I gave a keynote presentation recently for IBM at The Langham Hotel in Melbourne as part of their Software Business Partner Symposium. The title of the keynote was “Generating B2B Leads Through Social Networks.”
During the Q&A session afterwards, one of the common themes was the fear in the corporate world around giving too much information away for free on the internet. I was reminded of something James Tuckerman from Australian Anthill said recently at a series of workshops we were both part of. He said, “there is no margin in the mystery anymore”.
I almost agree. There is still margin in the mystery. It's just that the mystery has moved. Let's go back a step.
Dave Berkus coined the phrase “where there is mystery there is margin” in the eighties to describe the opportunity that resellers had selling computer hardware to businesses. I think this phrase still holds true. However, because of the proliferation of broadband Internet and social networks, there is no longer any mystery around information alone. The mystery lies in the application of that information.
We are no longer willing to pay for information because we don't have to. As marketers, we should not be asking our clients to pay for it either. What we need to be doing (something Gerry Harvey is learning the hard way) is illuminating the value we add to the transaction. That's assuming you have some value to add. If you don't, you're in trouble.
One of the hurdles that big corporate has to overcome is that for years the margin has been in the information and a lot of intellectual property has been developed around information alone. The value of that intellectual property is now in free-fall because smart marketers are prepared to give all the information away for free. Of course this is part of the “expert positioning” strategy and is central to the modern “inbound marketing” movement.
So here's my parting thought on this matter:
Knowledge used to equal power. Knowledge is now so freely available that it's power is diminished. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. Wisdom is what people will pay you for. Stop marketing information and start marketing the value you add by demonstrating your wisdom.