August 27, 2005

Business Models Based on No Change

Should businesses that rely on predictable markets, cookie-cutter customers and time-proven marketing techniques blog? My business partner says probably not. I'd like to say he's not right. I tell him he's not right about 34 times a day, which is about three times short of how many times he tells me I'm not right. But who's counting.

He tells a recent story about our business:
Recently, we were working with a very large company on a potential blog. After much discussion, the executives decided that a blog was not appropriate for the company. And it was probably the right decision. The company is primarily a one-way communicator, and because of its business, cannot risk (or tolerate) much dissent or negative feedback--particularly in an open forum like a blog.
The thing is, most businesses believe that they can't weather negative feedback and would prefer to, given all options, opt-out of the conversation, which contains both negative and positive feedback--along with a lot of good jokes and some pretty tasty grafiks--that they could benefit from.

The conversation among self-publishers can go on pretty much as is without any voice from larger corporations. Markets are perfectly willing to chat amongst themselves. But I wonder if the same is true for large enterprises. Now, Big Tech almost has to blog at this point. Sun is doing it. IBM's doing it Scoble's doing it. If you're a big tech company, blogging's a mandate. You have to walk your talk.

But when it comes to large non-technology companies I wonder if it will take months, years, or if they'll be able to avoid participation altogether.

My aforementioned highly-ROI-focused and historically-successful business partner, Paul, sees opportunities for smaller, nimbler companies to take advantage of through blogging, especially as the old school enterprises are busy keeping their clothes clean of the blog mud:
It occurred to me that this is probably true of a great many larger/legacy enterprises. For them, there is little to be gained and much to be risked. So as far as communications goes, this company and others will generally have to rely on one-way communications like press releases, or "non public" feedback mechanisms like market research and customer satisfaction surveys.But for smaller companies (and those less risk averse) , the opportunities and advantages to blogging are great. While their larger competitors rely on one-way communications, they can acheive speed in their feedback loops through the immediacy of blogs.
That's a conversation he and I had the other day. Are there specific business models that should simply be reinforced against the blog hurricane? That are better served by barricading, hunkering down and waiting it out rather than evacuating business as usual?

Probably so--but you have to wonder if some might sustain serious damage because of it. And if some won't be able to weather this storm of change.