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All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth's most important book about the art of marketing

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Free Prize Inside

The practical sequel to Purple Cow

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Why the internet works (and doesn't) for your business. And vice versa.

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Permission Marketing

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poke.the.box

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The latest book, Poke The Box is a call to action about the initiative you're taking - in your job or in your life, and Seth once again breaks the traditional publishing model by releasing it through The Domino Project.

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purple.cow

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Small is the New Big

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survival.is.not.enough

Survival is Not Enough

Seth's worst seller and personal favorite. Change. How it works (and doesn't).

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The Big Moo

All for charity. Includes original work from Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters and Promise Phelon.

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The Big Red Fez

Top 5 Amazon ebestseller for a year. All about web sites that work.

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The Dip

A short book about quitting and being the best in the world. It's about life, not just marketing.

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The Icarus Deception

Seth's most personal book, a look at the end of the industrial economy and what happens next.

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Tribes

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unleashing.the.ideavirus

Unleashing the Ideavirus

More than 3,000,000 copies downloaded, perhaps the most important book to read about creating ideas that spread.

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v.is.for.vulnerable

V Is For Vulnerable

A short, illustrated, kids-like book that takes the last chapter of Icarus and turns it into something worth sharing.

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we.are.all.weird

We Are All Weird

The end of mass and how you can succeed by delighting a niche.

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whatcha.gonna.do.with.that.duck

Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck?

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« Linear and parallel | Main | The benefits of history »

Where have all the agents gone?

Travel agents... gone.
Stock brokers... gone.
Real estate brokers... in trouble. Photographer's agents, too.
Literary agents?

The problem with being a helpful, efficient but largely anonymous middleman is pretty obvious. Someone can come along who is cheaper, faster and more efficient. And that someone might be the customer aided by a computer.

The airlines don't want to pay travel agents, because the travel agents were making more money on each flight than they were. Some house sellers hesitate to pay real estate brokers because they don't believe the 6% payment is an opportunity, they see it as a tax. Investors abandoned full service stock brokers because trading stocks directly is faster and more accurate than using the phone.

Middlemen add value when they bring taste or judgment or trust to bear on a transaction that isn't transparent. Literary agents are crucial when publishers believe that their choice of content is essential but have too many choices and too little time. But publishers don't trust every literary agent. They trust agents they believe in. Key point: anonymous agents are interchangeable and virtually worthless. Agents that don't do anything but help one side find the other side in a human approximation of Google aren't so helpful any more.

Think about how anonymous the typical real estate broker is. He will sell almost any house or represent almost any buyer. When selling a house, he has a fiduciary responsibility to represent that house to the best of his ability. Just like every other broker. The great real estate brokers do far more than this.

Travel agents still survive, but in a very different way than they used to. Now, the best ones are paid by the traveler, not the airline. The best ones provide a differentiated service that is worth paying for. Instead of being middlemen, then, they are the front men, the attraction, a key asset to the traveler.

To thrive in a world of self-service, agents have to hyperspecialize, have to stand for something, have to have the guts to say no far more than they say yes. No, you can't publish this book. No I won't represent you. No, don't take that flight. No, I won't sell this house, it's overpriced, list it yourself.

The second thing agents must do to make a smart transition is to consider who they are selling to. Should talent agents only sell to Hollywood? Literary agents only to book publishers? Should ad agencies specialize in Google Adwords, not just Super Bowl spots? When markets change, agents can lead the way, not follow along grudgingly.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Where have all the agents gone?:

» The Value of Middlemen from Flint's Blog
Seth Godin has a great post about how all sorts of middlemen are disappearing or are in the process of disappearing from the market - travel agents, stock brokers, real estate agents. In order to survive, middlemen can't just be... [Read More]

» Seth Godin Asks About Agents from Publishing News 'n' Views
Seth Godin posted an interesting question about useful middlemen, like literary agents. Middlemen add value when they bring taste or judgment or trust to bear on a transaction that isnt transparent. Literary agents are crucial when publishers be... [Read More]

» Do you need a Miami Beach Real Estate Agent? from Miamism
Seth Godin does it again asking Where have all the agents gone?  - In this world of intermediation and educated consumers it is an excellent question to ask.  If the middleman brings no value to a transaction, then there is no need for h... [Read More]

» Courage Necessary to be an Agent People Trust from Real Estate Marketing Forum
As a broker, one of the traits I tell aspiring agents they must in order to be credible is courage. Courage to tell the buyer or seller they are representing the truth as they see it. Seth Godin touches on... [Read More]

» Those Invisible, Unnecessary Service People from Mary Schmidt Marketing Troubleshooter
Cutting out the middle man sounds greatwell save ALL that moneyuntil we have a problem. Seth Godin riffs with Where Have All The Agents Gone? in which he talks about the disappearing middle people such... [Read More]

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» Blogistan Panoptikum KW12 2009 from datenschmutz.net
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