April 15, 2011
The Internet has become part of our collective lives faster than any other technology in history. It took just nine years to reach over 50% of US households, while television took some thirty years to reach the same. As Facebook crosses 500 million users (it took just five years) and the micro-blogging site Twitter, with it’s 140 character limit, becomes a fixture in our communication landscape, businesses are scrambling to incorporate what is often lumped together and referred to as social media into their marketing efforts.
This reactionary effort is logical from a fiscal point of view as one could argue that it is easier to sell social media to the higher-ups of an organization because of its inherent low cost and real time feedback. However, even for those who embrace social mediums wholeheartedly, these efforts are at best a half-measure and at worst, mask the real problem as it sits behind arbitrary markers like how many Facebook Fans one has.
Simply put, while you are thinking about your marketing strategy, people like me are thinking about your business model. Your pre-Internet organization existing in a post-Internet world. Your offering(s), packaged for public consumption, provides the most value at a set cost, and when it is disseminated in mass, it is sufficient in a world where you create something on one end for me to consume it on the other – but this is no longer the world we live in.
Tim Brown, CEO @ IDEO put it most eloquently at a recent TED Conference when he described it as:
The shift from a passive relationship between producer and consumer, to the active engagement of everyone in experiences that are meaningful, productive and profitable.
The ubiquity and increasing mobility of connected technologies is leading us full-steam into a more participatory, experience-based economy. One where value is measured in our ability to participate at different levels, adding layers to our own experiences.
The majority of existing businesses will fail to capitalize on this fundamental shift. Eventually devoid of market share, these companies will eventually fade away and be replaced by participatory platforms where prospects, customers and employees work together in a transparent manner, creating their own value through rich experiences.
Make no mistake – there are more than a few people working on disrupting your industry as you read this. Right now, your survival is based on their ability to effectively execute on their concept.
Platform models proving to be disruptive to entire industries is not a new concept by any means. Major players like Amazon, Ebay and Craigslist have been around for more than a decade, but this most recent shift is not reserved to what most of us consider e-commerce. It is across most every industry.
One of my favorite examples is Air BnB. This peer-to-peer accommodations platform is growing at what the hotel industry must categorize as an alarming rate. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this particular company is special. While I am sure the founders and team are quite talented, they are mere mortals, among many first movers.
Complexity is your enemy in the battle for the future of the industry in which you have profited to date. In order to create the optimal model going forward you must set aside the assumptions you have collected over time and start from scratch. A blank slate is necessary to take an honest look at the behavior of your customers and conceptualize what would be the simplest solution towards providing them with utility and the ability to add their own value to the experience.
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jason Lorimer a fellow entrepreneur @CulturaHQ, advocating on behalf of those with the ambition to do more than just entertain ideas. Jason and his team transform pre-internet business models into post-internet companies that scale. When he is not working with partners to incubate their early stage ventures, he posts on his blog and loves kicking around ideas with other entrepreneurs from around the world. When disconnected from the World Wide Web, Jason transforms into a music lover and amateur artist with several creative outlets including photography and painting. You can find Jason on Twitter: @CulturaHQ.
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