We all know that the idea of business on the web came on with a roar and now lies whimpering and licking its wounds in the safety of the shadows. Who was the enemy? Who or what was it that clawed and scraped the potential of online business so brutally that early enthusiasts are now seen as foolish, wild- eyed dreamers? What brought down an idea that was bigger and more powerful than a raging beast at full roar?
The Greed Monster. Greed and fear always do this to us.
Greed drives the spammers that clog the in-boxes of even the most casual email user. They promise instant gratification of our every desire — financial or erotic. Just send your money.
Greed drove the venture capitalists that dumped huge amounts of cash into poorly conceived ideas for internet businesses. Early VC losses can be directly tied to the greed factor in investing. “Gimme your money and fast!”
Greed drives the multi-level marketing programs that quickly sprouted wings online as more promises of instant wealth were strewn across the web. “Just send your money, hurry while there is still time to get in on the ground floor!”
Greed drove the corporate behemoths to launch “web initiatives” so they might beat their competition online. “Hurry before our competition kills us and drains our profits!” But to what end?
So now that we know the enemy. What do we do to vanquish him? I use the masculine here because it evokes the warrior image. Maybe the failure is in applying traditional male attributes to the web. Power, fighting, hunting and killing don’t work on the web. What does work?
Co-operation, community building, helpfulness and sharing. All attributes that are applied most often to women and are seen as feminine qualities.
We may be better off seeing this medium as a feminine one. When looking for valid business models online, just take a look at what works and who is making it work.
Membership models proliferate online where sites seek our opinions and want us to “join in.” Most successful web sites encourage visitor participation and feedback in discussion forums.
Ebay asks for ratings of active sellers from the buyers of their products. The highest ratings earn more business. Amazon publishes reader reviews of purchased books and encourages you to “Be the first to review this book!” People read those reviews and appreciate them.
Personalization and community building are incorporated into all of the major portals. Discussion forums are available at every one of the major online publishers. The web encourages communication and sharing of knowledge – not hoarding, hiding and greedily seeking to outsmart the consumer.
America Online pioneered in community building and was rewarded with rapid growth and customer loyalty. I believe they have lost their way now as greed leads them to keep a fence around their technology, refusing to allow their AIM instant messaging system to be accessed by non-members.
Greed, exclusion, proprietary systems and monopolistic megacorporations are giving way to community, inclusion, open source code and peer-to-peer sharing and swapping of information. As long as old ideas are applied to the web it will go nowhere. Napster was killed by the monster.
Online content providers are talking “Digital Rights Management” and seeking ways to “monetize content”, which simply means monopolizing information. Scarcity doesn’t work online. Community building, cooperation and being helpful, open, giving and sharing does work.
Businesses that work those traditionally feminine ideas into their online vision will be the winners on the web.
Mike Banks Valentine operates SEOptimism, Offering SEO training of
in-house content managers http://seoptimism.com/SEO_Staff_Training.htm
as well as the Small Business Ecommerce Tutorial at
http://WebSite101.com and blogs about SEO at http://RealitySEO.com
where this article appears with live links to SMO stories, buttons, blog posts and examples.