For hardcore business knowledge there's only one source: The Harvard Business Review. You'll find the brightest minds discussing some of the most forward-thinking business strategy you'll find anywhere. HBR is probably the biggest influence on my business strategy.
The January edition featured the CEO of Lazard, Bruce Wasserstein, in "The HBR Interview: Bruce Wasserstein on Giving Great Advice." He's brokered more than a thousand merger and acquisition deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars. If there's a person who knows business inside out, it's Wasserstein.
At one point in the interview he was asked what CEOs need to know to understand their business landscape. Wasserstein said, "Remind the CEO that corporations have to change in order to prosper and that inaction isn't prudent -- it's radical."
"Inaction isn't prudent -- it's radical."
That's a profound statement. Is the best move no move at all? The conservative road is the safe road. What if being careful is a faster road to extinction than being bold and taking action?
I was reminded of Wasserstein's advice while reading "Link Building Case Study for Luxury Hotels" by my Link Love cohort, Justilien Gaspard. In the "Build Links by Fighting Conventional Wisdom" section, Justilien gave the example of a hotel creating a mapping or review tool other hotels could use on their sites. In effect, helping the competition.
At Search Engine Strategies Chicago, Seth Godin was asked how a small diving school could stand out from the competition. Seth suggested becoming a diving association -- offer package trips, news, advice, and so forth.
Yesterday's News, Google Kiosks, and the Demise of Google
The mantra for the 21st century: To prosper you must change. The newspaper industry, for example, needs to change. They need to throw away the word "paper." They're the news all right (yesterday's news).
Organizations formerly known as "newspapers" need to be online social centers for their communities. They should have informational kiosks at restaurants, gas stations, and malls. They should be the Twitter and the Facebook of their community. Now they can't be those things because Twitter and Facebook have done it for them.
Google filed a patent last year for an interactive kiosk designed for shopping malls. Billboards and kiosks would display audio, video, or graphical ads, matching the ads with inventory in local malls. Haven't seen any Google kiosks yet, have you?
Google's online advertising market share will continue to erode because the world is passing them by. Local search will kill Google.
iTunes Puts Music Biz in Wooden Kimono
The music industry needs to change. Suing moms and kids isn't a successful hearts and minds marketing initiative. Music is moving to free. If they want to survive they will figure out how to compete in marketplace. Otherwise, iTunes will do it for them.
Every time the words "that won't work" come out of your mouth, you need to think again.
We're living in a peer-to-peer, decentralized world. That's the model you must adopt. If you don't, someone else will. The marketplace will reward those who change and adapt. The marketplace will punish those who feel it's prudent to do nothing.
"So what does this must do with linking, Sage?" It has everything to do with linking. If you want links to your site, you must do and be something others simply are not. You need to give something worthwhile to the Internet community.
Justilien gave the idea for hotels to consider a mapping and review tool other hotels could use. Here are some more ideas:
- Build a Web site that's the tourism center of your community. I assure you, you can do it better than what your community's already done.
- Shoot video reviews of all the hotels in your area. Give them away.
- Shoot free video reviews of all local restaurants.
Inaction isn't prudent -- it's radical. I'm here to tell you, business is nothing like it has been for the last 100 years. The Internet has changed everything for everyone. If you don't believe and act on that, you won't survive, plain and simple.
Who you are at the core of your business must reflect the changes of a decentralized marketplace. The customer is the controlling party who dictates how business should be run.
At the end of Justilien's column, he writes: "The question now: 'What user problems or issues can you solve for your particular industry?' Ask yourself: 'What are the linking opportunities? How can we capitalize on them?'"
When you change your business to reflect the new market, you can truly address the problems of your industry. Then you can develop a content strategy that goes to the heart of a well-run linking campaign.