Wikinomics features Brownbook

It is indeed an honor to be featured on After all, it was having read the international bestseller Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams that Brownbook was born.


Denis Hancock really gets why we have created Brownbook and his article highlights many of our fundamentals:

  • Traditional business directory margins
  • That Brownbook is a lean wikinomics-enabled company
  • Why we seeded 27 million business records in Brownbook
  • That the business model is low-cost or no-cost
  • Brownbook was global from day one; anyone, anywhere can add businesses anywhere in the World
  • How we are motivating prosumers to contribute with the newly launched ‘user earnings program’
  • That more people are trying to do good than bad in the World which means, less abuse of Brownbook than anyone would have thought

A great read.

Brownbook speaks at InfoCommerce

We’ve been invited to speak at the forthcoming InfoCommerce 2008 event, November 10 in Philadelphia.

Here’s a little intro from InfoCommerce:

In February of this year, I brought to your attention a UK-based online y***** p**** start-up called While online y***** p**** is a crowded and generally unremarkable category of online content, Brownbook was coming at it with a fresh and audacious approach by relying on the wiki model. Yes, user-generated content for y***** p****.

We know wikis can work. Just look at the success of Wikipedia. We know that databases can be built with user-generated content. Witness both Jigsaw and LinkedIn (both former InfoCommerce Models of Excellence winners). But the general thinking to date has been that users will contribute only when they’re passionate about a topic or there’s something in it for them. Most would agree that “y***** p****” and “passion” are rarely seen in the same sentence.

Despite this, BrownBook has persevered with this new approach, and by all reports, it’s working. Strong site metrics are suggesting BrownBook may be onto something big with this innovative model.

Not content simply to revolutionize how y***** p**** databases are built and maintained, BrownBook has just announced an equally remarkable innovation: it wants to turn its registered users into a commission sales force.

In a nutshell, if a registered user of BrownBook contributes content about a business, and that business later pays to enhance its listing, the registered user receives a portion of that revenue. But to make things more interesting, this isn’t a one-time payment. It’s a lifetime commission stream to that user as long as that business remains an advertiser. So while users can likely make a few dollars passively, they can potentially make a lot of money by actively encouraging the businesses they write about to advertise in BrownBook, and to remain advertisers in BrownBook as well. Consider too the potentially viral aspects of this model as BrownBook users start to receive checks, initially for not doing anything. It won’t take them long to spread the word to their friends and recognize that by talking up BrownBook to their favorite retailers, they can develop a nice stream of ongoing cash.

The best way to get the full story on BrownBook is to be at InfoCommerce 2008 in Philadelphia on Monday November 10 – where you can hear Marc Lyne, BrownBook’s co-founder, on our kick-off Meet the Evolutionaries panel. See you there …

Making the internet work for your small business

I was the recipient of an interesting direct marketing email this week, and it struck such a chord with me that I thought I’d share it with you here.  Some very interesting stats that really drive home the importance of being online and findable for every small business.

(you may want to check this article in The Telegraph this week in the same vein)

(PS: I’ve removed the name of the company to protect the innocent :))


With ******** Internet Solutions
2.7 Billion Searches – Every Month!*
What’s your share of the search?

With all these searches on the internet why isn’t your business getting it’s fair share? 79%** of searches are performed on Google, with the rest trailing far behind – just 8% on Yahoo, 5% on Ask, 4% for MSN and a mere 2% for all the other search services and directories on the Internet. Does the website of the telephone directory you pay to advertise in feature in this list?

Over half – 54%*** to be precise – of the UK population use the internet regularly, and if YOUR business is not on the Internet – or not highly ranked on the number one search engine – then potential customers don’t know you exist.

The numbers speak for themselves – what’s YOUR percentage of the 2.7 BILLION searches?

People are looking for your product or service online – call ******** today and find out how we can increase your share of the search to improve your business performance!

  • Can your business afford not to take advantage of the web?
  • Are you one of the many businesses that still don’t have a website?
  • Are you still spending hundreds – or even thousands – on paper advertising?
  • With £70bn** of business today conducted on the web – isn’t it time you asked why?

* comScore
** Hitwise, an Experian Company
*** UK Office of national statistics
DI>  I liked the email, and very useful stats too. Of course, you could take the DIY approach and add your business to with relevant tags.  No need to talk to us, no need to fend off any sales person either.  Our SEO ensures you get found on all the major  search engines helping you win new business. Simple as that.

Listing in free directories like made sense

Caught this piece written by Richard Tyler, Enterprise Editor at the Telegraph yesterday:

Mr Critchlow said listing in free business directories like and made sense but questioned the return on traditional paid-for directories like (Yellow Pages), particularly for business and professional services firms. “We have found them to be surprisingly ineffective,”

Will Critchlow is the co-founder of Distilled.

Social media has no place in business… he cried!

I was invited by Edelman PR last week to a round table discussion titled – ‘social media in business’. “Bully for you” I hear you shout; well occasionally I feel the need to have some social interaction with others that’s not wholly about…

My one comment of note from the evening was that generally there is a marked shift of power from the ‘centralized few’ (ie the large companies, media companies, governments etc) to the self appointed masses (ie bloggers, communities, online adjudicators etc). The increase in our ability to efficiently and effectively communicate has made everyone a publisher (given everyone a voice) and many have the ability to self appoint themselves as the authority or the service of choice eg facebook, youtube, uribl for email spam, as the global business directory. The success or failure of these start-ups is driven by the masses, ie they get used or they don’t, if they don’t, they die. You could say ‘self selection’ an ‘online evolution’ if you like… a trend that is not going to stop, its going to get faster and faster and happen more and more, ignore it and you will be cast aside. If you expect government and other currently respected ‘old school’ authorities and organizations to set the rules and have the masses follow them, forget it. Unless they can radically adapt their cost structure, their revenue model, their service and the way they communicate to the ‘new way’ then they will be left behind. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg today.

One other discussion point focused on the concept of ‘privacy’ as we knew it, a differentiation between your work and home life. My hypothesis is… the moment you start to play on-line in both areas of your life, then forget it, ‘privacy’ is an old concept, you are who you are whether you are at work or with your family, you can expect the currently blurred lines to get even more blurred in the future and there is nothing you can do to stop it… except the obvious… act responsibly, don’t share stuff online that you don’t want others to see, conduct yourself appropriately by the laws of the country you live in and within the boundaries of the expectations set by your friends, work colleagues etc.

Attendees around the table included:
Professor Nigel Shadbolt from the University of Southampton and
Euan Semple from Euan
Robert Phillips from Edelman who also has a blog called Chattering Class