Yesterday's blog mentioned the recent Inner Circle gathering I facilitated among an extraordinary group of senior executives, over breakfast at the New York Stock Exchange. Our topic was "New Media" and it's safe to say there is no consensus on where "new media" is headed, thus what the sure fire investments are and which will turn out to be duds. So everyone was keen to learn others' perspectives, hoping to find a possible new concept on which to build a strategy.
Here are some random observations and new items/services shared by attendees.
One mentioned Text Eagle. Have you heard of it? Provides proofreading and copy editing services over your cell phone. Amazing!
Inner Circle - June 2009
How about cellbazaar.com. Some call it the Craig's List of Bangladesh. Here's how that works: "Imagine you're in Bangladesh and you want to buy a cow. You pull your mobile phone out of your pocket and start sending text messages to 3838, the shortcode for CellBazaar, a mobile phone marketplace which some have called the "Craigslist of Bangladesh." You look through the relevant ads and look at the ages, locations, and number of teeth of the 187 cows that are currently for sale. After another SMS, you are connected with the phone number of the the seller, ready to make your new purchase. What could have taken days to coordinate was made easy by a series of simple text messages."
One thing on which our gathered experts did agree is that clarity and simplicity are key to success in building community. Tina Brown, the genius behind The Daily Beast, is credited for doing that about as well as it gets, at least thus far. Her strategy appears to be that she'll build the community first (and, by all accounts, it appears to be growing exponentially), then add the revenue model.
Inner Circle - June 2009
Others talked of the challenge marketers have to use the web to sell merchandise and services since now their competition is not only other vendors, but it is sometimes an individual selling stuff out of her closet...or garage, who captivates an interested clientèle, with no retail establishment in site.
Someone mentioned "massive intimacy," the phenomenon of feeling close to lots of people... or at least having some connection with lots of people. But there is arguably little depth to these relationships. Think Ashton Kutcher and his million Twitter followers.
The argument that it is most necessary to build community, and worry about making money later was challenged. At least one investor said she wants to see the business model from the get go, rather than hope that enough people will find a site interesting to warrant creating a business model after the fact. Yet others feel strongly that one of the differentiating factors of our current world is that more and more people are doing things that are not economically motivated. This is a special time in history where the business model may not be the first thing out of the chute in building a new business.