Why would you want to turn [customers] away? Alan Rusbridger on walled gardens

Another example of how the web works. I have to be on vacation in India and reading Steven Johnson’s blog to find out about something Alan Rusbridger said recently………

I quote from the Rusbridger speech, via Steven:

The more of a wall that you put around, whether it’s a wall of payment or a wall of registration, the more you’re repelling people rather than building an audience for the day when we hope that advertising will come in like the cavalry and rescue us. So I think at the moment, the smarter thing to do is to make your content available everywhere and to have it aggregated and linked to like mad by everybody in the world, because that way you will reach a gigantic audience. And that matters journalistically. If you’re in the business of journalism for influence, and because of the Guardian worldview that you believe in, it’s terrific to have an audience of 14 million instead of 400,000. That’s wonderful. So why would you want to turn them away?

I have often felt that there is no such thing as a bad customer, just a customer who does not fit your business model. And in the past, businesses have spent time discarding customers as “not relevant to the business model”. And one firm’s rejects became some other firm’s Most Valuable Customers, as many airline and credit-card “bottom-feeder” businesses have shown.

This does not make sense. If you want a sustainable business, then adapt the business model to suit your customers, not the other way around. It is the relationship that matters. And you will work out a way for all parties in a relationship to gain as a result. Otherwise it is not a relationship.
You can find the Steven Johnson post here, with links to the original speech audio as well as some very useful comments. [And yes, Steven, I am looking forward to reading Ghost Map!]

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