Tuesday, October 27, 2015
What Will Your Product Be?
Before you start creating your first online business, it’s good to step back and decide what your actual product will be. With a bit of foresight you can plan the future of your product(s), and maximize the sales process.
If you run an offline business, think about how you may be able to apply the specialist knowledge in creating a digital product. I will try to give some examples for each of the following types. The trick here is to think laterally, and not focus too much on specifics, but the general concepts.
At the bottom of the scale, text products are the easiest to create, but will make you the least amount of money. And at the other end of the scale, software products or services are the hardest to create, but can return you the most amount of money.
Let’s have a look at the five product types...
1. Text Products
Text products are the easiest, fastest and cheapest product for you to create. Being at the bottom of the scale they will probably make you the least direct profit.
E-books are one example of a text product. They take almost no investment – just your time researching your topic and then writing it. (Or the cost of having one ghost written for you.)
Or you could create an e-course. This is where you set up a simple opt- in form where customers can sign up to your course. Then you put your content into a series of e-mails that you load into an autoresponder, to send out your course automatically.
Text products are used to build your credibility and authority as well as to generate leads. When you create free products and give them away as lead generators for your other products, you’ll earn trust. They can also be low-cost leader products, to direct prospects on to higher priced products.
If you are a florist, consider a book on the art of flower arranging and how to choose the correct flowers for the correct occasion. This could also make a great e-course.
You may also want to write a free report on how to make your cut flowers last longer, or the top ten common mistakes most florists make when building a bouquet.
If you are a plumber, think about writing a free report on the 10 most common shortcuts plumbers make to cut corners on a job and what to look out for as a customer.
In doing so you will build assumed trust. (People will assume that because you are pointing these out, you would not do the same. Hopefully a correct assumption.)
You can use these reports to build lists of potential prospects. This can be useful when you want to offer a promotion at slow times. Essentially this gives you the ability to run almost zero cost advertising with almost instant results when you need it most.
2. Audio Products
Audio products require a bit more effort to create than text products, but are still in the ‘easy basket’. Because audio has a higher perceived value, you can command a higher price point than text products.
Take the e-book that you’ve written and simply record yourself reading it aloud. If you don’t like the sound of your voice, or if you want a certain accent for a specific market, you can have someone else read it. It’s easy to do a teleconference call. Organize an expert to come on your call and interview them. Have other listeners ask their questions while you steer the conversation to access helpful information for your listeners.
You can conduct interviews over Skype. Ask the person you are interviewing thought-provoking questions while you record the call. Later you can edit it if you need to, or transcribe it as the base for a text product.
Although I have heard this suggested many times, a lot of people ignore the idea, thinking it can’t be that easy. Yes it is. I know many products made this way in just a day or two. Once you have the system in place, audio products can be some of the fastest and easiest to create.
If you run some type of coaching program or service, then to create an audio course should be a must. If you run a natural health clinic, then interviewing world experts to create an audio program could be leveraged in so many different ways.
You could use it to sell online to customers who live too far away to see you in person. You could sell it to existing clients, or use it as a giveaway on the first visit.
You could use it as a way to build credibility through association (a very simple but effective strategy for building authority).
When other people see your name or face next to a well-known celebrity or leader in a particular niche, then some of their authority status will be transferred to you. This happens completely subconsciously and is therefore, an extremely powerful technique.
If you run a natural health clinic, then interviewing world experts to create an audio program could be leveraged in so many different ways. The possibilities here are endless.
3. Video Products
Video products are once again another perceived notch up the scale in difficulty from audio products.
Until you are familiar with how to create video products, it can be more time consuming (unless you outsource the work). But it’s more a psychological barrier that stops many people from attempting video products.
With the easy-to-use tools that are available these days, using video can be a fast and easy way to create a digital product that you can sell for a lot more money. Because video has a higher perceived value than text or audio products, you can ask for a much higher price.
When you create short video clips, you can then use them to build traffic. With good video you can quickly build up your e-mail list by generating leads from YouTube or other online video networks.
Video interviews are easy to do. Just as with audio interviews, you can have a guest come in who is an expert in your niche. Just record your video call on Skype, or in person with some relatively inexpensive equipment.
Webinars are another way to create video content (as is filming a live event). Just present your content and record. Some basic editing after you finish and your product is ready to go.
The great thing about video is, it can be another powerful way to build trust. People get a real feel for you in video and so building rapport can be much easier.
If you are a car mechanic consider making a YouTube series on basic home repair tips. Truth is, most people will be too lazy to fix their car themselves; but for those who do, will still remember you when something more difficult comes along.
Used car salesmen could create a video series on what to look out for when buying a used car. Again this will build assumed trust. You can then offer this information for free from your online or newspaper advertising.
If you do a good job, people will share the videos and you will generate a lot more leads through word of mouth. Music or martial arts teachers could easily create video courses to sell to students for extra home study, or to make money from students who live too far away for in-person lessons.
Remember, this not only builds additional passive income, but builds authority too and therefore increases the rates you can charge for lessons.
4. Membership Sites
Membership sites can provide recurring income. Though not usually for as long as most people would like. The reality with membership sites is that people drop out after only 3-4 months on average. Using the micro continuity model instead, is highly recommended.
This is where the program is a fixed length, for example 6 months. By doing this, you increase the average length of time someone remains with your program and you only need to create a fixed amount of content. (The main problem with membership sites with no end date, is coming up with new content every month.)
If you run a financial advice service you could easily provide an ongoing membership service that kept people up-to-date on the latest currency or stock exchange information.
Taking the previous example of a music or martial arts teacher, the same video course could be cut up into sections and drip-fed over time. The best value membership sites will contain a mixture of video, text and perhaps audio, along with resource links and industry updates.
5. Software Products
It is more difficult to create a software product than video, audio or text products. There is high risk involved in creating software. But if you can make it work you can enjoy a high return and even be set up for life.
If you want to go down this route, it’s best to at least have some experience developing some of the other types of product first. Too many people lose all their money just getting started with software development.
Subscription-based software is a great model if you can find a way to make it work. Autoresponder services are a great example of subscription- based software. Every single month you have to pay to use their service. Many people rely on an autoresponder and are willing to pay for this service for as long as their online business lives.
Some software also chooses to use advertising as a monetization model. This can work well if you have a large audience, and can be distributed through many of the free software networks.
Also known as adware, software that uses this monetization method will display some form of advertising either when it starts, when it’s closed down or in the interface while it is being used. Ads may be privately sold to customers, or provided by an ad distribution network.
If you have a really good idea for a software product, but do not have any experience, consider partnering with someone who has. It will help save a hard learning curve, and will likely save you a lot of time and money. (Plus your project is much more likely to succeed and actually make money.)
One idea though for small businesses is have some small, simple but useful software written for you as a free giveaway. This could be used to acquire leads, and/or thank current customers.
Examples include: a mortgage calculator for a mortgage broker; software to help calculate renovation costs for builders, real estate agents or property investors. In the example of a weight-loss specialist it could be software to help track your weight loss, calculate your BMI and/or estimate calories for different meals.
Be sure to brand it with your company logo. Also contain a link to your website to maximize credibility, and help spread the message should people share the software with their friends.
You need to consider which factors are going to influence your business. On which levels can you compete on? And if you can’t compete on those levels, can you compete on a different level? (And if not, perhaps you need to consider another business model or niche.)
Here are three aspects to consider in helping you decide whether you can compete or not…
1. Pricing Influence
Perhaps the most common way for businesses to compete is on price. Undercutting works, but may not be the best tactic. Although this may sound counter intuitive, sometimes increasing the price can also increase the number of sales.
Take a look at not only how much your product costs, but what influence your product has on your customers. If your product can save your customers a lot of time and effort in doing something, what value are you going to price that?
You must educate your customers about why your product costs the amount it does. Break it down and spell out exactly what the benefits are. Being the cheapest may just give you low profit margins and poor quality customers. By charging a premium, you can give a better quality product and/or service as well as make a better product.
With a higher profit margin you will have more to spend on marketing and advertising, allowing you to dominate more easily. You will also attract better quality customers and leave them much happier for having done business with you.
Remember, one simple way to increase your price point is to create an authority status for you or your company. Alternatively, maybe you have found a way to undercut the current competition. Many business have succeeded by finding ways to out price their competition while still providing a quality product or service.
If so, make sure you explain why, so that people will understand how you are able to beat everyone else and not cut corners. (Otherwise they may be skeptical.)
How easy is it for another company to come in and copy what you have done—to replicate your business model? You must think about this in the beginning, and assume other companies will copy you.
How can you differentiate yourself and make yourself stand out from future copy cats? Your brand plays a big part in this. If your customers believe the experience they have with your product has certain benefits, they’ll be more likely to stick around when new players come in. Think about how you can dominate the industry.
As well as copy cats, be aware of companies who come in with alternative products. Yes, price will be important for a percentage of customers, but not all. The features and/or quality will become more important here.
(And a quality product is more likely to stand the test of time against a cheap and cheerful product.) What type of position do you wish to hold in your market? Which strategic benefit will your product have? And which strategic benefits will other companies have, that you won’t?
In business you need customers. Your ability to get customers will be largely dependent on your marketing ability. Good marketing will not only help generate new prospects, but also to pre-sell them. Ironically this pre-selling is best done through education, not selling.
Teach prospects through your marketing why your product or service is best. For offline businesses this is where the internet can provide huge potential. It is also where information products can provide a lot of opportunity for backend products or services.
The sad truth is there are many great products out there that never make a cent. They are well priced, offer great value and are even in demand. Yet they fail to thrive simply due to poor marketing.
On the opposite side there are plenty of average or poor quality products that do well simply because of a good marketing department. (Don’t become one of these.) Think about the power each of these factors has. How can you structure and improve your business so you maximize the potential of each of these key areas?
Before you get started on your online business it’s helpful to sit back and consider what exactly you want to achieve, and why. A bit of foresight can save you a lot of time, effort and money further down the track.
It’s wise not to rush in eager without some form of preparation. Instead position and plan your business from the very beginning.
Most people don’t do this; and then, most fail. Be honest with yourself and your goals. What would you really like to achieve? What outcome would you like your business to have? There’s no pressure to create the next Google.
Would you like to own a small business? Perhaps you want to keep your day job, but earn some extra money on the side. If so how much profit will your business need to make?
Maybe you would like to create a quick flood of money and then move on to a new business? When you take time out to set yourself up for success and long-term profit, you can plan what to do in your business to ensure that happens.
The ideal position to be in, is where your product holds authority over your niche—where you lead in one powerful aspect, where no one else can threaten or touch you.
As well as setting yourself up for profit you have to be aware of your weaknesses. What are the main challenges that will impact your profitability and your journey getting there?
For many internet marketers it may be a fear your website simply disappears into Google’s ‘sandbox’. Is Google the main barrier to your business succeeding or not?
If so, what will you do to minimize the risk of this happening, and what are you doing to prevent this being the death of your project if it were to happen? Some things may be beyond your control, but planning for alternative solutions is not.
Is There Demand for Your Product?
Demand is needed for the success of any business. Without demand for your product, your business will never get off the ground. Unless of course you can create demand, but this is not for the light hearted, nor advised for the beginner.
For example if you sell food, people need to eat. That said, a lot of food is luxurious and not strictly needed, so it becomes a want. And it is often food that is ‘wanted’ that sells better than food that is ‘needed’.
Using Mark Joyner’s analogy… if you find a thirsty crowd, you’ll instantly have customers if you sell them water. If you‘re the only person selling water, you don’t need to create a sales letter. They’ll buy from you the moment they know you have what they want. This makes business a whole lot easier!
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
TURN BACK THE CLOCK ON YOUR FACE!
It’s not as sexy as the latest diet craze sweeping through Hollywood, but in the search for a slimmer figure, slow and steady weight loss (one or two pounds a week) really does win the race. Whether you want to lose five pounds to fit into your clothes better or need to lose fifty to protect your health as you get older, losing weight boils down to a simple equation: The number of calories you take in must be less than calories out. In fact, diet plans that claim you don’t need to count calories usually reduce your calorie intake anyway because you eat smaller portions or cut out certain foods (or in some cases, entire food groups). Even if you choose not to count calories, it’s worth understanding a few key points about them.
Know Your Calorie Needs As You Age
Everyone has a baseline number of calories they need to maintain their current weight, but the number differs according to your gender, weight, activity level—and your age. It isn’t just your imagination; your calorie needs do decline as you get older. Your metabolism slows about 5 percent each decade, so at age forty, women burn about 100 calories fewer per day and men burn about 50 calories fewer than they did at age thirty. That may not seem like much, but over a year it can translate to an extra five or ten pounds. The dip in your metabolism is mostly due to a decrease in muscle mass and a corresponding increase in body fat , but your organs also use fewer calories as you age.
The best way to determine your calorie quota is by measuring your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the number of calories your body requires for the daily tasks of living, such as breathing, blood circulation, and forming and repairing cells. Your gym may have a handheld device called a calorimeter that can measure your RMR pretty precisely. If you don’t have access to a calorimeter, a 2005 review of studies in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association discovered that a tool called the Mifflin-St Jeor equation is the next most reliable way to estimate a person’s RMR. You’ll need to translate your weight from pounds to kilograms and height to centimeters; the formulas are as follows: 1 pound = 0.45 kg; 1 inch = 2.54 cm