In the last two posts, I bored you with details of open and closed-source traits, and what drives innovation in businesses. Of course, I didn’t personally find it boring, but I admit it couldn’t have been a light read. But I needed that foundation in order for my views on BC to make any sense to you.
When Business Catalyst started introducing the concept of admin apps on the platform, many partners complained that BC was losing what differentiated it from WordPress and other platforms. The fear was that introducing apps and plugins would remove the oft-made argument that BC is a managed system, as opposed to one where updates to the core and its plugins would need to be handled at the site owner’s expense. But this isn’t what really differentiates BC from WP.
What really differentiates the two platforms?
To the aforementioned argument of why BC was better than WordPress, I say pooh pooh, it just wasn’t true. BC isn’t better because it’s closed. In fact, “better” shouldn’t even be in the argument. We should be saying “better for”.
A few examples of who Business Catalyst is “better for”:
- BC is better for businesses looking to manage customers on their sites. WordPress simply doesn’t have an integrated CRM. They are all 3rd party.
- BC is better for businesses who need a little bit of everything, and all of nothing. I’ve argued that BC’s appeal is similar to that of all-in-one printers. All-in-one printers are good at many things, sometimes even great. But they are never the best at anything. That fact truly is a feature, not a flaw. Many businesses simply don’t need the best in any one area. They just need each area to be covered. For this customer, WordPress is simply not the best option, but BC may very well be.
- BC is better for web pros who want to pursue vertical markets. Nothing comes close to BC’s ability to replicate an existing site.
Who is BC not good for?
- Businesses looking for the best of any one feature. There are systems designed to cater to these people, and BC is not competitive with them. WordPress is though—nobody blogs like WordPress.
- Bottom-of-the-barrell businesses who just want tiny brochure sites, and will never login to the admins of those sites. BC is built for doing business, plain and simple.
- BC is not good for large corporations looking for the best in everything. Because, frankly, BC isn’t the best. And that’s the point.
BC is not the best. And that's awesome.
That’s an important thing to embrace. Really, embrace it! The market has millions of people seeking all-in-one printers and their analogous web platforms.
Switching to a car dealer analogy, we simply can’t all be selling Ferraris, because most people don’t need them or want them. And we can’t all be selling compact cars, because there are countless people who want and need more. Business Catalyst is a fantastic platform for the market’s massive middle ground; for the place where most businesses live.
So, to answer the question directly, of what differentiates Business Catalyst from WordPress, you’ll see it has nothing to do with apps and plugins. The key differentiators are:
- Market position. Business Catalyst, because of its all-in-one printerness is a perfect fit for the lucrative middle ground. WordPress hits both the low-end (because it’s a great, cheap option for simple brochure sites) and the high-end (specifically for blogging, because it is the best blog engine out there. Think single-function printer), but has to be shoehorned into the middle-ground through plugins. And ironically, the term high-end, as I’m referring to with WordPress is not a reflection on price-point. A WordPress blog is just as inexpensive to setup as a low-end brochure site. This isn’t unique to WordPress either. It’s a strange phenomenon that many of the best single-purpose web services out there are also the cheapest.
- Closed-source. BC operates on a SaaS (Software as a Service) model where it charges users a monthly fee, and in turn it handles its own servers behind closed doors. This offers a level of control over the product that makes it easier to achieve better uptime, more frequent updates and progress for the platform than its open-source counterparts.
Of course, BC has nowhere near the market-share of WordPress (WordPress has 100x the Twitter followers alone). If we were to compare the two systems using the same Venn diagram shown in the previous post, BC’s circle of influence would be significantly smaller in comparison to WordPress. But when you realize how very different these two systems are, and how they naturally fill very different needs in the market—and when you see that there is nothing out there quite like Business Catalyst—you’ll start to see that Business Catalyst is a sleeping giant.
I think with the right plan, we could wake it up….