Customers as product designers
Panning for gold
Several readers of the draft chapters of this book had been puzzled as to why it had not included Web site design, marketing techniques, the use of banner advertising and getting the attention of search engines.
The short answer is that if these were the routes to creating a successful e-business solution this book would never have been written. I'd have been spending my time in sunny climes with nothing to concern myself with but how to spend my riches. Common sense tells you that if these really were the way to produce a successful e-business solution then there would be many examples of these successes and everyone would be concentrating upon these issues.
If you spend any time on e-mail discussion forums that discuss these attention getting techniques it doesn't take long to realise that the only people who are benefiting are the people selling these kind of services. Just as in any gold rush, it is the people making the shovels that profit first. The real miners shouldn't be concerned about the shovels until they've first decided where to dig.
This book is for the kind of miner who doesn't just buy a shovel and dig where all the others are digging. It is for the kind of miner who first explores the landscape, looking for essential clues. These kind of miners don't start with the shovels, they start with a pan to pan the river beds. They look for specs of gold that have accumulated in the hollows.
The miners with their pans are scorned by the miners with their shovels, who pass them by as they head towards the places where everyone else is digging. Why bother collecting specs of gold when there are rich seams up in the hills waiting for somebody to find them?
The miners with their pans smile, as they see other miners following each other into the hills with their shovels. The blind leading the blind. The miners with the pans have a better way of finding the gold. They know that if they find a river with a few specs of gold it must have passed through a part of the hills that was leaching gold. If they find some specs and follow the trail up stream it will lead them to where the gold is.
This whole book, up to this chapter, can be thought of as the e-business equivalent of the smart miner searching for rivers and specs of gold. The river is a river of people on the Internet - potential customers. The specs of gold are the needs and wants of these people. The trick is to learn how to pan. This has been what this book has been about and this final chapter is about taking that final journey upstream to find the gold.