There really are only two business models in the world and one of them is soon going to die.
A few months ago, we began a small tourism website for a famous lake close to where we live. Its close to Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, and it gets millions of visitors in the summer. The main website for the area has been around for 8/9 years and looks like it hasn’t been updated since. It is, to use one my favorite Americanisms, major-league ugly. It’s also covered with advertisements.
So we started a rival site and looked around for people who might want help us add content to the site.
First, we asked some local fishing guides if they’d like to give some fishing advice. We asked six. Two never replied but the other 4 wrote back and said, "sure". Every couple of weeks they email us with a couple of paragraphs about what fishing conditions on the lake are like, which corners of the lake are full of bass and what techniques will catch the most fish.
After the first few reports went up on the website, a couple of guides wrote back to say that they were getting more clients from the reports than from any of their paid advertisements. People were loving the information.
Next, we asked some realtors if they’d like to write a quick monthly report on the state of the lake’s housing market in exchange for free advertising. Although many are spending thousands a dollars a year on advertising, none of them could see the value in it. Without being cocky, I know they’ll come to regret that choice.
Why the big difference?
The whole Real Estate business model is built around out keeping information secret. Check out how Realtors are going to court to take Zillow.com offline in Arizona or how every major Realtor in the Nashville passed on the opportunity to advertise on Nashville.com, only to be buried by the one realtor that did.
Giving away information and including your advertising at the end is the best advertising in the world.
There really are only business two models:
- Give out information to attract customers
- Hoarde information to attract customers.
In the Internet age, only one of those has a viable future.