Thursday, 4 September 2014

The pea in the banquet hall

I was chatting with a favourite client yesterday about the state of play with his nationwide website – one that he is keen to convert from a popular destination for everyone who is vaguely interested in the state of Britain’s rivers for fishing, boating, assessing rainfall and whatever else, to a site that does all this and also earns him money. He’s keen to turn a few of his almost 500,000 visitors each year into a means of income to support his very generous website for all visitors. We’re not talking about subscription here but ‘monetisation’.  

I used to shudder a little when I first heard the ‘m’ word. But it is very apt word. An analogy flicked into my mind as my client and I talked. I said to my client, “It’s as easy to monetise one’s doings on the internet as it is to find just the right pea in a banquet hall.”

I’ve long since realised that the internet creates masses of work but the return of one’s investment, costly in time and money, is difficult to measure and for everyone who makes money this way, thousands surely don’t, however hard they try.  

To monetise a new business idea is as likely to be as successful as it is to sell one’s ideas as they pop out and flow from one’s head in conversation. But the great thing about the internet is that it is as active as a million spiders with unmonetised ideas that spur forward the really good one or two catching webs per week or year.  Most new business ideas are like flies caught in the web: easy prey, easy born, easy gone. It is probably therefore better to have a successful or secure ‘physical’ business, from shop to service to factory, and then to use the internet as another selling channel via e-commerce and other routes.

There is no marketing possible on the internet until there is critical mass, and no critical mass unless there is a generous, non-moneyed approach by the website creator which forcefully generates organic and sometimes very gradual growth of interest, with some bits of viral coruscation to take the idea further.

Yet there cannot be organic growth without belief in what one’s doing and dedicated, unbelievable hard work to sustain the transmission of your great business idea. In the end though, if you know your market and keep your budget tight and really focus properly on selling something you know people will want because you’ve found a niche, you might well monetise. If you can bear my analogy, you need to shrink the plate before you grow the food so you can handle real growth.

I’m playing with this idea a bit. It is only a blog I’m doing and I certainly don’t make money from it at least I don’t know that to be the case.

Eventually the internet will be as fluid and all-encompassing as water, with as many channels to flow in. What then for monetising? At that point the pea shrinks as the banqueting hall grows unless we truly mean business. So let’s stop mucking about in the fountain and do something with purpose and energy in business; lay tracks, put in stations, build the train, take on the passengers. Focus on one direction, find the right plate, choose the pea; flick it out the window. 

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