Lightweight models and cost-effective scalability

“There will be aggregator businesses and content or specific service businesses.” (Jason Fried, 2004). Tasty Planner is one of those ‘content’ businesses. It’s essentially a recipe finder/sharer and a meal planner. Users can join and upload or find recipes, schedule meals and generate shopping lists.
Tasty Planner has followed best practice by implementing a variety of different revenue models. Firstly, it offers sponsorship opportunities – companies can pay $400 for a week of having only their advertisements appear on certain pages of the Tasty Planner site (however, this seems to exclude a block advertisements from Google that also appear on those pages). Although this brings in money for Tasty Planner, it could be argued that some this is a bad move since the ads from sponsoring companies aren’t necessarily contextually relevant and could distract from the purpose of the site (the ads from Google appear to be contextually relevant).

Secondly, Tasty Planner lets its users create accounts. The first type of account is free and offers most, if not all, of the site’s functionality. The second type of account is only available for a fee and lets users use the site without seeing ads. Whilst some fees are enough to turn away potential customers who expect online services for free, the Tasty Planner rates are so low (a dollar per month) as to likely avoid repelling these users. This is a clever strategy as it ensures that either way (whether the users are viewing ads or paying for freedom from ads) the site is still bringing in money. It also provides the flexibility to support different types of user – those who don’t want to pay can still use the site.

Thirdly, Tasty Planner has discreetly included a small image linking to its ‘pledgie’ page. ‘Pledgie’ appears to be a site where people can donate amounts to different ‘campaigns’. In the case of the ‘Tasty Planner campaign’, this seems to be not working so well as there’s a notice stating that no donations have been made yet. That said, the theory behind this is sound since they have little to lose by including this option and (potentially) a whole lot of money to gain.

Fourthly, Tasty Planner lets people license it. This means it offers customisable versions of it to people wanting something similar to its current form. In their own words:“Imagine you are a recipe book publisher, you can have your own version of Tasty Planner customized with your design and only your recipes. Those who buy your book would get much more than just a list of recipes, therefore giving you a competitive advantage. Imagine a collection of 50 cooking books, owners of your cooking books would have an interactive way to plan their weekly meals with the recipes contained in the book. This is a reason for shoppers to buy your book in favor of the next one on the shelf, and this is just one example” (Tasty Planner). This is a clear, clever example of providing outsource infrastructure to people seeking pre-packaged solutions. The Tasty Planner model is successful – successful to the extent that other people are willing to pay for a version of it customised to meet their specific needs.

This organisation encourages viral marketing by offering ‘badges’ (small images linking back to the Tasty Planner website) for recipe contributors to display on their own web pages. All that’s necessary to incorporate one of these images is to copy the code provided and paste it into your own site’s code. Tasty Planner suggests using the badges for, amongst other things, blogs and MySpace accounts. Again, this is a low-risk, easily implemented opportunity for attracting more users (and, therefore, potentially more revenue).

Part of the way Tasty Planner saves money is by having most, if not all, of its content contributed by its users. Outsourcing this task not only reduces cost but enables the acquisition of content that may otherwise have never been found or uploaded so quickly, creating a massive, rich collection of data that can then be served back to the users. What’s more, the diversity and sheer amount of data helps to draw in more users, thus continuing the cycle of user contribution and user attraction.

Another way Tasty Planner has reduced costs is by having very few staff – on its ‘about page’, it states that the site is developed and maintained by only four people, despite having almost 10000 contributing members. This sort of site scales naturally as more users means the opportunity for better content.

Overall, Tasty Planner is an excellent example of a lightweight application and business model.

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One Response to “Lightweight models and cost-effective scalability”

  1. Wan Says:

    Hi, Interesting blog you have there. Anyway, I was wondering if you could also participate in Enterprise 2.0 forum. I have hosted a forum at (http://darulfaaizin.com/forum). Registrations are FREE and you can choose your own Avatars, username, password, polling services and more coming soon as part of our Perpetual Beta journey. The limits are endless. I encourage you including myself to make use of this Wiki to enhance our Collective User Intelligence and Rich User Experience by together, we are going to achieve and dominate this Enterprise 2.0 activities throughout this Semester. Your feedbacks are important to make this forum a success by posting it in Discussion,FAQs, etc. If you are interested to have RSS feeds in your Smartphones or blogs, you can enter this feed below:

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    If you are new using this forum (me too – never too old to learn!), don’t worry there’s a lot of useful information in the forum such as FAQ, Search and also there is some hints I will try to post under respective categories. There is nothing such as “Stupid questions”, so feel free to post anything that we feel benefit others and ourselves. There is also a video tutorial (step-by-step) how to go about this forum, which makes it more easier for us to master it , and of course I will also put a link with other communities (who are using this kind of platform to date) so that we are not alone. Consequently, we will live in a knowledge-based world of community.

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