Saturday, July 21, 2012

Some advice for Marissa Mayer

I cannot believe I didn't get a call about the CEO position at Yahoo. Seriously, if anyone knows how to raise a brand from the dead it's me. Just ask the owner of The Daily Grind, my local coffee shop, and how my social media savvy saved him from the disaster that was a Groupon. I'll leave that story for another day.

But given that I've been temporarily overlooked I'll serve up my Bradstone Wisdom (pronounced wiz-dome) here for MM to read.

Do you know what Yahoo's greatest strength is? I'll tell you what it is.

Yahoo's greatest strength is that no one, not the company, not the press, not the public, knows what Yahoo does.

It's literally putty in MM's hands.

Is it a social network? Search engine? Email provider? Photo sharing site? No one knows.

And Yahoo's greatest asset? Its users. The millions who still use Yahoo are literally people who've had years to use other sites and haven't. They could have changed to any other site on the web, but they huddle together, a mass of terrified pawns scared to try anything new.

And right there is the secret of Yahoo's future success. It needs to learn the lesson of history and look to the greatest of all online brands for inspiration: AOL. It needs to play on the fears of its users and make YOL the one place the go.

If I were CEO I'd kill the deal with Bing and cut Yahoo's links to the web. Whenever a user finds something on the web outside Yahoo and clicks through, YOL should flash up a warning that leaving the safety of Yahoo puts their users at risk of viruses, scams and worse.

Also kill off any innovation. YOL needs to be the Walmart of the Web. Its customers should go to it and only it for everything. Drop all that money spent on clever stuff like YUI.

And then six months in hit the user base with the revenue plan. YOL goes subscription only. $5 a month for peace of mind.

Think about it! Where's the competition? Literally no one else is going to go the one stop, closed ecosystem route. No one.

This would be YOL's "Apple Store" moment. Just when everyone thought retail was dead Apple saved it. And YOL can do the same for closed, proprietary systems.

They're literally the last hope. Even Microsoft has embraced the web.

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