What are you teaching your market?

I talk a lot about learning from your market and applying that insight to grow your business. However, yesterday I realized that it's just as important to be aware of what you are teaching your market.

In a recent post on Jeff Jarvis' blog, he referenced a reader who talked about the ways the news industry needs to evolve its thinking to survive in the new economy. The new thinking is comprised of "Google'esque" ideas that focus on the value of journalism as a service rather than the paper as a product.  I left a comment that I think is worth exploring more thoroughly.

While I think the ideas presented are good, they do not address what I feel is a more fundamental issue in the news industry.  They have taught the market that the newspaper has value, and the content should be free.  While I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose, they lost sight of why people bought newspapers in the first place.  When they made the move to the web, they missed the opportunity to capture this value in a new way.  Instead they gave it away, and going forward it will be difficult to capture value for what consumers now expect to be free.

I do believe there is great value in good journalism.  Before the industry can pursue radically different business models to capture this value, they must first do whatever is necessary to decouple the journalism industry from the newspaper industry in the hearts and minds of consumers.  The market will never value journalism if the industry cannot demonstrate this value clearly, consistently, and separately from newspapers.

Are you aware of what your company's behavior is teaching your market?