Heretofore, most business were founded on the idea of scarcity. Being the One and Only as Seth Godin describes.
If you’re the only vendor offering something, it used to be easy to make money. Just convince people you’re the only one that can solve their problem. Then surround yourself with huge barriers to entry while locking your customers in with fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Today, the only things remotely scarce are time and money.
Everything else, like mosquitos in August, are irritatingly abundant; news, exotic fruits, stylish furniture, spam, and reality television. Given the constraints of time and money, what you’re ignoring is as important (if not more so) as what you’re paying attention to. I’ve talked about this before in What Price Garbage Avoidance. I’m going to repeat something I originally wrote there:
“This filtering-out is why Tivo can charge a monthly subscription and why AOL is marketing themselves on virus, spam, and pop-up protection.”
As I’ve been refining Working Pathways’ purpose, ‘filtering out’ is a recurring theme.
Complete eradication (spam filtering) is one avenue. This approach keeps out anything that isn’t already known. Fine for short term, yet completely worthless for staying relevant. As I’ve written before, this is why podcasting was such a huge win for iPod listeners. It brings the unknown into a closed environment. Tivo’s recommendation engine, despite its drawbacks is a more interesting model – filter out things I don’t like, and continually and intelligently offer things I might like.
Today’s media environment is bigger than newspapers, radio, television, and magazines. It includes weblogs, video logs, podcasts, email, video games, satellite radio, DVDs, and SMS. No one can track everything that affects them all the time. Therefore, all of the messages we receive each day are worthless if they don’t answer 1 question:
- Why should I pay attention to this right now?
In a hotel concierge study I conducted a few years back, I learned the goal of a good concierge was to fulfill a guest’s need the moment before the guest acknowledged the need. We need more businesses founded on delivering the right information to the right people just before it’s needed.