The dream of plucking ideas out of your head and turning it into an information product is pretty compelling. And it’s more doable now than ever.
That said, you’re still designing a product. Information alone can often be less-than-engaging, and even downright useless. In order to connect with customers, you’ve got to connect with them quickly, usefully, and memorably.
That’s why the key to successful information product is positioning. Rather than just a marketing concept, the positioning of the information or training you hope to sell is an act of instructional design in itself.
The Show Notes
- Digital Commerce Institute
- DCI Charter Member Offer
- How to Teach Long Division through Guided Discovery
The Key to Successful Information Products
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Brian Clark: Hey, Everyone, welcome to Unemployable Episode 26. I'm your host, Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital, and one of the most unemployable people you will ever meet.
Today, let's talk a little bit about information products, one of those kind of sexy dream type abilities to make a business out of your own mind and digitize it and sell it all over the world. More and more that's far from a dream and it's a reality for a lot of people.
I wanted to talk a little bit today, for a couple of reasons, about the key to successful information products.
Now, this is on my mind for a couple of reasons. I am actually teaching a course over at our new Digital Commerce Academy, which is part of Digital Commerce Institute, a broader initiative that also includes a live event next October.
I'm teaching a course on creating online education as the foundation of a business. And also, we have a very smart listener question today that ties right into the number one secret to being successful in the information business. And that's positioning.
Bake the Marketing In
Brian Clark: You'll hear a lot these days, especially in the software world, about “baking the marketing in.” That it's becoming an act of technology more than art, or what we consider marketing in the traditional sense. And I think there's some truth to that, but it's also not new. I mean, a lot of the “baking in” that we hear about now with platforms and software really has to do with network effects. It’s built to spread and take advantage of network effects.
In the conventional sense, the idea of “baking the marketing in” in the old days was almost silly, but it worked.
Think back to the old unique selling proposition. At first, it was about finding that unique feature or benefit that your product had. Then it became creating products that had that unique thing, even if it didn't really matter.
So, for example, Owens Corning, they make fiberglass insulation. It's the most interchangeable commodity I think I could ever think of. And yet, they own the market by making their insulation pink. Now, maybe licensing the Pink Panther to help them sell was part of it too. But ultimately, it was pink and that had nothing to do with the performance. But Owens Corning owned it, thanks to that decision.
I think back to Aquafresh and these other kinds of gimmicky toothpastes — they were designed to be unique, but that had really nothing to do with the product’s performance. Now, it was always pitched that way, but more or less it was just pretty little paste in a tube and it worked.
How You Deliver Is the Product
Brian Clark: So, the difference I would say with ebooks, online courses, any other kind of information, is that the positioning is the product. It's not an act of marketing. If you want to think about it as “baking the marketing in” – great. But with information and training, it really is the way you deliver the information that is the product.
Because information in itself is not that useful. I mean, it can be in certain forms, but often, data or information is not user-friendly. It is not designed to create this instant engagement and connection in the mind of the prospect or the learner, as the case may be.
That's why information is different. The way you express the information is the product, it is the value and it is the marketing all in one.
Let me give you an example. My son is 10 and he has been struggling to learn long division and he asked for my help. So, I sat down with him and I'm like, “Look, you put this into that, then you drop that down, carry this over.” The usual steps when you have the curse of knowledge, meaning you know how to do it, but you don't know how to explain it.
As he got more frustrated and I got more frustrated, I took a step back and I'm like, “Wait a minute, there's probably a better way to do this.” So, I googled teaching long division. And I found a great article that makes my point, because long division is pure information. It is an algorithm. There are steps that you follow in order to complete the problem, and somehow students have to internalize those steps.
The problem they have with learning is each step is not tied, number one, to a concept that makes sense to them. And number two, it's not a concept that they relate to.
This woman who was teaching this method understood that — that kids have to be able to attach a “why” to the step, a concept, and that they have to be able to do that internally. And this is a bedrock of learning psychology and instructional design. This is what we do to make information into something else — knowledge and the benefits of knowledge.
She taught it that way and tied it to an exercise of money with a group of school children. So, long division is long division. It's an algorithm, it's information, but the way it's taught makes all the difference. And that is an act of positioning just the same way that you might teach a course or read a book in a certain way.
Another example I like to use all the time is Malcolm Gladwell. His book Blink is a good example. All the information in that book came from very dry academic research studies. Same information, but Gladwell took it, wrapped it up in anecdotes and made it accessible. And, therefore, he is world famous and commands six-figure speaking gigs. But it's the same information, it was how he positioned it.
How to Position Research-Based Solutions
Brian Clark: So, that brings us to today's question from Megan Garcia. Let's take a listen to what she's struggling with and see if we can help.
Megan Garcia: Hi Brian, my name is Megan and I live in Los Angeles. I have a question about positioning. The products that I sell are classes in baby nutrition. So far, my position is as follows:
My customer wants a healthy baby. The problem or the obstacle is that there's so much information out there and a lot of it is hearsay. My solution is that I offer clear classes that are based on research.
I think this is okay, but I worry that I'm appealing too much to my customer's mind, which is less likely to end in a sale than if I appeal to their emotions or the problems that are happening in their lives right now. I think part of the problem is that my products are preventative. I believe, as do many scientists, that health starts during pregnancy and infancy.
So, my question is: how do I appeal to my customers gut? I currently have a membership site with a library and an automated course through MailChimp, and I publish research-oriented updates a couple times a month. I'm still a newbie and I'm learning as I go. Your advice and help is much appreciated. Thank you.
Brian Clark: Okay, cool. Megan, thank you very much for the question. And that, of course, ties in directly with what we're talking about here.
I think you're good focusing on research and prevention. I mean, that's a good rational appeal. And yes, we have to have emotional appeal, but we also have to back it up with the logic, the rationale that ultimately allows us to buy what we've already decided to buy.
So, I don't think you're off by focusing on the research behind preventative infant care, both in the womb and in the immediate year or so afterwards. That's good stuff and more and more people are turning to this research-based instruction. They want to do the right thing, but they're not necessarily wanting to follow old wives tales or bad information.
The only thing I think you're doing wrong is you're not leading with an emotional appeal that can then be justified by the research and the preventative nature and all that.
You're dealing with mothers. This is an area where you have easy emotional appeal. And yet, you have to be careful, because it's such an emotional hot button that if you are overbearing, you're going to turn people off, and it's very easy to do. Maybe that's why you're treading very lightly so far on your site. I did go over and take a look. That was the only way I could figure out what was going on there.
In a case where the emotional appeal, the idea of having a healthy baby and being afraid of things that could go wrong, I mean, it's there, but what you have to do is enter the conversation in the prospect's head as opposed to beating them over the head.
I think it's safe to say that all or most mothers want a healthy, vital baby. That's the positive emotional outcome. And that is also something that I think works. To a certain degree, from what I can tell, you're not doing enough of it, but that's the theme that you're really playing upon.
Now, the flip side, all mothers want to avoid losing a baby or having a sick, weak or developmentally challenged baby. Again, this is where you have to tread lightly.
But let's try to boil this down to what you're trying to go for. What's the conversation that's happening in their head so you don't have to make it so over the top?
Good mothers do whatever it takes to have a healthy, vital baby. And then the converse of that would be, bad mothers don't. Now, do you want to call anyone a bad mother? No, you don't.
Looking at your site, your Wellness 101 page I think should be your homepage. Make that front and center. Don't have it as a secondary page, because it's really the essence of what you're trying to make happen, and that's the compelling emotional story with a little bit of rearranging of what you got going on there.
Taking things I found in your copy, here's the headline that you could use that enters the conversation in their head without being overbearing — “Are you doing these critical things during the first 1000 days of your baby's life to ensure health and vitality?” So, you can see the draw there, the curiosity. I mean, what good mother (that’s the emotional kick) does not want to know these critical things?
That's a way to do it without coming across and saying the things that are going on inside the head, the bad mother thing, the fear of loss, all these very tough things that accompany the pregnancy. But you don't have to say it, they're already thinking it.
So, what you need is that positioning mechanism that enters into their head and says, “I’ve got to know this, because I'm a good mother and I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure that my baby has the best chance in this life.”
Another thing I would do — your About page, it leads off with you. And I get that because of the way it works with the other pages. But what I might do is lead with them again and then connect that to you.
Again, here's an idea for a headline. I just came up with these looking at your site, so take them for what they're worth. But, “Let me help you nourish and strengthen your baby.”
Now, there recite again a few of those key findings and facts about preventative pre-birth and young life measures that they could be taking. And then that naturally leads into you are the one that's going to help them.
Just never forget that it's always about them. I say that about 50 times a day, I think, but it's easy to forget. So, just maybe change your headline to focus on the connection between you and them, talk about them and then about you. I think you'll find that that is more effective.
All right. I hope that helps Megan, and I hope it helps some of you with your own sites.
If you are thinking about getting into online training or ebooks or any kind of information digital product, I would ask you to come check out Digital Commerce Academy and the deal we're offering on Summit. The charter membership deal offer ends today. It's literally less than $25 a month for many courses of core training, monthly webinars, Q&A where you get to ask these type of questions. And I will answer your question specifically along with the rest of the team over there. Less than 25 bucks a month.
If you want to add the live Summit, which is happening next October. It's a while, but there's a reason why we're selling tickets at a really attractive place right now. It’s to kind of gauge interest and see what's going on. I have to say that hundreds of people have already signed up, which makes me a little nervous that we're offering the Summit as an add-on to Academy for only $200.
But that's the deal we made. That is the deal we're offering. We just announced our initial speakers. Rand Fishkin of Moz will be doing the opening keynote, which I am excited about. He is fantastic as a presenter, very smart guy, and the Moz story of how they evolved into a Software as a Service company is instructive and inspiring.
So, head over to Digitalcommerce.com. The charter membership deal offer ends today, Friday, November 6th. But yeah, head over there. It is a steal of a deal for a small investment of what you get. You are a charter member, so you will be helping us improve the product and making it much, much more expensive. So, I hope to see you over there — Digitalcommerce.com.
That's it for now. No matter what you're working on, keep it going and keep yourself going forward, whatever that means for you. That's all I can ever ask. Take care, guys.