There is so much fantastic stuff in John Battelle’s piece “Are You Becoming Irrelevant To Your Customers” on AdAge.com that you really should read the whole thing, but his first point about intent needs to be stamped on my forehead:
1. Intent trumps content. The traditional model for marketing used to be that content companies made content, then advertisers attached themselves to that content in various ways. Content was a proxy for the audience, and the audience was what marketers were after.
But in the age of search, consumers are declaring their intent first through the mechanism of the search box. They are stating what they want. This is proving an irresistible attachment point for marketers, and hence we have the rise of paid search, with Google/Yahoo as its leaders. Content is what is found after intent is declared, and a new middleman — the search box — has created value by creating an attachment point where every marketer wants to be — at the point of intent. This doesn’t mean content is dead; far from it. Content is often what consumers want. But if your content is not found when the consumer’s intent is declared, well, you lose.
Registration required, which seems ironic, given what Battelle is saying about being part of the conversation!