Tipping Point? More Like Ignition Point! The Rapid Ascension to the Knowledge-Based Economy and What it Means for Marketers

We’ve crossed into new territory and our ascension has been fostered by the rapid cycle of technological innovation, the proliferation of information technology infrastructure and the number of people connected to each other in real-time.

In a recent article about the Sectors of the Economy, Matt Rosenberg does a good job of defining the primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary and quinary sectors of economic activity. As you know, most of the developed nation/states on the planet possess highly developed third-stage (tertiary stage) economies in which over 75 percent of economic activity is generated by service activities (including government). In the graphic below, this sector of economic activity is highlighted with a star to illustrate its importance to those of us living in developed countries.

Few have noticed that the countries in the developed world are shifting from a tertiary stage of economic activity to the quaternary stage of economic activity: a knowledge-based economy. Clearly the degree of connectedness has contributed to this almost imperceptible transition to the knowledge-based economy. So, although somewhat late and in the spirit of the World Cup, let’s officially declare the knowledge-based economy open for competition. As illustrated here, although service-based economic activities remain dominant, knowledge-based activities represent the growth area.

What does this have to do with marketing? Almost all of what exists in the realm of social media contributes to knowledge. New experts are emerging based on their knowledge of social media, best practices, diffusing knowledge and establishing their personal brand using content marketing.

Copyblogger provides an excellent overview of content marketing (Content Marketing 101), but the essence is that the content provider embraces, either explicitly or implicitly, the concept of open source and provides content for free. Thus, the answer to the question “What if we gave it away?” is that doing so builds networks and relationships that offer opportunities for monetization. In essence, content marketing is analogous to the primary economic sector activity of farming: you plant a seed (content), add water and fertilizer (more content) and wait for it to germinate and grow.

How is this marketing? In the knowledge-based economy, you (the knowledge provider) build your network globally through demonstrating mastery of some sought-after service (e.g., metrics and platforms ala HubSpot, knowledge and research ala Forrester, good content and innovative branding ala Chris Brogan). Marketing is the foundation of the knowledge-based economy.

For those of you already competing in the knowledge-based economy: congratulations on being innovators. For the rest of you, jump in now and become an early adopter before the landscape becomes too crowded to allow you to gain a foothold. Some knowledge required.

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