Friday, November 7, 2008

Business blunders in SL (or a treatise on requests for Raven's free time)

I am not sure if you all are aware, but I am Business Manager for RFyre. For over a year, I have worked for Raven Pennyfeather and her small business on a part-time basis for a real life wage.

Over the year, Raven will tell you one of the things I have firmly impressed upon her is the value of her time in SL and out of it. For Raven, who derives her sole income from her business here, using her work time wisely is incredibly important.

As a relatively well-known content provider, Raven gets a slew of offers and solicitations from people in world. They can be anything from charity events to fashion shows to magazines to freebies wanted. She passes these on to me because, frankly, she's a nice lady. She would like us to at least acknowledge these solicitations. I am not so nice. I have no problem saying no.

Let me give you the bottom line on this one. Raven's time is money. She doesn't give it out for free nor should she. Nevertheless, countless people ask her on a daily basis to do so. And they do it unprofessionally, rudely, and rather foolishly. (I call all of this stuff "foolishness." Raven finds that hilarious.)

That being said, let me share some correspondence that I received today for our involvement in a magazine... or something... not sure what it is because the corresponder was not very articulate (and let say, at least this person bothered to notecard, which is more than most do):

Hello Raven, I am the Business Relations Manager of a new SL publication called XXX that showcases all SL talent/creators from SIM makers, fashion designers, prefab and furniture makers, photographers, and etc. We are currently reaching further and making the publication international being published in 6 different langauges amongst other projects to further showcase SL talent. Currently we are looking for sponsors/partners and the support from (name of comapny) would be wonderful. I have sent you a folder containing the current issue and information on the publication. hope to hear from you soon. :-)

Many thanks for you time

XXX

I am sure you can see I bolded "(name of comapny)." I did this because I laughed when I read it. I responded thus:

XXX:

Thank you for your interest in RFyre. At this time we don't have time budgeted to contribute to your magazine.

Please contact us in three months to fill us in on what you have been able to do with the magazine and we can then reconsider participation.

Thanks for asking for our participation.

Raven Pennyfeather
Empress of RFyre
CEO (name of comapny)

Harper Beresford
Duchess of RFyre
CMO (name of comapny)

She IM'd me back and thanked me. I don't think she read below the first "no." I took the time to read her thing!

Regarding charities, I think it is time we all start asking about the charities asking donations of us. I know Relay for Life has been extremely successful and I fully trust that monies made in Second Life go to the American Cancer Society, which is a fine organization. However, there are many other "charities" and fund-raising things that go on in SL which have no documentation.

Therefore, I have written a policy for RFyre which I am sharing on this blog. You are all welcome to cut and paste and put (name of comapny) in it.

RFyre's Policy Regarding Charities

We are frequently asked to donate time, content, and/or money to charities in Second Life from various people. While we are sympathetic to many causes, in most cases, we feel that money is better given directly to these causes rather than solicited on Second Life.

However, we are always willing to consider any unique possibility for supporting charities in SL if they are viable and if our efforts will be effective.

To best persuade us to participate or donate to any charity event in SL, we need the following information:

1. Avatar name who will be handling the funds
2. Real life name of that avatar
3. Charity name, website and address
4. Means of contacting the charity to insure that the avatar's representation in SL for their charity has been cleared

Thanks for asking for our participation.

Raven Pennyfeather
Empress of RFyre
CEO House of RFyre

Harper Beresford
Duchess of RFyre
CMO House of RFyre

We also get requests for freebies to be offered in hunts on sims where we have satellite stores, for charity hunts, etc. When I was a newbie, freebies were a valuable way for me to learn how to shop, how to dress myself, and what a broad variety of looks can be achieved in SL. They were great--when I got them from Free Dove.

However, there are people who actively seek freebies on SL and blog about this. We have offered freebies. Hundreds of avatars stream in, jam up our store, and stream out. We found no spike in sales. In fact, Raven has packaged a 250L GC in some freebies and never had takers.

There has been a lot of discussion among content providers about this. I spoke to one content person who had a treasure hunt at her sim on Halloween weekend and marked everything 10L to 140L. She convinced me that this was fair and would still draw traffic--but the kind of traffic she wants--people who bring money into the economy and spend it. She had a terrific idea.

So again, feel free to cut and paste, putting your (name of comapny) in it.

RFyre's Policy Regarding "Freebies"

Our policy regarding freebies or "gifts" is that we are very reluctant to provide them. Therefore, if you are receiving this notecard, our answer to you is no, we are sorry--we can not participate.

While we appreciate the traffic that "freebies" can build, our metrics show us that they do not generate sales for us or for our associates. When we have given out freebies on our sim or at other sims, we have never seen an appreciable increase in sales during the giveaway or after. We see a spike in traffic but not in sales.

We can only conclude that the audience that typically looks for freebies is not the demographic that brings money into Second Life. If we are looking for a promotion for getting money-spending customers to see our products, this is not it.

Additionally, our philosophy is that time spent producing content of the level that RFyre provides is worth some compensation. We are RL people spending substantial RL time on this content. Second Life has given us the opportunity to be compensated for our time and skills. Offering freebies devalues those skills and time for us and other creators. It sets into the economy a belief that this work should be free. In other words, it's devalued if we devalue it by offering it freely.

That being said, we have adopted a policy of offering deeply discounted items to potential customers. If an avatar can come up with 50L, that is more than enough to purchase our promotional item. We will gladly set out a promotional item at 50L to supplement your promotions.

Thanks for asking for our participation.

Raven Pennyfeather
Empress of RFyre
CEO House of RFyre

Harper Beresford
Duchess of RFyre
CMO House of RFyre

Let it be said, finally, that we love our customers. We want to be good to them. There is nothing more gratifying to Raven than to hear a customer express their love of her art or tell her a story about how much her creations mean to them. We do offer special promotions, and Raven passes out free outfits rather freely (I know this because she gave me one the day we first met, more than a year ago, for no other reason than she was just a very nice woman.)

2 comments:

IYan Writer said...

"We can only conclude that the audience that typically looks for freebies is not the demographic that brings money into Second Life."

Exactly. Well said :)

IYan, slave at (name of comapny)

Green Dream said...

I wish I had a more robust little business so I could use these policies without lookimg pompous. Excellent job, Harper!

And I, for one, have appreciated the awesome hunts you have done at RFyre. The last one was challenging, but well worth it. I haven't' used the giftcards that I have right now because I suck at handling my Lindens. :P