I’ve pitched my ideas about the curve to a book publisher and a rights owner in the last couple of days.

One big theme has emerged. The people who own content hand it over to a retailer (either directly or at the end of a chain of middle men) to sell to customers. If that retailer is good (like Amazon) it will know its customer. If it is not so good, it will know nothing about the customer at all. No understanding of loyalty, of average spend per month, of what or how to merchandise to that customer.

In either case, the rights owner/content originator knows nothing about its customers. It can sell a million copies of something and not have a clue who bought it, what else they own or how to get in touch with them again.

So the objective of a business in that position is to build a relationship with that distant customer by hook or by crook. It is to use “free” to get round the retailer. It is to subvert the retailer’s objectives by, for example, using the fact that supermarkets want to use the new edition of J K Rowling’s book to spread the word and then have a mechanism, somehow, somewhere of making direct content with those consumers. Those who love what J.K Rowling will move up the curve, spending more and more money over time.

In short, they need to:

  • Subvert the retail relationship by using it as paid-for marketing
  • Build one-to-one relationships with their customers
  • Start thinking in terms of ARPU, not product sales

Exactly how to explain all of these ideas, and how to execute them, is something I am still thinking about.