…says Forrester‘s Josh Bernoff, author of Groundswell. It’s just that quite often, the most successful Web 2.0 companies aren’t widely recognized because they cater to a relatively unsexy target audience: Corporate. Here goes Bernoff in Harvard Business Publishing:
…there are a class of startup companies making good money right now from Web 2.0. They’re not flashy and they don’t grow like mushrooms. But they’ve got all the business they can handle and they are growing. I am talking about companies that serve corporate social application needs. This isn’t the typical Web 2.0 business paradigm, since serving corporate customers means lots of client service, which is people-intensive — it doesn’t lift off miraculously like a pure technology startup. In fact, in many of these companies, the technology itself is positively mundane. But the startups grow because they deliver value for which they can charge a premium and get customer loyalty. The customers of these companies don’t defect when something shiny and new comes along, because they like the service they’re getting.
It’s the part about the technology being mundane and still charging at a premium that I’d like to point out here: Do focus on getting your tech right, but more importantly, don’t forget that money could be in places you weren’t looking. Bernoff lists a whole lot of successful examples. Think corporate clients! Maybe, just maybe that way you can keep your service free for your clients and still earn your share, making it a win/win.
Sure, this doesn’t hold for all services. After all, Web 2.0 isn’t primarily corporate-driven. Quite the contrary, it’s the social factor that brought the Social Web to where it is today. But maybe there’s something in your service that corporations wouldn’t mind to pay for, and this would allow you to keep offering your services for free for consumers?
Think about your service or app for a second – is there anything you could offer corporations? Or is there a case where selling to corporate would ruin your Web 2.0 service? Please share!
Note: I’ll cross-post this to a new blog my friend and former colleague Burkhardt just launched: Hintergrundrauschen – Web 2.0 fÃ¼r die Verlagswelt. As you might have guessed, it’s in German. Also, I hadn’t planned on cross-posting, but since I had written the post in English already, I thought I might as well post it here, too.
Image: Corporate by Flickr user Halans, CC-licensed