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The value of knowledge (processed information) has fast risen to surpass that of classical (physical) goods and services. Information has some of properties of a public good (for instance, nonrivalry) - coupled with all incentives of a private good (e.g., profit-making).
Thus, very nature of distribution had been irrevocably changed. The distribution channel, path from producer to consumer (in our case, from country to foreign investor or tourist, for example) is less encumbered by topography than it used to be.
Even poorest, most remote, landlocked, arid, and disadvantaged country can nowadays leverage air flight, Internet, television, cell phones, and other miracles of technology to promote itself and its unique offerings (knowledge, plant and animal species, scenery, history, minerals, cheap and educated manpower, cuisine, textiles, software, and so on).
The key to success is in a mix of both direct and indirect marketing. Nowadays, countries can (and do) appeal directly to consumers (ads targeted at tourists or road shows aimed at investors). They present themselves and what they have to offer, circumventing brokers and agents of all kinds (disintermediation). Still, they should not fail to cultivate more traditional marketing channels such as investment banks, travel agents, multilateral organizations, or trade associations.
With many of physical obstacles to marketing removed in last few decades, with very concept of "place" rendered obsolete, promotion emerged as most critical facet of nation branding and place marketing.
Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He is the the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.