The latest furore in the UK about “three strikes and you’re off the Net forever” should give many marketers cause to ponder new business models.
The music industry, as with other sectors such as telecoms, are operating with old business models, creating and then charging for false scarcity. However, many with online businesses that work, have seen the error of this model and are working on new ways to generate revenue that involve giving away a huge proportion of their ‘product’ for FREE.
Assuming, or accusing everyone of being a thief is not the way forward, nor is penalising folk who may have been ignorant they were doing anything wrong. Or worse, who may not even have done anything wrong but who are penalised anyway.
What ought to be happening is that businesses work to attract potential customers by giving them a taster of what is available on becoming a customer, and playing to human nature. Everyone loves a freebie. Look at all the free tools on the Net that are becoming embedded in online culture, and who can then look to paid models for the avid.
Twitter, Facebook, Gmail and Google docs, Google itself, Zemanta, WordPress – in fact, most businesses who started online have had to adapt to the thinking that “Everything is free on the Net”. Open Source software is another prime example.
Take a look at your business. It may be that you are Rolex, and therefore do not need to give anything away for free because the quality of your brand is historic, known and appreciated, and freebies would actually undervalue the product. You won’t find a Rolex in a cereal packet, ever!
However, most businesses are not in that privileged position and need to look to what can be offered as the magnet to attract punters to you, to your website etc. White papers, free software with full or almost full functionality, seminars and webinars, online tutorials, how to manuals, guides, tools, video, podcasts…the list is endless.
If your product is so exclusive and every aspect of it is copyright, you are denying your largest unpaid workforce of evangelists and sales people the chance to add value to it, promote it, or engage with it.