BEST OF THE BLOGS: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

The problem of monetising an online service is something that has been a pox upon the houses of our biggest media organisations, as well as many others trying to turn a buck online.

In her blog this week, behavioural economist Bri Williams explained what it was about webinar service Anymeeting that motivated her to go from freemium to premium. Williams was impressed enough with the free service but the website’s call to action persuaded her to upgrade on the basis of aversion to pain rather than attraction to gain:

We are used to seeing language like ‘upgrade to experience benefits…’ on sites, but what I liked about Anymeeting was how they expressed it in their call to action (CTA). Rather than ‘upgrade now’ or ‘subscribe’, Anymeeting have gone with “Remove ads”, a simple, outcome-oriented CTA.

Of course, users can become very tetchy about ads intruding upon their experience of a service, especially if it is a communications based one like Skype. Williams points out that Anymeeting do a good job on the site of guiding users towards using one of the pay services offered without unduly alienating the free service user.

It’s a good example of how to engineer a site and message that achieves the tricky task of convincing people to part with cash for something they can get for free – albeit with ads – and upgrade to a paid subscription service.

A malodorous dilemma

This is one of those sensitive topics that comes up every now and again in the workplace: The less than great smelling co-worker/employee. Our resident workplace psychologist Eve Ash has given some great pointers in her blog this week on how to handle this delicate situation:

This is one of the most uncomfortable interpersonal situations possible. Most would prefer to recoil in disgust, move desks and leave the room… then complain to their friends rather than address the issue head on.

It is so easy to alienate and be condescending to someone when trying to communicate on this personal level.

Quite rightly, we’re focused on the business of business in the workplace; that’s why we’re there, to get a job done and make our companies profitable. But personal issues do often come into play in the workplace and dealing with these effectively can often mean the difference between a happy, productive company and a negative, unproductive one that degenerates into a sulking and, at its worst, bullying place.

Melbourne’s “carmaggedon” and the reliability of your IT systems

Tech blogger David Markus was quickly on the case with his blog yesterday about the traffic chaos experienced by Melbourne commuters on Wednesday.

Commuters on the city’s tolled network of roads faced huge delays getting from one side of the city to the other when CityLink, the company that runs the network, had a major system failure that led to the closure of roads and tunnels for most of the day.

Markus, a long-time advocate of the need to fail-proof systems, noted not only the financial cost but also the reputational cost to CityLink – and its parent company Transurban – of the system failure.

The message here is that investment in systems is the business’ responsibility and that while they [CityLink] have a licence to take the money of commuters there is limited legislation on how they should provide systems and support to ensure systems outages do not severely affect their clientele.

While your business might not be responsible for some of Melbourne’s major road networks, it’s worth considering what would happen if your business systems were to come a cropper. Better still, it’s worth putting some planning into how you would deal with that in a quick and timely fashion so as not to damage your reputation or your bottom line.

Welcome to the (not so) warm and fuzzy HR experts

We’re always trying to cover the bases for what smart companies need in order to grow their companies, and in that spirit we’re pleased to welcome on board Abiramie Sathiamoorty and Janelle McKenzie of E&I People Solutions.

The two HR experts will be writing a blog all about the trials and tribulations of HR for SMEs; an often perplexing and frustrating area for small companies:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that that there is a direct correlation between the performance of your business and the performance of your team. But having the right processes and systems in place to bring out the best in teams and individuals is often overlooked.

They promise to keep the “warm and fuzzies” to a minimum and bring the meat of the matter to the table of HR issues: “Oh, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll just send you a hug.”


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