Online Photo Albums and the Sink In Effect

Over on Smashing Apps a few days ago, they introduced a new photo sharing site – Expono.

Immediately, my thoughts where “Gosh, another online photo album and sharing site?”

Sunk in to Flickr
Photo Credit: rs-foto

Online services like photo sharing sites, microblogs, social networking sites, emails… all have a “sink in” effect. That means, the more you use it, the more valuable it becomes to you.

Let’s take this online photo example. I’ve already spent days uploading and renaming my photos on my Flickr account (thanks Shi for the coupon!)

And while I won’t say that it is a whole lot of photos compared to many other users, I would like to keep my photos in ONE place online, and it feels to me like a lot of work to get on Expono and re-upload the photos (or even import photos from Flickr, if that is possible).

Besides, I like my Flickr account because it has great support (in terms of tools, and linkages from other programs). So unless Expono promises something really revolutionary, I guess I’ll be sticking to Flickr. Even if it costs more or has less features. Similarly, I won’t be attempting to rebuild my Twitter network in Plurk, and nothing is going to make me drop my Gmail and start my messaging in something else.

I’m sunk in. Very sunk in. And its a scary thing if you think about it. If Gmail starts to charge $10 a month for their services, or Flickr raises its pro account price to $249.50 instead of $24.95.

But think about this when you launch you next online service. How do you justify for the switching cost? How do you get people sunk in into your competitor’s products to switch to yours?

Maybe getting people to switch to your product is not that easy, afterall. 😉

Botak Jones

Botak Jones has arrived in the coffee shop in my neighborhood. I’ve never tasted their food before, but today I tried their Caesar Chicken Salad.

Botak Jones

It costed me $10, when a good bowl of prawn noodles, or a filling plate of rice with mixed vegetables and meat in the stall next to it would cost me $3.50, at max. On average, their set meals would cost $13, when similar western set meals sold in the vincinity would cost $6. Yet I see school kids lining up by the troves to order from Botak Jones.

There is something they did which the other stalls didn’t.

No, its not about franchising or setting up branches. Its how they put it – “Damn Good Food at A Damn Good Price”. The salad was really nice, and it was filling.

And there was actually great customer service. This was the first time I’ve ever been told in a neighborhood coffee shop “If there is anything you need, just let me know”.

Now, that is something remarkable to exist in a coffeeshop. Had they set up their own outlets as restaurants, it would have been normal.

Great work!

Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and Giving Things Away for Free

Kuala Lumpur
Photo Credit: wili_hybrid

This recent months, I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur on business a number of times. Everytime I make a trip to KL, I would have appointments, and I have pockets of time between appointments where I am free to roam around, or choose to sit down in a cafe and work.

Not being much of a shopper, I tend to spend more time in front of my computer in a cafe. I’ve been scouting around for the best “camping ground” where I can sit and work.

So, there is Coffee Bean and there is Starbucks. Both provide free wireless Internet access. Let’s talk about Coffee Bean first.

Coffee Bean: Buy from us and get Internet access

In Coffee Bean cafes, they have secured their wireless network.

In order to access the Internet, I will have to ask the counter staff for a username and password. Most of the time, there was also no power supply points, and I’d have to dim my laptop screen and squint my eyes at the display.

My supposition is of Coffee Bean’s perspective in providing wireless access is “This is a Coffee Place, if you buy a drink from us and ask for the Internet access, we will let you have it, but don’t work for too long, because this is a COFFEE place, not your workplace.”

Starbucks: Free Internet Access, No Strings Attached

Starbucks Coffee with Free Wireless Access
Photo Credit: Al-Hayat

Starbucks, on the other hand, has an unsecured network and you can just get connected easily. So technically, you could sit in the cafe next door and tap on Starbucks’ wireless access. When you access the network, you are shown an quick video ad, which you can choose to skip after a few seconds.

I can also easily find tables where power supply is available, and I don’t worry about expending my battery.

My feel of Starbucks’ take on Internet access is “This is a coffee place, and a place for you to hang out and chill, work, with free Internet access for you to enjoy. While you do so, get some coffee to go with.”

The Difference

Of my six trips so far, I’ve been to Coffee Bean twice. Once I knew how easy it is for me to get online in Starbucks, I never stepped into Coffee Bean again.

And while I have spent hours and hours in Starbucks, I’m not surfing all the time, and neither am I always hungry for a power socket. But I’ve had a lot of my meals there – trying out their variety of delicious sandwiches and awesome coffee. When I make arrangements to meet my clients, I ask that we meet at Starbucks, because there is convenient Internet access and power supply.

So as far as having me as a customer, Starbucks has been a lot more profitable.

Why do I bring this up?

Coffee Bean assumed that “people will steal our bandwidth if we don’t secure it”. They were selling coffee first, ambience second.

Starbucks didn’t. Starbucks knew there were people like me who are dying for free Internet access and power supply, and they gave it to me. They obviously knew that a key motivation for people to sit in coffee places is an environment to hang out, and they’ve perfected that experience for the customer.

Frankly, even if they charged RM5 more per cup of coffee, I’d still have stuck to Starbucks.

Give away things for FREE

Giving things away for free can make a difference… sometime a huge difference. In many cases, the more you give out for free, the more you will get back as loyal happy customers.

This post was writtin with a dimly lit screen at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. My battery is running low now, and while there are several cafes in KLIA, I haven’t found one with power supply.

In fact, I was once “tricked” into having a meal in the KFC restaurant here, only to find that the power socket has no power.

No way I’m going back there.

I am heading to Dunkin’ Donuts in LCC Terminal, where they have both Internet access and power (and great service too!), and while I’m there, I’m going to get a coffee… and maybe some of their awesome donuts or sandwiches too.

Get the point? 😉

You Don’t Need Search Rankings

no-need-internet-marketingYou don’t need search rankings.
You don’t need page rank.
You don’t need a lot of traffic.
You don’t need to build incoming links.
You don’t need a great sales copy.
You don’t need an Adwords campaign.
You don’t need to have a blog.
You don’t need to use Twitter.
You don’t need to build a massive website.
You don’t need to build a usable website.
You don’t need to submit press releases.

You only need enough profitable conversions to sustain your business.

Please don’t let an “Internet Marketing Consultant” get you busy doing too many things. When you implement anything on your website, don’t do it because “everyone else is doing it”.

Do it only because it might lead you to more profitable conversions.

How to Get People to Switch to Your Product

So, how do you get your potential customers to ditch your competitors’ product in disgust and get obsessed about yours?

Just two steps.

Step 1: Build a great product.

Step 2: Tell them in the face! Tell them that they are waaaaaaay out of date if they are you using your competitors’ products.

Seriously. This is what Mozilla tried to pull on me when I went to the FireFox website yesterday.

Internet Explorere is so 2006

Well done Firefox!