One of the easiest ways to kill your online productivity is to rush to market with an idea that sounds SO good you can’t wait to get started.
“This is IT!” you think. “The breakthrough. The big one.”
So then you do your launch and … smash, bang, fizzle. A bomb. Like the silence in a comedy club after a bad joke. (Yes, I’ve been there.)
So how can you keep this from happening?
When you open any marketing program or sign up for a class, your first instruction will always be something like, “Find your ideal client and give them what they want.”
But finding a “hungry market” is just the first step. The market may be hungry for solutions to a problem, but they may not realize they need help. Or they may have decided they want solutions from someone else- not you!
Or you may find you just can’t get excited about solving the problem.
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As a copywriter I help clients market ideas, often in the very early stages. Most of us have had the experience of waking up at 3 AM with an idea that seems absolutely brilliant… till the flaws appear when the idea gets exposed to the light of day, sometime around 10 AM.
And we’ve also had pretty good ideas that got shot down too fast because some well-meaning coach or mastermind member threw cold water on them.
After working through these challenges with clients in many fields, and after watching some of my own bubbles burst after much wasted effort, here’s a 5-point checklist you can use to save time. I’m referring to an “idea” but it could be a program, product, course or anything you want to sell.
1 – Does the idea support your core brand and message?
Usually a “no” doesn’t have to stop you. You can tweak ideas to fit your brand.
For instance, let’s focus on productivity. A program about affiliate marketing might seem far removed from productivity…. unless the first module focuses on using affiliate programs to earn more money in a lot less time.
2 – Does the idea fit your style, personality and persona?
When you announce your idea to a dozen of your online connections, what do they say? Do they say something like, “I’m not surprised – that really fits!”
Do they say, “I like it!” That’s a sign the idea is good but not necessarily that it’s right for you. For instance, if I came up with an idea related to “dress for success for solo-preneur networking,” people might love the idea. But they’d laugh out loud at the idea that I’d be teaching this topic.
Of course, once you’re experienced as a writer, you can build an info product out of any good idea. I certainly could do the research and write a solid book about networking fashion. It would be a terrific book. But I would have to use a pseudonym, find a fashionable coauthor, or set up the project where I’d be the ghostwriter.
3 – Can you write a sales letter to promote your idea?
Once I got a fantastic idea for a telesummit. I presented the idea to half a dozen people who were equally enthused and who agreed to participate immediately.
When I started to write the sales letter, the whole thing came apart. I couldn’t assemble a list of features and benefits, let alone an opening. I could explain how attendees would be transformed.
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to write a sales letter. Draft out a headline and come up with the benefits. Write a paragraph about the outcome: “Imagine yourself spending an hour to create a blog post and then earning hundreds or even thousands of dollars from a program you didn’t even create.”
“Imagine that…” might be a tired, trite copywriting phrase but it’s a good first start.
4 – Could this topic lead to a telesummit or other joint venture?
Go further. Can you identify to 12 possible joint venture partners – people you know, people in the field who could receive a cold email from you, people on your social media contact lists?
Imagine asking them to promote your product as an affiliate. Imagine inviting them to participate in a telesummit. Would the topic fit within their areas of expertise?
You don’t have to hold the telesummit. Just go through the exercise as test.
If you can’t come up with names of possible jv partners, you might be exploring an area that doesn’t hold interest. Or you might be entering a new area where you’ll be a newbie and a novice. Not a problem if you’re just starting out, but a possible distraction if you’re already digging into a comfortable niche.
5 – Can you create 3 lead magnet titles and 10 blog post titles to promote this project?
You’ll need at least 3 lead magnets to reach different parts of your market. For example, let’s stay with productivity. One lead magnet might be “7 Mistakes Most New Entrepreneurs Make That Kill Their Productivity And Sabotage Their Success.” Another might be, “How To Write A Blog Post in 15 Minutes.” Still another could be, “How This Business Owner Earns Six Figures With A 15-Hour Workweek.”
Obviously you’d need the knowledge to back up your topics. Readers get frustrated when you promise a solution and then offer something totally different.
Your lead magnet needs to be 6 to 15 pages (although you can have lots of white space), so you’ll need to know enough about your topic to fill those spaces.
You’ll need LOTS of blog posts. When you can’t come up with topics, you just might not be interested, the topic may not be rich enough, or you’re not the person to write.
Writing these posts also tests the depth of your knowledge. Don’t believe the hype about “everyone’s an expert.” Programs work when you deep knowledge, to the point where you’re adding original twists based on your own experience. If you’re just recapping the party line and the standard story, your audience will get disillusioned.
6 – Can you imagine extending the idea to a high-end product, selling for anywhere from $297 to $997 or even more (depending on what your market considers high-end)?
Some markets just won’t pay for high-end products. The career change market can be extremely resistant, for instance. Many people in that market are extremely naive, even if they’re senior executives.
I still maintain my site, MidlifeCareerStrategy.com, and still get queries from visitors who think a coaching session should be $35 to $50 an hour. In some cities, you can’t even get a dog walker for that price, and the going rate is $150 and up for a 50-minute hour.
These folks rarely purchase online courses with high-end prices. So high-end becomes high-exposure. For this question, I’d substitute, “Can I imagine creating courses on Udemy and books on Amazon?”
7 – Do you find yourself getting more enthused as you working on the idea?
I tend to be one of those people who hit the “send” button to announce an idea as soon as it crosses my mind. Then a few hours later, I sheepishly remove the social media posts I created and hope nobody noticed the emails I sent.
The truth is, ideas need time to gel. Give them a few days and see how you feel.
Don’t rush to market, even if your idea passes all the tests. In particular, when you’re working on a concept for your company or a significant product funnel, you may need to wait a long time to get everything together.
“Kelly,” a very successful entrepreneur, ,created a unique personal transformation program to help people get through life transitions. The program involved a unique blend of graphics, audio, pdf files and videos, with optional classes. It was structured to proceed in a certain sequence.
I assumed Kelly had conceived the program as soon as she opened her virtual doors for business. But one day she told her own origin story:
“I kept trying to come with a model and a core program for my business. It was frustrating and a little embarrassing. I was seeing clients and making some money, but I just didn’t have a brand or sequence of steps. We just worked together.
“Then one sunny day I was sitting in a coffee shop, in a playful mood, jotting down ideas…and then it came to me! My program emerged full blown, with modules practically writing themselves on the page. I worked on it for just a few weeks and when I launched, the market was ready.”
If you’d like to talk through your own ideas, click here to set up a consultation.
And you’ll find built-in tests and filters in my Create Your Course program: create your own profitable online course.