What it Takes to Make a Really Great ProductBy Suzanne Falter-Barns
Recently I did a class with my beta coaching group about online product development. I went through all the usual stuff -- filling your product funnel, pricing out products in different increments, designing them so they fit together.
But then I found myself taking this conversation a step further.
Because the secret of any truly successful online information product is that it's different. And more than just different, it's got to be better. The best products out there deeply serve the problem that plagues the market - they give the market exactly what they crave. This is what makes people talk, share, get excited, and help you build your business.
And this is true more now than ever.
How many times have you run into the same old info product schmarm, recycled for the umpteenth time? They promise you can write your book in 24 hours, or - explode your web traffic - by six figures overnight, or lose 50 pounds eating -anything you want! Aren't we all sick to death of this?
These are products which run on hype and trickery, and while they may seem absurd to the average thinking adult, they're out there and they make money. Or they do at least for a while.
Then the word gets out that no, you can't really write a viable book in 24 hours. And no you probably won't explode your traffic to 6 digits. (What can I tell you? Progress is usually won the slow and steady way.)
These days the Web audience is moving out of adolescence; we're no longer so easily duped by cool online promises of instant success. Instead, we want stories like case studies that prove something works. And more importantly, we want to be blown away by products that really deliver on their promise.
Here are some hallmarks of what great products are built from these days:
- They offer less "general information" and much more tactical, hands-on process. Aren't we all "information-ed out" That's why Andrea Lee and I started the Multiple Streams Commitment Club, which focuses totally on walking your talk. Making promises you're held accountable for or doing online or phone-based processes that move you forward .. instead of just going to another lecture.
- They're born from research. How did we KNOW that the Multiple Streams Commitment Club should focus on process instead of content- Because we talked; we asked; we heard you. You told us this yourselves that this was what you wanted, and we responded. So starting with survey research is the starting place for forging a great product.
- They continue to develop with research. A great product isn't just created and left to sit on the shelf and sell. No, no, no. The product - whether it's a coaching group, a workshop, or a CD - must be refined over time as people give you input and feedback. I just finished a beta version of a coaching group I'd led as a full version over the last three years. Why? Because I knew it needed to be totally reinvented. I had to test this new version in the field, to really see what works, what doesn't and what else is needed. And let me tell you - this baby is working better than ever before. AND it can still (and will) improve.
- They die occasionally. I once had an entry level CD on the Get Known Now site called Guided Marketing 101. The product, which led listeners through a guided meditation to determine their perfect marketing plan, was a cool idea. And I really thought it would work, deep in my gut. But something about this CD just was never quite right. The premise just wasn't quite solid enough. And I know that because I could never get a lot of positive feedback - or any kind of feedback - from users. The response was waaaaay too quiet. So I removed the CD from the site, despite the fact that I still have a whole lot of them. And despite the fact that I personally thought this product was really cool.
- The market determines their fate. Important lesson about the Guided Marketing CD: nobody much bought it after the initial launch. Unlike my Discover Your Soul Purpose CD over at my How Much Joy Can You Stand website, this baby just sat there. Meanwhile, the Soul Purpose CD continues to sell at a brisk pace just from random traffic. That inactivity confirmed my decision to pull it off the site. AND - a word of caution here - you've got to give your questionable products time to be proven wrong. And traffic. Give 'em a real shot to prove themselves.
- They're made by the best of the best. Over time, I've found some amazing production and fulfillment folks. AND I worked with at least one CD manufacturer who was half-crazy, dishonest and so sketchy I thought I was out gazillions of dollars at one point. You've got to get really good graphic designers (I love Jeff at www.offbeatdesign.com ) and production and duplication folks. (Look at www.elance.com for this kind of referral and resource.) Be sure to check all references.
- They make you proud. I'm happy to say I've had very few product duds, and that's because I'm a glutton for satisfaction. I'll do whatever it takes to really write a manual or record an audio so it's just totally great. And why? Cause I love the thrill of satisfaction at the end. When you open up the prototype box from the production folks and there it is, gleaming in your hands. Boy, does that feel good. And interestingly, shortly after that when it gets launched, you get all kinds of great feedback.
A final note: don't forget to update your products every so often. I'm going to pull my mega-binder, the Get Known Now Home Study Course, from my product line in the next few months. Not because the content is outdated - but because the form is. People don't want a 285-page monster book of information anymore. It's just too overwhelming. Instead, people want processes and systems, so that's what my replacement product will be - step by step, we-take-you-by-the-hand audios and worksheets that are much more interactive.
Doesn't that sound a ton better?
About the expert(s):
|Suzanne Falter-Barns, Founder of Get Known Now!. Suzanne is a platform building and branding expert who teaches her clients to establish that critical credibility necessary to become a known expert in their field. She's one of the best of the best in filling group programs. |
© Copyright 2007, Suzanne Falter-Barns