Small Business Marketing Strategy – A Blink Lesson Part 5

This is Article five of six in a series of lessons for small business marketers from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

Wow, what a great chapter for marketers Chapter Five in Blink is. This quote on p. 160 outlines the thoughts a great marketer (Louis Cheskin) had on packaging: “Cheskin was convinced that when people give an assessment of something they might buy in a supermarket or a department store, without realizing it, they transfer sensations or impressions that they have about the packaging of the product to the product itself. To put it another way, Cheskin believed that most of us don’t make a distinction–on an unconscious level–between the package and the product. The product is the package and the product combined.”

A key concept in this chapter is that experts are often more reliable at identifying what will work–or won’t–in the marketplace than market research based on consumer surveys. For small business marketers, then, this chapter is a must-read. You know full-well you rarely have the money for consumer surveys.

Gladwell explores the New Coke debacle and the incompleteness of the market research that led up to it. Although this is a well-known marketing mistake, Gladwell supplies his typical journalistic behind-the-scenes story, and clues us in on why the marketing information that Coke marketers used to base their decision on was flawed to begin with.

Even more fascinating is his exploration of the musician named Kenna, a person music experts agree should be a smash, but can’t get Top 40 airtime on radio because market research can’t capture the same information the experts see in a Blink.

Why? Because as Gladwell points out, the “…first impressions of experts are different…more esoteric and complex.” (p. 179). Kenna’s music is different and hard to put a specific label on, so the music market research can’t adequately measure him.

Gladwell also relates the story of the Aeron chair–a new product with a completely innovative look that even experts said would fail. But with this chair, which looked so different, people didn’t know how they themselves felt about it; Gladwell says consumers “misinterpreted their own feelings” (p. 173). Market research indicated the chair would fail, but it didn’t, because it was a great product.

What’s this chapter mean for the small business owner? Two lessons.

For one, we need to understand the limits of market research. This method is not fool-proof nor will it guarantee market success or prevent market failure.

Second, the small business owner should learn to recognize in just what areas she is expert and in what subjects she is not. In areas where you know you are an expert–where your years of experience have taught you well and you can now realize something in a blink about your industry or your industry as it relates to your customers-well on those topics it’s a safe bet that you really are an expert.

However, a key pitfall is to then think you are expert in all areas of your business. You aren’t, and even your customers aren’t. They are super-savvy purchasers, but they, too, are not always aware of why they do what they do…so, where possible, study what they do, and then find out ways to alter that behavior in your favor.

Remember: Brand (who you are) + Package (your Face to the Customer) + People (customers and employees) = Marketing Success.

© 2006 Marketing Hawks

An Introduction To The Information Marketing Business

What is Information Marketing?

Information Marketing is the creation, promotion and the selling of information based products that is created once and sold many times.

Information Marketing is about identifying a responsive and hungry market or group of people who have high interest in a particular subject or topic with a strong demand for information; packaging an information product in a suitable format–with the purpose of educating these set of people–and devising ways and methods to sell and deliver the products.

Why Start an Information Marketing Business?

What’s in it for you if you start an information marketing business? And why should you choose this business over many other business models? There are astounding answers to these questions.

• The profit far exceeds work

In the Information Marketing business world, you do the work once and get paid many times because the marketing system that is set-up generates money for you on auto-pilot.

• Easy to learn and operate

Information Marketers do not need to have talent, expertise or any remarkable gift to begin (But having these skills makes work easier for you as it shorten the time needed to learn them). You also determine the amount of time you spend running the business.

• Establish your credibility faster

Your subscribers will always buy more from you if you provide them with quality products. They will be interested in buying other products from you (after buying the first time) once you establish your credibility–by providing quality products–on the topic you have chosen.

Benefits of Information Marketing

The benefits of running an information marketing business are numerous. If you are about giving up on the idea that this is not for you, consider the benefits inherent in this business such as:

• Flexibility

Everything that is needed to start an information marketing business can be learned in few months–or weeks if the resources are available–and you can begin to make money after six months.

• Low start-up cost

The cost of start-up is relatively low. You don’t have to be a millionaire before you can start an information marketing business neither do you have to be a petroleum tycoon. Since the inventory cost very little or cost next to nothing, you make more money selling more of your information products.

• Profit Potential is Huge

You can make hundreds of dollars doing this business alone. An example is the Information Marketing Organisation with a large database of credible info-marketers. The general rule of thumb is the more money you invest in the business, the more you make from it.

• You can work from Home

One of the interesting thing about this business is that it can be operated from you home as long as there is computer and internet connection. The freedom this brings gives you more time to spend with your family and loved ones.

What is Needed For Running an Information Marketing Business?

To run an Info-Marketing business, you must have in place necessary skills–or learn them–to operate it successfully. There are many skills you can learn when starting-out. I have outline some of the things you will need to start.

• Idea or expert knowledge

If you are knowledgeable or have expert skills in a particular topic or subject, chances are that other people are interested in that topic too. This opens an avenue for you to easily make money with your topic of interest. But if you do not have any experience or knowledge, don’t panic! What you need to do is identify the problems people are having. Make research on how to solve the problem and package the solution in suitable format and offer it to them.

• Video/audio program and/or Word processor

You need a word processor program like Microsoft Word (preferable) or notepad to type up your documents. You will also need a software to record your audio files or videos if you choose to offer video and audio equivalent of your products.

• Portable documents format converter

The best–and most popular–format for eBooks now is the portable documents format. It is the most widely used format for eBooks on internet. Many information marketers have used it successfully. You should follow suit. There are paid and free versions available on the internet. You can choose between the free or paid options depending on your budget.

• Ftp program

You need to make use of ftp program to upload your files and documents to the internet. You can download free ftp programs on the net. Try searching through Google and choose the one that you like. But if you want the paid one, you can get it from the internet too.

• Download page

This is where people will download your products after they have paid for it. It can be on a website you have created or a third-party website that offers you bandwidth and space to upload your files to.

How to Profit from Information Marketing

There are so many ways to make money from information marketing especially now that readers are reading increasingly more content on the internet and turning to cyberspace whenever they need information on anything at all.

That is why information marketing offers such an interesting business opportunity for writers an non-writers alike.

You can make a lot of money as an Information Marketer if you are very creative.

• Videos

You can offer videos to those who don’t have the time to read or who hate to read. Offering your information in this form can attract potential customers who prefer information in the form of videos.

• eBooks and report

You can profit online selling information in the form of eBooks and reports. If you can’t write, you have the choice of hiring a freelance writer to write it for you–with your guidelines–or buy private label right products and re-write them.

• Membership sites

You can set up a membership site that offers monthly fresh content to subscribers and charge them monthly recurring fees or a one-time fee (the latter being more expensive than the former).

• Downloadable audio and mp3

You can also offer your information products in downloadable audio or mp3 format for instant download after payment. This affords your readers instant gratification and they will thank you for it.

5 Basic Steps to a Million Dollar Information Marketing Business Model

Building a million dollar information marketing business doesn’t start with buying the latest article or blog submitting gizmo or list of 5 million subscribers for $27! It also doesn’t start by investing in ever more popular fly-by-night tactics that work today and are obsolete (or banned) tomorrow.

Instead, information marketing millionaires first build strong foundations for success by focusing on developing an effective business model that allows fast growth.

There are five key components this business model must include. All of them are equally important for long term success, stability, and profitability of your business.

Once you have a specific business model mapped out you can identify the specific strategies you want to focus on. This in turn will dictate what specific tactics you need to employ, and what action steps to take to reach your objective of building a million dollar information marketing business.

So let’s explore those five key components of an effective business model.

Component 1 – Generate Traffic

The first step on this model is to generate traffic. You’ve got to have “duplicate-able”, repeatable, sustainable ways to generate traffic.

You can get your traffic for free – but it will take a bit longer to get it. Or you can buy it and have people visiting your website in a matter of minutes.

Some of the free traffic generation strategies include article submissions, blogging, social media presence, like video and audio podcasts and accounts with popular online networking sites including LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter.

And let’s not forget something as simple as a “Tell a friend” button somewhere on each page of your website.

The fastest way to get traffic to your website is to buy it. Bying PPC (pay per click) like Google’s AdWords is probably one of the most known paid traffic strategy, but there are many others.

You can also buy text links, banner advertising, display ads on other people’s sites and blogs. You can also buy classified ads in other people’s ezines and even solo-mailings to other people’s lists of subscribers.

A lot of savvy marketers also use strategic alliances or JVs (Joined Ventured) to quickly drive massive traffic to their websites. While it’s a very effective strategy, it’s not free. Your JV partners will typically want to get a hefty percentage of the sales they generate with their promotions of your site. But – it will be quick!

Component 2 – Lead Generation

One of the biggest mistakes most people make is they try to get a sale too soon! Instead, a much better approach is to generate a lead first, then convert that lead into a paid first-time customer.

Let’s take this one step at a time – converting visitors into subscribers of some sort – a.k.a. “leads”! This is a critical step because it will allow you to continue communicating with people interested in your products or services.

You’ve probably heard that in any business your money and success are in your list, in your database of subscribers and your relationship with them. It’s very important to learn how to get people to come to your site and then entice them to want to give you their name and email.

It used to be enough to just say something like “subscribe to my newsletter,” or “get updates about my business,” somewhere on your website to get people to opt-in to your database. But those days are long gone.

Today you must be really good at presenting great value fast and making irresistible first offers to your visitors to persuade them to give up their contact information. Strategies that still work great include giving your web visitors access to special reports, audio downloads, or informative video and audio presentations.

Obviously the better the quality of your “carrot” and the better your presentation of it, the better your conversion will be. (Conversion is the comparison of the number of people that take you up on your offer and subscribe to your list to the total number of people that visit your website.)

Component 3 – Lead Conversion

Now that you have a list of subscribers – a.k.a. database of leads – how do you convert them into paid customers, someone who would actually gives you a few dollars? Generating that first sale is your lead conversion.

Just like lead generation, lead conversion strategies will vary from business to business, depending on what you are selling and who your customers are. But the key to your success is to systemize and automate this process as much as possible. Let me give you an example.

Think of a service business, for example some like a professional life coach.

Most likely they have no systems in place. Every new client is gained a different way. A conversation with each new prospect is different from others. Every lead is generated a different way. Every lead is converted differently. It’s no wonder their businesses are overwhelming them and generating very little money. There are no systems in place.

Now let’s look at a different professional and scenario; someone like an orthodontist.

Everything is systemized. From the same lead generation mechanisms to how patients get introduced to the doctor’s office to the first experience when they come in, to how they get to meet the doctor, how their initial evaluation is presented and delivered, how the price is quoted and how the treatment is initiated.

Everything is identical for each new patient! Everything is done the same way over and over and over. Everything is a system. And that’s what you are looking for in successful information marketing business model – systemized and automated lead conversion strategies.

Component 4 – Profit Multipliers

Once you generate the first sale, you will sell more products or services to your new customer. It’s important for two reasons. First, you probably have more products and services that can help that client much more beyond what they initially received from you. And second, that’s the way to maximize the success and profitability of your business!

Here are few examples of profit multipliers.

First there is down-selling. Basically what it means is that if someone comes to your website and says, “I don’t think I’m willing to pay $97you’re your multi-media course – and I’m leaving your website,” you present them with another opportunity to purchase a similar product that sells for $47 or even less and say, “Maybe $97 is too much for your budget right now. Can I interest you in getting a similar highly quality course that costs only $20?”

A different down-sale would be to offer a payment plan. You’d say something like this, “If $97 is too much right now, can I make it more affordable for you by letting you pay in three payments of $33?”

Next, there is a cross-sale. If they pay $97 for your first program, maybe they like to add another program that will help them get more value out of their initial purchase, especially if it’s priced attractively. It’s an effective way to immediately increase the size of each initial transaction.

Then there are continuity programs. For instance, if you are a coach you can have a system in place where after the initial first sale of some type of a home study course the customer receives an invitation to join a group coaching and support program for which they would then pay monthly.

And these are just a few simple ideas of what you can do to multiply your sales and profits.

Component 5 -Scalability

Your ultimate goal is to systemize and automate your business so that its growth can be expended beyond your own efforts.

Once you have all of the key components in place, focus on simplifying, systemizing, automating, delegating – in short, you want to optimize your business for maximum performance with minimum efforts.

Then simply start driving more traffic through this “profit machine”, and, if you designed it well, it will work like a charm and continue making you more money. It’s like of like turn the faucet knob on full blast.

So to have an effective business model first you need to generate traffic to your website, then you need a way to convert that traffic into leads, then convert leads into first-time customers, and then use profit multipliers to maximize your sales and profits.