Just left a long comment over on Robert Scoble site regarding the business model of Google.
Thought I would post it here as well.
Google has a business model that not too many people really understand – their primary service is something that they give away for free. What they sell is the remnants of providing that service. What they are really doing is “tagging” groups of individuals by what they are searching for. They then sell the advertising space to this aggregation of consumers.
If a business whiches to differentiate themselves (including MSN Search) they must think broader than simply the service they are providing. Initially they must provide the best of class service, but that is not enough. (Competition will catch up in this technology world – see Don Dodge’s blog on that one).
For an example, the airline business is truly a competitive market. Consumer selection is probably based on flying times and/or price. Most, if not all airlines, are concentrating on ensuring their planes are full. If they would think a bit broader – I would say that they are flying consumers to other markets – markets where merchants would love to service those customers. This is a remnant of their service. Sure they are responsible for safely delivering a passenger to a city, but why stop there? Why not make arrangement for a special cab service that saves their consumers time and money (no wait line, better quality cabs, etc.) when they get to that city. How about a hotel and ensure luggage goes straight there from the airport (I hate lugging the stuff until I can check in..)…. I could go on and on…And consumers, via word of mouth, would then fill those planes…not because of the airline, but for the additional services that come with that service.
A good CRO (Chief Relationship Officier) should be thinking broader, and introduce relationships that benefit his consumer base – this is all about thinking about the audiance – not just about a consumer buying a plane ticket.