Tara Hunt is someone thinking creatively about marketing and other business topics, and what I appreciate about her is that she isn’t afraid to relate the world of business to the world of the personal. I loved her recent blog entry Happiness as Core to Your Business Model because it again effortlessly aligns the goals of individuals with the goals of business. She relates the four elements of happiness as defined by the American Psychological Association (autonomy, competence, relatedness, and self-esteem) to the three core concepts of Web 2.0. (openness, collaboration and community). I think it makes sense. I think everyone would like to work at a place where the business goal was to bring happiness to others.
In fact, I may have taken my last job for that reason. I felt good about selling wine because of the experiences I was offering. Family gatherings, social events, parties; all are places where people feel connected to each other and where the pleasure of enjoying our product would enhance (in most cases) people’s good feelings. Of course, I don’t think my employers thought about this directly, but it was a positive that 95% of the people who worked for us were wine lovers (in one or two cases, perhaps a little too enthusiastic in their appreciation) and one of the perks of the job was meeting people at events and enjoying our products at our own company parties.
The barriers, of course, were competence and self-esteem. The world of wine can still seem stuffy and class-conscious and there are enough wine snobs around to make even the most eager student feel stupid. I think this is why so many wine web communities sprouted around the same time. WineLog and Cork’d are great ways to share your drinking experiences with others, and Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library TV video blog makes learning about wine fun.
Now, how do I begin to apply some of these concepts to the new world of accounting I find myself in? 😉
Kevin Kelly brilliantly sums up the entire internet economy in an article entitled Better Than Free. His thesis is that the internet is basically a giant copy machine, but that as copies of content become more abundant, they lose their value. For a business to become successful in the age of the internet, they have to offer things that cannot be copied. He lists eight:
In a real sense, these are eight things that are better than free. Eight uncopyable values. I call them “generatives.” A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold.
Another overriding factor he mentions is trust. I suggest that if you or your business have any connection with the internet (and that’s all of us, especially if you’re reading this!), then you read Kevin’s article immediately. I think there are the seeds of a million business plans in there.
David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, has an interesting blog entry about what a job description for a marketing or public relations practitioner should sound like in this new age of social media. I think the main quality required is curiosity:
You’re curious about new things and always try stuff like Skype, Second Life, Twitter, Ryze, XING, digg, and reddit early.
People who are willing to try new things and are not afraid of a little dabbling should be getting work. Perhaps this is what Joe Thornley was getting at in his assertion that he won’t hire people who don’t blog. I reacted strongly to that statement, but I can definitely see where he and others like him are coming from. They want people who are using the tools already, who don’t have to be taught to use them. But that’s where the educators can seem just a little off base. You can’t teach curiosity, or passion. Joe feels he can figure out who someone is from reading their blog and following their online trail, and he’s right. But should educators be counseling people to create these things in the first place? I mean, if a 50 year old professor has to tell a 20 year old student about new technologies on the web, then something feels amiss.
Just browsing around this morning, I came across a great example of word of mouth marketing. Michael McDerment is a successful Toronto entrepreneur behind the innovative FreshBooks.com online invoicing service. In a 2005 entry on his own blog, he recommends a company called Landmark Merchant Solutions as a “great business partner” for small companies looking for payment gateway services. In the comments to that entry, there is a link to a bulletin board where an amazing conversation has unfolded. Apparently, Landmark isn’t such a great business partner after all.
Shady business practices, drug abuse, sexual harassment, lawsuits. And I’m only about a quarter way down the page. The thread starter has been participating in this conversation for more than three years now. Word of mouth is real.