Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Analogue for a Digital World

I have a friend who was at a loose end. The answer to boredom was a start-up. I was at a loss to understand the business model. He would direct people to great products and services. He didn’t mind paying out in time and labour until he could think of a way to monetise the whole thing. He would have a bit of fun on the way too.

So, there on Oxford Street, he would stand with his sandwich board - tantalising images of exciting products. The tourists could drop him a dime for the entertainment, or just walk on. Most of them walked, but he kept telling them to visit Debenhams, shop at Selfridges or such. He couldn’t make them buy, but he did consider that there might be mileage in bringing friends in to push people in through through the shop doorways.

You would have thought the stores should have been happy. All that free marketing. All those potential saps with currency. All they had to do was to present products that these people wanted to buy. But that wasn’t the way they saw it at all. The shopkeepers wanted to be paid for the privilege of the sending customers to them. But his business didn't make any money for them to harvest.

Without revenues my friend has had to rethink and remodel. He is going to Fleet Street. Just along from where the newspapers used to be. He will buy a paper in the morning, shouting out the headline to people who are interested – and urge them to read the story in a real newspaper. This time he will pick content that is in the interests of his paying clients, and urge them too to read the papers. I hope he doesn’t get into trouble over this. Best however, if he checks it out first with the Newspaper Licensing Agency.

PS: OK, not quite, the links about to charged for go back to the client, but that is the gist of it. I am a blogger and I can send a reader to a newspaper for free. If I am a PR company and I have the throw weight to send many more customers I have to pay to do so!

For a clear exposition of how newspapers wish to charge for businesses sending links to clients you could always go to:
an unpaid link to Communicate where David Pugh for NLA and Kevin Taylor of CIPR, slug this one out.

The lithograph is one of many wonderful drawings of early 19th century London by George Scarf, including lots of street marketing. He died in 1860 and it should be safely out of copyright. If not, George can contact me at a time of his choosing.

No comments: