Why My Broccoli Casserole Sucks

I’ve been on a rant lately about how changes in AdWords are likely to shift the arenas of potential competitive advantage from keyword wizardly and campaign optimization to a much deeper factor:

Uniqueness

If you haven’t yet, spend an hour reviewing this week’s webinar, the AdWords 2010 Prognostication Call. (Available only in the Ring of Fire, click here to join. And once you’re a member, look out early next week for an interview with Sean D’Souza, explaining exactly how you find your uniqueness, how you develop it, and how you propogate it.)

Today, check out this quote from a NY Times op-ed piece about the demise of Gourmet magazine by Christopher Kimball, the editor of Cook’s Illustrated, bemoaning the “sound bite” web and the democratization of expertise.

The shuttering of Gourmet reminds us that in a click-or-die advertising marketplace, one ruled by a million instant pundits, where an anonymous Twitter comment might be seen to pack more resonance and useful content than an article that reflects a lifetime of experience, experts are not created from the top down but from the bottom up. They can no longer be coronated; their voices have to be deemed essential to the lives of their customers. That leaves, I think, little room for the thoughtful, considered editorial with which Gourmet delighted its readers for almost seven decades.

To survive, those of us who believe that inexperience rarely leads to wisdom need to swim against the tide, better define our brands, prove our worth, ask to be paid for what we do, and refuse to climb aboard this ship of fools, the one where everyone has an equal voice. Google “broccoli casserole” and make the first recipe you find. I guarantee it will be disappointing. The world needs fewer opinions and more thoughtful expertise — the kind that comes from real experience, the hard-won blood-on-the-floor kind. I like my reporters, my pilots, my pundits, my doctors, my teachers and my cooking instructors to have graduated from the school of hard knocks.

In fact, Gourmet did not die because readers fled to Google’s broccoli casserole recipes at the expense of better quality information. The reasons are far more complex than that.

And the author doesn’t realize that what he wants is what everyone wants – real, honestly-won, confident expertise.

The person who clicks your ad or the link in your Tweet is also hoping to find a pro’s advice at the end of it.

So no matter how much time you spend tweaking AdWords or SEO or any of the technical channels, pay 10 times as much attention to the quality of what’s flowing through those channels.

And if you have a good vegan recipe for broccoli casserole, please let me know.

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