Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Second Life Entrepreneur = First Life Millionaire

MarketingVox reports that SL real estate entreprenuer Anshe Chung has become the first resident of the virtual world to amass $1 million in First Life cash. She made her money buying and investing in Linden real estate, and cashing out in First Life $$. Got to say I'm impressed. She got on SL back when there was a $10 fee to open an account, and for that she's turned herself into a millionaire.

Apparently, the actual woman behind the avatar is a teacher who resides in Frankfurt and took on SL as a side business. Anshe Chung has done a nice job of proving how to be successful in SL; get in with something people want (to buy some land) and figure out an interesting way to give it to em (have your seductive female avatar sell shit for you in this case).

I guess this answers my earlier questions about whether or not SL would actually prove to be profitable for businesess. Though I still have doubts as to whether some companies who are getting in on it actually have a true plan beyond trying to up their buzz and cool factor. Wells Fargos foray comes to mind; they made a good move by branding their own Stagecoach Island within SL. Visitors to the island could skydive, dance, shop, and finance their adventures by taking Linden dollars out of Wells Fargo ATMs.

But, any effort at strongly tying the bank into the SL culture was non-existent. Sure there were some financial messages integrated into their SL offerings, but why should anyone care? Further, the bank only maintained the island for a few months as an experiment; so was it a true effort to enter this world or simply test the waters? And if it was the latter, it seems to me that its an arrogant move to test the SL user with a half-ass attempt rather than a genuine entry into the world. From what I gather, SL residents are already pissed that massive corporations are moving into SL, so "experimenting" with them is not going to ease entry into the world.

Which brings me to another point- how do we get anyone to care about our brands within SL? Some brands have entered the virtual world in a unique way and have managed to create- at the very least- a perception of differentiation. For example, ADIDAS sells customizable Second Life kicks.

And Pontiac has created MotoratiLife, which puts the power into the SL resident's hands, allowing them to interact with the Pontiac brand thru their natural love of cars-- which hopefully leads the SL'er to a First Life purchase of the Pontiac brand.

Giving them something that actually adds value to the SL user experience is common sense, though it doesn't seem every business entering SL gets this. It seems to me that many companies are just jumping on the SL bandwagon the way kids follow the leader in grade school: all the cool kids are doing it, so its got to be what I should be doing!!

With so many companies jumping into the virtual fray so fast in hopes of bringing in the big $, could SL perhaps be the next .com boom --> bust?

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