I'm looking forward to Gary Vaynerchuk's new book called The Thank You Economy. I know what's going to be in it. But, I'm still going to buy it. This is the point that Gary will make in the book.
I know what Gary means by "The Thank You Economy" as he's spoken about it loads of times before. He's used his last book, Crush It!: Why Now is the Time to Cash in on Your Passion, as an example of this quite a few times. People who already go to Gary's blog regularly will have heard a lot of the content contained within Crush It! before they even read it. The book contains a lot of what he talks about all the time. So, why did people still buy his book? To say "Thank You".
But I bet very few people bought the book to say thank you and didn't read it. I also bet that very few people who bought multiple copies of the book (Gary ran a promotion) to give to friends or family did so thinking the book didn't offer value. They wouldn't have bought just anything to say "thank you". They knew what the book would contain and they believed it had value. They could read the book to remind themselves of the things Gary had already covered; to come up with new ideas based on what had already been said.
My point? Some people will say "thank you" and expect nothing in return. Others, and I still think most, will say "thank you" but still want something for it.
Another good example of this might be music. A lot of people still illegally download music. For some that'll be the end of it; they have the music and that's it. Some people will illegally download the music and if they like it they'll buy the album. Why would you buy an album not knowing if you like what's on it? I get that. If they like it they may even buy the CD and never take it out of it's packaging - as a "thank you" to the music artist. Some people say "thank you" and don t' expect anything in return. Others still want something in return.
What actually got me thinking about this was Issue 2 of the Dashboard Digest newsletter from Money Dashboard by Gavin LittleJohn. Money Dashboard do offer a really exciting service. They allow you to view all your finances in one place and also allow you to analyse your spending and offer a host of other benefits. If you put in the effort with the site you really can get a lot of benefit. After this I'm going to start using it more often. Anyway, it was this paragraph from the newsletter in particular that got me thinking about The Thank You Economy:
Please remember that Money Dashboard is a free service. We would like to keep it that way. You can support us in our mission to make people more financially savvy, by remembering to buy your financial products through our “Ways to Save” section. We will take a marketing fee from the product provider as our income.
From the above paragraph you'll see that Money Dashboard make money by taking a marketing fee from product providers. This will be in the form of direct advertising revenue and affiliation. They are asking their users to say "thank you" by using their "Ways to Save" section. Some of the people that are getting great value from the Money Dashboard service will use this section. Others, and I have to admit I fall into this category, won't use this section because I don't believe they are offering a full view of the market, although they do refer you to comparison sites, and I'd rather get the affiliate fee myself. If this makes me sound like a meanie then let me explain.
People who use affiliate programs get money if they refer a user to a website (e.g. Amazon links to Crush It! and The Thank You Economy above) and that referral ends up in that user purchasing something from that website. As explained, this is one of the ways that Money Dashboard will make money. The reason I probably wouldn't use the Money Dashboard Ways to Save section is that the affiliate fees for the sorts of financial products referred to (Insurance, savings accounts, credit cards etc.) are very high. For example, last year the return on referring somebody to sign up for a More Than insurance policy was £50 (GBP). Say you signed up for your years car insurance, home insurance and another service with a good return, say broadband, then the affiliate, in this case Money Dashboard, would receive around £150 (GBP) affiliate fees. Now, Money Dashboard is a good service but is it worth £150 (GBP) a year that you could potentially take yourself? I don't think it is.
The other option available to Money Dashboard is to make people pay for the service. This, of course, is a massive barrier to entry/sign-up.
There is a third option and I actually passed my opinion on to Money Dashboard about this in a survey months ago. That option is to give some of the affiliate fee back to the user. Money Dashboard could offer a service similar to Top Cashback or QuidCo. They could even partner with one of them. If I could do my own research to find the best deal on home or car insurance using one of the many market comparison companies (again, why would you click through via their website when they get the whole affiliate fee) and then log into Money Dashboard, find the insurance company in their affiliate directory listing and click-through to make my purchase. Money Dashboard would get the affiliate fee from the insurance company and give you a large percentage of that fee in return for the click-through. This way they get a "thank you" commission and you also make something out of it.
The Thank You Economy does exist but you've more than likely got to give a bit back in return for that thanks.