Today I am sitting in a local coffee shop eves dropping on the people next to me, which by this time seem to be two entrepreneurial men trying to start some sort of software company and a female consultant they had contacted to help get their gig going. However nice of a story that is it is mostly unrelated to what actually sparked this post. At one point in their conversation the consultant leaned in close and said that “you are selling your information and expertise, your content.”
Maybe it was just the way that she said it or maybe I misunderstood what she had meant, but it started an argument in my head. “Is a company’s content its product? Is it possible for a company to compete selling its ‘content’ while so many others are giving it away for free? How can a company get away with that?...” The list of questions went on and on for about 10 minutes until myself and I agreed that we believe that any more a company trying to sell its expertise and information is no longer enough. With nearly every company on the face of the earth possessing its own web space and most of the well-designed/higher traffic sites having blogs that give their content away for free, how could one suggest that the product these men were supposedly bringing to market was solely information?
Take one of the companies that I view to be on the forerunning edge of internet technology, SEOmoz, they have employees across their entire organization sharing their thoughts, tips, and secrets to the entire world! Hell, they even let the public try their product for 30 days FOR FREE! Sound crazy? It should. It is a down right outrageous strategy that is working wonderfully for them. This is because they have realized it is not the information that they are selling, they are selling the experience that tells one what to do with that information.
So to bring me full circle, I wish I would have had heard that consultant and have leaned over to say, you’re wrong. I should have walked over sat down and said that the information you have isn’t worth anything to a customer, because if you want to charge for it, then the customer can just Google “Information like what company XYZ is trying to sell” and they will most likely be given 200 links to sites more than happy to give away the same exact information for free. Finally, I should have finished by saying that since your information is basically worthless, you have to focus on selling the fact that you know what to do with the knowledge you possess and that you are willing to share that with those that choose to buy your SERVICE.
Then these people, these poor business men running company XYZ, who would have been trying to sell information as a product, while Blogger Bob gives it away for free, would realize that they don’t have to focus on selling their information at all, but they must key in on selling their experience and guidance on how to use this information as a service. Feel free to disagree and please if you have a valid point share, I wrote this in the passion of the moment and realize I may have skipped over some exceptions such as the media or encyclopedia companies. Have a good day!