Category Archives: Long Tail

Netflix and Amazon customers are zooming past an inflection point

An inflection point is a term from calculus. It’s a place where a charted curve changes direction. Inflection points make interesting charts. They can also be harrowing for passengers zooming along the curve, hanging on for dear life. Just ask today’s struggling newspapers, publishing houses and record labels. Many would tell you that passing an inflection point is as fun as passing a kidney stone, only it takes longer. But the worst of a harrowing ride may be close to over.

At least for two industries, we may finally be rounding the midway point between mostly analog and mostly digital.

Let’s start with Netflix. I was struck earlier this year to learn that a majority of all Netflix subscribers have streamed at least some content online within the month. This is huge.

True, the delivery of DVDs to customers’ mailboxes is already partly digital. The first “D” in DVD is “Digital.” But reliance on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver those digital packages is fraught with expense and inefficiency; Expensive, because —  to quote Jeff Jarvis — atoms are a drag. And inefficient, because you need a physical warehouse of disks. Only a finite number  of people can watch the same film on the same day.

Then, earlier this week, I read that Amazon is now selling more e-books than hardcovers. The speed of this shift to reading on Kindles, iPads and other e-readers is a surprise even to those who should know better. Amazon says they now sell 180 e-books for every 100 hardcover books. A few months ago it was only 143 for every 100!

This is even more astonishing when you take into account that, according this New York Times article, “Amazon has 630,000 Kindle books, a small fraction of the millions of books sold on the site.”

Change is painful. But the worst pain is cyclical.

Sometimes it feels like the world is racing to a terrible future — similar to the ancient world maps where waters on the outer fringes had sober warnings of sea monsters. But at least from a cultural / technological perspective, call me an optimist. (I don’t speak here of the world’s geopolitical or ecological fate, and don’t get me started!)

I believe the voyage around this and similar inflection points is taking us to a pretty cool place. We just need to hold on tight and be prepared when we hit land. The other side of this curve will be as brimming with opportunity as it is different from the world we know now.

Thriving in a hashtag economy

Kudos to photographer Matt Mason for providing these photos. Click to see the gallery

A question about using social media arose this morning — one that I only had time to half-answer. I was on a panel at a Milwaukee Social Media Breakfast (#SMBmke). The question (to paraphrase): “I don’t sell a sexy product. I’m a business that sells to other businesses something that they need. But they don’t necessarily blog about it or tweet about it. Can social media support my goal of lead generation?” I said yes. Below is the second half of my answer.

I did mention The Long Tail. Click through that link to learn what that is. And if you do, think about that link. Jeff Jarvis coined the phrase link economy. Chris Anderson coined the phrase the long tail. I propose a new coinage: the hashtag economy.

The long tail is the book, and the concept, about how niche markets find what they need in a world this isn’t hindered by the economics of brick-and-mortar. There are no carrying costs associated with iTunes offering one more song that just happens to be obscure. Their inventory is limited only by digital storage costs and the bandwidth necessary to deliver the song when someone buys it.

The link economy uses this free, or nearly free, paradigm. It cost me nothing to create the link that pointed readers to an explanation of The Long Tail. The link led to Wikipedia. There again, the power of almost-free. This crowd-sourced encyclopedia saw the most minuscule of incremental costs to provide you with that definition.

The upshot is this. Since we are rewarded nearly every time we click on a link, we do it more often. That generates something that very often can be monetized: Significant volumes of traffic.

Smart businesses — such as the publishers of Wired Magazine and Anderson’s book — leverage this link economy to sell more books. And they leverage The Long Tail Phenomenon in the very sale of a book about the long tail; Anderson’s book might never have become a best-seller if it hadn’t been offered in a virtual bookstore like Amazon first. His readers might have simply been just too darned “niche” to persuade bricks-and-mortar book stores to stock it in their shelves.

Scott Baitinger, co-owner of Streetza Pizza, and I were talking about niche marketing earlier this week. I complimented him on his use of Twitter Hashtags to find a narrow group and to market to them. That narrow group is @FitMKE. Scott has been peddling his pizzas to this group by tweeting to them with the #FitMKE hashtag.

Analog broadcast channels (those based on radio / television wave frequencies) are valuable enough that they are regulated by the government. There are rules about what businesses must do to earn their right to be there (e.g., public service announcements and public-oriented programming). Things that are scarce have value, and these channels are no exception. A recent auction of analog broadcast channels garnered bids in the many millions of dollars.

Twitter handles are not limited by the spectrum of a radio or television broadcast frequency. If I auctioned off my Twitter handle, I would get zero bids. Why? Everyone who knows anything about Twitter knows you can create accounts limited only by the nearly infinite combinations of letters and numbers.

This makes Twitter a spectrum of a nearly infinite number of nearly-free channels. It draws lots of people because it is so cheap and teeming with variety. It uses both the long tail and the link economy.

Increasingly, Twitter is also spawning communities of likeminded people around hashtags. One example of #SMBmke. Another, ironically, is #MKElikemind (another breakfast group — here’s the info on my blog). Scott, and @StreetzPizza, found #fitMKE to be a channel to narrow-cast his offer of healthy pizzas (and also indulgent pizzas, since — hey — you have to be getting fit to enjoy life, don’t you?).

The Hashtag Economy is one way smart marketers are finding their niche audience within the cacauphony of other channels. They’re tuning in, conversing, and doing business there.

Here’s a challenge, especially for my friends (old and new) who attended this morning’s breakfast: What hashtag conversations have you been a part of? And how have they improved your life and work? More important: What business relationships have formed from them?

Related posts:

Also mentioned:

Photo credit: Matt Mason, photographer

Tonight only, at a theater near you: the podcast innovators of Rifftrax

Anyone who has followed this blog long enough knows that I am fascinated by how entrepreneurs have attempted to make money with podcasts. For a moment, forget about news publishers, or those focused on b-to-b lead generation or working on a non-profit model like NPR. I’m talking about pay for product — and your product is a podcast. I’d even eliminate Audible.com — the spoken word bookseller — from my list, because they sell their content by subscription instead of purchase by the podcast.

I found one business a few years ago that fits my rigid, purely retail requirements. They sell what has to be one of the most novel applications of a podcast. Rifftrax started their business by selling podcasts that only have value when listened to while watching a movie.

The company has since morphed and grown. I now see that Rifftrax is testing live events “rebroadcast” in movie theaters. Below is an ad for a screening that’s taking place all over the country, tonight, of what I’m sure is a very funny version of the world’s worst film: Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Rifftrax at a theater near you!

I will be intrigued to see how this national screening takes hold. When I went into the site of NCM Fathom, their apparent partner in this event, I saw that a good dozen theaters within the Metro Milwaukee area are showing the film. If any of my readers attend the event, contact me or leave a comment. I’ll be intrigued to learn how it went, and if this may be the first instance where a podcast business has spawned a theatrical film series.

Full disclosure: When I wrote my first blog about Rifftrax, they sent me a $10 eCoupon to encourage me to select a podcast or two for a Rifftrax party I was throwing. I paid for the download instead and gave away the gift as a prize in a subsequent reader contest.

Watching Twitter sell things like pizza and beer

Most online marketers recognize Twitter’s power to connect people. This virtual network is great for many B2B marketing types. In some ways Twitter — and microblogging in general — is the new Power To Get In. But what about driving consumer business? And here I’m not talking about ephemeral branding. I’m talking about getting people to your business with money in hand.

Last night I got a few answers.

Among other marketing innovators, I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Woelfle, owner of Blatz Liquor. He was co-hosting a Tweetup in collaboration with JSOnline.com. He contends microblogging has produced tangible results.

Last month Journal Sentinel business writer Tannette Elie (@Telie) cited Woelfle as saying that Facebook is responsible for 10% of his sales. This, he explained, was primarily through the soft-sell of publicizing wine- and beer-tasting events.

One tenth of a “bricks-and-mortar” retailer’s business attributed to Facebook? It seemed a lofty claim, but when I asked Joe earlier today if he would revise that estimate, he said only to throw his newest tactic — Twitter — into that mix.

The wall-to-wall turnout at the event last night certainly suggested that Twitter was powerful at something. But what? Skeptics would say you could use plenty of other methods to spread the word about a free event at a beer, wine and liquor store — one that included plenty of liberally-poured product samples!

Time will tell how effective @BlatzLiquor‘s Twitter efforts are at growing real sales and loyalty. But in the meantime, someone else at the Tweetup has a Twitter-fueled business already road-tested by other entrepreneurs.

Korean BBQ Tacos and Pizza By The Slice

Scott Baitinger is co-owner of Streetza Pizza (@StreetzaPizza). I was excited about connecting with him for two reasons:

  1. His business just had its official launch this Memorial Day weekend and I was eager to find out how it went
  2. Scott’s business is a glimpse at a promising future for retail — for everyone from food vendors to dry cleaners to banks

Streetza’s business model uses Twitter to tell hungry customers where its truck will be parked next. It even polls followers on questions such as future locations and product offerings. I wrote about this business model — this promising taste of the Web 3.0 world — last week. It was in a SOHOBizTube article. In that piece, I cited the wildly successful Zogi BBQ, a Los Angeles purveyor of “Korean tacos” that informs its tens of thousands of Twitter followers (@KogiBBQ) where it will be next.

As odd as it sounds, these customer-centric Tweets are truly a taste of things to come.

That’s because the next meaningful digital innovations won’t provide consumers with cooler web sites and more content. They will be mobile applications that provide exactly the content we crave, talking to us when we are physically in a place to scratch the itch.

The future of the web is about place. And like Kogi, Streetza Pizza, in sleepy little Milwaukee, will be leading us there one slice at a time.


Social Media 101: Get your feet wet with Facebook

This morning I was part of a panel discussion, talking to the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Insider Breakfast, held at The University Club. The topic was social media. One of the questions from the audience was (to paraphrase), “I know of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., but the only one I am a member of is LinkedIn — and I barely know how to use that. How do I prioritize as I get my feet wet in them?” Panelists had varying opinions, but I opted for a one-word answer: Facebook.

Facebook announce this week it's becoming more like Twitter. Click to via a larger graphic

Start with Facebook, I advised.

Others, notably GMC president Julia Taylor (whose Twitter presence is @JHTaylor) and Cd Vann (@ThatWoman_SOHO), “participating visionary” of SOHO|biztube.com, disagreed. They leaned more toward Twitter as a place to start. As much as I enjoy Twitter, and find it invaluable in my consulting business, I rarely suggest a client start there as a way to understand the experience. Here are my reasons:

4 Reasons Why Facebook Is A Better Set of Training Wheels

  1. Twitter is too scary — Three weeks ago NY Times tech columnist David Pogue finally dipped his own toe into the waters of Twitter. Pogue began the column by saying, “I’m supposed to be on top of what’s new in tech, but there’s just too much, too fast; it’s like drinking from a fire hose. I can only imagine how hopeless a task it must be for everyone else.” This was his apology for being a “geek” and not being willing to face the ugly, 140-character beast that is Twitter. I feel for him. But more importantly, I feel for the clients who have to learn the arcane nomenclature of “re-tweets,” hash-tags and Twitter agents. When the panel discussion was over, I confided to Mary McCormick of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee that mere mention of Twitter causes most of my clients to go into spasms. I wouldn’t knowlingly wish that on anyone!
  2. Twitter is too amorphous — The same quality that makes Twitter so popular also makes it a little too much like a multi-faceted, super-charged desktop application (think Excel) that is daunting specifically because it is so versatile. I find myself using Twitter for a lot of things, and this versatility can lead to early abandonment and disappointment (read the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less for how this veritable banquet we face can be psychologically overwhelming).
  3. Facebook lowers the chance of a “crappy first experience”Robert Scoble wrote that there is a barrier we’re facing today. It’s a “new digital divide.” The divide is between the folks who can swim easily in the social network pool and the “normal” people who refuse to or are afraid to dive in. Scoble writes that when these normal people get into a social network, “they enter a pretty lame environment since there are no friends … The first experience is a real crappy experience, since there’s no input. And it’s all about input from other users.” Facebook is more helpful than Twitter, and it’s easier to find a group of folks you can immediately “friend.” They can help you, and reduce the crap risk significantly.
  4. Facebook is becoming more like Twitter by the week — Just this week Facebook announced new changes to their interface. They make this social networking site, which already has a version of “tweets” in their mini-feed feature, even more like its competitor for user attention and participation.

I think all of us on the panel would agree that if you are a business leader, you need to start personally leaping the chasm — the digital divide — to get a feel for the new communication medium. You need to give social media a try. If you choose Facebook, I’m here. If it’s Twitter, I’ll see you there too, at @TheLarch!

Designing an application around consumer behavior

A recent post on Experience Matters offered a great example of how you can design a user experience around an existing need. Their example is YouTube:

  1. Consumer Need: The ability to share themselves with potentially millions of others through site and sound.
  2. Augment Behavior to include Brand: In the case of YouTube … perhaps the best use of this network was not for a brand to spread its own content, but help consumers share their own. After all, the initial consumer need identified above was the desire for consumers to share themselves with the masses. Wouldn’t it make more sense to empower them in continuing this behavior rather than competing against them? If successful, this takes the process full circle and makes the brand-infused behavior become part of the original consumer need.
  3. Why is this behavior occurring?: YouTube made video distribution easier (on a mass scale) than ever before. It didn’t require hosting a server or website, or being isolated to sending your large files across flaky channels. From a content consumer perspective, YouTube and sites like it offer the depth and variety that professional producers simply cannot match. The quality (for now) of the content is obviously not comparable but consumers are willing to look past it because the content is original, very controllable, and often more personal.
  4. Consumer Behavior: Millions of people are uploading their thoughts, talents, and parodies onto a video sharing network. Even more millions of people are watching those videos (the majority of which are user generated, not professional).

They call this reverse engineering. But really, it’s simply finding a need and filling it in a unique and viral way. Major online successes are the clearest examples to describe this process because their imprint is so deep and the applications are so new and different from the status quo. Here’s another example:

The Birth of Amazon

Jeff Bezos set out to make an e-commerce site. Period. He reverse-engineered from a fundamental desire to buy something in your underwear (so to speak) and not to buy books. It turns out that books simply met the right criteria for ease of warehousing and shipping. Also, books were searchable in a vast and accurate — but, before Amazon, difficult to access — database.

The success of both of these examples is obvious. Len Kendall of Experience Matters defines success this way:When a brand can improve or change a consumer’s behavior so it still satisfies their initial needs.”

He goes on to say that a really big success is when a brand can radically change consumer behavior in a way that makes it virtually inseparable from the initial need.

The Killer App For Your Brand

What is the fundamental need that your audience wants to fill? How can you satisfy that need with your brand and some unique technology?

As an experiment, I tried this reverse engineering exercise with a brand that seems the very antithesis of high-tech. Next week I’ll reveal the brand and the solution.

Are widgets today’s ad specialties?

In a prior life I worked in direct response. My clients were mostly healthcare organizations — hospitals, physician groups and health plans. They used magnets. Lots of them. Not in their MRI devices, mind you. I worked with healthcare marketing departments.

No, these were refrigerator magnets. Magnets such as these:

Not very sexy, huh? Believe me, I tried to break my clients’ addiction to the things. I mean really!

Keeping Your Brand Top-of-mind

But I finally conceded that if you are selling a service that on any given day no one wants (no one, that is, except independently wealthy hypochondriacs), you need to have your brand nearby. Should the need suddenly arise, you want your brand to be the one consumers think about.

It’s not such a bad idea to be somewhere hard to ignore … such as on the door people swing open several times a day.

I eventually resigned myself to my career as a peddler of refrigerator magnets. My project managers were in frequent contact with our fridge magnet vendor, Magnets, LLC (above are examples pulled from their online catalog). Post cards we bulk mailed to targeted regions around our clients crackled with magnetism and hackneyed slogans.

Back then I would quip that if the physical law of magnetism was repealed, all of healthcare marketing would grind to a halt.

Then I joined the online world and mostly forgot all about these give-aways. Until yesterday.

This week Bob Garfield, in an Ad Age piece, compared online widgets to these lowly trinkets. Here’s an excerpt (emphasis mine):

For the past half-century (and for about five more minutes) TV advertising has been at the apex of marketing communications. Then, in no particular order, newspapers, magazines, radio, out of home, direct mail, point of purchase, collateral (brochures, for example) and — in the murky, mucky darkness at the very bottom of the deepest abyss of marketing prestige — advertising specialties.

For example, a ballpoint pen emblazoned with your insurance agent’s logo. Or a wall calendar, fridge magnet, coffee mug, yardstick, foam beer-can sleeve, ashtray, key fob, emery board, pocket diary — any cheap giveaway item meant to remind the consumer of you every single time she measures fabric or swigs a Pabst or files her nails …

In a digital world, advertising specialties are as analog as you can possibly get. Until they go digital.

Branded widgets are the refrigerator magnets of the Brave New World.

Say it ain’t so! Is someone playing a cruel joke?

Describing widgets, Garfield puts a finer point on his argument: “These compact, portable little software apps — from video players to countdown clocks to makeup simulators — are inexpensive to distribute, free to the user and (often enough) distinctly useful.”

That’s true. Just like ad specialties. They also remain, often, in front of a consumer until a need for the brand arises. “At a minimum,” Garfield states, “they carry an ad message wherever they go.”

He said “At a minimum.” There’s my loophole. This is what will restore me to respectability! Although Garfield says they are “distinctly useful,” he neglects to say just how useful. No one can argue that a fridge magnet can hold up a parent permission slip or shopping list, but did one ever report back to the advertiser about consumers’ aggregate kitchen behavior?

The best widgets, like the ones my team produces (either the freestanding web apps, or the Facebook games and calculators that are deep into our development queue now), do far more than simply justify their existence on a social media profile page or blog entry.

Because a widget can interact with consumers, and since we can attach precise web metrics to them, widgets can do valuable marketing work such as:

  • Pre-qualify prospects through calculators and configurators
  • Enlist customers in sharing your message with others who may also be prospects
  • Display and play user-generated content appealing to long tail interests
  • Entertain!

This last one is a biggy. Because, unlike refrigerator magnets, people actually want to pass along widgets. This may seem like a small thing to you, but this morning, it’s causing me to hold my head a little higher. I am no mere peddler of digital chochkees.

Watching Bezos: The future of books can be traced in acquisitions

Yesterday fellow blogger Ron Shevlin published an open letter to Jeff Bezos, proposing that Amazon should start giving away Kindles. He proposed that giving away their ebook device would be offset by the incremental ebooks they’d then sell, in a similar way to giving away razors as a way to sell high-margin blades.

I’m of the opinion that, unlink razors, ebooks are too much of a niche product to take off in any scalable way. It was author and blogger Nick Hornby who helped me see the light, when he pointed out that an ebook is a high-tech solution solving problems for a largely low-tech market segment.

Social Networks for Book Lovers

Instead, I think the future of publishing — regardless of whether the ink is real or virtual — will be better advanced through social networks designed for those passionate about books. Notably, I’ve been tracking Goodreads, and the 18-month-old Shelfari.

Jeff Bezos has been watching as well. Today we learn that Amazon just acquired Shelfari, three weeks after acquiring another competitor in the space, AbeBooks.

It’s a shrewd move for Amazon to shift more marketing dollars toward online social networks. If only for this reason: As true book lovers become more of a rarity, the urge for them to congregate will grow.

Long before the day when book lovers warm to a digital book, they will welcome a digital way to connect with other readers.

Facebook direct response ads prove how little has changed

It’s a common theme among direct marketers: There is little that actually changes as new media spring up and ads adapt to them. Take Facebook. As David Berkowitz discussed in his post today (and also in his MediaPost piece), an ad series that targets people based on their gender and age is making the rounds. And getting a lot of scrutiny. I had seen another version of it last week, and had mentioned it to him via Twitter. (Thanks for the mention, David.)

Significantly, this ad series wasn’t showing when I just visited a few moment ago, nor could I find in on the More Ads page of Facebook. Coincidence?

Here is the ad in context -- circa April, 2008Way back on April 9 this ad series first captured my attention, although at the time it wasn’t testing headlines customized to age and gender, as this newest batch does. At the time I made a number of screen captures, and took some notes, but didn’t blog about it then.

Now this latest twist (featuring headlines such as, “29 Yr Male Overweight?“) is a great chance to share my research into the advertisement — especially for those readers who first caught David’s post and wondered how the subsequent user experience plays out.

The answer is it’s very old school, with some shrewd modern touches.

Like the best print ads of the direct response print ad “Golden Age” (somewhere between the 1960’s and the 1980’s, I’d venture to guess), it is a carefully tuned conversion engine, as well as a massive blight on the advertising landscape.

The ad itself had the headline “Get Ripped.” The photo is smaller than the new versions, but the copy is written with the same economy and obvious care. When you click though to it, you see a page that is incredibly busy, with three different fonts and primary colors, and a ton going on. (Click to open it full size in a new window).

An AJAX layer offers a clever YouTube video player (I don’t recall checking to see if it was truly pulling from YouTube, or was residing on the advertiser’s server — but I’m guessing the advertisers were not counting on YouTube’s cooperation, and this was indeed locally streamed).

Folks who wouldn’t know better would assume this ad is a loser. “Who could possibly respond to something this schlocky?,” they might ask. My answer would be that, like the pattern on the carpeting of a Las Vegas casino floor, everything about it is there for a reason. And it’s all there because it’s effective, as proven over time, with much testing.

But Wait!

The best part for me is shown below. When I tried to close the window, I got a fake system message saying, “Hey Wait!” It goes on to say a live agent would like to give me a “last-minute saving,” Okay then. Points for persistence.

A clever way to stop people from leaving

What do you think of this surprisingly old-fashioned approach? Do you think it will work — with, or even without — the age / gender personalized headlines?

Podcasts and the public radio revenue model

On Monday Ira Glass posted the message below on the web home of his outstanding This American Life radio program. He faces a common multi-channel marketing challenge. In his case, it’s this: How do you keep a version of your radio show available on the web for free, but also not tick off the public radio affiliates who pay a lot of money to run the programming over their airwaves (and consequently receive more donations from listeners come pledge time).

I’ve listened to the podcasts since they’ve been made available in MP3 format, and it’s been fascinating to track the various “we need your financial support” pitches proceeding and concluding the podcast episodes. He was initially asking for support of the originating radio station. Now, as the following makes clear, it’s time to subsidize this channel of distribution as well.

Help Keep Our Podcast and Streaming Free
Hello, listeners.

It’s been a year-and-a-half since we decided to offer our show as a free, weekly podcast, and that’s been a crazy, whopping success. But because so many people—sometimes more than half a million—are downloading and streaming our show each week, the Internet bandwidth to distribute the program this way costs $152,000 per year. We want to keep offering This American Life for free. You want us to keep offering the show for free. Our home station, Chicago Public Radio, doesn’t need to make money on our podcast, but they can’t lose $152,000 a year on it, either.

We think we can cover the whole cost by coming to you, hopefully just twice a year, virtual hat in hand. If you listen regularly over the Internet, please pitch in a little cash. To all the people who gave six months ago, a sincere thank you, and please consider giving a small amount again. A dollar from every Internet listener would more than pay for everything, but of course not everyone’s going to give, so consider a $5 donation. It’ll cover you and a few other people for a year of listening. If you donate more than a few bucks, you can choose thank-you gifts—including some stuff you can’t get anywhere else. One of the items is a CD of “The Giant Pool of Money,” our incredibly popular, recent episode about the mortgage crisis, which many listeners wanted to purchase as a gift.

Our dream is that we’ll get you and most of our Internet listeners to chip in at the $1 or $5 level, and that’ll cover everything. We’d love to take care of this expense with a flood of little donations from the people who actually listen to our show this way. And of course, if you feel that getting an hour of our show every week is worth more to you than a dollar a year, we’d be grateful for anything else you’d care to contribute. We really want to keep the podcast free.

How long will it be before we have a micro-payment account (aside from PayPal) that we can set up to allow for quick and spontaneous donations of funds, to support all of the “free” content that is enriching our lives?

Does giving away your book, ala DRM-free music, make business sense?

When avant-garde rock band Radiohead posted their latest album online, they invited fans to pay whatever price they thought was appropriate — or even pay nothing at all. More recently, bluesy Brit Joss Stone went on record as saying she thought “piracy” of her music was just dandy. She implies that the freely shared music is growing box office sales of her live shows. These and other examples from the recording industry suggest a business model where your chief intellectual product can be given away — or shared at a huge discount — to the overall benefit of your bottom line. One could even go so far as suggest that digital rights management (DRM) protection does more economic harm than good.

Okay, but does this model hold water if you’re a niche business writer, speaker and consultant?

Kevin HillstromMy blogging friend Kevin Hillstrom reports that it seems to, if viewed holistically. And especially since his book is called Multichannel Secrets, you’d better believe Kevin views things holistically!

Joss Stone more or less admitted in her interview that, taken as a single tactic (my word, not hers), giving away music helps create buzz. It doesn’t help pay the bills. But this buzz is supporting her live shows. She is, in essence, a multi-channel business, and one channel is benefiting from the loss-leader status of the other.

Similarly, Kevin — who is the president of MineThatData — mentions in his blog that his pre-release book giveaway was not a profitable move. He reports at one point that he gave away twice as many books as he sold. But he emphasizes that as a “‘micro-channel’ strategy to running my business,” the giveaway concept makes good economic sense.

If you’re a self-publisher, you’ve probably already considered the strategy of giving out free advance copies. But Kevin can still help you, with his well-framed case for emulating Radiohead. Rock on, Kevin!