4 Ways to Ditch the Middle Man and Be Free Like Seth Godin

sethgodin2.pngSeth wrote in this blog that he’s no longer working with traditional publishers. According to the Wall Street Journal, which covered this news, Seth will publish his own books and sell them directly to customers. He’ll publish “books” in digital format according to what I’ve read on this.
What does this teach all of us?
Once you KNOW who your customers are, CAN DIRECTLY reach them and have a PROFITABLE number of them, you can bypass traditional channels of marketing and sales – bypass the “middle man”.
Seth’s blog post read that the customers of authors are publishers. They (the publishers) pay money and distribute a book to readers through book stores.
However, if you have an author who has an audience that you can reach directly, why not leverage technology and sell a book (be it digital or otherwise) directly to your readers? Like Seth is doing. Of course, if you want a full media tour, fancy graphics in all the stores, book signings, you’ll have to put a team together to help with this…you won’t have a book publisher to help you do this.
I told a friend of mine today that the most important thing he can do (related to marketing) for his business was to build a large database of customers (leads, potential customers). Everyone who walks into his door, he should capture their contact information (cell phone, email, all of it) and market to them, with permission. Once he builds a nice, large database of leads, he’ll have a steady flow of customers (kiddies) to his day care week after week. He can spend less time handing out flyers and have customers beating a path to HIS door. Just like we beat a path to Seth’s blog and events!
So what about you? Can you ditch the middle man and market directly to your customers? What’s Seth’s secret? Here’s what I think.

Do Awesome Work

Rule Number 9 of Ramon’s Business Rules ( http://www.ramonsbusinessrules.com ) is “do awesome work”. Seth has built a following of hundreds of thousands of readers, of his blog alone, who will buy from him, attend his events and more. He does not need any middle man to have them buy from him, because they TRUST him, ENJOY his writing and LEARN from him. His writing and speeches are the best. Period.
If you want to be able to bypass the middle man in your industry, do awesome work and stop doing work that’s just “good enough”.
PS – Keep in mind that the “middle man” is critical and very important for many businesses. Most businesses need some sort of middle man. Middle men are not bad. However, some people, like Seth Godin, once you reach a certain point of customer intimacy and volume can free themselves of middle men and communicate and sell DIRECTLY to their customers.

Know Your Customers and Build a Tribe

The reason that so many companies have to compete on price is that they are not selling value to their customers and meeting their needs. They want to compete in the dirt, on lowest price, or something else.
Capture information about your customers’ preferences to know what they like and do not like and more. I was speaking with Pierre DeBois, a GURU in Google Analytics, and he was telling me how much information he can provide to clients just by analyzing their keywords and other information captured in web analytics. Using powerful technology you can learn so much about your customers. Of course Brent Leary’s “social CRM” fixation takes social media and traditional CRM to an entirely higher level.
Of course you can’t just capture two customer names, unless you are selling bottled water to Presidents and four of your customers are Clinton, Obama, Bush and Carter. You need a sizable number of followers, not customers and knowing that a good percentage of these will BUY!

Leverage Technology

What’s neat about what Seth is starting to do, is that due to the growing popular of ebooks, podcasts and other media and devices, Seth can reach his audience in the way traditional books simply can’t.
What about you? Are you stuck using 1980’s technology while you are missing massive boosts in productivity that you could harness using TODAY’s technology?
The power of mobile technology, social media, databases, RSS feeds, hosted applications and so much more makes it easier, like never before, to do MORE with LESS.

Never Burn Bridges

One thing about Seth’s blog post, he did NOT burn bridges. Rule number four of Ramon’s Business Rules ( http://www.ramonsbusinessrules.com ) . He did not slam book publishers, especially Portfolio, his book publisher of many years. He thanked them and appreciates them, but said he’s moving on.