Here’s how thing generally work: for most action that we as human beings take, we generally go through a research phrase (where we think about and study up on things) and the we go through the action phase (where we actually do the things we were thinking of doing).
Let’s take as an example a person who is looking for a camera to buy online. This is important: a person who is looking to buy a camera right now will use different in a search engine that someone who is looking for information on buying a camera.
A prospect looking to buy a camera today will use phrases like "best price on Sony Cybershot" or use other wording that indicates they have made their choice and they are just looking the best place to purchase.
What kind of phrases would people use when they are ready to buy what you offer? You can find a lot of leads by marketing to those phrases. This is good thing, because we like a lot of leads and these people are motivated to take action. If you can be there to give them a little bit of a better reason to purchase from you than the competition then you are in.
The down side is there’s usually a lot of competition in the "action phase". Since "best price on Sony Cybershot" is where the action is, that means that the cost per click is usually higher and chances are that you are one of the 10 web site the person has visited in the last 24 hours. The heaviest competition is found where the prospect’s motivation to act is the greatest.
On the flip side, someone who does not need to act immediately will search different keyword. During the ""research phase" people are not ready to make a decision and they use different keywords they do their research.
If you attract people during their research phase, the down side is you’re unlikely to make a customer out of them quickly. They are looking for information right now.
The up side is that there is very little competition for leads this early in the game, the cost per click much lower, and you have a chance to become a mentor and advisor to these people.
Being a mentor to your prospects, as opposed to a salesman? The "action phase" is where the salesmen play. The "research phase" is where the mentor live.
The nice thing is that there are research phases and action phases for all sorts of situations, and you do not have to choose one or the other. It is actually easier to start in the action phases where people are more motivated to work with you (even through there is a lot of more competition).