When to give away the farm in information products

Several entrepreneurs were recently commenting on starting businesses featuring information products.

The main concern was whether they’d be giving away all their business secrets.

In the information age there are lots of people into Do-It-Yourself kinds of projects whether that’s remodeling a bathroom, filing for divorce, or even copywriting. The fortunate thing for most professionals is that more often than not, people just want to know how it’s done… they don’t want to do it themselves. Sometimes it takes a few tries to figure that out. I met a concrete flooring expert who said half of his work came from people who tried it themselves first.

Giving away information is the way to gain trust. If you don’t give it away, someone else will eventually. Intellectual property law will protect you for only so long before someone comes up with a cheap knock off.

If you’re a service professional, one goal with a product is to demonstrate to the world your expertise. That’s what many authors say anyway. Being a published author doesn’t pay what it used to. Now it’s often about getting your name out there.

Once you’ve demonstrated you’re an expert, the thing that people need is you. Anyone can swipe a winning sales letter and change enough for their own purposes. It’s the expertise that allows you to see the approach to take, which letter to swipe and how to adjust it for a particular audience.

In the end, you’re probably better off giving away the info. Of course test it.

There is more opportunity today than yesterday

Sometimes folks get down about the state of the economy or interest rates or the sub-prime market or whatever.

The thing to remember is that there are more ideas and opportunity today than there was yesterday. I don’t just mean gadgets either. Most new businesses that start do so because they’ve figured out a way to do something better or differently than before.

To really make this clear, stretch the time out over decades. Today (2007), there’s much more opportunity than yesterday (1997). Yesterday, the commercial uses for the internet were just getting going. The day before (1987), there was no internet and computers were huge and much more expensive than today.

I often see people promoting niches by looking at trends. What I don’t often see is people doing something a little better than yesterday. Some of the biggest advances come when we take the best of two industries and merge them.

For example, Copywriting is hundreds of years old. NLP is only about 30 years old. NLP Copywriting is arguably less than 5.

Another example is Matt Furey’s business model. The fitness industry seems like it’s saturated, right? Not if you merge several fields. Matt’s build a veritable fitness empire by combining fitness, psycho-cybernetics, and Chinese culture.

Rather than chase trends, consider merging what works in different fields. Find the best of a couple of different things and see if you can mix them or make them a little better.

Personally, I’ve played soccer for 25 years. I’m planning to make my next product launch merge things from NLP, psycho-cybernetics, and self defense into soccer training.

The other thing with opportunity is that you don’t have to be the best or the edge of the spear per se. As long as you can teach something to someone, you have a potential market. You don’t have to be the resource that the experts go to. There are lots of beginners. There are more today than there were yesterday.

Closing off bunny trails

I finished watching Eric Graham’s webinar on conversion optimization and I realized I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve been trying to do two things with one site and that’s not the most effective way.

The effective way is to have a sales page that encourages one action OR a content site where people can poke around where they like. I’ve had my sales page as the homepage for this site AND had all sorts of “distracting” links on the side.

If you’re looking at the site now instead of a reader, you can see that I changed the homepage back to the blog. I don’t know if that will have messed up anyone subscribed to a reader. If so, sorry.

I may get a separate domain for a sales letter. If so, I’ll promote it here somewhere obvious.

The reason I may not is that I’m planning to go ahead with my own products as I mentioned before. I may or may not get back around to accepting additional copywriting clients. It never hurts to ask.

Recommended NLP Copywriting Clips

Harlan Kilstein posted a couple of videos today. They’re both worth watching. You can sign up for his mailing list on the first one.

The first is his commentary on a copywriting book and how NLP is addressed:


The second is a little longer where Harlan goes through all of his old weight loss ads. It doesn’t have as much commentary on NLP but it’s still interesting to see how different approaches pulled in print:


If you’re in a video watching mood, check out these Derren Brown videos too:

Paying with Paper (using embedded commands in speech)

Subliminal Advertising (not exactly NLP but still an interesting result)

Which list do you build and what do you do with it?

In comparing a couple of different business models, I’ve noticed some major differences. Namely, how much effort do you put into building a list of email addresses and/or ezine lists. And once you have them, what do you do with them.

A few differences:

  • James Brausch: collects email addresses but almost always only uses them to announce a new post has been added to his blog.
  • Jimmy Brown: doesn’t have a blog that I’m aware of and sends content/offers to his list. Dan Kennedy also does this but it was excessive the two times I subscribed over the years. His funnel and upsale autoresponders were very effect but now that I bought his course on small reports, they haven’t stopped. Hmm.
  • Joe Vitale: has a blog that has separate content from what he sends his email list. Sometimes he sends his email list blog update announcements. A significat portion of the posts are kind of out there in terms of showcasing his personal interests. I mean I like cars and guitars, but I don’t subscribe to blogs to read about them.
  • Matt Furey: last I checked, he sends identical emails as his blog posts so I unsubscribed from his email list. Lately, he’s been posting in batches which is a bit annoying to keep up with.
  • Clayton Makepeace: sends daily article snippets that lead you to the full article on his site. He also sends multiple offers and sneaks a few more in under his wife’s name.
  • Agora Publishing: recently, Early to Rise had an article entitled "How I Built a 100,000+ E-mail List WITHOUT a Website ." Evidently they did something similar to the old GoogleCash model and collected addresses after people clicked on their ad and then sent them on to an affiliate site. The implication is that they make their money through emailing their list (ie. no blog or website necessary).
  • Guys like John Carlton and Tim Ferriss only post up to a couple of times a week. I’m not sure if that produces ongoing income for them or not. Tim’s usually solicit more reader involvement.

Everyone on that list is making a lot of money online. I’m going to guess that James Brausch and Tim Ferriss spend the least amount of time doing it. I’m also going to guess that James’s ezine list is much more valuable to him than his email list. With the former, he can create mega traffic overnight to almost any new venture. He says he has a list of over 20,000 ezines. I’m reluctant to admit that I have no idea how long it would take to build a list that big. But then once you’ve done it, you’re just about set with his model.

The question here is how you want your business model to work. The advantage I can see to being blog based instead of email list based is that all your messages will be recorded and searchable for the folks who find you later down the line. You’ll also have more content for search engines.

There’s also the question of referring others. For another blog I’m creating, I wanted to list Jimmy Brown as an income resource. But all he has are landing pages. That makes it look like I’m only after an affiliate sale. James Brausch has a content rich site where you can send people to get educated. That’s a big difference. James’ post on Joint Ventures was especially helpful in thinking about all that.

One thing I will say for Jimmy is that his emails were very good. He even used the NLP tactic of therapeutic metaphors in which he described someone who tries to push many different cars and never ends up getting any of them going. The story contrasts that with another person who sticks to pushing only on car and eventually makes good progress as it gets easier with momentum.

The lesson here is to get started and keep going. You can always incorporate new things you learn but you have to focus on something that works for you. And chances are that if someone else is making it work, you can too.

Why would any marketer work for someone else?

I’ve had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind for a while now.

I read blogs like James Brausch’s where he advocates creating and promoting your own products. Makes sense. And then I read posts by Ryan Healy and Clayton Makepeace and it seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

Unless you have a line of clients waiting months in advance to hire you, it seems like it would take as much work to create and promote a product as it would to find a new client and complete a project for them.

If that’s the case, why would any copywriter choose the latter? My excuse has been that I wanted to establish a copywriting career first. But now I’m wondering what for?

Why would we want to work for someone once and only get paid once (not counting royalties) when you can spend the same time to start a money machine that pays you over and over?

I went ahead and invested in the remaining products of James’ today. I’ve got a couple of ideas for products that I’ll be working on in the near future. I’ll probably post on my progress though not promote the first couple of products here because they have little to do with marketing. I’m thinking of something for soldiers and then soccer players.

How about you?

Thanksgiving for the good guys

Something I recently realized that I’ve come to learn over the last five years or so…

First, 9/11 hit and I felt patriotic fervor thinking we were the good guys and it was honorable to go kill all the bad guys.

Then reality hit and I was depressed thinking there aren’t any good guys anywhere. Follow the money to figure this one out.

Finally humanity hit and I was hopeful realizing there aren’t any bad guys either…

…only people doing what they believe is right.

If people want to help, they need to trade or make friends with “them” so they’ll also begin to realize there aren’t any inherently good or bad people groups.

Happy Thanksgiving

Good intentions aren’t always good

When I was a medic in Afghanistan, I observed something that I’ve thought over often.

I worked in the field hospital. We got Americans, locals, pretty much everyone. We got every kind of injury too.

On one occasion, we got some American soldiers who’d gotten the worst of an IED attack. Two were in our ER waiting their turn for the OR where the surgeons were working on two more.

I was sopping up blood from a head wound and holding pressure on the lesser injured of the two casualties. There were a lot of people around – medics, nurses, PAs, and a couple of officers of the unit that had been attacked. A Chaplin was there – I guess just in case.

The thing that stands out in that particular incident was that Chaplin. Most people with serious injuries get oxygen. That’s standard procedure. There’s also protocol if the person can’t take it. Often children are afraid of the mask so you’re supposed to hold it off their face.

This more seriously injured guy near the Chaplin was in shock and probably out of his mind. The Chaplin started giving him oxygen and he started fighting it saying he couldn’t breathe. Obviously if he can shout, he can breathe. But he was thrashing around because of the mask and probably making his injuries worse. This went on for a couple of minutes.

It occurred to me later on that someone should have told the Chaplin to hold the mask off the casualties’ face. The Chaplin had good intentions and was following the proper procedure but he forgot (or didn’t know) that you can’t force people. It doesn’t matter what was good for the casualty. If he was fighting it, he was better off without it. All he would have had to do was hold the mask an inch off the casualty’s face.

Out of respect for all parties involved, I’m going to let you draw your own life and marketing lessons from that one.

Misdirection and the false close

Of all the various books and courses I’ve studied, AWAI is the only one that goes into depth on the false close.

According to the art of seduction model, it’s when you’re finishing the tour of the house and instead of stopping at the bed, you stop at the computer where there only happens to be one chair. You simply want to show some cool pictures from your last vacation, right?

The purpose is the same in copy as in seduction. Your target is expecting that you’re trying to get into their pants (where their wallet is, silly). Instead, you’ve directed their attention elsewhere. The pressure to accept what they thought was coming dissipates. They’re wondering what’s next.

In copy, you introduce a benefit you were holding back. The target has forgotten the resistance they were saving up for the close and their desire kicks in. They feel as if they’re in control and the one who’s pursuing. If things leading up to this went okay, you’ve closed the deal while letting your target feel like she’s the one closing you.

Most people feel the need to establish their boundaries to relax and be safe. They’re constantly testing the limits to see where they are. If they were prepared to push against your close and then it isn’t where they expected they feel a vacuum left. They start to wonder if they might loose out on their opportunity for the close. Instead of pushing against it, they start pulling for it… IF you’ve built up enough interest in your offer.

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