Ideas, Innovation, and Crowdsourcing

I read Seth Godin’s blogdaily and the other day he touched on something that has my wheels spinning. He talked briefly about how crowdsourcing (using others’ feedback and ideas to help develop your project) and then referred to a TED video of Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tailspeaking about how crowdsourcing, particularly via online video, actually accelerates learning, experimentation and innovation. Think of the possibilities. You have access to millions that can help you evolve ideas.
Huge possibilities, but requires the willingness to put your passion out there to grow and evolve beyond your dreams. You can’t keep them to yourself in the fear of your ideas being “stolen”.
“Best Practices” can have global input. In our field that could be about teaching movements to training employees to handling club emergencies. If exercise equipment development was not treated as such a private brand secret, maybe we’d finally get some pieces right.
What could you put out there for “Crowd Accelerated Innovation”? I’m going to be working on some ideas. How about you?

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Is There a Long Tail in Fitness?

I just finished reading The Long Tail, Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. Having read the phrase “The Long Tail” in various blogs and postings, and never quite catching the full meaning, I was curious. Come to find out that it’s a very interesting phenomenom that I will attempt to explain here.

In a nutshell, it’s the idea that anything produced has hits, very popular big sellers, then some medium sellers, dropping off to nothing. In the physical world there are limitations that don’t allow for anything less than big sellers. You may not be able to find that book you wanted in the bookstore because they can only carry so many titles. The same holds true for music stores, video stores, etc. there is a limit to the available shelfspace. So, we have been only able to get what is relatively mainstream. Well, the times they are a changin’.

The Long Tail is the trickling down of volume of items to be consumed and yet still being available to all. long tail

The Long Tail: Green = what was traditionally available, Yellow = what is now, additionally available.

Three factors have come into play that have allowed us to have greater access to whatever we want:

1) Anyone can produce. Videos, blogs, newsletters, music, etc. are now so easy to produce and store digitally, anyone can do it. It doesn’t have to appeal to everyone and be a hit. It is about the specialties, the niches.

2) Easy means of distribution. Upload your videos, music, ebooks, etc. to the internet for the world to find.

3) Connecting the supply and demand. Through search engines like google.com, commercial sites like amazon.com, and various auction sites like ebay.com, the public can find items in whatever niche they choose. It doesn’t matter how obscure, if the owner/producer is putting it out there to be found, it can be found.

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, posted a great example of how Netflix utilizes the long tail of video. Read here: Long Tail 

So what does this mean for us in the health and fitness world? Do we have a long tail of opportunity? There definately is. No longer do we have produce hits to be able to get our workout videos to those that want them, or educational videos, ebooks, newsletters, blogs, class playlists, etc. Niches make their mark in the long tail. There are even storefront services that help you create your virtual store such as Yahoo Stores or kickstartcart.com/ .

Be a niche and find your market in the long tail of fitness products.

Good luck and best wishes, Mark.

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Are Free Health Clubs in Our Future?

I recently finished listening to the audiobook version of Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson. It has some very interesting ideas on how and why things can and should be free.

Of course, most things free (other than information) have an associated product or service that is paid for. i.e. early Gillette razors were given away knowing that it would create a long-term razor blade customer. Apps and computer programs may offer a free version and charge for an upgraded, more expansive version.

Is there a “free” in the health clubs in the future? This came to mind as I was writing this. What if we offered free “off-peak” hours( say 1-3pm). It might get people to come in and try the club. They may then realize they want the availability of greater hours and services and upgrade to a full membership.

How else could free work? What are your thoughts?


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