Philadelphia on the subject of new media and how companies need to get their act together when dealing with journalists and/or bloggers.

I happened to mention that everything was becoming available on-line and that it seems like a matter of time before all the print media makes its content available for free.

A fellow panellist was from the Wall Street Journal. He insisted that *his* corporate model was doing just peachy and no need for change, in fact a model for others.

I’m pleased to say I merely responded by saying: “well, maybe the WSJ can get enough readers willing to pay a subscription.”

Now we know.

The difference is small

February 13, 2007

The difference between being in a cave in pitch darkness and being in a cave and glimpsing a distant opening is physically almost imperceptible, but one tends towards passivity and the other tends to be dynamic.

This Pharma Marketing blog posting about the shifts away from broadcasting or channeling a message towards having a conversation gives an insight into a major event.

Here is an extract of what John Mack gets right:

How? By letting the patient in. Let them add their voices to your communications. How do you do this? First you must embrace the reality that people-to-people communications are more powerful than any DTC ad or unbranded education Web site.

And then a bit where it all goes a little pear-shaped.

And that by letting the patient have the venue to create a community or state an opinion facilitated by your company is the best way to channel the power of peer-to-peer communications.

Sadly, the two passages come from the very same paragraph. Surely all the image problems of gift pens and lunches for doctors aren’t simply going to be repeated in patient groups?

The beauty of blogging is that, unless you’re a corporate executive of the kind that thinks emails should be dictated to secretaries, you don’t need money or technical expertise.

All we want from drug firms is to allow their employees and bosses to tell us who they are, what they do, and how things are going. A bit like at a party. You can bring a bottle, but if you’re paying for all the drinks you’re not a guest.

The drug industry is feared, not trusted, upopular. Stopping the “we have a message for you” approach and engaging in a conversation is unlikely to make things worse for the drug industry in terms of public perception.

The only mistakes to be be made are: 1) to try to control the forum (which will fail and make things looks worse in the process) or 2) to have a script instead of just saying it as it is. The script gets out sooner or later and all those helpful comments in the margins from the coach “shake head solemnly,” “show more feeling here,” and “smile genially and wink,” will cost a lot more than the scriptwriter’s fees.

So “Customer Manages Relationship” is still a terribly clumsy term and it’s a concept with lots of things wrong with it.

But is it easier to move in the right direction from here? I think so.

Dumb and dumber

February 7, 2007

…or the futility of appeasement.

Google and Viacom seem to be competing for the title of worst business strategists of 2007, if this report on Techdirt is anything to go by.

The evidence is mounting that having YouTube clips increases audience enthusiasm (you know that funny concept that life isn’t always a zero-sum game). Google’s decision (it owns YouTube) to “license” is nothing more than an invitation to sue by boneheaded media corporate marketing departments. As for Viacom, it seems like “treat all your customers like criminals,” which funnily enough, doesn’t seem to have made it into the top business success book titles.