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Newsletter #750: The “Middleman is Underrated” Issue

{Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I Thought of That Email Newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.}

Being a middleman is all about being the go-to source for something — and it’s completely underrated. Here are three ways to do it:

1> The industry middleman
2> The educational middleman
3> The product middleman
4> Check it out: Faces on Flickr

1> The industry middleman

Being a great middleman can help you make a whole bunch of new friends. Before PR guru Peter Shankman created Help A Reporter Out (HARO), there wasn’t an easy way for a journalist on deadline to find the perfect story source. Now with more than 100,00 sources signed up, Peter’s become a lifesaver for journalists — not to mention a fantastic way for worthy businesses to periodically spotlight their expertise. Try using a simple email list to find ways to help the people you work with — customers, industry experts, suppliers, competitors — make connections.

The Lesson: Is your industry missing a simple way for people to connect? What would being that connection mean to your business?

Learn More: HARO

2> The educational middleman

Your customers are probably already doing a lot of work to compare products before making a purchase. Make their lives easier by becoming a trusted resource for this information. When Progressive realized that most shoppers were working hard to compare insurance rates, they became a first-stop for buyers by posting everyone’s rates on their homepage. Apply this to your industry by finding and compiling the statistics, details, and comparisons that everyone is already looking for.

The Lesson: Shoppers are working hard to research products. Become the first place they turn — and a reliable middleman — by aggregating all the honest info.

3> The product middleman

Some of the best creations were built to connect things. Think eBay, Craigslist — the cream in the middle of Oreos. Airbnb was built on the simple principle of connecting people with extra space to travelers. While we’re not suggesting you have to build your whole business around connecting people, there’s always potential in launching a related product that does just that. Great, focused communities where people with similar problems can connect are always in short supply. Other options include group projects, connecting job seekers with employers, and helping your customers find new business leads.

The Lesson: Even if your whole business isn’t built around it, you’ve got lots of opportunities to offer customers a way to connect.

Learn More:

4> Check it out: Faces on Flickr

Do you see faces in everyday objects like wall outlets, trash cans, and staplers? You’re not alone. Check out this Flickr set of faces in strange places.

Check it out: Flickr

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  1. Dez Fragge October 5, 2009 at 2:50 am #

    Hi Andy,

    This is Dez again :)

    Your article reminds me of a famous lesson i learnt during teching years…. “Teacher is a vessel between student and learning”… aka middleman :)

    Great write-up. Thx.

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