Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Xer Meme - I Have Been Tagged

The social media maven of the association world, Maddie Grant, tagged me in her Xer meme.

Here is what Maddie asks:
So go on, tell me, my fellow Xers – Have YOU sold out? Have YOU gone mainstream? Or are we still the guerrilla army, changing the world (only without telling anyone)?

I don't necessarily think I, or we as Xers, have necessarily changed. I think the world around us has changed a lot in the last few years. It was a lot easier to be guerrilla on blogs, twitter and facebook then. We were just talking to ourselves and challenging the status quo. Now, my members and board members read my blog, follow my tweets, and friend me on facebook. We as Xers like to be subversive, but know to be responsible enough not to get fired.

Life is changing for us too. I am expecting a 2nd kid. Good Lord. When did that happen? I can't wax philosophical at happy hour and share great ideas about how to change the world. I need to be at home changing diapers and making dinner.

I still feel guerrilla. I don't feel mainstream. I may be an ED, but it is for an association I can shape. I call it the 40 year old start-up. My crazy ideas still hit me with the same regularity. They are just about different things as youth soccer is different than professional AV. Corporate memberships are different than families signing up their kids.

The world I am trying to change has shifted. I wouldn't call it selling out. Look up "Selling Out" on Wikipedia (cause that is what us Xers do) and it says: "Selling out" refers to the compromising of one's integrity, morality and principles in exchange for money, 'success' (however defined) or other personal gain. I haven't gotten any money or personal gain. Success is subjective. I don't feel I have compromised anything either. Things have just changed, as they always do with time.

I like to think of us Xers as being like fine wine - Better with age.

I am supposed to tag folks. I am not sure all these people blog, but oh well. I am an Xer and we don't like rules.

KiKi L'Italien
Scott Sherrin
Dave Sabol
Lynn Morton
David Gammel

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Principles of Abundance Thinking

In the book Free, Chris Anderson gives his 10 Principles of Abundance Thinking. I think associations should look at two of them very closely.

You can make money from Free.
People will pay to save time. People will pay to lower risk. People will pay for things they love. People will pay for status. People will pay if you make them (once they're hooked). There are countless ways to make money around Free. Free opens doors, reaching new consumers. It doesn't mean you can't charge some of them.

Sooner or later you will compete with Free.

Whether through cross-subsidies or software, somebody in your business is going to find a way to give away what you charge for. It may not be exactly the same thing, but the price discount of 100 percent may matter more. Your choice: Match that price and sell something else, or ensure that the differences in quality overcome the differences in price.

These two tenants are worth a board retreat weekend on their own. Is your association thinking about them? If not, they probably should be.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Free is Not Enough

Just ask Twitter, it is hard to make money off something that is Free, if it is the only thing you are doing. You have to have that other thing that makes your money: Premium version, service, etc.

But it does mean that Free is not enough. It also has to be matched with Paid. Just as King Gillette's free razors only made business sense paired with expensive blades, so will today's Web entrepreneurs have to invent not just products that people love but also those that they will pay for. Free may be the best price, but it can't be the only one.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Debunking the Myths of Free

Towards the end of the book, Anderson tries to debunk some myths or doubts of the free concept. I think he does a great job, except for the last one regarding Free driving out professionals in favor of amateurs.

But out of the bloodbath will come a new role for professional journalists. There may be more of them, not fewer, as the ability to participate in journalism extends beyond the credentialed halls of traditional media. But they may be paid far less, and for many it won't be a full-time job at all. Journalism as a profession will share the stage with journalism as an avocation. Meanwhile, others may use their skills to teach and organize amateurs to do a better job covering their own communities, becoming more editor/coach than writer. If so, leveraging the Free - paying people to get other people to write for nonmonetary rewards - may not be the enemy of professional journalist. Instead, it may be their salvation.

I actually agree with the first half of what he says. And as a publisher, I should defer to his experience. But I have a hard time believing that professional journalists will want to make their living off trying to organize amateurs, who aren't being paid, to put together a product that they can sell. Isn't that what associations are for?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Finishing Up Free

I am finishing up Chris Anderson's book Free, finally. The end of summer got me, but now I am catching up with my reading. A while back I posted on Starting Free vs. Going Free. Later in the book, Chris talks about it again.

Nobody thinks less of Facebook because it's free or longs for a Web browser that people are paying for. When something used to cost money and is now free, you might think less of it - a formerly hot club now letting in anyone gratis. But if something has always been free and there is no expectation otherwise, there's little evidence that people view it with less regard. Web sites are evaluated on their merits, and people have learned that a pay site is actually more likely to be rip-off than a free one, since it can steal more than just time.