I am constantly referring to loose frameworks which provide a model for others to try and leverage with their own ideas. The Mint.com is one I mention frequently.
In short the Mint.com model is to…
Engage with your audience tremendously well and do so in an ongoing capacity, grab as much attention from the market as you can. This is exactly what Mint.com does with their blog.
Then provide direct paths to becoming a customer from this attention, you immediately capture both sides.
1) The most amount of attention you can get from your market (and get them talking).
2) Then leverage that attention to provide a stream of customers.
It’s such a nice balance of community, attraction and ensuring business gets done.