If your business sells information products or you’re interested in getting started with information products, you have probably struggled with the “Push-Me, Pull-Me” syndrome.
On the one hand, you feel a lot of pressure to “Get it Out There” and start making money. That’s the “Push-Me” energy.
On the other hand you really want to make sure your product is complete and actually works for customers. That’s the “Pull-Me.”
For many business owners, both impulses can feel equally strong…not unlike two evenly matched teams playing Tug-of-War and if you’ve ever seen two evenly-matched teams playing Tug-of-War, what usually happens? Not very much for a long time. One side gains a little traction but loses ground when the other side gains traction.
In Tug-of-War, the stalemate doesn’t last long because eventually the team with more physical stamina wins. In Push-Me, Pull-Me, it can take a lot longer…in fact it often takes years.
It’s a War that Can’t Be Won
The real problem is if either side wins, we as business owners lose.
If the “Push-Me” side wins, we often end up trying to sell “infocrap.” Although the term, Infocrap may sound harsh, putting an unusable product out there often results in harsh consequences when it comes to buyer satisfaction and loyalty.
In this scenario you may make money but people aren’t going to come back for more.
In fact, people are quick to complain via Twitter and Facebook when they’re disappointed and unfortunately, negative comments tend to go viral more often than positive
If the “Pull-Me” side wins, you wait until your product is “perfect” and by that time your customers have moved on. That’s a heart breaker as well because if you have something unique and special to offer, no one benefits: not you, not your customers.
Important: Keep in mind when I talk about “information products” I’m referring to stand-alone products meant to be used without your live presence.
Solution: Do Some Things Faster AND Some Things Slower
What I’ve learned is when it comes to creating a profitable information product, it’s best to get standalone chunks of your product completed and launched quickly but to take more time putting the entire package together.
What’s interesting is when people use this approach, they still get their entire product out a lot faster than had waited to make it perfect and their product starts producing revenue a lot faster as well.
Example: The Faster and Slower Approach
One of my clients, I’ll call him “Dave” specializes managing value-based stock portfolios for clients. He’s a super smart guy who reads academic journals for fun. And he does what he does because he’s been very successful when it comes to making money for himself and his clients. His philosophy is: “This way of investing has worked for me and I want people who get my way of doing things to benefit as well.”
Dave has been talking about writing a book about value investing that “anyone can understand” for years. But he hasn’t yet done it.
Not because Dave can’t write. He writes tons of articles on what’s going on in the market place, and on economics, and on specific companies. But value-based investing is a huge topic and Dave’s concern is he doesn’t want to overly simplify the topic and mislead his readers. He’s seen so many people make expensive mistakes because they followed a bit of advice they heard from an expert and he doesn’t want to add to the problem.
On the other hand I keep saying to him, “You have a great idea and you can back up your ideas with solid experience…there are lots of people who would love to read your book.” And my Dave says, “I know, I know but …”
One day we were talking and Dave said, almost as an afterthought, “You know I tell clients there are just five simple things they should do regularly when it comes to investments. If they do these five things, they’ll start to get better returns from their investments.”
“That sounds fantastic,” I said. “Would you be willing to write those five things down as a stand-alone article and send it out to your customers and to the people who receive your newsletter?”
“Now?” he said.
“In the next five days,” I said. “I want you to send something simple that your readers can respond to.”
The next week when we met, Dave said, “People are really interested in the article I sent.”
“How so?” I asked.
“I’ve gotten a lot of questions and requests for clarifying some of the things I talk about,” said Dave. “I guess I assumed everybody knew the five practices. The practices are so obvious to me.”
So the next thing Dave did was he wrote an article on each of the five practices. This time at the end of each article he specifically asked readers to send him their questions and concerns.
Once again he got some great input on points he assumed were “no brainer” type issues.
By the time Dave had completed his five article series and responded to reader questions and comments he had accumulated close to 80 pages of material. This didn’t include the charts and graphs he wanted to add which would further clarify his points.
“I think you have an ebook,” I said.
Now Dave is the kind of guy who would disagree because he wouldn’t feel satisfied until he’d written ten 400-page books plus appendices and bibliographies. However Dave is also a business owner and he understood that although he would prefer creating something more thorough, he felt good about the fact that he had created something really valuable because:
- Everything he talked about was based on real experience…it wasn’t his opinion or based on one or two isolated incidents
- He knew the book would be useful for the general public because his readers had, in effect, beta tested the material
- It wasn’t as though his more technical material was going to waste, if enough readers showed a desire for a more thorough, technical explanation, he could create information products to satisfy those customers.
When creating knowledge-based products, it’s not unusual to find ourselves trying to walk a fine line between our need to get the product out so we can start making money and our opposing need to “get it right” and deliver on what we promise. Often these opposing forces create a stalemate such that a lot of customer needs remain unmet.
I break the stalemate I recommend you do some parts of your product development process faster and other parts slower:
- Split your product or program into modules, each of which delivers enough benefit so it can stand alone.
- Focus on developing each module as quickly as possible and send that module as a free product out to beta testers so you can find out from real users what is and is not working. Then tweak the module so it works better.
- The process of testing and tweaking modules will slow down your timeline in terms of introducing your complete, paid product. The benefits, however include:
- You’ve already tested and sold the individual modules to beta testers because you know each module meets users needs
- You’ll almost always have a better product than what you first intended. Not only that, you’ll have more product extension ideas and upsell ideas because of user feedback.
- In many cases, you’ll still get your product out a lot faster than had you first tried to get the entire product right.