Creating, marketing, and selling an information product online can be a daunting challenge, even for experienced eBook publishers. New product launches are always attended by a certain amount of risks and even veterans can take missteps that cost them dearly in time and money invested.
This article examines the process of creating a digital information product and presents some helpful tips that beginners can use to minimize the risks and maximize the potential of their new information products.
A lot of the how-to guides on creating information products tend to gloss over the idea generation stage. “Write what you know!" or “Write what you're passionate about!" and other clichés are the usual advice. If only it were that easy!
The truth is, the first thing you have to decide when creating a digital information product is the nature of your own motivation. Why are you writing this eBook or constructing this eCourse or teleseminar?
If your project is a “labor of love, " then by all means just write what you know and are passionate about. If you are developing a new product for your online business, however, this facile advice just doesn't cut it.
Product development isn't just creative activity; it demands consideration of the business factors that will mark your new information product as a success or failure - in the marketplace, if not in your own heart.
There are three basic tests you can use to judge the market potential of a new information product: the focus test, the practicality test, and the marketability test.
The Focus Test
You want your digital information product to be laser focused. The ideal subject for a commercial information product has been described as “narrow and deep. " You want the subject to highly focused, but you want a large audience of people who are very interested in this focused information.
Most how-to instructions on creating information products touch on this point, but I don't think they emphasize the point enough. When you outline your information product (and if you aren't outlining, start now!), ask yourself what the best part of your eBook will be. What part will be the most informative, the most popular, and the most fun to write?
Next, cut everything else out of your outline and write only the part you've selected. You've identified the real substance of your information product; focus in as tightly as possible on that substance and eliminate the rest. Emphasize the meat and trim away all the fat.
The Practicality Test
You do not want to be in the business of selling fiction or poetry or human interest stories on the internet. This might make a wonderful and fulfilling hobby, but it won't make much of a business.
Instead, you want to be in the business of creating and selling practical information. You want to show people how to do things - things they don't currently know how to do, but want to. Simply put, you want to be in the business of selling know-how.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to scrap your favorite idea. Most topics can be refocused to pass the practicality test. Don't write “How I Spent My Summer Vacation. " I'm sorry, but almost no one really cares. Write “How to Save a Small Fortune at Disneyland!" Don't write “My Battle with Breast Cancer, " write “How to Live: One Woman's Successful Battle with Breast Cancer. "
If you create a digital information product that passes these first two tests, focus and practicality, chances are very good that you'll at least have a product with real sales potential.
The Marketability Test
A focused and practical information product is definitely on the right track. If you do a good job of telling your target audience about the product, it's likely that the eBook will be at least a moderate success.
Really hitting one out of the park requires that you create a focused, practical product for exactly the right kind of customer: the desperate customer.
Digital information products are impulse buys. They're generally written by unknown writers, published by individuals or unknown companies, and with production standards that are significantly lower than in the mainstream publishing industry. Despite this, they tend to be more expensive on a cost-per-page basis than most mainstream products that are sold in bookstores and newsstands.
The reason these products sell at all is a very simple one: A certain kind of customer wants a certain kind of information right now! The customer doesn't want to drive down to the library or bookstore and look for it. He or she doesn't want to order it from Amazon and wait a few days for it to be delivered.
The customer needs the information and needs it now.
The marketability test is a tough one to pass. Is your customer really going to be hungry for this information? Is your targeted customer a desperate buyer?
If the answer is no, you need to go back to the drawing board. You need to look at all of your options for changing that answer and passing that test. You might need to refocus the topic itself. You might need to rework your sales letter or the marketing message you're sending your customer.
Everything is on the table: Your digital information product's success or failure on this test will determine whether it is, at best, a moderate success or best-seller that will generate healthy revenue for your online business for many years to come.
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