Interview With Patrice Dickey, Author of “Back to the Garden – Getting From Shadow to Joy”

As a speaker, award-winning author, workshop leader and life coach, Patrice Dickey helps others align their vision and values to create richer, more meaningful lives on every level. After having reinvented herself numerous times through many paradigm pitfalls and life shifts, she knows how to walk the talk!

Her passion today is her courses and workshops in spiritual growth and life transition. In the past google scraping , for 15 years she was one of fewer than ten female Dale Carnegie Sales Training instructors in the world, consistently receiving outstanding ratings.

She is author of the inspirational book “Back to the Garden: Getting from Shadow to Joy,” its companion audiobook, “Selected Chapters from Back to the Garden,” and a series of DVDs on self- empowerment, including “Treasure Maps: Charting Your Path to Lifelong Success” and “Influence Made Easy: Making Connections That Sell.”

Published in 2006, “Back to the Garden” has won five awards in contests including Writers Digest, the international IPPYs and Best Books USA in inspirational/spiritual categories, as well as first prize for non-fiction from the Atlanta Writers Club.

In demand as a speaker for corporate workshops and keynotes on topics including “Think the Life You Love” and “Influence Made Easy: Making Connections that Sell,” she has been an instructor in Atlanta, Georgia, at Emory University’s Center for Lifelong Learning since 1999. She developed and teaches popular classes “Get the Life You Love” and “Yogativity™ (Yoga to Tap Your Creativity).” She is also a Registered Yoga Teacher.

The VoIP scene began with an idealistic approach – offer people improved voice services – for a more cost effective price. Since then these ideals have been shifting as the industry grows up, and turned into a profit machine. Gone are the days when networks concentrate on giving free service to all in sight. These days, companies are more and more concentrated on one thing – profit.

While this in itself is no surprise – the scope of monetization going on behind the scenes may very well surprise some. A great example would be so-called VoIP review sits. The two largest VoIP review sites have been bought by a single company, who in essence now rules this market. Both sites used to be more-or-less non-commercial in the past, but sold for an undisclosed amount, probably in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The buying entity has been very generous in their offers to VoIP providers from my personal experience. Personally I have had good experiences advertising with them. However, this is not the point. The real point is that a single company managed to take over a huge chunk of the VoIP Review market – a market that did not even exist a few years ago. With the way the web ebbs and flow, and with Google always changing things, they are unlikely to remain the market leaders for many years, however for the time being they are a force to reckon with.

Many, many providers that used to get free or very cheap advertisement opportunities with these non-profit sites, have now been in essence cast out of the market completely. Some providers who have been in the market for years have gone out of business this year. We can blame the economy, or the fact these providers weren’t any good to begin with – but the single fact remains: as a company it is irrelevant how good you are, if you have no customers. Those who chose to skimp out on advertising costs, paid the ultimate price.

These two review sites are not alone. Rather, they’re the norm. There is a whole mass of so-called “review” and “comparison” sites flooding the internet. In almost all cases such sites are biased and display only sites who pay to be included, run pay-per-click campaigns, or pay-per-sale affiliate revenue sharing. Not the I have anything against such sale techniques, but the market at this stage is almost 100% pay-to-play.

Such pay-to-play tactics impact more than just the providers themselves. It goes without saying that the more providers pay for advertising, the more expensive they would be to the customer. This is especially prominent with the leading providers – some of which spend over $100 on average to acquire a single customer. Such crazy figures, combined with churn rates to the tune of 3% a month, spell financial trouble for bigger players. In today’s financial scene, hot-shot VoIP providers can no longer borrow millions of dollars without account for how they’re going to pay it back. The credit-crunch is on, and the largest borrowers are feeling it harder than most.

Smaller providers in essence are living off the scrapes, so-to-speak. With 3% churn from the big guys there are a lot of scrapes to go around… smaller providers typically have far less cost to acquire new customers, and in turn price anywhere between 25-75% of the big guys. More often than not, smaller providers are actually profitable rather than barely surviving on credit. It is much easier to turn a profit when you have a few thousand customers with a new customer acquisition cost of a few dollars each – than millions of customers who cost you millions to acquire.

In the coming year I think we will see great changes in the VoIP world. Some bankruptcies and providers going out of business are inevitable. As a result, financial institutions will get scared and start asking to get their loans paid. This will result in even more bankruptcies. This is a rather grim prediction for the big guys, but the next year will see profitable, better managed smaller providers propel forward in growth as they swallow customers from old, failing larger providers.

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