Realizing that Winning Isn’t Part of the Business Game
For most of us who are business owners or work for ourselves, we have been taught that business is like playing a game of Football. The object is to score goals and win. For all of the time that I have been doing online marketing, running websites, and developing various online projects, the game has always been about scoring and winning. For online sites, the normal definition of scoring is selling something, a t-shirt, a membership, a subscription, or some sort of physical goods. It goes all the way back to before the Amazon.com affiliate program, it’s all about reaching the goal of selling stuff.
I woke up a while back and realized that perhaps that whole thing is wrong. I have had a bubbling and sort of annoying set of thoughts in the back of my mind that have never really come together into one complete idea until very recently. Remarkably, it’s comments made by Mark Cuban that started me down this other path of thinking, and one that appears to be relatively clear.
The game has not changed. We are still playing football. The object of football is to score goals and win. However, the real goal in the business of football isn’t so much to win, as much as it is to put together a marketable product people want to see, and to sell those eyeballs to people who want to talk to them. You could in fact be the poorest performing team in the league, but with the right combination of marketing, promotion, presentation, attitude, and “visual stimulation” (think cheerleaders or the like) you can have a very successful business that will outlast and outlive those who win the league but fail to connect with their fans.
What that turns to in the web world is that websites (such as this one) are no longer about getting your attention to buy something, but rather to get your attention so that we can SELL that attention to someone else. It use to be called “monetizing eyeballs”, now it’s much more than that. It’s about engaging your fans and guiding them to the best resources and letting them chips land where they may, because those chips generally will be alright.
If we all get caught up in the idea of winning the game, we tend to forget that the real money isn’t made in winning, but in playing. Only a few championships in professional football (soccer) as an example, but the game supports to a lesser or greater degree some of the highest value professional sports teams in the world, and some of it’s highest paid athletes. By ratio, very few teams win championships, but almost all of them play in front of enough fans and with enough advertising to make a profit – or at least to maintain value. They don’t have to win to be a good business.
So the next time you get caught up in trying to win the game, just remember the winners may get the spoils, but the concession stands are where the real money is made.