Sunday, November 6, 2011

Occupy The Business Model

"The Occupy movement has no vision..." So says the New York Times.

Maybe. Maybe not.

More interesting than Occupy's own vision is this:

Occupy IS a vision for future business.

Occupy is a movement to many.

What if it's a business model instead?

Imagine businesses as nurturers and curators of communities, i.e. Occupiers, instead of sponsors or spammers of market segments.

A good nurturing, curator with its own version of Occupy The Business Model needs to do three things well in order to do the one thing it must: make money.

First, you need to offer the world something you do well free. And your offer needs to be meaningful. Go big as honchos are saying to one another these days.

Small samples of something free are 20th century stuff and won't cut it. You don't want to give a trial taste. If you want to occupy something, you want, you need people to go all-in.

A year ago the media business I was leading offered a free working trip to cover India to journalists around the world. We spent a few hundred bucks for two weeks getting the word out. We went big. It was a meaningful offer.

Four hundred qualified, experienced Journos responded.

Second thing you need is a set of rules of the road. This is probably what God had in mind with the 10 Commandments when humans started to occupy the planet ages ago.

God doesn't strike me as much of a command-and-control guy. And, in the Occupy Age, we're wasting our time trying to do stuff God figured wasn't worth the trouble.

That's why clearly stated standards are important. A year ago we were clear on what kind of Journo we wanted (experienced in the craft as well as with emerging social media techonologies...). We also were clear on what we expected in return for our fabulous offer then and for those offers we'd be making in the future.

Third thing you need is platform which means chiefly a place. I think of place as if they are parks.

Your platform can be physical like major city parks across the country (but make sure you don't annoy the mayor and chief of police).

Or your park can be virtual (the social tools of the moment are perfect here...).

Or it can be both.

It takes courage to open your park so everyone can play as they wish. But give it a rip. Keep out of the way. Your people will go all-in because they love to play.

A year ago we were fascinated watching how hundreds of Journos connected with each other around the topic of India.

Offers. Standards. Parks.

Do those three things well and you'll be in position to do four things every business needs to do: sell, grow, innovate, profit.

A year ago we had an "eee-gads" moment when we asked ourselves "Are there business partners in the world who would pay us to hang out in our parks?"

It took a few minutes to come up with a long list of global companies that would want to know about a park full of Journos working on India stories.

It took a couple weeks to get a handful of well-recognized names to show real interest.

Not bad for a little experiment.

Whatever you make of kids in parks these days, Occupy The Business Model is a vision worth a look.

As the would be Wizard in Oz once said, "It's as clear as the nose on my face."

--tim


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