“We’re not selling/writing for strangers anymore”

If you are a writer, marketer, content provider, or entrepreneur, please spend 26 minutes listening to this insightful interview with Seth Godin on the Zen Habits website. In it, he talks about not only the state of publishing today, but how to build an audience, what it means to fail and how to finally let go of trying to please everyone.

From the publishing front, which is of particular interest to me as I get ready to self-publish my next book in early 2012, is that we are no longer trying to convince strangers to buy our books. The old model is dead, and self-publishing has turned everything topsy-turvy. Now it’s about collecting friends and creating tribes that you specifically write for and who can’t wait to gobble up your next work. In his view, this makes opportunity more abundant, not scarcer.

Seth ntoes that his experiments with The Domino Project have proven that shorter and cheaper books spread more virally, that cover art with more visuals and less words works well, and that authors don’t need to rely on advances to succeed anymore (especially when that gives the false impression that someone else will be doing the work for you. They won’t.)

Later in the interview, Seth tackes why he does not accept comments on his blog. He states that he used to, but then he started writing with comments in mind and it paralyzed his work. “I don’t write for strangers anymore,” he said.  He decided a blog with posts was better than a blog with comments but no posts. Now he writes to spread his ideas to his tribe, not try to persuade strangers. In his view, the discussion doesn’t stop because he has no comments. There are plenty of places people can debate, get nasty and disagree with me on the Internet if people want, he says.

While a company might need to be a little more open to direct dialogue and interaction, this attitude should hold true with our brands as well. While increasing market share is always a good thing, you need to speak to your “people.” I’ve been doing a lot of work lately with solopreneurs who don’t realize the power they already yield with folks who are on their side or audiences who are primed for their message already. Great brands don’t try to please everyone, so why should your business? It’s just waste of energy and resources.

Photo Credit: Squidoo

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