Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
I’d like to share another preview from The Facebook Era 2nd edition ahead of the release next month. Here is the foreword from Jim McCann. Jim is founder, Chairman, and CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, and a wonderful person, entrepreneur, and inspiration.
Jim immediately came to mind when I was contemplating who to ask to write this foreword. Jim is an incredible entrepreneur who has artfully led 1-800-FLOWERS.COM through many eras of technology and marketing. More than anyone, Jim recognizes the value of embracing disruptive technologies to establish competitive advantage. This is evident in the name changes is company has undergone: Flora Plenty (1976), 1-800-FLOWERS (1986), 1-800-FLOWERS.COM (1995). Perhaps FACEBOOK.COM/1800FLOWERS is next!
I am very grateful to Jim for sharing his thoughts in this foreword. I enjoyed it immensely and think you will, too.
Foreword to The Facebook Era 2nd Edition
I’ve been a florist since 1976 when I opened my first retail flower shop in New York City. Today, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM is a $700 million-dollar company selling flowers, confections, and gifts in more than 40 countries.
We are not in the technology industry. However, technology has always been a key to our success. Rather than fearing or avoiding new technologies, we have embraced them to continually redefine our industry, establish a competitive advantage, and most importantly, make it easier for customers to do business with us. This has happened time and again, first with toll-free numbers, then with the Internet, and today with Facebook and mobile applications—what Clara calls the “social Web.”
We were originally called “1-800-FLOWERS” because I made a bet in 1986, the year toll-free numbers first became widely available, that customers would appreciate calling in rather than having to come in person to place an order. People thought it was nuts then. But what retailer today wouldn’t have an 800-number?
In 1991, we went online. At the time, a mere 4.5 million of Americans (fewer than 5%) were online and people still had to pay by the minute to surf the Web. I had a feeling, though, that this whole Internet thing would be big and I wanted to make sure we were part of it. We started with online advertising, first on CompuServe and later AOL. In 1995, when there were 25 million Internet users in America, we launched our first Web site and became 1-800-FLOWERS.COM. People thought it was nuts, again! But what retailer today wouldn’t pay for online advertising and a Web site? In fact, the majority of our business now comes from the Internet.
So, what next? Well, let me tell you: You’d have to be nuts to ignore the 500 million active users on Facebook.
But it’s more than just the numbers. Past technologies helped drive down costs, improve reach, and grow the business, but in the process we lost something very important: customer connection. I have missed the direct customer dialog I had in our retail flower shops. The digital age has felt largely transactional in comparison.
This is why I feel even more excited about The Facebook Era than I did about toll-free numbers or the Internet. The social Web is about connecting with customers again, hearing their stories, sharing in their joys and sorrows and the most important moments of their lives. It’s about reopening the dialog so that businesses can put customers back in the driver’s seat and keep getting better.
I met Clara in Madrid last year after we gave back-to-back keynotes at a major business and technology conference. Her message struck a chord with me. The social Web is not just new technology, it is a cultural movement.
The Facebook Era is a powerful book about technology, culture, and business written by one of the leading innovators in the field. Clara speaks and writes with passion because her conviction is deeply rooted in actual experience. In 2007, when most business people thought Facebook was a passing college student fad, Clara conceived of and developed Faceconnector, the first business application on Facebook.
This book articulates in clear and simple terms the opportunity for businesses on the social Web. Clara presents a wealth of case studies, research data, best practices, and actionable steps, and writes in a style that everyone from the CEO to your summer intern will find enjoyable, invaluable, and immediately useful.
Whatever business you’re in—whether you’re selling flowers and gift baskets or cars and consulting—embrace the concepts and techniques in The Facebook Era. Use them to connect with your customers, and you will go far.
Founder, Chairman, and CEO of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM
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