Over the years, I’ve worked with salespeople across a variety of industries and the best ones were always those who combined deep knowledge of our markets and products or services (backed by actual data) with an innate ability to identify their client’s or (prospect’s) real needs. They didn’t rely on fancy media kits or elaborate PowerPoint decks, nor discounts or hefty expense accounts—all valid tactical tools to be used, or not, as each situation calls for—and personal relationships were just the icing on the cake they got to have and eat, too because they instinctively grasped Kaushik’s underlying concept: understand a client’s needs and challenges better than they do themselves, and then help them understand how to achieve their goals.
Being sold for only slightly more than the revenue you brought in the prior year isn’t exactly a signal that anyone believes the company has a lot of growth potential, especially not one whose roster theoretically covers the full gamut of shiny author services so many seem to believe are publishing’s revenue streams of the future. Plus, ASI was apparently on the block for a while with no buyer, so I find Penguin’s CEO John Makinson’s claim odd, as reported by Publisher’s Lunch, that he expects there will be a “new and growing category of professional authors who are going to gravitate towards the ASI solution rather than the free model.” So then, what’s the real angle here?
A large part of GOOD’s appeal was its unique business model, its compelling mission, and its target audience: “For People Who Give a Damn.” While not replicable in any scalable way, it had a far more noble mission than the mercenary and fickle “connecting advertisers to eyeballs” model of most magazines, and it looks like that mission ultimately forced a complete and radical rethinking of the magazine itself.
As anyone who’s actually worked within a “vertical” knows, whether from a niche consumer or business-to-business angle (or, heaven help them, for a non-profit organization or political campaign), just because a subset of people share a common passion doesn’t mean they’re a single-minded group that can be engaged in one templated way. Every vertical that presents a viable business opportunity is going to have its own sub-communities and overlapping layers, with some often in direct opposition to others.
Not quite one year to the day it was announced, Seth Godin is shutting The Domino Project down, offering the awkward explanation that “it was a project, not a lifelong commitment to being a publisher of books,” instead of, perhaps, admitting that publishing is harder than it looks if you want to swim at the deep end of the trade pool in the middle of a dramatic transition, as he obliquely acknowledges in many of his noteworthy takeaways.