We originally posted a version of this on our tech blog in May, but decided to share it with you again…
In Des Moines, IA it is tough to find good seafood and when you find a place that has it – you keep going back. Our place of choice is Waterfront, but as you can imagine, fresh seafood in Iowa costs a little more than it does on the coasts. So last week, we decided to try to make our favorite Waterfront cuisine ourselves at home.
To our surprise, Waterfront offers up their recipes on their website – in printable 4×6 recipe cards. They also have a market attached to the restaurant that sells fresh seafood daily.
Many businesses consider their recipes top secret – whether it be business processes, industry knowledge, or expertise. So why does a business like Waterfront embrace it? Why do they give out their recipes and all the means to make it yourself when their core business is to prepare and serve you food?
This act of giving away information is core to the Freemium business model. It is fundamental to the content strategies Doug and I discuss on our internet business podcast and is something I teach my clients when we discuss organic SEO. It’s the reason I blog, record a podcast, tweet industry details, etc. I give away my successful internet business recipes daily – but for what? Why give away something when I can have people to pay me for that knowledge?
Lets return to Waterfront… They give you a recipe and the ingredients – and send you on your way to make that delicious Halibut Royale that you’ve eaten in the restaraunt a number of times. Excitedly you arrive home and start cooking. As you work your way through the recipe you find it’s not as easy as you had thought. And when you finally pull it out of the oven and take the first bite – you realize it’s not near as good as it is in the restaraunt. So next time you get the craving for fresh seafood you will likely return to the restartaunt and purchase the expert-made halibut royale rather than attempting to prepare it yourself.
So I give away all my web strategy recipes. Some people will take them and run – never requiring my consulting services. But many will take the recipes and try to make them work themselves only to realize they aren’t cut out for it. Upon this realization who do you think they will return to? … the chef that gave them the recipe.
This principle forms a significant cornerstone in how we are changing our business in 2010. Do you give away your recipes? Let us know in the comments or jump into the forums.
Jeremiah Owyang maintains an ongoing blog post called “The Three Spheres of Web Strategy” (see below) which he is updating about every year. The original version of this post prompted our Web Strategy Basics video presentation with the hopes of building on these phases of Jeremiah’s outline into actionable blueprint for planning your own web strategy.
Here is Jeremiah’s updated “Three Spheres of Web Strategy”
And here is our Five Web Strategy Cornerstones – which we reference on any web strategy plan we create for clients at 48Web.
Technology forms the base of our web strategy plan. We encourage you use technology and the tools at your disposal to make it easy to create and manage your web presence. Don’t let technology be a road block when planning a web strategy. Use free and easy tools like WordPress that don’t dissuade you from creating but make it easy for you to use. Create automated systems that find and distribute content for you so you can become ultra-efficient at creating, distributing, and re-purposing value. Don’t waste your time managing technology either – use solutions like Google Apps & Analytics or Basecamp. Technology should be a tool in your web strategist belt – not something that needs babysat and hand held. Technology should be your facilitator – not a roadblock.
Community means everything. These are your customers, colleagues, friends, mentors, muse, fans, audience and readers. Cater and nurture them because the fruit of the reciprocity economy tastes delicious. You are nothing without them no matter how niche they are. Use technology to communicate and share with them while always adding value. Listen to what the community says – whether good or bad and insert yourself into the feedback loop. Listen, Listen, Listen for it’s not “if you build it they will come” – it’s build what people want and need. Don’t assume you know what your community wants – ask them.
Some call it inbound marketing – we call it content strategy. Either way the principle is simple – create valuable “stuff” and push it out to where people are “living”. Re-purpose as much content as possible into as many forms of consumption as possible. Create automated distribution strategies so your content outposts are thriving centers of communication and discussion. Killer content forms killer communities (see above). It’s a win/win situation – it just takes a little dedication and a simple technology infrastructure.
Take advantage of the ability to use technology to reach highly targeted demographics for pennies. Hone your PPC campaigns to create high ROI campaigns. Use Facebook ads to reach exactly who you want to target. Develop killer Search Engine Marketing campaigns to connect with buyers that have intent. Use internet marketing to not only sell more widgets but to push your content strategy and build your community. Everything in your web strategy is inter-related.
We save the most important for last – make data driven decisions. Track everything but don’t be caught up in paralysis by analysis. Take advantage of free and easy technology that allows you to test everything. Make goals and use data to measure and reach them.
What do YOU think? Do you have anything to add? Let us know in the comments or jump into the forums!
This may sound stupid – but make it a practice to subscribe to your own content… Here are five reasons why…
- If there is an issue with the syndication or delivery of the content you will find it as soon as possible
- If you made a grammatical error, you can fix it fast
- You can make sure it looks right (formatting, alignment, images) when it hits the RSS reader or email inbox
- Observing how your audience consumes your content gives insight in how to optimize it
- You can see how the subscription process works (ie what happens after you subscribe to our email newsletter?)
I’ve witnessed the benefits first hand many times. For instance, I found a bad formatting error in the email newsletter on my internet business podcast – luckily before we had built a subscriber base.
What other reasons should you subscribe to your own content? Let us know in the comments!