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44 posts from March 2007

Changing Revenue Model...#5: Outsourcing

MoneyFour down, two to go...  Here's a link to my original post summarizing the changing revenue model in publishing.  I spoke earlier about customer touch points, risks, margins and communities.  Item #5 was "do what you do best and outsource the rest."

It seems like obvious, common sense advice, but I think it's human nature to want to "do it all yourself."  The reality is, no matter how large or small your operation, there are some things you do well and others, not so well.  I would also argue that the more you outsource, the more nimble you can be.  If technologies change or new services are required for success, it's generally easier to switch providers (if necessary) than train/hire staff.

Sit down and make an honest inventory of your organization's key strengths.  What's your secret sauce?  What is it that your competition would have a hard time replicating?  I feel it's better to focus on those things and continue to refine them over time, making it harder and harder to replicate, than to worry about trying to do all the other things in-house.

Andrew Keen: You're Wrong!

ThumbsdownAndrew Keen of ZDNet is all over Tim O'Reilly in this post. First of all, I'm as outraged as everyone else about the situation Kathy Sierra is in; nobody should be subjected to that sort of harassment, let alone someone like Kathy, one of the nicest and smartest people on the planet.

Second, Tim O'Reilly is one of my competitors, so it would be very easy and convenient for me to pile on and try to say how Keen's argument is right.  O'Reilly is the one who has properly stated things in this case though, not Keen.

Tim O'Reilly is right to say that this is not a statement about the internet. If these losers weren't harassing Kathy online they'd undoubtedly find some other way of doing it.  Then Keen brings guns and the NRA into the argument.  For the record, I don't like guns and I'm certainly not a member of the NRA(!)...but...people do kill people, not guns!  If the gun wasn't there, murderers will (and do) find some other weapon.

I hate the idea of anonymous posts.  If someone feels like speaking out about an issue they should be willing to add their name to the discussion.  But Keen's suggestion that anonymous posts should become illegal is over the top.  Besides, does anyone really think something like this could stop someone from getting around the system and using someone else's identity?!  Banning anonymous posts isn't the solution.

I also don't understand why Keen focuses his argument so much on the blogosphere.  Where does he draw the line?  If the blogosphere went away tomorrow, wouldn't these same idiots post this sort of stuff on message boards, websites, etc.?  Do we need to shut down the whole internet?!

What is the solution?  Self-policing is touched on in Keen's post.  He pokes fun at O'Reilly for suggesting such a thing, but I think that's part of the answer.  The real solution though is just applying the same tactics that are used offline: Law enforcement needs to identify these losers and hold them accountable for the threats and other crimes they've committed.

Compendium Software: Local Blogging Venture

CompendiumHere's an interesting article in today's Indianapolis Star about a new local startup called Compendium Software that's focusing on corporate blogging and search engine marketing.  The co-founder, Chris Baggott, brings loads of e-mail marketing experience to the table from his last venture, ExactTarget.

Here's to hoping that more companies like Compendium, ExactTarget and MediaSauce continue to sprout up in the area -- maybe Indiana could become Silicon Valley 2.0!

Yahoo E-mail Storage Goes Unlimited

YahooYahoo recently announced they're doing away with e-mail storage limits in May.  I've had a Yahoo e-mail account for many years now but I more or less switched to Gmail when they offered more storage capacity for free.  My Yahoo account still exists, of course, but it's mostly filled with old stuff and incoming spam.

Over the last couple of days I've come to regret that move to Gmail as Google's service has been up and down since Tuesday morning.  It seems relatively stable right now but it was still choking when I initially logged in earlier today.

Maybe I'm in the minority on this, but increased storage space is no longer a compelling reason for me to switch services.  Heck, I'm only using 7% and 11% of Gmail's and Yahoo's space today, so why do I need a lot more?

Btw, if you're one of those people who use these services as a free backup utility, uploading all your photos and documents and feeling safe and secure, think twice!  I've had a few messages disappear from both services over the years and would never consider either to be a viable primary backup strategy.

Borders Loyalty Program

Borders_2When Borders made their most recent earnings announcement last week they also mentioned they're about to change their customer loyalty program.  This PW article summarizes the new policy.  I think they're heading in the right direction, but it's still not the best program for me.

After I spend $150 at Borders as a program member I'll get a voucher for $5 off a future purchase.  The smart part about this is that it's a way to drive follow-up traffic to the store.  What I don't like is that (a) it's not instant gratification like B&N's program and (b) it's about 3% off in total vs. B&N's minimum of 10% off.

That said, the Borders card is free and the B&N one costs $25/year.  So if you spend $300/year at either outlet you'll come out slightly ahead with the Borders program than the B&N one.  Double that to $600/year (which is at least what my family and I spend each year) and B&N has the advantage, but only by about $15, so it's not a huge difference.