The Goal of Business is to Make a Profit

Robert Scoble is an A List speaker in the tech community. Despite plenty of experience I am closer to X or Y in the alphabet. One awkward subject with any speaking gig is arranging payment for expenses. Most of us have a job. We work. Work takes time. So time spent traveling (the majority) and speaking (the minority of the time on any given trip) is time spent away from billable work. Asking if money is available to fund the trip is the right thing to do. So this post is unfortunate.

I also like Robert’s shout-out to Ayn Rand (he doesn’t say that, my interp) from Scoble’s post:

It’s my responsibility to make PodTech make a profit. IT IS MY
POSSIBLE. And, yes, if there is money available to cover my expenses it

Now, as someone running a business I would likely encourage Robert to be even more direct. The goal of business is "to make a profit." Not control expenses, although that is part of making a profit.

Profit enables you to hire PEOPLE. People are the force that does good. People need to eat. Therefore you should pay them. Therefore you must make a profit, hire good people, let good people make a positive impact on society.

Internet & Software – US Advertising Outlook

A 50 page PDF Morgan Stanley Internet & Consumer Software Advertising Report. (via longstation)

The Summary of the US Internet Search Market (pg 18) states:

… Accelerating Migration of Media Content (including video) to the Web, Local and Mobile Initiatives, Rollout of Yahoo!’s Project Panama and the Initial Traction from Microsoft’s AdCenter Could Drive Growth Re-acceleration in 2007

I am not sure "Re-acceleration" is a word. And I added the emphasis. And they qualify it with "could". Yet I believe what they are saying. Our little company is up significantly again in 2006 and the year isn’t over yet!

The report is full of noted gaps as shown in the graph top right of this post. And the stated gap between revenue from classifieds off line and online.

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Only Services in an Online World – the copybot cometh

Running a primarily web based biz I spend a lot of time reading and studying economics. Not the formula laden macroeconomics studies, but the real world version. How do we help our clients make a profit while we also make a profit to pay our people more. That version. So I find the copybot threat to product sales in Second Life very interesting. (SL is a virtual world where people interact).

CopyBot Roils SecondLife Economy

… Somebody in SecondLife, a popular multiplayer virtual world, created a
gadget called the CopyBot, which can make a perfect copy of any object
in the SecondLife world. (Here’s a Reuters story.)  This raises some interesting technical issues, but I want to focus today on how it effects SecondLife’s economy.

and O’Reilly’s restates the summary in his post on copybot (where I saw this first) as:

Raph’s conclusion is that infinite copying should be accepted as part
of the online world and products can’t be businesses, only services.

and from the reuters story, Revolution (who offered copies of copybot for sale) suggests this economic revision to your business plan

“Even if I pull this program, plenty of other people out there have it
or have the knowledge to create something bigger and better,“
Revolution added. “My advice is to offer the whole package when you
sell something. Don’t just offer a couch, but a couch that has several
custom poses “¦ work one-on-one with people to create unique things, and
offer customization services instead of throwing up some prims for sale
and forgetting about it.“

Not sure where this is all going, but it will be interesting to watch. And now I will go back to selling services. (note – I emphasized the word "services" in both quotes).

Join, Recruit, or Retreat

Several years ago many folks, including me, were consistently encouraging people to "join the conversation". People were using different words, I personally still like to talk about the importance of distributed authoring.

Yet from all of my public speaking lately for PRSA and IABC chapters in Florida, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and most recently Arizona, I find myself recommending more and more to recruit.

The field is so new and training to understand the social norms of the Internet takes time. Like learning a professional sport except the pay isn’t the same. Learning is important, but I firmly believe it does not obviate the need to recruit. Find the good ones in college and get them on board. Or study like crazy.

Better yet, both.

Yahoo! Peanut Butter Manifesto

I love reading the thoughts of a leader like Brad Garlinghouse. Especially a leader willing to state what is obvious yet uncomfortable. Obvious, courageous and still unspoken internally.

If you are in the tech sector and in a leadership position (or aspire to such), please do read the Yahoo! peanut butter manifesto. From ypbm:

We have lost our passion to win. Far too many employees are "phoning"
it in, lacking the passion and commitment to be a part of the solution.


There are three pillars to my plan:

  1. Focus the vision.
  2. Restore accountability and clarity of ownership
  3. Execute a radical reorganization.

Via Liz Gannes at GigaOM.

Great PR Promotion for Element 21 Golf

Creativity at its best:

Cosmonaut to tee up for monster orbital golf shot

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – Never mind that he has played
golf only twice in his life. Next week the Russian flight engineer
aboard the International Space Station will hit a drive that even Tiger
Woods couldn’t match.

Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin plans to begin a
spacewalk set for Wednesday evening by knocking a lightweight golf ball
off a tee placed on the top of the Russian docking port.

…Club maker Element 21 Golf Co. of Toronto is paying the Russians an
undisclosed amount for Tyurin’s time, which included plenty of practice
swings aboard the space station.

And on their site they have "golf in space".

On the flip side – Element 21 really needs a Title tag on their web page. But that is another not so newsworthy story.

PR on a Budget by Len Saffir is out

Len Saffir’s latest book PR on a Budget is out and I just got my copy from Amazon. Len is the author of Power Public Relations and this is his latest release.

I should also mention that I am quoted in the Internet Public Relations chapter of the book. So consider this a plug. <grin> Upon arrival I had a few moments of running around the office saying "yea, I made it into an index!" And then I remembered that scene from the jerk. So I stopped.

I’ll be diving in to my copy and follow up. Thanks for another contribution to the public relations industry Mr. Saffir!

Second Life and Public Relations

  day 5_014 
  Originally uploaded by RubyJi.

Second Life seems to be all over my bloglines feeds lately.

Second Life is a virtual world where you become an avatar of your choosing and virtually/physically interact. While it looks like tremendous fun, I have been quite busy with first life and have yet to sign up for SL.

The fact that companies like Electric Sheep are making a living building virtual islands and virtual buildings for major brands makes this noteworthy. It does have a certain bubble feel.

It should be noted that mainstream media reporters are not excited about having to login to a virtual world to view your product announcement.

The photo is from RubyJ and shows very real topics being discussed. That is cool.

Texas Tech and Alabama Waste Millions Suing Supporters

Texas Tech and Alabama have both lost all understanding of marketing fundamentals. Based on this lack of knowledge they are charging forward wasting millions of Alumni dollars. So in order I’ll cover the bone-headed-ness and then why it is bone headed.

  1. The University of Alabama is suing an artist who depicts football games in his art work.

    Mr. Moore’s paintings, reproduced in prints and on merchandise,
    violated the university’s trademark rights, the suit said. It asked a
    federal judge to forbid him to, among other things, use the
    university’s “famous crimson and white color scheme.“

    (NYT article via BoingBoing)

  2. Texas Tech on the other hand is suing a bookstore for selling T-shirts about Texas Tech with words like "Raider Land" and such. From the press release:

    “We regret having to make the choice to file a lawsuit against Red
    Raider Outfitters.  Texas Tech never wants to find itself in the
    position of suing a local business owner.  In this case, however, we
    believe Red Raider Outfitters forced us to take actions to protect our
    marks.  Raider Red, Wreck “˜em Tech, Raiderland and many other symbols
    and phrases are important parts of the spirit and image of Texas Tech.
    We took this action not only to protect our trademark but also to
    protect licensed vendors who properly pay royalty fees to produce Texas
    Tech merchandise,“ said Craig Wells, Texas Tech Senior Associate AD.

    They are also prevented from using the trademarked "Texas Tech’s well known scarlet-and-black color scheme"

    (via Keeney PR a schipul client but not for this issue)

OK, it is possible for reasonable people to disagree so let me start with where I am coming from. After the jump….

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Dr. Robert Gates Creative Commons Photo

  Dr. Robert Gates 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul.

Yesterday while travelling my blackberry clicked in with news of Rumsfeld’s resignation. Then of the nomination of Robert Gates. Then a creative commons request by NowPublic to use a photo I took of Dr. Gates three weeks ago while at the Aggie 100 awards in College Station.

These are of course very serious matters. And the Internet is a very funny place. A photo that was just a photo, because it was posted with a creative commons license and tagged, turned into a PR opportunity. Both for this flickr stream and hopefully also our company ( which pays the bills).

So there it is. Random creative commons karma.

Target PR Disaster on Accessibility Hits the NYT

Saw this one coming – NYT piece on Target Corporation (TGT) and their fight with the National Federation of the Blind.

the Rights of the Disabled Extend to the Blind on the Web?


ACCORDING to an advocacy group,  Target
declined last year to make its Web site fully accessible to blind
people with specialized screen-reading technology last year. If true “”
and Target has denied the accusation in court “” it was a public
relations blunder, and it may have been illegal as well.

Maybe now Target’s CEO will ask the lawyers to stop being the voice of the company? Just a bad public relations idea.

And on that note I did see a full page "we do good stuff corporate ad" from Target in the Houston Chronicle this weekend. So it sounds like they timed it to hit along with the piece in the NYT.

Again – Target needs to do this, make their web site accessible, because it is the right thing to do. Please tell the lawyers to stop. And get a new PR agency. Or listen to the one you have. Arrrrgh.

What will happen next? Someone will point out that CNN is barely accessible. Snark.

When MySpace Gets Too Big… the Rebellion Begins

The WSJ ran an article called MySpace, ByeSpace? discussing people opting-out of the online mega-social-network-portal. The report notes slowing growth and even a reported decline at some of the social networking sites. From the article:

After Ms. Thompson created a MySpace page two years
ago, she found herself sifting through dozens of requests daily from
would-be acquaintances seeking to link to her page. By early this year,
she’d amassed 4,000 such "friends," most of them strangers. Many
flooded her page with remarks like "omg" — shorthand for "oh my god"
— "you’re so beautiful." By June, Ms. Thompson, who resides in New
London, Conn., was sick of the comments and posted a farewell ode
before deleting her page:

"good bye myspace.I’ve always hated you.I just never had what it took to leave"

Ms. Thompson belongs to a fringe of Internet users now
renouncing MySpace and other social-networking sites — not in spite of
their popularity, but because of it.

And it backs it up with some data like a good newspaper should

Both MySpace and Facebook lost visitors in September, according to
Nielsen/NetRatings, a Web-tracking service. The number of unique U.S.
visitors at MySpace fell 4% to 47.2 million from 49.2 million in
August, and the number of visitors to Facebook fell 12% to 7.8 million
from 8.9 million.

Perhaps most predictably for social software sites with an invite/reply method, the article also notes the emergence of spam. Spammers affect software design. More specifically they kill open systems so the designer must focus on defending the user.

Continue reading “When MySpace Gets Too Big… the Rebellion Begins”