I've been reading The Kite Runner. Well, actually listening to The Kite Runner. Recently, I was struck by one particular scene described by the author. You may not have read the book yet, so let me give you a little background, without spoilers, of course.
It's the story of Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara and the son of Amir's father's servant. They live in Afghanastan, where every year, there's a huge kite tournament. The kite flyers make or buy kites and fly them using string embedded with glass. It becomes a kite dogfight, with each of them manipulating their kite to cut the string of their opponent's and thereby bringing the other kites down.
What caught my attention was the description of the old, blind, show repairman, who was known as the best kite maker in Kabul. He worked at a shop so small it was described as the size of a prison cell. An that was the shoe repair business. The kite business was below that, down some rickety stairs, below the shop. And yet, everyone knew he was the best kite maker. And, everyone went to him for their kites.
This is interesting. We in marketing and product innovation, hunger to differentiate ourselves. We try to use social media, we strive to be heard. But for centuries the expert has been sought out, even it sometimes, it is difficult to find him or her.
I call this the Concierge Economy. Over the years the concierge in a hotel has grown from someone who makes something happen for a guest to an incredible source of information, connections and insights. As we become more and more connected, the person who is the expert becomes of greater value. The person who can parse through all the data about a particular issue, becomes the consierge and is sought out. They add value not by having lots of information but by being able to help others access the best information or sources. The Concierge Economy demands that we must give away some of our thinking to establish our credibility and create a following.