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Seth Godin and a New Business Strategy August 31, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy.
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If you ever needed a great example of the power of social media marketing, you needn’t look further than author Seth Godin.  Godin, a highly successful business book author (Outliers, Linchpin, All Marketers are Liars, etc.) made the decision recently to self-publish his next books.  Godin is breaking the link that has historically been the driver of publishing revenues: publishing the works of big name authors.  Is this author insane?  Not even close.  More like smarter than a fox.

The chief reason Mr. Godin can make a clean cut from his publisher is because of the work he has done to build his social media platform.  As of this posting, Godin has over 400,000 people who follow his blog.  He already had developed a brand name that stood for being a thought leader in cutting edge in marketing & business strategy.

Godin has a market of loyal followers and therefore, a ready stream of buyers of his books.  Who needs a publisher to share the profits with when you already have a growing supply of buyers?  Did I mention that the profit margins on his books would largely go to into his pockets?

Godin isn’t the first big-name author to develop blogs and Facebook fan pages that house thousands of loyal followers.  But he’s the first big-name author to break the traditional publishing process and go it alone.

In his own words (he does have a great blog – www.sethgodin.typepad.com):

Build an asset. Large numbers of influential people who read your blog or read your emails or watch your TV show or love your restaurant or or or…

Then, put your idea into a format where it will spread fast. That could be an ebook (a free one) or a pamphlet (a cheap one–the Joy of Jello sold millions and millions of copies at a dollar or less).

Then, if your idea catches on, you can sell the souvenir edition. The book. The thing people keep on their shelf or lend out or get from the library. Books are wonderful (I own too many!) but they’re not necessarily the best vessel for spreading your idea.

And the punchline, of course, is that if you do all these things, you won’t need a publisher. And that’s exactly when a publisher will want you! That’s the sort of author publishers do the best with.

And while Mr. Godin is the exception and not the rule, it does demonstrate that social media coupled with strong personal branding can create a franchise business.  His method for doing this was simple: produce a series of thought provoking books (his products); invest time and energy (but not necessarily a lot of money) into social media expansion while growing a personal brand (who in business doesn’t know Seth Godin?).

We might not all be at the Seth Godin level just yet but he gives us a look into what is really possible with the convergence of social media and personal branding.  It’s a great lesson for the rest of us.

Digital Strategy: Publisher Makes a Move August 14, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in Strategy.
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Not long ago I reported that the publishing industry was undergoing a traumatic change in business strategy.  Shocking right?  Not really, since the publishing industry is the talk of the town in business strategy circles.  Rather than embracing the digital realm or rather, the inevitable outcome, publishers of most paper-based media have been running away from it.  With the popularity of the iPad and other electronic devices growing stronger by the month, publishers have been slow to figure out ways to survive and adapt to a new revenue model.

Right before our eyes however, already there are a few publishers who are now embracing the transformation from paper to digital format.  Dorchester Publishing, Inc. is one of the first to really move into the digital arena in a big way.  Dorchester publishes mass-market paperback books, of which the majority are of the romance variety.  The            publisher recently announced that it would no longer offer print editions of those books.  Move over Guttenberg, the rise of the e-book is here.  Dorchester’s story was first reported by Publishers Weekly and of late, the Wall Street Journal.

Is this the start of a publishing stampede into digital book publishing?  I believe we are witnessing just that.  More publishers will follow once they get over their belief that a book just has to be printed on paper to be a book.  Publishers need to grasp that it’s the IDEAS and STORIES that books contain that are the critical parts, not whether it is distributed via digital or paper formats.

Apparently Dorchester has sat down and calmly figured out a new revenue model that will allow them to continue to develop and sell mass-market ‘paperbacks’ in a digital format.  I guess there is something to be said for saving considerable expense from not having to print on paper.

As the e-reader and pad-based computer technology advances and advances quickly, the day of the printed anything is toast.  You can thank Apple for making that happen when it launched the iPad…which this blog posting is being written from.

A few publishers are still clinging to the printed book strategy because they still can’t figure out how to create a new business model from the digital age.  Eventually though, smarter and cooler heads will prevail and they’ll lumber along playing catch up all the way.

Like life itself, business strategy is always in motion.  Failing to recognize that has doomed many a company.  Remember Polaroid?  The old Kodak?  Corporate creatures from an earlier age that failed to grasp the impact of the digital market for cameras.  Hey, they still sell digital cameras for a profit, right?  Right.