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[THIS IS FROM MY 2009 BLOG]

I was on Twitter this afternoon just tweeting away, having a jolly good time emptying my cerebellum.. when I read an interesting tweet by marketing maven Walter Pike about the AAA School of Advertising’s Digital Academy. His tweet was about them having had a very good intake of students for the upcoming courses in Digital Strategy and Google Adwords thus far.

I then asked him whether it would not make sense to facilitate a course in digital marketing, well.. digitally

Now I have crazy respect for Walter. He is, after all, the head of the Faculty of Marketing at the AAA School of Advertising, proprietor of marketing consultancy PIKE and the founder of entrepreneurs/freelancers social network FLYING SOLO – of which I am a member. But his response had me puzzled.

Walter says: “It makes sense to deliver content the way the market wants it”
Whilst I do not disagree with him fundamentally (there’s that gobbledygook monster again), in this particular context I question “content”, “the way” and “the market”.

content context

I’d like to introduce two people I’ve grown digitally close to (no they don’t know me personally) between mid-2007 and today.
The first person is eMarketing agency boss Rob Stokes. The second is outsourced marketing consultant Laura Lake.

I have been reading Rob’s company blog for almost 2 years now and have a neatly bound file consisting of prints of every downloadable PDF they ever made available. This was before I knew they were planning on publishing a book, otherwise I would have waited. Now they probably assumed that some people will print the PDFs to read. But I doubt they went and researched who will probably do what before they made the content available, i.e they just made it available. Those who read on-screen reads on-screen. Those who print print. Those who transfer to PDF reader transfers. What you do with the content is your own “indaba”. As the CEO of the company I would like to think Rob had a hand in making the content available.

Laura is the editor of the marketing section of about.com. Whilst I only started reading her blog recently (I prefer sticking with the locals.. Stii.. Justin.. Stopforth..), I have been reading her stuff on about.com since forever. Sometime late last year I subscribed to a 6-week course in Brand Strategy that she was facilitating online.. via email.. My work schedule between October and December did not allow me to complete the course, but as soon as I returned to “normality” in January I went through the course material and I am reasonably impressed with what people are being given – for free. And at no point was I consulted on which medium will work best for me, so they had no idea whether I will prefer learning on their website, via downloadable PDFs or having lessons emailed to me.

I guess what I’m trying to illustrate is that neither Quirk nor About.com had any idea what the market wants.. and it did not bother them. They just made the content available in an easily digestible and assimilatable form and that was that.

In both these cases we see that content was transferred digitally as well as in print (in Quirk’s case) and in both instances the market wanted it the way the giver was giving it. No questions asked.

Since the days of David Ogilvy, and even before that.. NOBODY knew what the market wants. Today, NOBODY knows what the market wants. NOBODY will ever know what the market wants. That is the very reason for the existence of advertising. TO TELL THE MARKET WHAT IT WANTS AND HOW IT WANTS IT.

As smart as markets have become, it still does not know what it wants and takes what it is given.

And contextually, I am not sure I would define course material that is sold as “content”.

OK that was a mouthful. Now what do you think? Am I lost in the cloud or am I onto something here? Feel free to leave a coomment.