Better Upgrade Your Systems, ASAP

In Business & Entrepreneurship
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Many years ago, someone told me about an app that allowed Gmail users to schedule an email for future sending. I found it valuable because sometimes, if I respond immediately to an email, the recipient takes this to mean that I’m available for continued message exchange, or even (gasp!) a voice conversation.

The app was (and still is) called Boomerang. I used the free version for awhile back in 2012, but never signed up for the paid version.

Earlier this week, Gmail announced that this send an email in the future feature will now be a basic feature of Gmail, provided to all Gmail users at no additional cost.

When I read about this new rollout, I immediately thought of Boomerang.

Would this put them out of business? How could they continue to compete, when the very core of their paid product was now being offered for free to everyone?

I went to Boomerang’s website just before writing this. They’ve upgraded their product since back in the day.

In addition to scheduling a sent email, I counted at least 15 other features of the Boomerang product, including a really cool thing called Respondable that predicts the likelihood of someone replying to your email based on several factors such as if you asked a question or not, reading ease of your message, how polite and positive your tone, length of the subject line, etc.

I think Boomerang’s business will be OK.

I’m almost selling you on Boomerang. Great if I do, but that’s not the purpose of this post. My points are the following:

  1. What Gmail is doing with their send-later functionality is happening in every area of life: what you used to be able to charge money for, is now becoming free (or “free,” as part of a larger product). Some of you remember when you needed a long distance phone plan to make a call from New York to Los Angeles. Or when you had to be careful with how many photos you took, lest you run out of film. This used-to-be-paid-but-now-it’s-free change is great for consumers, but dangerous for (some) producers. Which means…
  2. The freemium (premium stuff offered at the low price of $0) economy may be taking money out of your pocket faster than you can replace it. If what you’re charging for today becomes free tomorrow, what else do you have to offer? Anything? What are you working on behind the scenes to future-proof your personal or business value? Understand that this question is not only for content creators and entrepreneurs. It’s for everybody. I had new internet installed at my home last week. I asked the AT&T worker how long he predicted it would be before WiFi was universally free throughout populated areas like cities. He said “at least ten years.” AT&T, Verizon and Hotwire better be working on alternatives to replace that stream of income to their business, because I guarantee you that Google is working HARD on killing their $70-per-month-service-bill business (I’m pulling for Google).
  3. So you’d think that #2 translates to, “work faster.” You’d be wrong. Even if you’re the smartest guy/girl in town, you can’t out-work the entire economy. You can out-think them, though, and you can out-insight them. More effort is not the answer to every problem.
  4. You’d better be taking a page from Boomerang, and adding features & benefits to your product (your #1 product: Yourself) faster than the market renders your shit irrelevant. Even if you’ve never heard of Boomerang, and you don’t engage with email nearly often enough to need such a product, look at what they did: they added more stuff to their offering and gave their customers even more value — which translates to even more reasons to keep paying their monthly subscription.

Stagnate while change is happening and life passes you by, quickly. Remember Blockbuster Video?


PS– I’ve been working on a Membership platform lately, and it’s nearly ready for release. You’ll hear about it soon. In the meantime, tell me: what would you want from such a platform? What would make it worth your resources (time, attention, money)? As always, I read all my replies.