Several years ago, I was riding to a Toastmasters District 55 event with my good friend David Brooks. David and I are both professional speakers, and are both actively involved in electronic marketing. To be clear, I distinguish electronic marketing from Internet Marketing. In my terms:

* Electronic marketing is any process or system by which you reach out to your prospective customers/clients/colleagues using techniques available on the Internet, including web site, email, ezines, autoresponders, and so forth. Electronic marketing is one component of an overall marketing strategy.

* Internet Marketing is what is also referred to as "Guru Marketing". This occurs when someone promotes an idea or product using Electronic Marketing techniques for the sole purpose of selling that idea or product. In my terms, Internet Marketing uses the tools and techniques of Electronic Marketing to achieve its purpose.

So back to our drive from Austin to San Antontio...

David had developed some exceptional training materials for speakers (Speaking Secrets of the Champions was the one we were discussing during that drive), and I was brainstorming with him the ways in which he might reach a wider audience.

One of the interesting components of an electronic marketing campaign is an Affiliate program. I suggested this to David, and we talked about it for a while. When we arrived at the Toastmasters conference, there was another Toastmaster who is also a professional speaker and who also has some exceptional products.

At that moment, I realized that there was an opportunity to serve the community of people who create products themselves (self-published, that is), and who mostly sell them at the back of the room when they speak. It seemed to me that I could combine the techniques and strategies of electronic marketing with these products to create a new service.

I wish I could say that our site - Back of the Room - was born on that day. But it wasn't. The idea was born, and it banged around in my head for a year or more.

Then another friend of mine published his first book - The Ripple Effect by Steve Harper - and I realized that it was time to get started. As I looked at my circle of friends and colleages, I realized that quite a number of them had created books, audio programs, e-books, and such. So I reached out to my friends and colleages, including fellow members of the National Speakers Association. The response has been surprising.

Today, after building for about nine months, we have almost 250 products in Back of the Room, and are adding more every day. Much of our marketing is viral and word-of-mouth. We are reaching both our "creator" community, and the consumer community slowly and steadily.

All of this started with an idea - an idea to serve a specific community who shared a drive - a drive to create and share products based on their skills, talents, knowledge, and experience. Back of the Room now includes everything from motivational works to business and sales works to fiction and children's works.

And we're having fun with it, every day!


Steven List is the co-founder of Back of the Room, as well as being a professional speaker, electronic marketing consultant, personal and business coach, and author.

Author's Bio: 

Steven List is the co-founder of Back of the Room (, as well as being a professional speaker (, electronic marketing consultant, personal and business coach, and author