The concept of the “funnel” has been used in sales for years. And it is quite possible that you’ve heard the idea of the sales funnel before. In this episode of CBB, I outline what I call the blog profit funnel.
In order to build a real business online and generate the most revenue, you’ll need to create and offer products of your own rather than relying on affiliate marketing. And it ALL starts with getting solid ideas for products to create in the first place.
In this episode, we discuss several methods for gathering ideas on what your audience needs and wants.
We’ll talk about…
- The first place to start when getting product ideas
- How to gather ideas from your market even if you don’t have an audience of your own yet
- The 7 word question you can insert into your list to get endless ideas
- The most effective – yet most forgotten strategy for learning TONS about your target market
- An extremely important point about the makeup of any product you create moving forward
I recommend you keep an idea list inside of Evernote or some other document, because this process of getting product ideas will be ongoing.
Today, with Coffee Break Blogging – Episode 112, we are going to talk about how to determine what products you can create for your audience.
Now this is obviously a pretty important topic because we are in the phase of Coffee Break where we are talking about monetization. And we are going to be in this phase for quite some time now, actually. And as you will find out, if you have not noticed about me, already, is that I am a really huge fan of creating your own products to sell rather than banner ads, which we already talked about in Episode 109; why I think it is a dumb thing to do in most cases, but even also versus affiliate products as well.
Here’s the thing about affiliate marketing; it definitely can work as a revenue generator… there are some people who make really good money by selling other people’s products and all they do is collect commission for that. Nothing wrong with that at all, but ideally if you are creating a real business; something that is truly sustainable for yourself, you will get the customer. And that’s really important. When you send somebody through your affiliate link they become somebody else’s customer. And you get the commission, that is all great, but you have lost a lot of the follow up capability and things like that.
I mean, there are ways around that if you want to offer a bonus and then maybe to see if you can track them back to you… You can get buyers on your list even if they buy an affiliate product but it is definitely not as clean in any way, shape or form as you offering your own stuff. The other thing, too, is that you can custom tailor your own products to your audience and really hit them right where they are at, like really give them exactly what they are asking for. Whereas, many times with other’s products, you have got to adjust a little bit to that product because they didn’t create that for your market; they probably created it for themselves. And that is a pretty big factor.
So, we are going to be talking about how to get ideas for products because that is where it all starts. If you know that it is best to create your own products to sell on your blog, you have got to start somewhere, right?
Let me remind you…
Now the first thing that I want to remind you of; and you can go back to Episode 110 for the full story on that, and that is the transformation. Now, the transformation; I spent a fair amount of time talking about this, but it comes down to your prospect. Your audience member is traveling a journey from their current reality to some new reality all in context to whatever market you are in.
And I gave some pretty obvious examples in Episode 110 where like, to make money online; on one end you have a job you don’t want or you don’t have enough money and on the other end of that transformation you have got a lifestyle business and you are sitting on the beach drinking piñacoladas, at least that is the stereotype that everybody likes to use. And then you have got the weight loss market where very obvious; you literally see it in “before and after” photos, overweight… not overweight. So, those are very obvious transformations. And you will find in that transformation concept follows into a lot of other markets where it not might be glaringly obvious like that two that I just gave you.
Understanding Your Audience
Now when you have that transformation in mind that your market is oriented around, then what you do is you map out that transformation to the typical problems, the typical barriers that they are going to need to overcome on the way of traveling that road. And when you have those problems outlined in bullet point fashion, then you can sit down and come up with product ideas designed to solve each one of those things. Very simple stuff here but you really got to understand what your core audience is trying to achieve; what is that transformation, what are the things that they are going to have to overcome to get there; and then with that, that is where you get your product ideas from. So that is first and foremost.
Listening To Your Market
The next thing I want to go in to is simply “listening” to your market. Really common sense but some of us do not spend enough time doing this. We tend to be inside of our own heads and think “Wow, they really need this!” And you know, maybe you are an expert in your market so you know better and you think this is what your market needs. Well, determining what your market needs is not nearly as good as finding out what they want. And the thing is, if you want to really make good money doing this then what you want to go out there and do is find a market that is hungry for a particular thing and give them that thing. Very simple.
It is a lot easier than you and your ivory tower thinking this is what they need and you got to go out there and try to convince them of it. So, listen to your market. And you can do this if you got an establish audience on your blog already, you can go to your email list and ask them questions, you can monitor blog comments; so ask a question inside of one of your blog posts and let them respond to you. You can kind of do informal, free-form surveys just via your blog posts and actually do it by way of comments. It is a good way to drive more commentary to your blog, actually.
If you don’t have an audience in place already, then you can go out into where your future audience is gathering. And you are going to find them probably on places like social media groups on Facebook or LinkedIn or what have you. You can also go to forums. There are many markets out there where they are not as quite engaged in the social media space but they are still using forums. A lot of us consider forums to be kind of old school, but in some markets that is just not the case. I come from the technology space and a lot of tech guys still love interacting in forums. And you will find that many markets have forums as well.
So what do you do when you get there? Well, you obviously do not want to be like “Hey, buy my stuff!” Don’t spam them or anything. You are in an intelligence gathering mode at this point. So you can just run searches for stuff or just kind of casually watch the conversation and look for salient points. And that is just from a passive standpoint; you are just watching. But you can also take an active role in that community; this will be the preferable route, really, truly help people with their questions. But while you are doing that, you can put questions into your post that specifically get feedback from them because you are actually trying to find out what they are struggling with in context of your market. And you can actually ask questions in these groups or these forums designed to get them to tell you what they are struggling with. Dive a little deeper with them.
It is not because you are trying to sell anything to them, in fact, you probably are not yet because you don’t have a product to offer; you are just trying to find out what things they are experiencing, what those mean to them and what they are ultimately looking for that would be a great solution. And if they are asking for those types of things in forums a lot, it is probably because a quick Google search did not provide that thing. So that is a potential opening for you. So you just got to listen to your market. You got to engage to your market.
The 7 Word Question
Now one thing I want to mention here, when it comes to having your own audience is what I call The 7 Word Question. Now the 7 Word Question is a way to find out what your audience is struggling with and you can build this right into your autoresponder sequence. So, right in the emails that gets sent to new subscribers right off the bat. And that 7 word question is: What is your biggest challenge right now? It’s a very simple question, right?
So, if somebody gets on to your list from one of your lead magnets or just from your sidebar or what have you, you send them the Welcome email, the same thing you would usually do; and either inside that Welcome email or maybe even on the next one after that if you don’t have an offer or something after, is that you can ask them “What is your biggest challenge right now?” and just specifically ask them to hit the reply button and tell you. Now obviously, this is going to provide you feedback, you will find that a certain percentage of new subscribers will do this.
And it is also going to raise the likeability factor with you because they will realize that there actually is a two-way dialogue which is a great thing. A lot of people are used to the one-way flow of the way the internet works where they are just spectating. Well, if you get them to talk back that makes you are real awful lot more real to them; and that is a great thing from a marketing standpoint. Also really important is that when you send out those emails to your list that the return, the reply email address on that outgoing email is one that you actually get because you want to see those replies and you want to also acknowledge them when they answer you. So make it a true two-way dialogue with them. So that is the 7 Word Question… “What is your biggest challenge right now?”
Talking To People
A lot of people online tend to overlook this one. A lot of us; we are more comfortable behind our computer screens. But you are really going to learn your most about the market (if that’s even proper grammar “learn your most”) but you get the idea by speaking to people. And so if you go to conferences or networking events or meet ups locally; you can do this. Go to meet up groups or any other groupings of people who are going to be your ideal target market or at least “in the vicinity”, subject matter-wise. And just talk to people. Ask them what is going on in that regard.
But here’s another thing you can do; is that if you are not popping up to conferences and getting on airplanes and all that, you can go into these groups and forums and stuff we already mentioned and you can, if you get somebody into a deeper conversation via the forum, invite them into a private conversation with them. You could do this on Facebook. If they are on a group and you guys are interacting in one of your social media groups and they are providing some interesting information; just private message them on Facebook and be like, “Hey can I just talk to you for 5 or 10 minutes when you got the time? I’d love to ask you a few questions just to find out more about what is going on with X”… Whatever it might be, whatever is most comfortable to you and then you actually talk to them. You do it by phone, you can get them on to Skype, you can set up a gotomeeting… And yeah, you are not going to know them so you might have to step outside your comfort zone here, but do it anyway because you are going to learn so much about your audience. They are probably going to give you feedback that you didn’t even see coming because that is just the nature of a free-flowing conversation.
Now one little hint there is that if you do that; you have to consult the legal part of this but all I’m saying is it would be great if you can record it. I don’t condone putting that out there, anyway. It is only for your own personal reference. That way you are not worried about sitting there scribbling notes and stuff while you are just talking to somebody. Just have a conversation, record it… Now you might want to check in to the laws on wherever you are to make sure. If you need to let them know that you are recording or what have you, then do so but it is just for your own reference. I am not saying you need to go anywhere with that recording because that would be a dumb idea, anyway. But talking to people is the most underrated but probably the most powerful way to actually learn what your market needs and want.
It’s Not The “Form” Factor
I’m going to end off this episode with this; it is a very important idea because this whole thing is about how to get ideas for products that you can make to your audience… When it comes to that product, I want you to think this: I want you to realize that we are talking about a solution to something that they are saying, not what that product looks like. We are not talking about the “form” factor. And so, I am only saying this because a lot of people that I have worked with, their first instinct when it comes to product is that they learn something and then they knee-jerk into “Okay! Great! I’m going to create an eBook on that!” or “I’m going to create a membership site on that” and what happens is that they are thinking too much about what the product is ultimately going to look like versus really tailoring the exact solution they are asking for.
It could be that what they really want is for somebody to handle it “for” them. Like do it for them in which case we are talking about a potential service offer and not an eBook. Or maybe in order to make a more complete offer here, you might have an informational component to it but then you are going to have services as an up-sell to it or maybe as a package deal. But basically, the whole idea here is that you need to listen to what they say and find out what would be the perfect solution for them.
For example; and I am not offering right now, I’ve thought about it… In my market one of the big barriers at the very beginning of the transformation is the technical part of actually setting up the theme, and getting WordPress installed, getting your opt-in form set up in the right way; just the basic technical puzzle pieces. And many people are not all that technical. And so, they think “Oh yeah, I really would like to learn that” but the thing is, if you really have a conversation with them you will find that really what they would like done is just get it done for them in a cost effective way so they can move on. And so if you learn that about your market, then maybe you can put together some type of a way where you can literally get it done for them and not go into a big training thing on the solution. Information products are not always the way to go. Sometimes we have got to mix it up a little bit in order to give them the right solution.
So that is how to determine what products to create for your audience. I want to end of by once again reminding you to come and join me on the next Blog Monetization Webinar where I am really going to walk you through the exact business model that we are talking about here, but I am going to walk you through it onscreen, literally drawing it on my digital whiteboard; I am going to walk you through the entire thing, digitally. And so if that works better for you than what we are doing here in this podcast, plus it is going to be a lot faster on the webinar than on the podcast because the podcast comes out in episode formats like these; then join me on Blog Monetization Webinar and I would love to see you there!
Once again, thank you so much for listening to Coffee Break Blogging and I’ll see you next time! 😉
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