Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Information Product Marketer?
So what we’re talking about here is the business model for information products. Information products are any collection of content that is, it goes beyond a book and it typically teaches you a system, a strategy and provides a solution to a problem or a business opportunity. And when a person has a unique skill and you’ve been trained and you’re credentialed, there is a greater revenue opportunity for you to do more than just offer a book or an e-book on the Internet. If your knowledge can benefit from being communicated via a “system,” using a collection of audio, video, workbooks and e-books, it lends itself to becoming an information product. Consider the possibility of it being a virtual downloadable series of assets as well as ultimately becoming a tangible product, something that you could ship to someone, like a book with a DVD series. I recommend that people start with a virtual product and tweak it a lot before they actually turn it into any physical goods. Best is to sell five thousand copies of something before you make a tangible item.
An Active, Not Passive, Revenue Stream
If you’re thinking about becoming an information product marketer, then you would want to consider this set of outcomes. You would be thinking about this not as a passive revenue stream, but as an active revenue stream in that, yes it will be sold while you’re sleeping or on vacation or out in your garden, and it will also take a focused amount of your effort to create a channel of opportunity and revenue for yourself, even with business partners like Personal Life Media. We don’t do it all for you. You have to be pretty committed to doing a lot of work yourself to build a business with an active revenue stream. So what I also want to do in addition to explaining the model to you is to give you some food for thought about whether the work that this would take is really the work you want to do in the world.
Consistent & Extensible Product Ideas
The other thing that’s important is that whatever you create has to be extensible and sustainable. When people create information products about things like social media technologies they have to constantly update them. So creating something that’s a more long-term product that doesn’t need to be constantly updated is the right thing for information products. If you’re in a world where it’s a constantly changing thing, it’s probably better to be a blogger or a consultant. (And I don’t think it’s very easy to make money blogging, in general.)
Bring Others To Completion
The other thing is that creating your own information product is that it should expand your reputation. This should be something, like writing a book, that gives you even more credibility. The other thing that’s really important for Tim and I at PLM is that when we create products we like those products to bring others to completion. We’re very interested in personal and professional growth oriented content that teaches people to be even better than they are today. That’s unique to our professional ethos, but in many ways I think it’s potentially unique to the information product world too. IM’ers trying to solve problems and/or teach people things. I challenge you to think about how what you know and can offer is unique, solves and problem and is a natural fit for being taught in a multi-modal way —with ebooks, workbooks (exercises/practices), audio and video. That justifies the higher prices of ebooks/information products versus printed books.
The Network Effect
We have been creating groups of people who work together to launch products in a mastermind group so that everyone gets ideas and cross-support from each other. They cross-promote each others products, they get ideas from each other, they cry on each others shoulders, and I typically have in the past linked like-minded IM creators together. When I have 8 people I take through the process simultaneously, we’ll do weekly group calls and I’ll put two-two-two-two teams together and go with strengths and weaknesses or similar product, so that everyone has a partner and you’re not completely alone. So those are some of the things that I think about when I’m talking to someone – would they be a good partner, would they be available to their partner, are they going to be able to be part of an ongoing process, four or five months worth of work to create their content, are they going to have the appetite to be a marketer of their own content after the fact. If they’re thinking they’re going to set it, forget it and it’s just going to sell itself, they won’t be a good partner for us or for themselves.
The Business Model for Information Products
Kevin Wilke of Nitro Marketing has a great concept of a business model for an info marketer. In his Nitro Blueprint product, he says there are four quadrants: 1) a front-end, 2) a continuity program or membership site, 3) the upsell product and 4) the post sell product or service. These different components could be called anything, but I like Kevin’s model and Kevin as a great human being.
Let me give you more detail about these four parts of the Nitro Blueprint model. [Note: The prices ranges I’ve mentioned are just examples – you can charge what ever your competitive market analysis will allow you to demand.]
- The Front End is typically a single eBook. Simple, cheap, high-value. Typically $17-$97.
- The Continuity Program or Membership Site is expanded, educational content that costs more and can be sold as an annual membership fee or a montly recurring charge for access to content that is dripped out over time. Typically $20-$300 a month or an annual fee ranging from $47-$2000.
- Upsell is a home study course or a single product you download to your desktop or a DVD series or similar that is shipped to you. This can range in cost from $47-$5000 or more.
- The Post Sell is often an even larger purchase – a suite of products, events, offline interaction, coaching or similar. Post Sell often includes access directly to the expert.
A lot of people think that if you’re an information product marketer you have an e-book. That’s a myth! What I didn’t realize when I got into the IM business is that the ebook is the loss leader. You create your ebook as the on ramp to your higher priced products —your continuity/membership, upsell and post sell products… You give 50-75% of the revenue generated from your ebook to your affiliates and JV partners to get the leads to upsell into your higher priced products. And if you’re smart, you also give your affiliates or JV partners a revenue share on those upsells too. A long-term cookie is key to taking care of your partners.
So How Do I Make Money? The Front End
Here is how the business model of information product marketing actually generates income for you. The front-end, lets just take your e-book. You sell it for, yours is $12.95 – you can sell them for any price, even $100 dollars, anywhere in that range, whatever’s appropriate for the market. Business books sell for more than personal books. Professional growth sells for more than personal growth. Making money sells for more, a lot more, than hobbies. So if you were to think about putting your expertise in an e-book as your front-end you’d also want to think about how you could teach others to do it so that they could make money and how you make money and how you run your business. So the first thing you have is a front-end.
The second thing you have is called continuity income. This is where you actually create a website and you teach people on a monthly or a weekly basis more and more information. You provide more and more value. It can be what’s called a drip system where each week or each month they get a new, you know, bit of content that’s worth $20, $30, $40, $50 dollars, $100, $150, $200 dollars a month, depending on the vertical market. So what you’re actually doing – and this is kind of like a blog. It’s essentially a blog that’s private where you can post audio, video and text and PDF’s and downloads to your customers so that they have access, behind the scenes access, to content that they’re paying you for. You can send out email newsletters to drive them back to this content, you can conduct interviews with other people in your business or people who’ve had success doing what you do, or people who know things about your business that you don’t know so that you can provide that content to them. And you can also have a membership site in this area, in this continuity area, where people join and they talk to each other, not just to you —a forum or maybe like an old school bulletin board kind of thing. So this is a place where they come and they get billed monthly to be part of the experience of being associated with your knowledge.
Then there’s also something called an upsell. Your customers might be paying $20 or $30 dollars a month to have information, but lets just say you have an entire system, like a home study course that teaches them everything. You’d want to move some of the people from your continuity or your membership site into the full tilt boogie stuff that you have, that might cost $300 to $1000, $2000, $3000 dollars depending on what market place you’re in. So that upsell. The idea is that people come in through your front-end, very low priced, and then you convert them as customers primarily through email marketing into your membership site where you teach them things every month, ‘cause sometimes things are so complex that you can’t learn it all at once. Then you can upsell them into an even bigger more comprehensive program.
The Post Sell
And then the final piece of it is this idea that the Kevin Wilke at Nitro Marketing calls a post sell, which is access to you – coaching, workshops, events, webinars. These can be virtual or IRL – In Real Life – or a combination of those things. That is in the $500 to $2500, $5000 dollar range, to have access to you. So what you’re doing is building this big funnel where the front-end, the cheap thing, has lots of people, and as you get down the funnel to the most expensive things, you have a smaller group of people paying more money.
When you think about marketing your product you also have to think about how you’re going to create that funnel and parse your content. How you’re going lay your knowledge into this model is the key to success in information product marketing. (Along with targeting and buying traffic that converts profitably.)
I highly recommend you get the free two part series from Nitro Blueprint here.
Marketing Strategy in Information Products
The best marketing scenario is a combination of SEO (your site for your product optimized so Google can put it in the organic search results), PPC, affordable display advertising, email marketing, social marketing, PR 2.0 outreach, affiliate marketing and working with joint venture partners. The multiplier effect works particularly well in the affiliate and JV world.
You benefit from having all of your affiliates and your joint venture partners promoting it to their lists and on their sites and in their auto-responder series. You want to reach out to other online marketers who are compatible with your product, anybody who’s in the world of your category, whatever it might be, and you can think of 20 different categories where the people who follow them might be interested in following you, the people who learn that stuff might be interested in learning what you teach. And you want them to market your e-book to their followers. And then those followers buy the product and become your leads for upselling into your monthly program or your home study course or your coaching and workshops. And you’re giving away 75 percent of the cost of your e-book, so the $27 dollar e-book is creating value for your affiliates. She makes 75 percent of the fee. It makes it worth it for her. If she knows she’s going to make $25 dollars every time she does get a sale it’s worth it to her. If it’s a $12.95 e-book and she makes $6 bucks, she’s not going to do it. This is how you build your list because the real money comes from the monthly residuals that you get from your continuity system, your membership site and upselling them into the home study courses and having workshops with them.
Using PPC and Affiliate Marketing
The way that an info product marketer sells his products in addition to affiliates is most often through Google Pay Per Click— buying tens of thousands of keyword phrases that are in your area of scope, and having an automated customized ad campaign that goes with that. There are many affiliate and super affiliates who will also market your product for you with PPC, so if you don’t want to do it yourself, you might find others willing to do it for you.
You must also be registered with an affiliate network like ClickBank, Commision Junction, Share A Sale… When you are working with affiliates as part of an affiliate network, anybody can come in and grab your ad banners and your text links, and whenever they put those on their website or send an email out they sell product that’s linked back to them so they make the revenue, it’s all done through links, tagged links that track the clicks and the purchases back to the person that originally found that customer. So you need an affiliate infrastructure system.
At Personal Life Media, we have created our own, private affiliate network called RevShareNow. http://revsharenow.com. That way, any of our partners can sign up at our network and get their links, banners, email swipe copy and myriad other content assets useful for promoting our products.
JV Partnerships are slightly different than affiliate relationships – often deeper, more integrated.
You might provide unique content for their blogs or you might have a joint venture partner mail out a series of emails to get people to buy your e-book and then give them the revenue. So all of that fills your database with prospects for your higher priced products.
You can also do PR and social influence marketing efforts such as appearing on talk radio and podcasts, you can write e-zine articles, you can blog with links, you can get interviewed by bloggers, you can put out press releases, you can Twitter, you can have a Facebook fan page, you can put images up on Flickr that have your URL on them that link back to your sales page. There are a million ways that you can create a marketing campaign that drives people back to your sales pages.
So when people think about information products, it’s not “Oh, I wrote an e-book and put it up on my website and I don’t even know how to drive traffic to it.” It means you must focus on building out an entire system of content. So what kind of content?
Problem Solution Set Up
Your product line should be oriented toward a problem and solution. What are people searching for on Google? What is their pain point? How can you solve it?
Or another way to look at it is “business opportunity.”
In your world it could be one or the other, and these are the kinds of products that people are creating – Every Other Day Diet, Sugar Free Diet, How To Get Her Naked, Burn The Fat, Vertical Jump Training, Dirt Cheap Airfare Secrets, Lose Man Boobs – I love that one, so funny. So the idea is that you’re providing a solution in the title of your book. And you’re explaining what that is and it’s a benefit. You’re selling a solution, you’re selling a benefit. Or you’re targeting something very specifically, like Muscle Nerd Fitness. There’s a segment: nerds who want to bulk up.
That’s where you start. Or it could be a 7 Figure Success Formula For The Digital Photographer, or it could be Pay Per Click Mastery Blueprint. So there are the business-side of things too. Start Your Own Dowsing Business and Earn a Six Figure Income.
Platform, Technologies and Infrastructure
So the reason that it’s so hard for people to get into this business and do well is that it’s very technically complex. You have to be able to generate multiple landing pages for your products so that different market segments might come in and read something about your product, and it might be the same product in the back end, but solve different problems for different people. You have to have a really good email database for your auto responders, the emails that automatically are sent out to people. When someone buys your e-book, they should get a series of auto responders that upsell them into your membership program.
We provide a network, a social network, for other information product marketers where all of the people that we publish, all of our experts that we provide all this technical support for, can go into this network and talk to each other.
- We buy some services once and distribute them across all of our products, like the Better Business Bureau logo, so you don’t have to spend $500 dollars a year having a Better Business Bureau logo on your site.
- We have an image library where you can get stock images and not have to pay for them.
- We have our own affiliate network where all of those awesome affiliates and JV partners can go and sign up to become your affiliate and grab links and ad banners right from there that track their sales, so we pay them for you and deliver you a check each month on all your sales.
- We have hosting services, and we also help you secure domain names ‘cause you’ll often want to have multiple domain names for the different parts of your products.
- We also do the Pay Per Click Google AdWords campaigns for you.
- We also make all the ad banners for your affiliates, for your product.
- We have the ability to do audio recording and video recording and editing.
- We have a download locker where your contents go so people can’t come online and steal it in any way.
- And in addition now to PayPal E-Commerce Integration we are building out our own shopping cart that will accept a lot of different merchant capabilities.
- And we also have ad serving capabilities so we can serve ads into other networks and things like that, and into our own network on Personal Life Media where we get about 50,000 visitors a month who are interested in the kind of content that we produce.
We have assembled together the entire technical backend infrastructure, we’ve selected the products and woven them together in a way that works for our experts to use those systems to market their products. Now we handle most of the technical side of generating revenue for your information products.
Mostly what our experts do is the writing – and there’s a lot of writing – and a lot of their own self-promotion. But we provide the structure, the direction, help you figure out what to create, show you how to create it, what the components are, help you produce it, and then put it into this network of places where it needs to live so people can buy it and pay for it and market it and find out about it.
So if you want to either teach people how to learn your expertise or you think that there’s a nice membership site that you have ability to do and webinars that enough people would be willing to pay for then you might have a product line. You can either teach people to either learn what you know at a personal level or even better use what you can teach them at a professional level to generate revenue.
I hope that helped you understand better the complexities of being in the information product marketing world and how what you can teach might fit into the model that is currently working and always evolving online.