It’s not often, but every now and then I produce something that goes viral.
Here’s a breakdown of why it works.
There are five key points to making your stuff shareable. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a video, a blog post, a sales page, or an e-book; these principles apply.
1. Give people something to talk about.
There’s this (wrong) idea being bandied about that the only way to get a reaction is to be controversial.
Certainly, that can work, but if you’re not in the business of picking fights in order to provoke a reaction, try being remarkable instead. According to my friend, Seth, that means people are able to remark on what you’ve done. It doesn’t mean that you have to paint the Sistine Chapel. But you do need to make something that is really marketable.
The first seven seconds of the video fit the bill and got people talking.
Admittedly, it pokes a little fun at some of the all-too-common Internet marketing techniques, but it’s done with tongue firmly in cheek and in the best of spirits. You can hardly call it controversial.
Instead, it’s what’s called a “pattern interrupt.” You make the viewer (or reader) think they’re getting one thing, and then, with a sudden change of direction, you make them laugh, think or feel different then expected. It disarms them.
Which brings me neatly to point two.
2. Make people feel comfortable.
People are going to share the stuff they like, stuff that makes them feel good. Nobody wants to share a cold or flu virus, and nobody wants to share something that makes them feel queasy.
I put a lot of care and attention into getting the tone of this video just right. Everything from the visuals, to the timbre of my voice, to the background music (or lack of it) was designed to put the viewer at ease.
If you can put your audience at ease, then they’ll be receptive and open to sharing your message with their network.
3. Respect your audience.
How many times have you visited a sales page and left feeling a little dirty, a little taken-advantage of?
One of your biggest bugbears, if you’re like most of the people I polled on this, is visiting a web page with a video that doesn’t let you pause, play, rewind or fast forward.
By providing my audience with full control over how the video plays I’m saying, “I respect you.”
If you feel dirty watching it, you won’t forward it. Conversely, if you feel respected, you’re likely to forward it to people you respect.
4. Be unconventional by being yourself.
According to popular wisdom, because attention span has never been shorter, if you’re trying to sell somebody something, you have to hit them between the eyes with loud headlines, catchy bullet points, flashing colors and loud noises.
The video I made to promote the Alliance doesn’t do any of that (expect for the bit at the beginning to point out what you’re not going to see).
It runs 23 minutes and 23 seconds (yes, exactly) and the viewing stats are excellent with many, many people watching it all the way through. Most of the video is just me as me, addressing the camera. There’s no fancy lighting tricks, no kittens falling off tables and no laughing babies.
And you know what? People are watching it and sharing it.
If I’d listened to all the “gurus” and followed their advice, you’d see a very different video out there. You would have seen a video that didn’t represent me, my brand, and what I stand for.
I’ve always been a little skeptical of my industry with all its hype and anti-intellectualism. Don’t get me wrong, I admire many of its leaders and you know how much I love and respect the people I serve.
Nonetheless, I do my best to be true to my beliefs and what I feel is appropriate. That’s all each of us can do. And that truth is a moveable line so I’m careful that it doesn’t creep in the wrong direction. When it does, I try to quickly move it back to it’s rightful place.
Trust your gut. The best way to be distinct is by being more yourself, more fully self-expressed.
5. Be useful and relevant.
Finally, you have to provide useful, relevant and timely information. That’s the real key. Truly relevant and useful material is always shareable.
It’s December and many small business owners like you are looking at their accounts and performance over the last twelve months, and starting to put a plan in place for 2012.
That’s timely and relevant.
Of course, I’m telling you about my program as well. But if it’s not right for you, you’ll still get value from watching the video (I believe).
Take a look at the video I put together, and see how it ticks the boxes above:
- It gives people something to talk about (especially the first seven seconds).
- I make you feel immediately comfortable so that you want to stick around.
- My love and respect and gratitude for you shines through from the very beginning.
- It’s unlike many of the sales videos you’ll have seen recently.
- It’s useful and relevant.
Keep thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world. Much love and big hugs to you this fine day.
Your perspective, the way you see the world, can influence your language, the way you use words. But your language can also influence your perspective.
If you’d like to think bigger about who you are and what you offer the world, then just a small change in your choice of words may open up whole new worlds.
A number of years ago, while speaking with my teacher, I made a statement declaring, “Everybody’s like that.” My teacher replied, “Are they?” “Well…I guess…no, not really,” I stammered. He asked me if I would be open to observing my language for the use of generalities and declarative statements that were not empirically based. I agreed and was surprised by what I found.
You too, may be surprised by how often you use declarative statements that don’t allow room for alternatives or other possibilities.
Notice my choice of words in this post thus far. The above sentence leaves room for an alternative by suggesting that, “You might be surprised” rather than “You will be surprised.” Earlier I said that a “small change in your choice of words, may open up whole new worlds,” and that “the way you see the world can influence your language” and that “your language can also influence your perspective.”
You’ll often find declarative and general statements in the language of marketers, especially aggressive marketers. “This is the only thing you’ll ever need to learn and the only thing you’ll ever need to know and the only thing you’ll ever need to do…”
From the marketer’s perspective, that kind of language is often designed to close you off to the possibility that it might not be the right product for you and that it might, in fact, not help you. Sure, you’ll often see “may” and “should” used to reduce the marketer’s liability but, for the most part, marketers try to close off your thinking so that you focus only on what they are suggesting you buy into.
I imagine that you don’t care much for that kind of language when it’s directed at you. Although, you might love it, I don’t know. But, putting that aside for the moment, think about how your mind might react if all of the language you used included declarative statements.
If you emphatically declare, “All men are like that,” or “I can never trust again,” how are you going to create space in your mind, your perspective, for a man that does meet your expectations?
If you generalize that, “All rich people are snobs,” how are you going to see yourself as a wealthy person so that you can improve your professional and financial status?
If you state that “All liberals are socialists,” or that “All Tea Party members are crazies,” how do you come together to make things better?
Often these viewpoints are a reflection of something that scares us but even the simple, little things can make a difference. When you say something like, “You didn’t take out the trash,” the other person is immediately accused of doing something wrong. However, if you say, “It seems like you didn’t take out the trash. Am I correct?” you leave room for an alternative.
So does the way you see the world influence your choice of words or does your choice of words influence the way you see the world? I believe it’s both.
Often, it’s suggested that you simply change your actions to get better results. However, if your worldview doesn’t change to support the new actions, you may find it difficult to sustain the new actions. Moreover, it can be difficult to simply say, “Ok, as of today I’m going to see the world in a different way,” if your language doesn’t support the change.
If you’d like to quite smoking but every time you attempt the feat, you find yourself repeating, “I can’t get through the day without a cigarette,” how do you think it influences the way you see the world and the outcome of your effort? By making a slight change in your language to something like, “It’s been hard to get through the day without a cigarette,” leaves room for the possibility that it is doable.
If you’d like to lose weight but you consistently say things like, “Oh, I could never do without my chocolate fix,” how do you think it influences the way you see the world and your waistline? Instead, trying saying, “I am used to having a chocolate fix.” That slight change alone might open up the possibility that you can live without it.
If you want to build a business and hear yourself saying things like, “Marketing takes too much time,” or “Getting clients is just hard,” or “Every time I get a lead, ‘this’ happens,” how do you think it influences the way you see the world and influences the actions you take?
Using different language like, “I’ve found that when I get a lead this has been happening,” allows you to explore alternatives. Instead of generalizing that “marketing takes too much time,” saying, “I’ve found that marketing has taken me a lot of time,” might leave room for exploration. And, well, saying, “Getting clients is just hard,” doesn’t seem like it will help the situation, now does it?
I would venture a guess that you have made a declarative statement or two over the years. I know I have. I now do my best not to. But when I do, I try to catch myself and amend my statement.
Whether it’s on little things or big things, all generalities are false (including that one).
And just think about how your choice of words makes the world see you.
By Michael Port
October 31, 2011
Just as a business is emergent, so are projects. After all, what is a business but a series of successfully completed projects? So it follows that, as with your business, the future course of a project is uncertain.
Even if you create a very clear outcome for a project, you can’t know for sure that you’ll achieve the particular outcome until the project is complete.
Don’t give up or throw up your hands in despair at the uncertainty. It’s the reason that many people don’t attempt to do big things. They’re too afraid to take on something big when they can’t determine an exact outcome. It’s a classic catch-22.
Often the very people who are perfectionists, control freaks we might also call them, and who therefore think that the projects they complete will be perfect can’t actually complete projects, much less get started, in many cases.
However, you can create circumstances that will help you navigate a project to its intended result. You might not end up exactly where you intended, but if you follow a few simple rules then you may end up with a far better result than you originally envisioned.
I know this is a long post. Important lessons don’t always lend themselves to sound bites. If you are working with others or have colleagues that are struggling to finish their projects, please share it with them and then talk about how you can implement these rules.
Work with others. At the earliest possible moment, bring people into a project, even as it is just developing. If you work with others, you should accomplish greater things than you could alone. If this is a tough rule to follow or if you are hesitant to involve other people, ask yourself whether you are committed to having something truly great or just to getting it done your way—it’s not the same thing.
A project is an ever-evolving network of commitments. Keep that network activated by tending to the critical conversations. Be sure to integrate events. See that people make clear requests, undertake commitments that have completion dates, and share opinions that advance the purpose of the project. Without attention to those critical conversations, the project will drift. When you’re doing a project with one person, maybe you can coordinate effectively via e-mail—but I doubt it. Trying to manage a project via e-mail results in hours of time and energy wasted. You need a better way to coordinate and manage all of the project’s activities.
I use Basecamp to manage all of my projects and recommend it fully. Disclosure: I DON’T receive commissions but they recently gave me a Macbook Air to thank me for my support.) FYI – this link will give you $10 off. I love Basecamp because it’s simple and effective. If offers what you need and nothing more so you stay focused on what’s important.
Adopt practices for exploring a variety of perspectives.
We think we see what’s there, but we don’t. We see what we expect to see. We see what we already think or believe exists. Instead, make it your habit to inquire as to what others see, how other people view a situation. Your single perspective is not the ultimate or only truth. It’s your job (if you want to produce something great) to see from others’ perspectives.
It’s not often that people feel like they’re able to say what they want in the moment, either because they don’t feel like they’re invited to speak or because, even if they may speak, sometimes it’s hard to articulate, in the moment, just what they think or want. For the most part, people are well-intended. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Take the time to listen. Ask questions. Seek others’ opinions. And while you’re at it, don’t be so harsh on yourself.
Build relationships intentionally.
Often project teams come together as relative strangers or at least strangers to working closely together. Some might even say that projects work better this way because there is more opportunity to learn from one another. However, to do great work—innovating, learning, collaborating—it takes a group of people who like and care for each other. Don’t leave that to chance. Start your projects by building relationships among team members. A shared understanding is key.
Have clear project intentions.
As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” The same thing applies to doing projects. In order to have clear outcomes, you need to have clear intentions about what you want to accomplish. Your intention is made up of your passions, your talents, your contributions, the commitments you undertake, and the promises you fulfill. Define your project in as much detail as possible. But, as with all creative pursuits, flexibility is essential. Leave room for change, expansion, and possibly a new direction. This will create the most collaborative and exciting environment within which you can create.
Develop habits of commitment making and fulfilling.
This is my favorite rule and I implore you . . . plead with you . . . beg you to take it to heart. Progress depends on the successful fulfillment of promises. Create a routine that is appropriate for the project, which requires the team to come together and to undertake promises to one another. The work that I promise to complete today allows you to start your task tomorrow. The downfall of not fulfilling my obligation is one breakdown after another. In fact, our reputations are built on our ability, or lack thereof, to make commitments and fulfill them, as is the future success of our businesses.
There are people who are great at making commitments but not great at fulfilling them. When that happens, not much gets done, and they don’t get picked to participate on a project team again. Others don’t make commitments. Yet, without commitments in the first place, not much gets done, and they don’t get asked to participate again either.
The good news is that projects are a perfect venue to develop and improve habits of commitment making and fulfilling. I should note that commitments can, and sometimes should, be re-negotiated. That’s perfectly natural. Things change. But if renegotiating promises becomes the norm, then not much gets done, at least not in a timely fashion. And, you guessed it, you don’t get asked to participate again.
Tightly couple learning with action.
One of the things that keep people from getting on with their projects is that they think they need to know everything before they start, instead of learning in action. As Eric Hoffer, an American philosopher, says, “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” The future belongs to the learner, not the learned. Projects are wonderful opportunities to learn.
Call on your talents.
Working on a project of any sort is the perfect venue for showcasing your talents. Talents are those gifts that are innate to the person you are, whereas skills are things that are learned. When you use your talent, you do better work. Avoid taking on responsibilities and tasks that fall outside the scope of your natural talents. And don’t let your project team do it either. As the project manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure that no one on the project takes on responsibilities in areas outside their talents. It’s okay to learn a new skill while working on a project—in fact, it’s how you learn new skills—but you’ll learn much faster if you are hardwired with the talent to excel at that skill.
Bring your passion to the project.
Passion is a requisite for producing remarkable projects. You are not likely to do a project that others are going to remark on if you don’t engage your passion. As with anything, when we’re creating something new, we’re faced with problems, seemingly insurmountable barriers, and circumstances that are out of our control. During these times, it is our passion and personal investment in the project that carries us through to completion.
Expect the unexpected. There is far more that we don’t know and can’t know than what we can anticipate. Be resilient to what your project throws at you. Anticipate that your team will learn something along the way that can and should change what you have promised and how you can deliver on your promises. And when you face a setback—we all do sometime or another—review the other rules for how you can work your way out of it.
Have a compelling story for your project.
Since projects never go the way you expect them to go keeping your passion and your focus depends on telling and retelling the story of your project. Your story is about why this project matters to you and why it is important for others. On a grander scale, it is your vision and purpose rolled into one. It will become increasingly important as you face problems, setbacks, or any type of project breakdown. You can always go back to your story—the underlying reason why you undertook the project in the first place. Storytelling is a tool of leadership and the way you engage others in your project. It’s the way you maintain your mood when things go wrong. Being able to articulate and re-articulate the story of the project is essential.
Try it for yourself.
List three projects you are working on right now. Why are you doing them? Why does each project matter to you? Why should it matter to others working with you or in your life? Who else cares about the outcome of the project, etc?
By Michael Port
September 27, 2011
When most people think of networking, they think of it as something you do to meet new people. However, just for the purpose of this post, let’s define networking as ‘developing deeper relationships with people you already know’ and direct outreach to mean ‘meeting people that you don’t yet know but would like to know’.
Of course, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter which words you use but, rather, that you make a distinction between meeting new people and staying connected with the people you already know.
If you make this important distinction, it can help you stay focused on each area specifically and deliberately. To that end, there are four simple but meaningful daily action steps that will build your network and get you booked solid.
For the better part of the last year, I’ve been building a software platform called Solid.ly that will help you do your networking and direct outreach. You can sign up for the beta.
In the meantime, here is a TEMPLATE, created by my client, Lauchlan Mackinnon, that you can use, not only to manage your networking and direct outreach but also to help increase the number of referrals you receive.
Direct Outreach with the List of 20™
Again, think of direct outreach as reaching out to the people you do not yet know but would like to know.
I am not talking about the Oprah’s of the world, although hanging out with Oprah would certainly be good for business. No, I am talking about the people that are closer to you—people in your industry who can open doors for you, people that you can actually, and relatively easily, get to.
- If you want to get booked to speak, you might want to reach out to certain meeting planners.
- If you want to get booked to write articles, you might want to reach out to certain editors.
- If you want to develop your reputation as a blogger, you might want to reach out to influential bloggers in your field.
Create, what I call, a List of 20™. This list is made up of 20 people that you’d like to know but do not yet know.
Of course, if 20 people do not come to mind right now, just start where you are: one, two three, whatever.
Why 20? Constraining your list to 20 people ensures that it’s small enough to focus carefully on each person but still large enough to keep your focus ever expanding on new opportunities.
Reach out to one person each day.
What do you do with this list? Simple. Reach out to one person on this list each day. NOT to ask for a favor or to meet for coffee but to express appreciation for them and their work.
- Write a blog post about them or comment on a blog post that they wrote.
- Retweet a few of their Tweets or Tweet about them or to them.
- Even better, write a SHORT (under 5 lines) email or handwritten note to them telling them why they rock (FYI: long letters make us think you’re going to be a time suck or, worse, might be a little bit crazy).
The key is not asking anything of these people.
Winston Churchill said, “It’s a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.” I believe building relationships is the same way.
So, if there is someone you’d like to get to know, don’t call them and ask to meet for a cup of coffee. You’re probably not (yet) relevant to them unless they have some prior connection to you or have a higher professional status then they do. Remember, “Only one link in the chain of destiny at a time.”
After you reach out to the person on the top of the list, put them on the bottom of the list. The person that you reached out today goes from number one to number twenty. The person who was number twenty becomes number nineteen and the person who was number two advances to the number one spot.
Then, tomorrow, reach out to the next person at the top of the list. Do this every single business day. This way, each day you are connecting with, at least, one person on your List of 20™. Over the course of one month, you’ll have connected with every person on your List of 20™.
Can you spare 10 minutes a day?
How long should this take you? About 5 to 10 minutes a day.
Of course, if you develop a strong connection right away and your relationship starts to build quickly then you take them off your List of 20™ and add them to what I call your Network of 90™.
Networking with the Network of 90™
Remember, for the purpose of this exercise think about networking as ‘developing deeper relationships with the people you already know’.
The reason I suggest you keep a Network of 90™ is because it will help you focus on a specific, manageable, number of relevant contacts. These are people you already know (or have met) that you’d like to stay in touch with and continue to build stronger relationships.
If you focus on the most relevant ninety people in your network along with the twenty people on your List of 20, then you stay below Dunbar’s number of 150 which is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships.
You don’t need to know a million people, just the right people who can put business opportunities in front of you. Your job is to earn that business.
Now you’ve got your Network of 90™. And, as you might remember from the beginning of this article, I suggested that you do four things each day to build your network and get booked solid.
The first was to reach out to one person on your List of 20™ each day. The second, third, and fourth daily action steps will bring you closer to the people in your Network of 90™.
Share who you know.
Start by introducing two people in your network who do not yet know each other but might find each other relevant (personally or professionally) and appreciate the introduction.
You might have two people in your Network of 90™ who are scratch golfers and they live close to each other. Golfers are always looking for a 4th but they want somebody at their own level. So you might introduce them.
If you are nervous about whether or not you should make the introduction, you might ask each one individually, “I would love to introduce you to a good friend of mine who is also a scratch golfer, would you like me to?”
Or, maybe you know two people that are in the publishing industry or two people in the real estate industry. Both would present excellent opportunities for making an introduction.
Generally, business owners and executives want to continue to move forward in their careers and, to do so, they know it’s essential to meet new people. As a result, 9.9 times out of 10 they are going to say “Oh, yes, please do introduce me. Thank you!”
Note: When you make the introduction, share only professional, public contact information unless it’s requested that you share private contact information instead.
Share what you know.
Next, each day, share some useful or helpful information with at least one person in your Network of 90™. The easiest way to do this is by reading articles in online magazines, journals, and blogs, the ones that are most relevant to your network.
When you see an article that is relevant to one of the people in your network, send it to them via email and say:
Hey, Jennifer, I just read this article and I immediately thought of you. It’s about ‘this’ and I know you’re very interested in ‘that’ so I thought you might find it valuable. Have you read it? What do you think?
Now you can get into a conversation with her about the subject matter and, as a result, develop your relationship.
Let’s recap quickly on what we’ve learned thus far. Each day:
- Reach out to one person on your List of 20™.
- Introduce two people in your Network of 90™.
- Share some information that is useful to one person in your Network of 90™.
Share your compassion.
And, finally, share compassion with somebody in your network every day by calling or writing. If you get their voicemail simply say:
I was thinking about you and I know that you are really working hard on your business right now. I just wanted to say if you ever need any support I am here because I just have so much respect for what you are doing.
Or, if you know somebody is going through a tough time, sometimes the most relevant thing to do is to just go and sit with them.
We make the assumption that networking is quid pro quo and that our reputation is based only on the work we do, but it’s not. It’s based on who we are and how we take care of the people around us.
If you take these four simple (yet meaningful) steps every single day and stay relevant to the people with whom you want to build better relationships, then you are going to be top of mind when they think of someone who provides the kind of products and services that you do.
Worried? Don’t be.
This is pretty simple to do, isn’t it? Worried about tracking it all? Don’t be.
Solid.ly will be here soon and you can sign up for free access to the beta now.
In the meantime, use this great TEMPLATE.
Many thanks to my favorite client, Lauchlan Mackinnon, for creating it (all my clients are my favorites).
Making commitments and fulfilling them is a primary focus in my mentoring program, The Alliance.
As a result, projects get done and businesses grow.
Is it as simple as that? Yes.
The success of a business like yours is made up of the successful completion of one project after another.
Nonetheless, many folks don’t work with a project mindset. So, instead of plans and actionable items, they work with ideas.
That’s a problem because ideas don’t get done.
What does get done? Projects, if you successfully fulfill one commitment after another, that is.
You can either keep your ideas in your head or documented in ad hoc way, or you can turn your ideas into projects by:
- Setting a due date for completion of a deliverable.
- Identifying and scheduling the completion of milestones that, in-total, produce the deliverable.
- Identifying and scheduling the tasks (To-Do’s) needed to reach each milestone.
In order to do this you’ll need to develop the habit of managing your commitments through project management.
Where do you start? With project plans.
There are many theories, practices, and platforms that support project management.
Frankly, the only practice I care about is the practice of making commitments and fulfilling them.
The tools you use for managing your projects aren’t important to me. What’s important is that you choose a tool and use it.
To that end, here are three SIMPLE options, including templates, to manage your projects:
- Basecamphq.com (this link gets you a $10 discount), my favorite project management software for small business.
- The World’s Easiest Project Planner (in Word) DOWNLOAD THIS TEMPLATE
- The World’s Easiest Project Planner (in Excel) DOWNLOAD THIS TEMPLATE
Different people choose different platforms depending on their experience and the way they process information.
I can’t make heads or tails of Excel spreadsheets, so I use basecamphq.com. However, the best virtual assistant team I know, uses only Excel spreadsheets to manage the work of scores of client projects. And many of my clients, when managing small projects, feel more comfortable using a simple Word document.
A word to the wise: Don’t obsess on form. Rather focus on completion. Choose what’s most comfortable today and get going.
If I may, let me close with a short story.
Four months ago, I advised a company on how to begin using project management tools. They called me last week to ask which of three project management software programs they should use.
I nearly had a heart attack.
It took all the self-control I could muster to not yell, “Are you f-ing kidding me!”
Fortunately, I got it together and went with a more professional approach:
They’re all virtually the same. Choose one. Commit. Carry on with the important work of getting things done. To do otherwise, demonstrates a lack of commitment. If that’s the case, close up now before you spend any more of your investors’ money.
Have something to say about producing projects? Comment below.
By Michael Port
September 02, 2011
People love to buy packaged learning and experiences (AKA: Information Products). They’re easy to understand, and therefore easy to buy.
Perhaps you think that your service may not be as easily defined as a packaged product or program, and necessarily has a high barrier for entry. You might be underestimating what you have to offer.
Let’s take a quick look at the benefits that you get from producing information products:
- Products create opportunities for multiple streams of passive or leveraged income.
- Having a product enhances your credibility with your prospects, your peers, meeting planners, and the media because it establishes you as a category expert and sets you apart from your competitors.
- Products can help you book more clients because they speed up the sales cycle. Since your services have a high barrier to entry, your potential clients may need to jump a few high hurdles to persuade themselves they need to hire you. Having a product to offer based on your services gives potential clients the opportunity to test you out without having to take a big risk. Then if they connect with you and are well served by your product, they will upgrade from the lower-priced product to the higher-priced service.
- If you use public speaking as one of your marketing strategies, having a product at the back of the room when you speak gives you credibility, and you also have a relatively low-cost way to introduce prospects into your business and generate ancillary revenue at the same time.
- Products leverage your time. One of the biggest problems service professionals face is the paradigm of trading time for money. If all you ever do is trade your time for money, your revenues are limited by how much you charge per hour.
Start with the End in Mind
You may be in the beginning phase of building your business and just be setting out on the course to book yourself solid, but as Dr. Stephen Covey says, “Start with the end in mind.” If you want to seriously build a long-lasting career as a service professional, you’ll want to start thinking just as seriously about creating information products.
Don’t let the idea of creating products intimidate you:
- Keep it simple.
- Don’t overwork it or feel that it needs to be perfect.
- Don’t worry about being wildly original.
- Tips, guides, or resource manuals are great formats.
- Continually strive to add value to your clients’ lives in any way you can.
When considering how to create an information product, start by examining the different possibilities and ask yourself, “How can I leverage my existing knowledge and experience to create a quality product that I can produce and launch in the shortest amount of time possible?”
Be sure you don’t overlook any content you may already have created.
For example, if you’ve written an article, you have content that you can leverage into multiple product formats. You can quickly and easily turn your article into an e-course, use it as the foundation for an e-book, print book, or program, or present it as an introductory presentation or teleclass.
A single article can be leveraged into any or all of these formats, making it possible to create an entire sales cycle from a single source of content.
Case in point: this blog post is based on a chapter in Book Yourself Solid.
Define Your Product or Program
Choose the one product idea that you’re most passionate or excited about right now—and most important, one that is in line with your current business needs. If you’re starting out and need to build your subscriber or follower base, you’ll need to create a lead-generating product first, a product that you give away to create connection with a potential client.
You will then leverage that free lead-generating information product into other monetized information products over time. If you already have a lead-generating product and you’re ready to produce higher-priced information products like an video program or a book, then go for it!
As you define your product, you will need to consider not only the type of product you will create but to whom you’re selling it, the promises it makes, the benefits and solutions it offers, the look and feel you want your product to convey, and the ways in which you can leverage the content.
It’s important to be clear about your intentions for your product or program, and it’s critical that your product or program meet the needs of your target market. No matter how much you might love to create something, if your target market doesn’t need it you’ll be defeating your purpose.
A Written Exercise to Get You Started
For now, keep it simple. Just get your ideas out of your head and onto paper.
- What type of product or program would you most like to create? What would you be most passionate about creating and offering to your target market?
- To whom would you be offering this product? (target market.)
- What benefits will your target market experience as a result of your product?
- How do you want your product to look and feel? What image or emotion do you want it to convey?
- How might you leverage the same content into a variety of different formats and price points for your sales cycle?
Five Steps to Developing Your Product
I have identified five simple steps to developing your product.
Step 1: Choose the role you are playing
Step 2: Choose your product framework
Step 3: Choose a title that sells
Step 4: Build your table of contents
Step 5: Create your content
While teaching my process for creating information products to my clients, Jamie McKean, recorded a mind map of the lesson. It outlines the five steps and their many component parts.
DOWNLOAD THE TEMPLATE, follow the process and you’ll be well on your way to hearing the beautiful, melodic ka-ching, ka-ching sound of your web-site-turned-cash-register as the orders come rolling in.
If you found this helpful, please share it with others that will also find it helpful. Keep thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world.
When selling anything, consulting, software, a new business idea, it helps to feel confident saying, “The best thing for you would be me!”
Not that I’m suggesting you actually say it, word for word, but rather, truly believe it.
This issue came up while working with a member of my Alliance Mentoring Program. I was asked, “What should I do to sell a book proposal to a big publishing house when I don’t yet have a big platform.”
In this case, the question was about a book proposal, but could have been about pitching/selling anything to anyone when you don’t yet have case studies to prove your worth or statistics to back up your promises. That’s what concerned my client; she felt she had not yet done enough to get the opportunity she was seeking. So, what’s to be done?
Sell yourself and sell the future.
When people — you, me, anyone — buy, invest, choose one thing over another, we weigh the odds of success. Almost every purchase is a gamble. We simply try to get the best odds possible. When we feel that we have better odds of winning with one choice over another, we’ll take that choice; we’ll put our money down and we’ll roll the dice.
Ask an editor or publisher why he chose to buy a book from one particular first-time author over another and he’ll tell you that he bought the author as much, if not more, than the book idea. He felt the author behind the book concept stacked the deck in his favor.
Ask a Venture Capitalist why she chose to invest in one particular start-up company over another and she’ll tell you that she bought the entrepreneur as much, if not more, than the particular business. She felt the person behind the idea stacked the deck in her favor.
It starts with believe in yourself. If you don’t believe that you will succeed, why should anyone else? It succeeds when you paint a picture of the future that makes the buyer believe in you and the thing you’re pitching. Your story confirms:
- Why it’s going to work.
- That it’s worth their resources (time, money, etc.).
- That you are able to make the thing happen.
All of these critical selling points are about what WILL happen. Of course, past performance is one of the best indicators of future performance so use anything you’ve got that will strengthen your case. But in the absence of platform or experience, sell yourself and sell the future. Every success story started with a story of success that someone bought into.
How will you tell the story of success that compels the buyer to say, “The best thing for me would be you!”
A friend of mine is the co-founder of Nurse Next Door. He’s looking to hire a Director of Franchise Sales (as long as you live in North America, you’re good to go).
Vancouver-based Nurse Next Door, in the business of caring, is dedicated to delivering flexible, affordable in-home care options to seniors. Founded in 2001 and having grown to nearly 50 franchise locations (and voted the #1 Company to Work for in BC in 2009), Nurse Next Door is continuing to take its thought leadership and innovative ways across Canada and the United States.
The Job (as written by the company)
Purpose. Core Values. Culture. These are the foundational pieces of a world-class organization. Is there purpose behind what your company does? Do you jump out of bed each morning full of excitement and ready to take on any challenge that comes your way? Imagine if you could answer “YES!” to these questions.
Nurse Next Door is expanding into the USA and looking for the A-player who can serve as our Director of Franchise Sales and answer “YES!” to the following questions:
- Do you have enough energy to drive our growth at an ultra fast pace across North America?
- Do you have a heart as BIG as the Mississippi, yet a spirit that is as competitive as a professional athlete?
- Do you live to talk to people?
- Are you seeking purpose and meaning in what you do – do you really want to make a difference in the world?
- Do you exceed people’s expectations on a regular basis?
- Are you professional and results driven, yet lighthearted and fun?
- Do you play to win?
- Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit?
As Director of Franchise Sales you will be responsible for spreading our caring talent by driving and awarding new franchise locations across North America.
Do we have your attention? Email your resume to email@example.com.
Remember, please do not send resumes to me or my office. I am not involved in the hiring process in any way. Please only send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Michael Port
August 08, 2011
This issue came to light last week as I told my long-time landscaper that I would no longer use his services for one of my properties. Afterward, I told Petra that I had that horrible feeling of breaking up with a high school girlfriend who does not like what she’s hearing so she won’t give back your Letterman’s jacket and proceeds to throw a strawberry milkshake on your car (we’ll save that story for another day).
In the case of landscaper, he said things like:
- I don’t know who this dream guy is that you think is going to be better than me.
- How can you do this, I’ve always taken care of you like a brother.
- I’m offended because I always give you a special price.
Oy vey, the guilt was piled on a think as cream cheese on a bagel at Sunday brunch with a bunch of Jews (my family). I suppose I should mention that we did not know each other before he started working for me, didn’t socialize or even speak other than to discuss the work on my properties.
Has this ever happened to you?
You call up your contractor to let them know you will no longer be needing their services and, instead of a professional conversation about why you’re making the choice, you feel like you’re having a breakup conversation with your girlfriend or a family argument with your brother?
I bring up this issue because you’re a service professional and I don’t want you to make the same mistake as my landscaper. Please consider the following two points.
Using the bonds of familial relations to guilt your client into feeling poorly about their decision to stop working with you while also creating a false argument to defend the real reason they are dissatisfied with your service, is not going to “save the sale.” Moreover, it’s an adolescent way of being.
It’s OK to become friends with your clients, to have personal conversations and even socialize outside of your work together. However, when having conversations about projects, prices or the continuation or discontinuation of services, remember that you are not their friend, boyfriend or brother. You work for them. Pure and simple. If they are unhappy with your services, you have two choices. One, you can try to fix the problem or two, you graciously let them go. Either way, you’ll find ways to improve your services and will likely stay friends.
Here’s a third and bonus point: If you do work with friends or family, giving them special deals and perks and they decide to let you go, nonetheless, the same hold true. Never mention that you did special things for them. If you’re going to hold that over their head, you shouldn’t have done those “favors” in the first place.
I once heard my friend Ben say, “Don’t lend money to friends if it will be a financial hardship for you if they don’t pay you back.” His point was, the good deeds you do don’t always get repaid so do them because it pleases you to help, not because you require reciprocation. Otherwise the relationship will come undone. And, you might even end up with a milkshake covered car.
Now, since I’ve been treating you like a paying client, even though you’re not, and this post took me two hours to write, not to mention that I gave you that third and bonus point to boot, I expect you to share this post with everyone you know. If you don’t, I’ll huff and I’ll puff and never write another post or book for you for as long as I live. So there!
Yesterday was a bad day for the world markets. Economic growth is flat. World governments, with the U.S. leading the way, are dysfunctional. And starting today, you’re going to hear the phrase, “double dip recession” ad nauseam
Don’t let it program you into a small thinking, fear-driven choices.
You can buy into groupthink and de-individualism or you can be in an individual who charts your own course. Which will it be?
Any progression, global, local, or personal, is about being fully self-expressed in the face of all the forces that conspire to pacify your drive, your hunger to be the most you can be. It starts inside you. And that’s how it should be.
This is your time—to think bigger about yourself and what you are capable of. Because, if not now, when?
Yet it is inevitable that your transformation will set an example for others.
As people experience personal revolutions, they will join with others to bring about bigger, more sweeping changes.
Hopefully, and ideally, this is a revolution that will bring us together to achieve something even bigger—the changes we need to make a better world.
In the meantime, you will achieve more than you imagined possible when you reject doom and gloom groupthink and de-individualism and choose to think bigger about who you are and what you offer the world.