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A Value Game For The Aerobics Instructor

In yesterday’s post, we outlined The Value Game for University Outreach where the graduate was the shared asset and the school administration, the alumni association, the entrepreneurial community, and the wider community were the players. Now let’s presume that the shared asset is a small business owner specializing in aerobics instruction.

Using the same players:


A Value Game For The Aerobics Instructor

Suppose that a popular aerobics instructor has 20 students and charges 40 dollars for an 8 class sessions. The local health food store will place 10% coupon on store purchases against the 40 dollar tuition for the duration of the class. If the student bought 400 dollars worth of food from the health food store in 8 weeks, their tuition for the aerobics course would be free.  If they spend more, then the aerobics instructor is paid more.

The health food store already spends 10% of sales on advertising.  As such, the coupon is a superior incentive because it provides 100% ROI on the store’s ad spend.

Social Value Outcomes:

  • The health food store gains loyal repeat customers without advertising or spamming
  • The aerobics instructor earns an entrepreneurial wage making similar coupon arrangements with other health services, sporting goods stores, hotels chains, airlines, adventure tourism companies – anyone whose best interest it is to support her clients’ aspiration. They too benefit from loyal customers (anti-Groupon)
  • The Alumni Association would represent a network of clients, business owners, and database of persons likely to provide contacts, references, coupons, and advice to the aerobics instructor
  • The University can provide gym space, sponsorship, health education classes, and collect data such as; which coupons produce the highest yield for a given alumni product or service and player profile.

The Value Game Filters:

This particular value game automatically filters out the players that are not appropriate for the client.  In effect, the donut shop, tobacco store, or video game outlet would not likely benefit from playing this particular value game as their offering would reflect poorly on social values of the instructor and their coupons would not perform well enough vs. traditional advertising.  Instead, these products would find their own value game, if any.

Social Value Index (SVI)

The Social Value Index is a public statistic that compares the economic value (cost/benefit) of the socially integrated value game with the cost/benefit of the disaggregated advertising/spamming model which robs people of their time, passions, and quality of life.

Data as a shared asset

The SVI provides data that rewards this entrepreneur for doing what she is most passionate about; being knowledgeable and supportive of available health resources. The SVI rewards the store for enabling entrepreneurs in exchange for loyal repeat customers.  The Social Value Index rewards the network of alumni who align with their members (aerobics instructor) to deploy social currency to a community instead of spamvertising. The SVI rewards the University Outreach effort for organizing critical data, information, knowledge, innovation, and wisdom in the community.

At the end of the day: 

The Value Game is important because it allows entrepreneurial business plans that would not normally be viable under a purely monetary model, become highly viable when intangible Social Value (New Value) is added to the bottom line.

 

Can Advertisers Curate Themselves?

 

Get Real by Playing for Real

At the end of the day, any ad campaign needs to get real people to take real and tangible action.  Ideally, the advertiser wants to see the real effectiveness of a campaign in real numbers.

The Value Game is applied to a new jet charter start-up called Social Flights and offers an opportunity for advertisers to become part of the experience of the traveller, rather than a distraction to everybody. Instead of paying a website for click throughs, the vendor can pay the traveler directly to “click through” a catalog of products.  As long as your product is relevant to the travel experience, the traveller will be interested and engaged.

The Game is to be relevant and this is where Social Flights helps create the playing field.

Social Flights will collect data about a travelers intentions in a fully open agreement.   Travelers submit this data to the game with the explicit understanding that vendors will compensate them with relevant discount coupons.  Data are normalized so that the traveller is anonymous in every respect while still providing very rich intentions to the vendor.  Vendors can now target their value proposition with great precision.

What’s a Travel Trader Game?

This sets up a game where the traveler, when presented with many options, will plan their trip and influence their friends based on the perceived value of the options presented to them – it’s like holding properties on a Monopoly(TM) Board.   As the travelers play the game, the vendor is being discussed, researched, and propagated all across the web in real time and in real context with a tangible experience as the travelers decide what activities to pursue.

Win twice: Let People Game the Game

When someone “clicks” on the vendor proposition from their “experience environment” of travel, their intention to be interested, informed, entertained, and fulfilled by your product is much higher than in a off-experience “forced” impression.  When they compare, and even trade, coupons with their friends, a negotiation happens which influences a group of people.  These negotiations lead to discussions all across the Internet.  These discussions mean different things to different people so a fresh pool of customers is always on tap for the next round of play.

Why let Facebook own YOUR game when you can own it yourself?

Social Flights allows travelers to sell their data to vendors who, in effect, compensate the traveler with discount “option” that can only be exercised if the traveller (and their friends) makes a purchase.  Advertising is essentially FREE until the traveler exercises their discount option.  Even then, the advertiser has all the information that they need to determine the quality of the effectiveness their campaign and the effectiveness of a competitor’s campaign.  No matter whether you are the traveler or the vendor, how you play the game becomes YOUR intellectual property.  Patent that Facebook!

Game Over

The first law of Gaming: If you can’t win a game playing by the rules, stop playing the game, or change the rules. It would seem that Egyptians would add a corollary “Change the Rulers”.

This is not trivial.

Billions of people are walking the planet Earth with the nagging feeling that they cannot win their game playing by the rules they are given.  If America was once the shining beacon of opportunity where hard work and perseverance were the main ingredients of success, and Americans are feeling that they can’t win playing by the rules, then you can expect two things to happen:  People will stop playing the game, AND the rules will change.

Interactive Entertainment

Looking on the sunny side, we see Gaming companies achieving astonishing valuations in Silicon Valley.  What is even more remarkable is that a similar thing is happening concurrently with Travel, Coupons, and Alternate Currencies.  Many people stand back aghast at the sheer size of some of these bets; $120M for Tripit, $5B worth Zynga, $6B for Groupon, $50B for Facebook.  The Market capitalization of Apple ($320B) is almost 2 times greater GDP of Egypt ($188B).

It would be foolish to underestimate the value the gaming component – now called “Interactive Entertainment” – as enabled by the Internet.  Gaming is an extremely mathematical science where designers predict the probabilities that a player will favor one strategy over another.  The better these prediction become, the more interactive and, ostensibly, the more entertaining a game becomes – at least to some people.

The Calculus of Gaming

It is no coincidence that the calculus of gaming and the knowledge assets deployed to the gaming industry are functionally identical to financial and marketing industries such as banking, insurance and demography.  Banks set the price of money based on the probability that you can pay it back (credit scores).  Insurance companies set the price on premiums based on the probability that you will experience a loss (actuarial data).  And Demographers predict what you will buy and who you will vote for. After all, a Bank is really just a game that bets that you will win and an insurance company bets that you will lose, and demographics keeps the game, well, unfair.  But together, they all hedge each other’s risk, not yours.

Watch The Integration, closely

From prior articles; The Travel industry is a proxy for how and where ideas are spread.  The Coupon Industry influences human behavior to accelerate the disruptive innovation and to create new value simultaneously. The Gaming Industry will define the rules by which the new game will be played and provide the ability to predict when, where, and how to value social capital. When the integrated is complete, the ability to capitalize and securitize a new social currency (next article) will emerge to hedge, and then replace, the dollar.

Game over.

***

(Editor’s note: The above post is #4 in a series [1][2][3][4][5] introducing The Value Game to a new class of business methods.  The first real world application is Social Flights; a collaborative production / consumption game being deployed to the market.  If this works, the new business method class will be generalized throughout the economy to catalyze the convertibility of social currency.  Please join us at The Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on february 28th 2011 where we will unveil the work to the technology community)

When Everyone has a Coupon, They Will Innovate

It is extremely important to recognize that, for better or for worse, Discount Coupons can have an extraordinary influence on people and their behavior.  This influence is what makes a discount coupon very powerful and extremely valuable. Coupled with social media, a coupon can be leveraged to influence the behavior of whole communities in extraordinary ways.   The ability to manipulate coupon values is tantamount to the ability to manipulate the value of money itself.

However, coupons, in the marketing world, function as a form of price discrimination that enables vendors to offer a lower price to people who would otherwise go elsewhere.  Since coupon customers are price sensitive and not necessarily loyal to a brand, coupons tend to reward ambivalence in a community rather than trust, commitment, or long term relationship. Normally, one would seek to create incentives for loyalty, quality, and trustworthiness. Instead, such transient market can act against both product quality and new value creation.

Another use of the term “coupon” arises from finance where coupons are used as proof of ownership for a bond, “bearer certificate”, or similar financial instrument. Possession of the coupon is considered conclusive proof of ownership of a tangible asset.  Money, in fact, is simply a coupon representing ownership of a unit of a productivity. Ownership is a cornerstone of all forms of Capitalism, including Social Capitalism.

As such, it is of little surprise that the Internet Coupon industry is exploding with huge valuations of Groupon by Google, The emergence of Google Offers, and Yelp Coupons, and many more.  What is very interesting is that this explosion is happening concurrent with similar innovations in Travel, Currency, and Gaming deemed the “Great Integration”.

The next obvious step is for coupon exchanges to form where holders of one type of coupon can trade value with holders of another coupon not unlike one can now trade Coca Cola stock for shares in The Boeing Company.   Coupons today have limitations on their usage, but over time, continued innovation in “Coupon Currency Games” will result in powerful mechanisms for the storage and exchange of value.

There is a classic business game that plays out in markets everywhere.  Suppose that a vendor offers to discount all prices by 20%.  A competitor simple has to say “We’ll match any price”.  After a day or two, the resulting stalemate is inefficient because it simply resolves to both vendors losing 20% with no net shift in market allegiance, only increased transcience.   This is a the divergent force that weakens ties and introduces susceptibility to disruptive innovation.

Meanwhile, The Value Game uses coupons to leverage relevant communities around physical assets such as airplanes, zip cars, alternative energy, and public infrastructure.  This will be the convergent force that strengthens community ties and introduces huge opportunities for social entrepreneurs to create new value.

As a result, the strategic use of Coupons will play an important role in both the acceleration of innovation disruption AND the subsequent creation of new value. In fact, if used strategically, coupons may help usher out the old economy and bring in the new.  The Domino Effect.

***

(Editors note: The above post is #3 in a series [1][2][3][4][5] introducing The Value Game to a new class of business methods.  The first real world application is Social Flights; a collaborative production / consumption game being deployed to the market.  If this works, the new business method class will be generalized throughout the economy to catalyze the convertibility of social currency.  Please join us at The Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on february 28th 2011 where we will unveil the work to the technology community)

Fungible Coupons And Collaborative Production

When we think of coupons, we imagine that most contradictory statement “Buy now and save money”.  Obviously most people recognize that spending is NOT saving but the objective of this apparent contradiction is to project the idea of “value”.  So what is value and exactly how valuable is someone’s the idea of value?  Is Value Fungible?

Inventory management tools

A coupon is a powerful inventory management tool that is made up of several parts.  The first part is the face value, often called “retail price” – this is the price that the retail market is willing to bear. The second part is the discount value which is the actual price of the offering based on a vendor’s need to move inventory.  The difference between the two numbers is the “Value Proposition”.

Public Stock Exchange

Alone, that would be a very simple form of currency creation.  By limiting the number of coupons precisely to the amount of inventory that is subject to liquidation, the coupon becomes a fungible instrument.  If the supply is limited, then people will trade the coupon value that they hold (but don’t need) with people who hold coupon value for other items (that they do need).  Or, since the value proposition is denominated in dollars, they can trade the coupon for dollars up to, but not exceeding, the retail price.  After a while, people will literally form a “stock” exchange out of the community inventory of goods and services represented by coupons.

Most enterprise can expect to spend 10% – 30% of their revenue on advertising.

The third and often misunderstood component of a coupon the friction value – a negative number.  This is the cost of producing the coupon campaign (marketers and printers) as well as the cost of advertising, distributing, and processing the coupon. Finally, there is a certain amount of social friction associated with redeeming a coupon such as clipping, organizing, and presenting the coupon to the vendor.  Rebate schemes will often introduce so much friction that the buyer gives up or forgets the expiration date, etc. On the other end of the spectrum, Groupon often exceeds the inventory intended to liquidate and increases cost of liquidation.

Social Currency

In a coupon economy, we can initially define social currency as the absence of an “anti-social” currency.  We can say that social currency is equal to the coupon’s original value proposition (denominated in dollars) minus advertising friction.  We can make this assumption based on the fact that social capital can be deployed in a community INSTEAD of advertising.

Collaborative Production – when the community decides what to produce

When advertising friction is removed, it becomes a very simple matter to make coupons fungible. In the event that the dollar collapses, people can easily switch from the discount currency to the value proposition currency, i.e., social currency.  After a while, social priorities will drive wall street production priorities instead of wall street production priorities driving social priorities.

Believe it or not, the key to financial sustainability may just be in the wholesale elimination of advertising. The Value Game by Ingenesist project is designed to correct this market friction.

A New Generation of Social Business Methods

A New Generation of Social Business Methods

Now on Kindle and IPad!!

The next Generation of electronic accounts:

There are approximately 5.5 Trillion dollars worth of retail transactions made face-to-face in the U.S. driven by a 400 Billion dollar advertising industry. Many analysts believe that the next platform for money transfer will use mobile devices (as clients for web transactions) in lieu of debit cards or cash.  Companies such as PayPal expect to be the greatest beneficiaries of this trend and are predictably promoting and developing the transaction modes.

The big hurdles will be security, friction, and privacy

Mobile to web transactions introduce any number of hacking opportunities.  Furthermore, PayPal, The Wireless Carrier, Marketers, The Bank, The Federal and State governments, and a host of other intermediaries are taking a piece of your paycheck and your data profile along with that Slurpee you just texted.

A huge amount of anti-social friction is imposed on the consumer in the name of convenience

Most people are unaware of the latest technology in debit cards that will allow them to transact in social currencies.  Vendors can issue electronic coupons directly to a customer’s debit card.  New social media applications allow people to exchange coupons from different companies among each other without necessarily converting them to dollars.  This scrambles the data, preserves anonymity, and escapes taxation.  Yet they can be just as easily redeemed for dollar denominated discounts at the point of sale.

The Social Value Game

Most people are also unaware of a new class of business methods being deployed in social media based on The Social Value Game developed by The Ingenesist Project.  The Social Value Game allows people to leverage their social influence around a product or service to attract coupons from companies willing to sponsor the customer’s social activity in their marketing strategy.  As such, social priorities will drive Wall Street priorities

A New Generation of Social Business Methods

When combined, these two technologies can vastly reduce the frictions of electronic commerce, reduce advertising, improve anonymity, scramble personal data and increase the security of transactions while introducing a strong bias toward social value in commerce.  Instead of encrypting the device, these technologies encrypt the currency. At the point of sale, coupons will enter an exchange pool and the customer will receive their discount.  In effect, they are selling their access and their data instead of having a gatekeeper sell it for them.

Reverse Economics And True Value Social Games

Illustration from Wired (reversed) - Aegir Hallmundur; Benjamin Franklin: Corbis

Debit Cards and Credit cards routinely handle conversions from Dollars to Pesos to Euros and Yen.  The calculation is simple because there are known conversion rates between them.  In Fact, the credit card or debit card is buying the other currency much in the same way that they buy the pair of Levies, IPad, or bag of Tulip Bulbs being purchased.

Trading coupons for coupons

In other words, a debit card or credit card should also be able to use IPads, Levies, or Tulip Bulbs to buy money.  Of course, they would not use an actual IPad any more than a bank uses an actual Dollar – they trade a 100% coupon of a dollar for a 100% coupon of an IPad.  By adjusting the exchange rate between IPads and Dollars,  a 50% coupon for an IPad equals 300 Dollars and it is easy to see we are in very familiar Groupon territory.

The Dollar as a black market Currency

The debit card (or any form of mobile payment system) can, in fact, be used to trade what in earlier technological eras would be called a Black Market currency.  For example, After the Mexican currency crash of 1994-1995, I personally witnessed people empty WalMart to the bare shelves literally overnight, only to find those items circulating as currency the next day – in exchange for Dollars; the black market currency of the less developed World.

Drive the economy in reverse in order to drive the economy forward

With a high velocity and frictionless payment processing system, the economy should be able to operate in “reverse” just as easily – if not better than – it operates in so-called “forward”.  Here is why:

Suppose that Big Box retailer issues a coupon for 50% off all of it’s products for one Christmas Season because they want to beat out every merchant in the country.  The contingency coupon gets applied to all the credit/debit cards of all people that have ever shopped at the Big Box.  Since the local merchants are driven to failure and they’ll need to liquidate anyway, their response is to also honor the Big Box coupons.  This will initiate a spiral and all retailers will begin to accept each other’s coupons.  Soon, the brands such as Nike, Coca-cola, and Canon will be pulled into honoring retailer discounts.   The “coupon” will become the currency instead of the dollars.  The exchange rate between products will be determined by local arbitrage.

Lose the friction, improve efficiency

First, it would become very difficult to tax these transactions.  It would also be very difficult to inflate or deflate a dollar currency against these transactions. Arbitrage opportunities will be based on the true social value of a product in a community.  The dollar denominated conversion factor will become increasingly arbitrary.  The the new currency will be a social currency because people will now favor whatever products have the highest Social Value in their community relative to the knowledge assets of the community.  Advertising friction will disappear.  Assume Market Friction was 50%…..what changes?

In the end game, social priorities will drive Wall Street priorities

Social Currency is real currency.  The technology exists today to make it a frictionless exchange.  The economy may actually run better in so-called “reverse”.  The only thing missing is a True Value Social Game

References:

Sepp Hasslberger The Future of Money

The March issue of Wired Magazine carries an article titled: The Future of Money: It’s Flexible, Frictionless and (Almost) Free.,

The Capitalization of Silence

"Silence" by Horst Schmier

Coupon Madness

The business concept of rewards coupons is not new. S&H Green Stamps were among the original applications of the concepts. The fact that coupon cutting is now going on-line is not surprising to anyone. A second major trend is in the area of data collection. Supermarkets have learned that it is valuable for them to “pay” the customer in exchange for data that makes stocking and distribution more efficient. When combined, coupon + data is a tremendously valuable marketing and logistics tool.

The next development of coupon + data model is the notion that if a person likes a product, so too will their friends. This is the coupon + data + association model. Not surprisingly, the marketing value of the combination of these linked data increases almost exponentially.

To Pay Dearly

Brands are now willing to pay dearly for information about the transaction as well as the social networks associated with a transaction. With the ability to track several layers of transaction and association, vendors can paint an extraordinarily accurate predictive model that can be used in their favor – and in competition against market challengers.

The half-life of noise

The hype is brisk and often short lived as most companies eventually run up against the proverbial viral backlash. Someone somewhere can just as easily elevate their own influence by challenging a big influencer. Privacy issues, fair trade issues, corporate responsibility issues are all fair game. Social media forces transparency in an organization too as controlled data can quickly become uncontrollable data.

The battlefield is strewn with the corpses of marketing campaigns gone horribly wrong. Even Groupon, once touted as the champion of mom and pop shops across the land is now accused of dumping economic “sugar calories” into a zero sum game where size does matter – a lot. Groupon is now used by competitors against each other thereby wrecking havoc on Mom and Pop Shops across the land.

Help, I need a Guru

Social Media Gurus continuously pound home the message that they must find their customers grazing in their own pasture and engage them in order to be truly accepted into the herd.  Now the Gurus have all the vendors looking like wolves in sheep’s clothing – nothing could be more obvious or look more ridiculous.

The inherent flaw is that companies are designing and delivering products predicted to interact with people in their own setting. Instead, they must develop a set of products and services that are designed to facilitate human interaction with each other in their own setting – and as a consequence, filter out all the noise that wastes valuable social time.

Coupon + knowledge inventory + anonymity

Learning what people know does not mean that they need to give up their identity.   Joining people who have complimentary knowledge is a superior value creation mechanism than harvesting relationships already played out. The ability to protect and empower the customer in their home setting is the greatest branding opportunity on Earth. The ability to filter out the noise is the single greatest competitive advantage that any marketing campaign can ever enjoy. The ability to bring communities of people together to solve the problems of their own choosing is far more powerful than trying to convince people that they have a problem for which only you have the solution.

This is the capitalization of silence

Image by Horst Schmier

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