The 'Be The Legend' webinar series, hosted by Tellman Knudson and Ben Mack, began this month (July 2007) amidst the usual hype and fanfare normally associated with launches by successful Internet entrepreneurs. Scheduled for thirteen installments over the summer, it's goal is to extract priceless Internet Marketing "gems" from a star-studded line-up of guest speakers.
Marketing experts agree that the best way to make a splash in Internet Marketing today is to create, promote, and sell your own products. However, most aspiring entrepreneurs face several obstacles:
- Lack of time to fully concentrate and focus on innovation.
- Lack of specialized skills to fully develop goals and strategies.
- Lack of money to successfully implement business ideas.
- Lack of supportive networks or mastermind groups.
So what's the Solution?
The audience of the third "Be the Legend" webinar was treated to a session with the "Big Dog" himself, Shawn Casey. As a former CEO of an Inc. 500 (Fasting growing private companies in America) company, Casey brought considerable corporate and entrepreneurial expertise to the presentation. With $30 million dollars in "digital" sales since 1999, he presented a forceful argument for creating your own information products business.
The Difference Between Success and Failure.
In no uncertain terms, Casey contrasted two formulas right off the bat:
A. The Formula for Failure, i.e.:
"Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.":
- Find, create, or acquire a product or service.
- Find someone to sell it to.
B. The Formula for Success:
- Find a hot, HUNGRY target market first.
- Find out what they already want and are already buying.
- Sell them more of the SAME.
What Defines a Hot Target Market?
Shawn Casey proceeded to list the characteristics of an ideal target market:
- Passionate, irrational, easy to reach and find, hungry
- Interested, motivated, insatiable desire to buy "stuff"
- Have discretionary income, are pre-disposed to purchase, and are proven buyers.
- Addicted, desperate, even obsessed with consumerism.
How to Find a Hot Target Market.
Finding the right target market takes work, so a little head start can go a long way. Shawn suggests that many market segments of interest have exploitable business or vocational attributes. Therefore, consider the following areas of endeavor:
- Hobbies (e.g. Coin collecting, gardening, camping, fishing, hunting, etc.)
- Self-improvement (Spirituality, health and wellness, lifestyle trends...)
- Sports and games (e.g. Golf, tennis, poker, etc.)
Market Research 101 - Find the Easy Path!
Business and management schools teach students sophisticated methods of conducting research, many of which are further refined and tested in the corporate world. However, Internet Marketers be aware! People often lie, so surveys are to be used at your peril. Instead, Casey suggests that we immerse ourselves in the market we want to build our business in. Specifically:
- Shop what they shop.
- Buy what they buy.
- Read their books and magazines.
- Online: Participate in forums, visit online chat rooms; join competitors mailing lists.
- Offline: Attend industry trade shows, seminars, live events etc. Network, network, network!
The Case for Information Products.
Among the strongest arguments in favor of creating your information product business, as practiced by Casey and others include:
- No physical inventory.
- Very high profit margins (85-100% for e-books, teleseminars, home study courses, workshops, etc.)
- Ability to command higher prices and fees as your reputation grows; earning potential unrelated to physical distribution systems for goods.
- Allows you to tightly control, target prospects and customers. Getting the first sale will always be the toughest, but by nurturing "win-win" relationships, you will build an army of repeat buyers.
- Low refund rate for digital products. Software is more glamorous, but involves many administrative and technical headaches.
Outsourcing and Joint Venture (JV) Opportunities.
Outsourcing, when done properly, can significantly reduce your personal workload and allow you to focus on the strategic planning and management of your business. Almost anything can be outsourced, including the creation of your e-books.
Finding joint venture (JV) partners or alliances may be considered "high-level" outsourcing, since you are leveraging the expertise of an experienced marketer to avoiding learning - and doing - everything on your own.
Resale Rights and Back-End Marketing.
Owning resale rights to existing works is another alternative to original info-product creation. Done properly, it can supercharge an online marketer's earnings. Imagine - own all the rights, keep all the sales. However, it can get very confusing for even the most experienced marketer let alone "newbies". Private Label Rights (PLR), resale rights, master resale rights, branding rights. Seek competent legal advice if you want to obtain such rights, because laws are different all over the world and you definitely want to avoid being sued for copyright infringements.
Your first (front-end) product is usually a "loss leader". It generates low profits, but that's OK, since its main purpose is to get your marketing "foot in the door". Front-end product marketing is the short-term sacrifice you make in order to acquire customers. The heart of your Internet marketing success will lie in your back-end offers; i.e., everything you get to sell after acquiring a customer, provided it is related to your target market's wants. Hitting the customer "sweet spot" with regularity is how beginners evolve into experts.
On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!
Shawn Casey's start-up suggestion? Create a content-rich, "How to" e-book for a hot target market, because there will always be a demand for topical, relevant information that provides a plan of action.
Business success is measured by the Lifetime Customer Value (LVC) of each person who spends time on your subscriber list and sales funnel. LVC is measured by factors like:
- Transactional frequency, i.e. the number of repeat purchases.
- Direct referrals from each customer.
- Bundles sold.
- Sequential purchases made.
Shawn Casey's Internet Marketing Cheat Sheet.
To summarize, Shawn put together a "cheat sheet" that beginners and others can (and should) commit to memory:
- Select a hot target market.
- Find out what the people in that market are already buying.
- Make a (info) product that is consistent with the market's existing values and habits.
- Set up a complete sales processing system that runs on autopilot.
- Start promoting your website.
A. Grow your subscriber list.
B. Find reputable affiliate programs that offer quality products, great support, and strong
compensation (i.e. 50% or more).
C. Send offers to your list. Incorporate a back end, if possible.
D. Repeat steps A through C.
The Power of Joint Ventures.
New entrepreneurs are often intimidated when approaching established Internet Marketers. After all, they supposedly have nothing to offer, whereas the "pro" is both product owner and gatekeeper, i.e., controls access to the list database. Yet, many successful JVs begin when the newbie asks a simple, unassuming question:
"Is there a product you have that I can promote to my list?"
In approaching potential partners, successfully demonstrate how you can add value to an existing project. The sharp players will note your passion and keep you in mind for future campaigns.
Bottom line: Don't sell yourself short. More than half of online sales are generated by affiliates, so it is in everyone's interest to keep an ear to the ground.
A Beginner's Greatest Challenge.
Echoing conventional wisdom, Shawn agrees that a new Internet Marketer's biggest problem is getting started, and developing forward business momentum that becomes unstoppable with time. The best solution he offers is to create deadlines for yourself, concrete targets that force you to do something every day to move your business forward.
Nothing motivates like a deadline...
Information product creation is great in theory, but to earn a substantial income from it, beginners must develop their marketing skills. Perhaps in conjunction with affiliate marketing, expert training, and live events. The hard truth is that without paying customers, entrepreneurs are condemned to keep their day jobs and treat Internet Marketing as a hobby - not a business. Shawn Casey and other "big dogs" advise from a position of strength, because they have largely "been there, done that". It remains to be seen who else follows in their path, and acts on their own wake-up call.
Rahul Majumdar is a full-time information marketer specializing in teleseminar reporting, article marketing, and information product creation.