Readers and consumers are seeking increasingly more content on the Internet–and turning to Cyberspace whenever they need information on anything at all. That’s why information marketing offers such an interesting business opportunity.
If you have expertise or explicit information to share and the ability produce products to sell on the Internet–including books and e-books–you can become an Internet marketer. Or, even if you have already written a book or plan to write a book and want to develop a business around that book, an information marketing business may be what you want to establish.
Information marketing is simply “the process of selling information”, and that sounds simple enough, right? But how exactly does that work in an internet-based business?
If you are just starting off, let’s figure out what kind of information we’re talking about. Typically, it’s information that serves to educate and, hopefully solve a problem that a potential customer is having.
For example –
- Teaching a busy executive how to lose weight.
- Sharing a successful remedy to a common ailment.
- Training a single mom how to make supplemental income.
- Helping a new pet owner with training.
The information is typically delivered electronically (in a digital format) by way of eBooks, membership sites, audio and video downloads. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry, several times over, and has produced more than a few millionaires. Why is information marketing appealing?
It meets some fundamental business criteria. Entrepreneurs are drawn to the low barriers to entry, high profit margins, hands-off management, and quick time-to-market. An information marketer can dream up a product one day and release it overnight, seeing a return on their investment almost immediately.
So, this sounds pretty simple; and it is straightforward to become an information marketer, doing it successfully is another matter. Countless would-be millionaires dive into the market, buy into the idea of making millions online overnight. Sadly, they buy into programs hyped up with empty promises or make some rookie mistakes that they might never make without the grand expectations.
Here are a couple of the common pitfalls that information marketers can fall into.
A double-edged sword: Side One-Aiming for Perfection
When the Wright brothers took their first historic flight on December 17, 1903, they weren’t demanding perfection. Their goal wasn’t to offer great cocktail service, wireless Internet, or even a top rated movie aboard their flying machine. They just wanted the darned thing to stay up in the air for a few seconds!
And a few seconds – twelve, to be precise – was all they got. And they became famous for it.
Now imagine if they had been anxious about the extras – and no, I don’t mean cocktail service or comfortable seats. But if they had wanted a crash-free landing, a three-hour (or three-minute!) flight, and a trendy rig – they’d probably have never gone out to that sand dune in Kitty Hawk in the first place. They’d still be in the hangar, tinkering with the wheels or wing flaps.
What Orville and Wilbur knew – and what information marketers would do well to take note of – is that perfection is overrated. Its allure is deceiving. In fact, it doesn’t exist. So waiting for your product to be “perfect” before you release it means you have a excellent chance of either never releasing it at all, or delaying so long that someone else beats you to the punch and pinches your market out from under you.
Are you hesitant to release a product that is less than perfect? Well, remember Vista? Microsoft – and pretty much every other software company – does it all the time! And if “good enough” is good enough for billionaire Bill Gates, it’s good enough for you.
Having said that, there is a fine balance between releasing something that’s not ready and releasing something that’s valuable but a little rough around the edges. Above all, I implore you not to do what so many information product marketers do. Don’t put out products where there is really no substance, just sales copy. I’m sure you’ve seen them; the guy who sends you a pitch for what seems to be a great info product. You buy it, and what do you get? Another PITCH for their NEXT product! That is just silly and irresponsible. Talk about a prescription for how to lose credibility with your list!
I suggest you actually deliver real value every time you produce a product. Maybe give them more than they expect. Give people what you told them you would and they will come back for more.
This is where having a handful of beta testers can be very helpful. Send out your product to a group of people for their feedback, and see what they think. Ask them:
- Would you sell this product?
- What’s missing?
- If you could change one thing, what would it be?
- Can you use this product to create more value in your business or life right now?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you rate this product?
If you get extraordinarily positive feedback and your marks are all in the 6-plus range, press forward. If you’re getting comments like, “I couldn’t really understand what you meant,” or, “I’m not sure how to use this,” or, “I would rethink your introduction,” then you’re short of your goal. Take another look at what you have, make the requested changes or suggestions, and try again.
My suggestion: The info products that you produce should not only tell people WHAT to do, but HOW to do it. By telling people how to do something, your information products will already be in the top 3% of all the products in your area. Why? Because people don’t generally do that. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.
Remember, you don’t have to make it across the Atlantic in one piece; you just have to make it around the block.
A double-edged sword: Side Two – Don’t create a “Me Too” Product
Quickly – what is the most popular business on the Internet? You guessed it – it’s how to make money online! It looks as if that everyone who has purchased a course on making money online is suddenly credible enough to teach this subject a week later! Don’t fall for the fascination of easy money – because it’s only a perception. In reality your chances of having a successful online business are much greater when you distinguish yourself from the pack.
There are an abundance of lesser, untapped markets to “get rich” in. Every day you can find people making money on websites teaching things like cure for biting your nails, bunny breading, costumes for dogs, making home videos, and a score of other odd topics.
Do a little soul searching and discover things you know a lot about and are passionate about. Chances are there is a group of people who would be willing to pay you to learn what you already know on those topics. And those are the business opportunities you should pursue online…
When you come across other information marketers making big bucks from an eBook on “How to get Facebook Fans” it is really tempting to say, “I could write an eBook on ‘How to get Facebook Fans’, too! And then I could make the big bucks!”
It sounds good – but it doesn’t necessarily work that way. In fact, if you create and release a “me too” product that is nothing more than an imitation of a more successful product already on the market, don’t be surprised if the world doesn’t rush to your door.
“But hold on!” you might be saying. “Dunkin’ Donuts opens up across the street from Starbucks, and they both do well!”
Yeah, they do. That’s because it’s NOT a “me-too.” Each has its own spin on the product. Dunkin’ is where you go for quick brew and a 99-cent donut. You head across the street to Starbucks if you want a gourmet breakfast sandwich and a Wi-Fi connection while you prepare for your client meeting. There are distinct needs; and distinct products.
To apply that metaphor online– It’s okay to come up with a product that’s similar to a competitor’s, but you need to put your own twist on it, adding value over what your competitor is offering.
Here are some ideas that you can use to create a “me-too” product that stands on its own:
- Make it faster or quicker. Check out your competitor’s product. If it promises a Thinner Waist in Thirty Days, offer a Thinner Waist in Two Weeks.
- Make it easier or simpler. Does the original product offer ten steps to more traffic? Then offer three steps instead.
- Make it bigger. Competitor sells 25 marketing ideas? Then you need 50.
- Deliver it differently. (Visual, auditory, or written). If there’s an eBook on the subject, create the videos and audios, or vice-versa. Not all people learn the same, so cover the parts of the market your competition is missing. Or, cover all the delivery methods.
- Make it less expensive. When Jeff Walker released his six-figure launch e-course, a smart marketer released “The Poor Man’s Launch Course” for a fraction of the cost.
- Make it more expensive. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it works! Some customers want “the best” and will go for the more expensive option automatically. If you can back your higher price tag with greater value, you will pull people looking for the most excellent solution.
There’s really no excuse for creating a copycat product. If you are passionate about something similar that is available, put your individual stamp on the product instead, and you’ll find that you can reach the buyers your competitors are missing.
For your own good, and the good of your audience, your objective should not just be to profit from marketing information products – although that is a decent incentive! It should also be to deliver concrete, useful information that brings real value to your audience, even when you create a simple product like a report or booklet. Giving your customers more than their money’s worth isn’t just the right thing to do, but it builds good will and encourages customers to come back for more of the first-class value you’ve built a reputation for delivering.
Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with Jerry on Google+.