Posts tagged information products
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
- Lewis Carroll
Now that we’ve determined what information products means — sort of. We can go on to discussing what is learning content … besides the base for a company name. (Yeah, I know we’re LearningCreators not LearningContenters but this is all going to make sense in time).
So what is Learning Content? First of all it is an information product. More specifically it is a (re)casting of information for the purposes of transferring knowledge. Wee … academia here I come ….
Take a course … it can be delivered by a live seminar, or by DVD or by an audio-only format. But the core information — the course — remains the same. It can even be recreated as a book or an eBook. Now when the course has been repurposed from live to DVD to audio it may be exactly the same course. However, it may have been redone (and probably should have been). But it still remains the same course. Later it may be written down as an article, white paper or book. Despite this the content remains the same.
That’s learning content! It is the course itself — irrespective of the format or media the course is delivered in.
Now of course, things are never as simple as they seem. While the information remains constant for all media and the learning content (the course) remains almost the same, in real life, the actual course may change to make better use of the properties of the media. For this discussion, however, I’m going to presume they remain constant.
That’s why many marketers suggest repurposing your training materials (sell a live training, video record it then sell as a DVD, convert to audio and sell as a CD, the transpose it into a written product and sell or give that away). If we ignore the effects of the media properties, the learning content remains the same for all products.
Of course, in real life, for quality reasons, we do not want to ignore those media properties.
S0 to restate, learning content is the content of the course ignoring the media the course is delivered in. Whether the course is delivered by video, live seminar or mp3 or even by book, the learning content remains the same.
How does Learning Content relate to Information Products? Learning content is the creation side of anything to do with training. Therefore items like coaching, Books & eBooks, Seminars & Courses all use learning content. Or more correctly, disseminate learning content. On the other hand, consulting, software, data analysis, databases etc. — which are not related to training – are not related to Learning Content.
“‘Speak English!’ said the Eaglet. ‘I don’t know the meaning of half those long words, and I don’t believe you do either!’” Lewis Carroll
We’ve been tossing around this term “Learning Content” as though it means much more that just our company name!
Well it does!
So do most of the other terms we use …
So for this week — and maybe next — we’re going to define some terms and how they relate to each other.
So let’s start with the widest term…
What is an information product?
Although internet marketers tend to think in terms of one type of information product there are in fact a great number of them. Information products in general are any product which deals in information. That includes the manipulation of information as well as the provision of information.
In other words, some of the information products (and only some) are:
- Computer programs
- Data analysis services
- Consulting services (but not contracting services).
- Coaching services.
- Information posting (e.g. Link Building Programs & Search Engine Submitters).
- Seminars, and courses
- Books and eBooks
- Articles and Magazines
And there are a large number of other items. In fact, some items are information products but are often considered to be more related to other classes e.g. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is considered to be either marketing or internet services but is actually more an information product than anything else. In fact, copywriting is a form of information product but is typically lumped into marketing.
In short, information products is a wide grouping of anything to do with data or information or the dissemination of that information. In practice, it is so wide that it typically must be broken into sub-sets in order to be a useful classification.
Having said that, internet marketers tend to think of information products as fitting into one of three groups … database services, courseware and software. The rest of information products tend to be assigned to something else — such as marketing or internet or consulting — or ignored.
So far we’ve been kind of working up to one third of the decision matrix for identifying which information product you should create … Specifically the cost.
The next part of the matrix is related to client opinion or more correctly the effect on your reputation as a provider of information products.
Generally speaking, customers will view information products in the following order (from most reputation building to least):
- Text Book (200-300 + pgs)
- Executive Book (100-200 pgs)
- Live Seminar (1 week)
- Video (+8 hours original content/4 DVDs)
- Real eBook (60 pages)
- Live Seminar (1 day)
- Video 1-1/2 hours (original content or interview)/1 DVD)
- Audio recording (original radio quality)
- White paper
- Video 1-1/2 hrs -4 hrs (recording of live seminar) (1/2 DVDs)
- Video 1-1/2 hrs (interview)
- Audio recording (interview)
Generally speaking for equal effort the reputation order is:
(Meaning you get more reputation building from a written work taking 25 hrs than you would from a video also taking 25 hours).
Now there is one issue that is very important. Many “gurus” recommend a repurposing strategy such as:
- Develop and hold a live seminar
- Record seminar & sell recordings as DVDs
- Convert to audio and sell as CDs
- Transcribe and sell as book
The problem with this technique is that each step must be professionally done (as in quality). Your seminar must be of a professional quality in order for ANY of the other media to have reputational value. In addition, each of the repurposing steps (video, audo, transcription) must be carried out to a professional level in order to be perceived as quality.
So to continue with the example above, your seminar must be of professional quality. Otherwise nothing that is repurposed from it will be considered professional. Fortunately, because it is live, people will forgive a great deal. However, when it comes to video recording, the video recording must be professional. That means that slides must be separately recorded, editing must be professional, and if possible, multiple cameras should be used (to provide the editor with options if nothing else). Proper titles and sound track must be added. Voice track may need to be re-recorded in order to give an acceptable level of quality. Similarly, the conversion to audio needs to be done professionally. The sound may (and most likely will) need to be rebalanced for audio. Video titles need to be removed and replaced with audio titles (aka intro music and maybe an introduction). Finally, when making a transcription of the Seminar/DVD/CD the written version cannot be left as a transcription. Rather it needs to be restructured and rewritten (perhaps with additional items) into a proper book.
The whole point is that your reader/customer will know if you have simply changed formats without doing anything else. If so they will reject the effort and the revised product will be considered as reputation negative rather than promoting your reputation.
Keep in mind that this applies whichever direction you choose to repurpose in. What do I mean by direction? I’ve been using repurposing to refer to taking an expensive product and then creating other (less expensive) products. That’s the example above. But the other direction is also a possibility. That’s where you take a collection of simpler products and then repurpose them into a single entity. For example, a number of articles can be combined into a book. Or a well-written article can be redesigned as a webinar. It should be obvious that in this case, major work will be required to create the other products.
But the truth is, it doesn’t matter which direction you take. Repurposing requires major work if you are intending to have a high quality end product.
Sorry folks, but Thursday and Friday turned out to be busier than I could handle. So this article just ended up being a wee might late. :sad: Sorry about that!
So far we’ve been kind of working up to one third of the decision matrix for identifying which information product you should create … Specifically the cost.
To a large extent I can’t tell you what the cost will be.
You see as I hinted at in the last posts, you need to answer the question for yourself.
Generally speaking the relationship between writing, video, live/slideshow, and audio are:
- Text book (300+ pgs) = 1 week live seminar = 6 hrs finished Video = 12 hrs finished audio
- Executive book (100-200 pgs) = 1 day live seminar = 1.5 hrs finished Video = 3 hrs finished audio
- Article = 1-1/2 hour live seminar/webinar = 1/4 hr finished Video = 1/2 hr finished audio
HOWEVER, your own comparison will vary. First because you may be more or less comfortable speaking or writing. Writing is a very private task and as a result doesn’t take a great deal of practice to become comfortable. (It does take a lot of practice to become capable but that can’t happen until you are comfortable). Speaking – public or otherwise – does require a great deal of practice before you become comfortable.
To make matters worse speaking to a crowd is much easier than speaking to a camera. A crowd gives you feedback and energy. A camera gives you nothing. So practice for one doesn’t help you with practice for the other. In fact, practice for the crowd is more a matter of becoming confident and comfortable. Practice for the camera is a matter of becoming able to generate your own energy.
Then comes the matter of repurposing and other techniques such as interviews. It might seem that there is little extra cost involved in repurposing (e.g. video to audio to transcription), but as we’ll see in the next post, the costs are much higher than one will be told.
So all I can tell you is that you need to determine how much it will cost YOU to create the product in the various forms. Just remember to include all the costs including preparation, production and post production.
Well, Thursday and Friday was one of those days … or is that were … ah, well you get the idea. It’s been interesting this week.
In any case, I promised you to finish this series. Just not today. Today we’re going to summarize the different types of information products you can create – or more correctly the different formats you can create information products in.
The main formats of information products are:
- Written – articles, blogs, books
- Live events – seminars, workshops, public speaking
- Personal videos
- Slideshow videos – webinars, slide shows
- Audio – podcasts
The first is obvious given our product – write it. Write yourself a book, or an article or create a blog like this one. Put your thoughts down on paper. Of course, writing a book takes a lot of work. Besides the research, there is organizing, writing, editing and publishing.
The second format is the live event. This can take many forms. Many of those forms are defined by the amount of audience participation. Lecture, seminar, workshop is one common example of a convention based on participation. Generally, the amount of work is directly related to the length of the presentation not the type. Preperation can take an extended amount of time. Generally the minimum is the same amount as the presentation. However, most seminars, lectures, and public speaking will require closer to 10 times the amount of work before the presentation than during. Much of this preparation is involved in writing and then practising the script. After is minimal and limited to review of the presentation and reviewing lessons learned.
The third format is the personal video. What is a personal video – beside the opposite of an impersonal video? A personal video is any video that shows a talking head – a person. Generally, this is a live person as opposed to Max Headroom clones. Some people believe that this involves much less work than writing. But, in reality, they are simply showing their own preferences. A video requires much more preparation than writing. This preparation takes the form of writing a script, and practice speaking before a camera. Many of us who are comfortable speaking before a crowd find the switch to a camera difficult. Why? No audience and therefore no energy flowing from the audience. Once the video is “filmed”, it still needs to be edited (part of the post-production process). An advantage that a video has over live events is that mistakes can be removed. To do this, however, requires extra video be filmed whenever a mistake occurs. Generally, you can expect the effort required to be of the form 4 2 4 where preparation takes 4 times the finished length, filming takes twice the finished length of the information product and post-production takes four times. Meaning a 10 minute information product will take roughly 2 hours from research to ready to post.
The slideshow is the format that many of us are most comfortable with. In many ways it is the most efficient format. Preparation generally takes about twice that of the presentation. However, the more time spent in practice and review the better the presentation. One of the big advantages is the ease of editing out mistakes. Because the screen shows only a static view, it can be edited without the need to (re)film extra. Slideshows can consist of the normal text based powerpoints with voice over or can be a set of photographs with animation and music over.
Finally, the last format is the audio. This is often distributed as an mp3, podcast or CD. Typically, audios are presented in the form of interviews although audio books and recorded speech are certainly possible. Audios need some preparation especially practice. However, post editing is the most effective for this format. All of the video formats limit the amount of editing which is possible since the video and the audio need to synchronize. However, with an audio it is possible to eliminate even the normal dead spots while a person’s words and synchronize.
Most of the above formats can be provided in one of two ways. Either a machine readable form (i.e. delivered via computer) or in physical form. So a book, for example, may be delivered as a downloadable eBook or as a physical paperback or hardcover book. Videos and audios are delivered as either a download (e.g. YouTube) or on a DVD or CD. Live events are the exception since they are experiential.
Next post we’ll talk about the techniques that can be used to create information products.
Okay, so Friday I promised a short series on how to select the type of information products … or more correctly the format. On Monday I was bad and posted a video from Will Smith that I thought you might find interesting. My bad! Me Busy! Me Lazy! But I really did think it was interesting. And given its subject that’s saying something.
So what’s the point of this — besides a backhanded apology.
The point is that that blog entry was as much an information product as the book I spent 2 weeks working on (24 hours writing, the rest publishing). It just cost a LOT less to get out.
So how do you decide what form your information product should take? I mean besides “I need this in fifteen minutes and I have no clue what to write. I guess I better rip something off YouTube!”.
Now before I start lets get something straight. The boundaries. Information products is really a large group of products formats. “How to”s, which we call Learning Content, alone can take seven (or more) physical formats. And Learning Content is only one type of information product. Software is also an information product. Web services (e.g. article posting tools, web design tools) are also information products. So are databases.
However, software, services, and databases are – for most of us – beyond our skills and capability. Most of us produce information products in the form of learning content.
There are 6 questions you need to answer when deciding what form your information product needs to take:
- What forms am I capable of doing?
- What forms am I most comfortable with?
- How much will this content cost (in time or money)?
- Can I create multiple forms from one?
- How important is this to my reputation?
- How much will customers pay for (value) this form
Those questions basically bring out three characteristics of each of the formats:
- The cost of the format (Questions 1 through 4).
- The reputation value
- The dollar value
Over the next few posts in this series we’ll address these questions and characteristics.
In the next post we’ll look at the various formats of information product that are possible.
It’s been a real excercise in frustration splitting up TrainingNOW into three seperate pieces plus (A publisher of online training & books, a creator of information products, and a copywriting, web SEO and SEM, and ghostwriting company plus a seperate course site for writing how to books and information products). Let’s just say that it’s been a difficult birth. And now it’s going to be an even more difficult period raising these poor children!
Just to be mean, some of them don’t seem to want to get born!
We’ve talked about some of the hard parts (see the series: Lessons Learned) mostly in just getting a website up. But I haven’t really talked about one of the other issues … learning to talk about yourself.
You see, the latest site to come up is ContentCreators. Well, hopefully up by the time this is published. Now recognize that ContentCreators is our outlet for selling our writing services — traditional copywriting, web copywriting (including SEO and SEM), ghostwriting, and editing. It’s not like it’s new or anything. I’ve been doing half of it for oh … umm, oh s**t, geez I really am that old! (FYI, I literally learned entrepreneurship at my great-grandfather’s knee – and I was writing copy by age 10. Which was a few years ago). And Paul’s been doing the other half for more than most internet marketers have been alive! But I’ve always done it for other people more than for myself. Check out Can Da Software if you don’t believe me. Even ignoring the fact that it’s needed a graphical redesign for oh, 10 years now. Let’s face it, the copy was iffy when it was written some 15 years ago. Yes, it was as soon as the web hit Toronto – don’t remind me!
But I learned something from this.
I learned that I hate copywriting for myself because it’s just too much like tooting my own horn.
But, as an entrepreneur, it has to be done. And I know it. And I know I’m good at it. You see, the other half of the story, is that I just recently spoke to two of my clients.
One is Newport Funding (I did their website, coached them through SEO selection and coached them through writing their own copy). Even at one remove, I was able to boost their search engine rankings – and the proof is that their new website was able to generate 2 new contracts this week. (That’s a lot in their business).
The other is ThreeO Project Solutions (I co-wrote the AceIt! textbook). I was setting up a deal with him and he mentioned that his customers have complimented the book and that he believes I’m largely to blame!
Now the point is that in both cases, both clients are overjoyed with the work, and have promised that they will write a testimonial. After all, testimonials are the life-blood of the internet marketer.
Do I look like I’m holding my breath?
The sad truth is that less than 10% of the people who promise you testimonials will ever sit down and write one for you. Why? Because it’s too much like work. (Most ask me to write the testimonial and they’ll sign it – which I won’t do).
So where does that leave people like you and me?
Having to toot our own horn. Having to say how good we are and why people want to buy from us. And frankly, yes, it feels like bragging. And, yes, you may be lucky and able to hire someone else to write your copy for you.
But the bottom line is … if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you need to learn to sell. Not just “solution-selling” where you listen to someone with a problem then solve it. But “hey, I’m great, my products are wonderful, and this is why you should buy” selling. If you don’t then you’ll never succeed, and you’ll never get ahead. If you don’t promote yourself then noone else will! That’s the essence of marketing.
Yes, it feels like bragging. Yes, it goes against a life time of hearing your mother say “Nobody likes a braggart”. But if you want to succeed you need to draw attention to yourself. And you need to convince people that you are as good as you are. And that means you need to tell them just how good you really are.
But man it’s hard!
I’m really not selling anything here … trust me I don’t have a backup product. In fact, I don’t even have an opt-in on this page. This is just something that I feel strongly about ….
What is it?
If you sell information products; if you are consultant.; or if you are in the service industry you need to know about Expert Marketing.
What is it? (I’m gettin there, I’m getting there ….)
It’s selling your expertise – not a product, not a relationship – your expertise. Sound familiar. If you are in info products it better be. If you are a consultant or service provider it should be.
It’s how you get to be the one to call!
Am I trying to sell something here — Nope!
I just got the webinar on this up and working in TrainingNOW’s free section. If you’d like to see this free introduction on Expert Marketing: Becoming the one to call just click. There isn’t even an opt-in!
(See I’m really not trying to sell anything … except maybe becoming a better entrepreneur!)
Just looking for your success