Posts tagged internet marketers
I’m ticked …
Notice my site … changed a bit hasn’t it.
Used to look consistent. Now … not so much. Used to be a mix-mash of traditional html, WordPress blog and forum. But at least it looked consistent.
Now not so much.
That’s not the least of it. I use WordPress to drive a number of sites that are part of the TrainingNOW family and a number of other companies (e.g. VProz) that I’m either involved in or otherwise have a relationship with (i.e. maintain). The problem is that WordPress broke all my sites in the last update.
Yes, I said broke my sites.
As a “former” techie, this ticks me off. But then again, I come from a platform that doesn’t EVER have legacy code in the way PCs do. Upgrade? Cool. But it had better not break what went before or it’s back to the drawing board. Which means there’s always new stuff to learn without unlearning the old. But that’s a heck of a lot easier than rewriting a million dollars in application code. (For the techies in the group, any html in pages was lost, workarounds around the menu stopped working around, and plugin options suddenly stopped the plugin from working. And oh yes, the theme I was using is no longer maintained so I couldn’t even keep the look consistent.)
But, since we’re all internet marketers here, I’m going to ignore the details and focus on the business effects.
Yesterday, was supposed to be a day of writing a new course. This week is turning into a write-off as appointments get in the way of producing. What was supposed to be a day of squeezing production between the appointments ended up being a day of fixing webpages. Including one that allowed my customers to download a product they had paid for. (At least it didn’t affect LearningCreators!). What really hurt was that this download was actually hit three times by the “changes”. No sooner did I fix one problem but another further down the stream appeared.
So what can we learn from this?
- Being able to download product is critical. (That means test it in full and fix it immediately).
- Don’t upgrade WordPress (or its plugins and theme’s) unless you have time to verify it hasn’t broken anything.
- If the pages need to appear consistent, then use WordPress for the whole site (not just the blog). Replacing a theme is easy. Replacing a theme and customizing it to look like your brand is not that hard. Replacing a theme and then customizing it to look identical to the html version is a major pain. (Technically, you can use a common CSS. But since WordPress has added improved Page handling, it isn’t necessary).
- Identify your critical processes (such as product delivery). Always have a backup ready to go at a moment’s notice. The backup should appear as transparent to the user as possible.
- Be flexible with release dates for product. Build in lots of time between completion and release. Then hope and work toward not needing that time.
- Watch the upgrade sequence. All themes and plugins should be upgraded shortly after a major WordPress release. If not, you need to check that they aren’t obsolete. If they are then you need to start the process of replacing them.
- Be flexible. Stuff happens. And always at the worst possible time.
- Don’t overcommit. You’re running a business (and have a life). That means you need to make appointments. But don’t let the number of appointments overload your ability to work on the business.
- Balance is needed in your business. Too much production and not enough marketing and you won’t sell. Too much marketing and not enough production and you won’t have enough product to sell. Too much production and/or marketing, at the expense of not enough administration and you could find yourself not being able to deliver what you sell. Or know what has sold and what you should produce. (Okay, I’m cheating here. This is actually something I’ve learned over the last six months. I just had it reinforced.)
- Project management rules are really business rules. The good habits that I’ve learned as a project manager are the same habits I need to remember as a business manager and entrepreneur. (Or vice versa)
Good luck with your business!
“‘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.
Okay, we’re almost finished.
So far we’ve covered the cost of producing different types of information product, we’ve covered the reputation value and we’ve covered the training value.
Today we’re going to discuss a type of value we as internet marketers like to discuss … money. Bucks, dollars, lira, pounds, pesos … $$$$$$$ (got the pic?)
So how much is a customer willing to pay for a product?
Frankly, that’s a question that has stumped many a marketer. The answer is typically “more than you thought!”. And there are a number of factors involved. Like, how good your sales copy is, did you position your information product as a system or just a book, are you targetting the affluent or the rest of us … and so forth.
However, once you’ve established a price you should get a relative price that looks along these lines (for comparable amounts of information, well presented and professional in appearance):
So for example (and these numbers are made up but reasonable), a multi-DVD set which has been repurposed into a book and into an audio set might sell for:
- Live Seminar (1 day) $1500
- Video (4 DVDs) $297
- Audio (4 CDs) $97
- Book (200 pgs) $49
Did the relationship surprise you?
It should have … and to be honest it was a bit of a cheat. You see the relationship between live, video and audio is reasonably stable (and in that order). This corresponds to our previous discussion of value in terms of training quality.
However, books have an established market. And the price needs to correspond to that price point which your customer has established in their mind. That’s why the ending dollar amount of $7 is not as key. People are used to the $9 ending point.
So if I redo the prices (still being reasonable and still providing the same information) I might get the following:
- Live Seminar (2 hrs) – $250
- Video (1 DVD) – $97
- Book (60 pages) – $19
- Audio (1 CD) – $7
Notice that the relationship between book and audio switch places. Why? Because people expect a book to have a minimum cost which is higher than that of the audio.
Now how much is your information product worth?
In real terms you’ll need to estimate that based on your knowledge of the market. And don’t forget that some products will be worth more to you without a dollar figure. HUH???????
Remember that even FREE live seminar can sometimes make you more money than one you charge for! So when you are predicting the price for the purposes of determining what formats to use for your information products, don’t forget to figure in giveaways. For example, by providing a FREE live seminar you may get a large, interested and active audience (you might not but that’s another issue). Just perfect for background to create a DVD set for you to sell at the back of the room. In this case, the dollar values are all messed up because you traded dollars today for dollars tomorrow.
Similarly, books are often given out as free samples (e.g. opt-in and bonuses) as are MP3s. Once an audio is given out for free, the physical version (a CD) has little if any value. But of course, building a list is often of far more value than the audio.
Despite the difficulty of identifying a price point, the price is a major component of the decision to create an information product in one format or another.
We’ve now finished the discussion of the various elements involved in the decision. It’s now time to discuss the decision itself. Which we’ll do in the next web entry.
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!
So over the last two weeks I’ve talked about the four types of books and why the Content Mapping System works for them – or doesn’t.
While the system isn’t a panacea and it doesn’t work for all books, it does work in most cases for how to books and why to books. In short, most non-fiction.
This is true because most non-fiction books are fact based regardless of their organization. Even if they are a simple collection, they still need to be organized. If they are a how to, they still need to be organized. So it doesn’t matter if they are sequential, fact-based or collections, they are still a set of facts that need to be organized. And the best system to do that is the Content Mapping System you can find here in video form (for free) or here in book form (not free).
A minor exception to the above rule is sequential based books. With sequential or process based books you need to add pretty pictures. In other words, flow or process diagrams. But the basic Content Map system works quite well and does allow for adding this type of information. (Yes, believe it or not it is a function of the tool. We don’t talk about it very much but it is part of the proper use of the tool.)
The major exception to the above are time based books. These are histories, (auto-)biographies and fiction. Because they are time based they need a tool which is time based … in other words a time chart based system. Sorry but the Content Mapping system just isn’t the right system for those books.
A couple of final comments.
First, an historical analysis is not a time based book. It is primarily a fact based book. Having said that you may want to use a time chart to help document the occurence of the actions which you are analysing. This leads to the second comment.
The system allows you to use pictures and diagrams when they communicate the information better than words. Don’t be afraid to use them! After all a picture is worth a thousand words. This also applies within your book. Sometimes words are not the best tools to communicate with. Sometimes pictures are. Never be afraid of diagrams. And don’t forget to use boxes … those little quick fact summary boxes you see in some books or at the side of articles. They help to seperate the book and to emphasize key facts.
So enjoy the Content Mapping System and learn to write books in less than 24 hours. Just remember that the system doesn’t work for all books, just non-fiction. It works great for how to books!
Enjoy, learn & get earning.
& the LearningCreators team
The fourth and final type of book is the collection.
What is a collection type book?
A collection type book is a collection of facts presented in a book format. Uhh… Okay, try this recipe books are collections. So are shopping catalogs. So are 50 best & 100 best and 500 best … add your own noun (dogs/cats/cars/boats/pirates … every one of those have been used).
In short it’s a bunch of short articles gathered together and presented as a book.
So what is the best way to organize such a book? Well, actually you have a choice.
One technique is to take a bunch of 4×6 index cards, write the title on the top, and then any facts. Then sort the cards. Viola!
Hey, it works! Elegant it ain’t and with a couple of major weaknesses.
A much better technique is the Content Map system. Start by filling out the Focus section at the top but do it on two sheets.
The first sheet will be the template for each of your articles. Remember that your collection book can be thought of as a series of articles collected and organized into a cohesive form. Now create the structure for your article. All the regular rules about arguments and presenting information apply. With one exception. The number of “chapters” doesn’t have to be exactly five plus two. You still need an intro and a conclusion and you shouldn’t have more than nine total. But the actual number of “chapters” can be whatever makes sense to you. Each of these “chapters” will become a section or paragraph for the book. The final step is to estimate how big (in words) each of these “articles” will be on average. You may find you want to write up a few “articles” to help estimate the average size.
Now take the second sheet. This will be your book itself. Just follow the usual steps for designing your book. However, when you write a topic which is an article, don’t bother to write up anything below the topic. Just mark it with a big “A”. Get fancy, put a circle around it if you wish! When you finish you’ll have the structure for your book. Estimating involves mixing the usual technique with the values you calculated above.
From there just follow the rest of the system.
So does the Content Map system work? Yup!
Okay, so Monday I told you about last week. And how it was just so absolutely fantastic.
But I’ve left two bits of info off.
Now, I’ve been following a number of Internet Marketers. One of whom is Anthony Robbins who has been sending me a series of interviews with major internet marketers. (Great series by the way – Tony interviews by asking questions then shutting up and listening). Secondly, my sister has been following Tony Robbins for years and is currently being coached by one of his licensees. So she lent me some of his tapes.
Basic concept (from both) is that we need to build our inner game. What I’ve called writing your inner how to book in the title. (See there was a point to it!)
Basically, what I learned last week is that there will be up periods and down periods. Times when it is easy to get things done and times when everything seems to be against you.
If you allow what is happening outside you to beat you down it will. And you’ll get NOTHING accomplished. (Like I did last week).
But if you keep your end up you’ll get by those weeks … and end up actually accomplishing something.
So how do you write your internal how to book?
- Decide what you want
- Decide where you are
- Determine what you need to do to get there from here
- Determine what you need to do on a weekly basis to accomplish it
- Determine what you need to do on a daily basis
- Do it!
So why is it so difficult?
The answer is twofold.
First, we tend to focus on only one item. And because we are focused on only that one item we lose sight of the other items of importance. We focus on our business and forget to talk to our wife and kids. We focus on others and forget to keep our bodies in shape. And once we allow one to fall behind the whole system begins to break down.
The truth is that when we write our internal how to book, we need to do so in seven areas:
(There are several variations on this list — each promoting their own point of view — so find the one that works for you and is still complete. Don’t worry about the number of items … the point is to cover all your relationships … to society, to people in your life, to your intellect, to your body, to your God, to your emotional health.)
So start by deciding what you want – long term – in each area of your life. If your life was perfect what would each of these areas look like.
Then look at your life as it is. What’s different from where you really want to be.
Once you have that determine what you need to accomplish in order to change from where you are to where you want to be. Trust me this isn’t as easy as it seems. It may require deep questioning of why the existing is the way it is.
Then plan your changes. What do you need to do on a yearly basis? What do you need to do on a monthly basis? What do you need to do on a weekly basis? What do you need to do daily? Some things will be goal focused — to lose 50 lbs in 1 year I need to lose 1 lb per week. However, the most important items will be task or control focused — every week I need to spend 1 hr determining what I need to accomplish this week. Those are the habits you need to build in order to develop the discipline needed to accomplish your goals.
Tony Robbins says you have to schedule it. He’s sort of right. Yes, you need to schedule it.
Then get out there and actually do it!
Scheduling is half the problem but if you don’t do it you’ll never get the benefits of having done it. In other words everything up to that point (all the problems you’ve solved so far) will be for naught.
That’s the second reason it’s so difficult. Thinking about it is easy. Dreaming about it is even easier. But doing it is hard. And the only way to make it easier is to get out there and just do it. It won’t take long. Once you develop those habits (you remember those things you need to do every week and every day), then you’re half way there.
Because the habits will help to carry you through the doing even when your energy is low, even when things are going wrong.
Because they will go wrong. Even after you accomplish your goal.
(For more info try Tony Robbins – The Power of Psychology).
Get Learning & Earning
& the LearningCreators