When I buy something via iTunes it doesn’t feel like money. Especially when it is an app that is a few dollars at most. It’s easy to press a button which confirms a purchase at a value which is lower than anything you can buy in the real world. A coffee or coca-cola is $3.50 these days. it doesn’t end there though. When we get the bill on our credit card it’s the smallest number on the page.
Mobile phone plan $59
Restaurant XYZ $179
Again – the comparative spend makes it easy to ignore it as inconsequential expenditure. Yet, for some reasons we’ll switch brands at a supermarket to save 15 cents on the purchase of toothpaste.
There’s an important lesson for entrepreneurs here, and that is the selling environment and immediate comparison.
How can we sell our brand in place where it looks cheaper than everything else on offer, as the biggest barrier isn’t how much money it costs, but how much it costs relative to the things around it? It turns out that what the price is, is not nearly as important as where the price is.
If money didn’t exist what would we do differently? Let me first remind us what this would mean.
In this imaginary moneyless it would mean: That we all had enough to eat. That we all had a place to live. That we all have equal access to healthcare and education. That we wouldn’t get paid for our work. That no-one gets paid for the work they do, in dollars at least.
It means that we do in during the day has an entirely different perspective. In this imaginary world it make sense that we choose our line of work carefully. The work itself, becomes the thing that matters.
It turns out that this is also the best approach for a world that does actually have money.
This is an amazing piece from Dow Corning on the future of glass in our lives. It really sets the tone on how they will through their products make our lives better. It makes me wonder why more startups and large brands are not creating films about the future, and how they will shape it in a positive sense.
Prufrock coffee who created the worlds first disloyalty card.
The card to encourages their clients to sample the wares of quality coffee shops around their local region in London. Which is completely counter intuitive to sound business practice.
How does it work?
If a disloyalty member tries all 8 coffees on the above card , it will earn you a free coffee at your next visit to Prufrock Coffee. The interesting part is that it was conceived to keep ‘coffee customers’ out of the four walls of the ever encroaching Starbucks behemoth. The disloyalty card created a community of coffee lovers that could compete the ‘way of an artisan’. Something Starbucks could never do. It might just help keep them out. In this instance the community matters more than the trader. This is the new collaborative world we are in transition towards. A community who vest their interests in each other.
What can your startup do to flip the rules and do what a bigger competitor never could?
So how do we leverage a human revolution from a commercial perspective? It’s a big question. And even though the web has gone a long way in deconstructing power bases, business and human evolution are still inextricably linked. So I thought I’d post a few things that matter in a digital world so all players (people and commerce) can create value for each other simultaneously.
Rules of engagement
- Authenticity pays. Be real, don’t pretend to be something, or someone your not. Brand respect comes from understanding the rules and respecting the on line world as the real world and vice versa.
- Speak with a human voice. We don’t listen to Corpi-speak. We listen to voices from people. We ten must personify our brands.
- Engage the crowd. They own our brands. You want proof. When they stop feeding our brand (buying) it dies. We must pay the respect the real brand owners deserve. It’s always been this way, but we didn’t know…. because we couldn’t hear their voices. Now they they have a voice, we must act on it. We have to let our people hijack our brands. User Generated Content and Crowd Sourcing is where it’s at.
- Compound effort. Benefits take longer to garner in the new world. It’s not like the old days of a large media campaign with instant results. We are moving from a low human capital, high financial capital environ, to a large human capital, low financial capital world.
- Learn on the job – it can’t be strategized. It’s too unorganized and changeable… the web is humanity in digital form. Then they only way to play is to embrace the chaos and be part of the conversation. It can’t be justified to a board room, but the companies and brands who choose not to play will be wondering what happened a few short years from now.
Most of all, have fun doing it.
Blogger, thinker and all round nice guy Ben Rowe recently wrote a blog entry just for me. There was nothing in it for him, he just thought it would be nice to share his intellectual prowess for my benefit.
How it came about was pretty simple really. Ben wrote a great blog post on the importance of gaming and how it is starting to transcend currency. Within my comments on his post I spoke of how great it would be to think of a good gaming mechanic for rentoid. A few days later Ben wrote this blog post with some ideas on how to do exactly that. It’s the kind of commercial world I want to live in. An ethic where people do cool stuff for others without asking, and not expecting anything in return. The corollary is that a a return does invariably happen.
Firstly, an emotional return from doing good. Secondly, a collective return from building community. And sometimes a financial one from those who return the favour.
The question for startup entrepreneurs is this:
What are you doing to build your industry community help and promote others?
I was asked today about how blogs should be built and leveraged from a commercial perspective. It seems to be a regular question I’m asked. The giving element that is required in the blogosphere seems counter intuitive to the way our minds have been trained via the industrial complex. They often struggle with the fact that we just have to give, and the law of natural economics just kicks in. So I came up with this analogy which I think makes sense and explains how it should be approached philosophically.
Blogs are like a football stadium.
The game is played in the middle of the ground.
In blogs the middle of the ground happens to be where our posts are geographically placed.
This is why people come to our blog. To see the action. To learn from and be entertained by the actual game (posts)
But like all good stadiums we have related infrastructure around the edges. Our details, company, tweetstream, contacts.
If they like the game we play (our posts) they return. The crowd gets bigger, and they tell their friends to come.
Like the stadium the revenue comes from all the related elements like the concession stands, the parking and the sponsorship. The stuff that generally lives around the edges… both in stadiums and our blogs.
But we must never forget why they are here. To enjoy the game. They only ever return because the enjoy the game (the blog posts). So what we need to do is build our industry around the game, rather than charging for tickets at the gate. Charging entry just doesn’t work beause there is far too many games they can attend. (more than 200 million in fact)
So when someone asks you about how to make a blog work. Remind them of ‘stadium economics’ and that it’s the quality of the information and entertainment which earns us the right to sell them the occasional hot dog.
The words we use shape our behaviour. They even create bias, prejudices and potentially create a subconscious blue print for our strategic thinking. So in the spirit of solutions – I’ve list some new and better ways of saying old words.
Old word is Target. Replacement word = Audience.
A target is something we shoot at, aim for and maybe even kill. We care not for them. We care about us, and try to dominate them to bring home food for the night. An audience is a group of people we try to impress. We ask for some time on the stage (permission based), give our best performance and hope they throw flowers, not rotten tomatoes. If we do particularly well they’ll ask for an encore (supporting product to buy?) and tell their friends to come see the show.
Old word is Consumer. Replacement word = Person.
A consumer devours everything in their path. By defining people as such we subconsciously want them to mindlessly fill their life with stuff. We are not asking them to think, or consider, just act. We care not how the item bought for consumption is used and whether or not it enhances our world or theirs. It’s a production and factory mentality which is quickly becoming outdated. A person has feelings, emotions and aspirations. We are people, while they are consumers. The ‘we’ are people mindset is far superior to the ‘they’ are consumers view. It will take us much further and we’ll go there together.
Old word is Retiree. Replacement word = Projecteer
Retiring is an industrial revolution hangover based on physical labour taking it’s toll on men an woman. We must stop and rest in our final days because we having no energy left or have become less useful (in a physical sense) to the industrial machine. It was invented because the hours people have worked since the industrial revolution is beyond what is meant for humans. A Projecteer is what will replace the concept of Retirement. In fact, retirement will diminish as passion projects and life long idea work rises. We will be projecteers with specialist skills which are valued and revered as we gain in years and experience. Our mental faculties will flourish with improvements in diet and medicine and older generations will reclaim their position at the top of the human hierarchy.
Old word is Demographic. Replacement word = Tribe.
The problem with demographics is that a teenager is no longer a teenager. A teenager is a goth, an emo, a surfer, a skater… The same can be said for any age group or geographic locator. We are no longer definable by statistical clustering. Our values and attitudes are less likely to be defined via demography, but the tribes we move in, which now very often include people from disparate backgrounds and ages. The net enabled us to find the tribes we really belong to.
Old word is Non-profit. Replacement word = Social profit.
It’s nothing short of insane to have the word non-profit associated with organisations that build positive social outcomes. The word profit isn’t exclusive to financial output. Actually the word profit comes from the latin ‘Profectus‘ meaning to ‘make progress.’ The financial element was added much later. In this sense organisations providing social progress should move quickly to communicate the social profit they are making and in doing so remove the negative connotations that come with the word ‘non’.
Smart entrepreneurs shape peoples thinking with the words they use.