I was at a meeting the other day when one member of the audience came up to chat to me after I had given my presentation. ‘I agree with what you told us, ’ she said, ‘but it only applies to some people. After all in my business there's nothing I can turn into an ebook. ’ Within a minute of chatting to me she had developed two ideas for ebooks.
Now, I'm not saying I'm some kind of miracle worker. However, often I discover that many people who run their own business can't see the wood for the trees. They are so tied up in delivering solutions to their existing customers, they can't see what else might be possible. As an example, I was talking to a chap from the Midlands the other day who runs a plastic mouldings company. He said to me that my ideas for ebooks only work in the service industry and they they couldn't possibly work within his sector.
A few minutes later we had developed an idea for an ebook which he is now going off to get written. As a search term, “plastic mouldings" gets around 45 searches a day in the UK. At the moment his web site gets almost none of those searches; instead his web site exists as a brochure to people in the know - largely existing customers. What this means is, his web site is missing important traffic that could provide business.
So, now he is writing an ebook on the theme of ‘how to use plastic and save the environment’. He will be making this available free of charge - but he could add future ebooks for which he will charge, such as ‘how to specif icy projects using plastic’. Now, he's not going to become a millionaire selling such ebooks. But the free ebook will attract traffic he might otherwise have lost and the paid for ebook will finance his Google AdWords campaigns. The result will be much more traffic to his web site at no cost, perhaps even at a profit. Suddenly, my chap from the Midlands realised that the key to unlocking the future success of his company was selling information.
Like many people, he has begun to realise that Internet users are mostly searching for information. We sometimes forget that when the Internet really started to take off, just ten years ago, it was called ‘the Information Superhighway’. Nowadays, it is largely the ‘brochure superhighway’. Having a web site which is just a brochure for your business is only going to get you so far. To take that next step upwards to greater online success you need to be trading in information.
Much of the information you provide could be free; but it needs to be practical, useful information targeted specifically to particular groups of people. Some of the information you provide could be sold; that will provide you with an additional income stream you previously might not have thought about.
Information marketing is an essential component of any business online these days. Without marketing information you will not gain as much success as you would do. Indeed, I spoke with one marketing guru the other day who has dramatically changed his business, based on just two months of testing online. He had one web site where he tweaked the keywords and did all the optimisation tricks he could. He had another web site which he didn't optimise but for which he wrote several articles and got them published widely around the Internet. Guess what? The information won hands down against optimisation; more links, more clicks, higher ranking.
Providing information is essential online. Whether it's in the form of ebooks, specialist web sites, email courses or traditional books and reports is neither here nor there. You need to be in the information business to attract interest in your main business.
Graham Jones is a psychologist who specialises in the way people use the Internet. He is the lead speaker at: Information Marketing 2005 .