What's it called when your customers rave about your products and show them to their friends and colleagues and encourage them to experience your products? Well, outside the world of the RIAA and the MPAA, it's called word-of-mouth advertising, testimonials, referral-marketing.
Were this industry to survey us, its customers, with the Ultimate Question Survey, they'd generate off the chart Net Promoter Scores, as long as the question focused on the product, the music, and not the industry itself.
Your passionate fans and high Net Promoter scores are generated despite horrible packaging on your part, customer relations managed by attorneys, a business-model run by accountants, and, at-best, an indifferent relationship with every distributor possible (think FM/AM radio, back when anyone listened to it).
So, high Net Promoter Scores, a customer-base who jumps through new technology hoops on a regular basis to experience and share your products and the results for you are....declining revenues and increasing lawsuits by you against everyone whose lives are touched by your product.
And, as your revenues drop, you become more strident in your efforts to remain control. Now, you're trying to make our ISPs be your enforcers and close down accounts of consumers who download your products and share them with others.* Wired: MPAA Negotiates with ISPs...
Brilliant. What part of out of touch isn't making sense to you? I'm humming the Stones' Out of Time...as I write.
( I trust you won't sue me for referencing your copyrighted material without permission)
Ok. Now in all fairness, any other business model with that kind of passionate customer-base would see rising revenues, not declining revenues.
So, what's different about yours? Answer that, and there's your revenue source.
Your product remains unique. That's what your customers want.
That's what they want to share. Well, they want to share their experiences with your product. (Reminder: that's free advertising for your product. See. Experiences are shared. Then people want the same experience for themselves. And then they share it with others...)
What's changed is your distribution system has become...commoditized.
Broadcast radio is ...not worth the words to describe it. By itself, I've grown to hate the music I grew up on. Until Clear Channel, etal, bought every station coast-to-coast, fired the DJs and their passion for music and replaced them with canned playlist so hits from 70's-80's and 90's can now be heard non-stop...coast-to-coast, border-to-border...broadcast radio was your distribution system.We loved it. Back in the day. Back so far it's hard to imagine broadcast radio having any meaning other than background noise in businesses.
Retail stores. Other than maybe Virgin record stores...who visits one now? And why? What's unique about them that's worth the travel and parking?
Packaging. My god!Have you tried to open one of your CD's in the past 10 years? You've turned what should be a celebration into an ordeal. By the time I break through your packaging to open the CD I've purchased....I don't want to listen.
Album art once was a cause for buying the album. At the very least, if the music was awful, you'd end up with at least a cool artwork you could discuss and marvel at.
And, if you didn't play guitar then either your playlist or the album covers were your only option with girls...back in the day. Hey.
Now, your attorneys have taken those options away. And they're trying to take away every option to share their experiences with your products.
So, the kids (your revenue source) have gone around you. They've created their own solutions. And they've created them at their expense, time and money. And they've done that with no help from you.
How cool is that?
You've done nothing to help us purchase your products. You've done nothing to help us with the expense of the technology required to experience your product. But you still insist we can't tell anyone about your product, nor share our experience with said product, even though without our investment in the new technology to be able to experience your product you would have ZERO revenues.
However, the good news is want your products so much, we won't let you interfere...Despite your efforts to interfere with us becoming your volunteer salesforce, despite your efforts to punish us with horrible packaging when we do pony up to buy a CD...we continue to innovate solutions to receive your product.
See where I'm headed? I'm headed to tell you what you should have known years ago:
We, your passionate, are your R&D department. We are your innovators and early-adoptors. And our expenses are borne by us. They're off-balance sheet, off P&L sheet and that's legal, for you, too!
What if you embraced us, worked WITH us, sought our counsel, listened to us? What if?
Here's a plan:
1. Check Your Assumptions.
- Ask yourself: what industry survives when it shuts the door to its customers, and uses armies of attorneys to attack their remaining customers who still seek out their products.
- The answer's obvious.
- Ask yourself: do I want to add my industry to this list?
- Of course, not.
- Ask yourself: what's the definition of insanity?
- Doing the same thing and expecting different results.
- Ask yourself: could you claim the insanity defense for your business model?
2. What should you do?
Do the exact opposite, in your case:
- Embrace your most passionate, dedicated, audience.
- Rather than attack us with attorneys, embrace our passion and dedication and creativity to remaining your customer.
3. First Seek to Understand.
The first step of embracing a stranger starts with understanding them. Ask your most passionate customers:
- Why are we so compelled to violate laws in order to share their experiences with your product?
- Why are we so dedicated in creating a constant stream of solutions to overcome your attorneys.
- Why have we generated a constant stream of innovations for over a decade to create a distribution system for your products that meet their needs?
- What can you do better?
- What if you invested 10% of your legal fees towards helping us with purchasing the latest digital technology that allows us to purchase your products? That might win you a few friends and loyal customers.
- What if you partnered with these device makers to create/offer something unique and wonderful for us? Code that eats CDs in an effort to prevent their copying....doesn't count.
Partner with your currently approved replacement for broadcast radio system.
Online, Web 2.0, resources like last.fm, blip.fm and Pandora and streaming internet radio stations.
(And, rather than help them, you threaten them with increased user fees...)
What if you worked WITH them to increase their traffic? That would result in more exposure for your products. More exposure leads to more sales.
What if you offered us exclusive content like:
- artist interviews
- new song release
- concert playlists
- concert videos
- live streaming concerts
- concerts only available to users of Pandora or Blip or iTunes?
5. Work with your customers' ISPs.
The ISPs are your friend. They are the ones delivering your products to your customers. Become the ISPs friend, not adversary. Make the ISPs look good to their customers (who are yours, also). Ask the ISP if you could speak with that user. You may have to ask 3-4 times. And be sure to explain you want to work WITH that customer you share with the ISP. And include the ISP in the discussion.
This is the New World Order. You're in the old world order where it was all about me. Now, it's about we. And we includes your new partners: customers and fans, ISPs and web 2.0 resources and technology.
We're moving from me to we. And that's about sharing the process of creating your products and the experiences for all of our new partners: customers, employees, vendors. In your case, MPAA and RIAA, it's about embracing your users as your innovation and R&D department. It's about recognizing which part of your business model has become commoditized and then leaving it. It's about using that volunteer R&D department to generate a steady stream of unique products and relationships with your customers.
Do that and you keep your industry.
Don't...and pretty soon you're out of time.