Discussed in the podcast:
02:13 – How to avoid unfinished products
03:55 – Keeping it short
06:36 – Make it clear what you’re teaching
07:41 – A course planning structure
09:15 – Tools of the trade
12:01 – How often can you put out a product?
16:54 – Having your own product versus using other people’s
20:41 – Selling your products
27-47 – Finding product ideas
30:14 – How Mike got started
32:45 – What you can put in your sales copy
37:00 – Suggested sales platforms
39:10 – It’s about the relationship
43:09 – Getting your product online
James: Okay, so Mike, you have been prolific with product creation and you also do webinars, so I think it would be a great discussion if we just talk about some of the elements involved for the internet marketer who wants to start creating their own products because there’s so many different things you can do online: we know about selling services to local business, we know about affiliate marketing, but I know when I look back at my own affiliate marketing success, a lot of it had to do with creating my own bonuses and products, and it’s such a powerful advantage and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. So, welcome to the discussion.
Mike: Thanks, it’s always good to be here man. Appreciate it.
James: Give our listeners a little background as to how you got to the stage right now and what sort of things you’ve done. Give us a bit of context as to what we’re qualified to talk about here.
A short background
Mike: Sure, well here’s the thing James, when I first got started with internet marketing, I started doing web design and SEO for smaller businesses and in the process was introduced to internet marketing. And in all honesty, I really struggled when I first got started with the whole information overload and I learned pretty quickly. You know you have to have your own product if you want to be able to build a list, if you want to have affiliates, all those things that were you know where the money is, so to speak.
And so, what I did was I would make about 90 percent of a product and then I’d go “Oh! You know what, I need a product about this too and a product about that” and I really had a hard time finishing my products and I had about 25 products and 2 of them were done. And the ones that were done, people were buying and they were happy and the rest of them were not and you can guess how much money I made out of those ones that weren’t finished right?
James: You know I have so been in that situation I just was actually looking at some of my old files today, as it turns out, and I found this sheet from 2007 for my internet marketing blog and it had the opt-in value series of education and stuff. And I was really good at mapping out ideas, I had all this opportunity in inverted commerce and I went on so many partial product creations. It was very frustrating but you’re right, you make zero out of the product that you never get to market. So what do you think the big lesson there is for people listening to this?
The big lesson
Mike: Well, you know I got to give credit to my buddy Jason Flatt because I was listening to one of his webinars and Jason struggled with one of the same things and the way he put it was really kind of elementary. He’d say “You know, I’d sit down. I’d start on a product and then I take a break and it wouldn’t get done.
So the next day or next week, I’d sit down and start on a product and take a break and then it wouldn’t get done so after this happened a few times, what do you think I figured out?” and everybody typed in “Don’t take a break” and so I adopted that philosophy and sometimes there’s bigger projects where you can’t necessarily do it all in one sitting but if it’s a video series, whether it’s on list building or traffic generation or blogging or whatever, it shouldn’t take you more than, at the most, a couple of hours.
For me what the big difference was was I would sit down, I would right down just on like Notepad what I want to talk about and my outline for my products are always an intro and a conclusion and then in between the actual how-to steps. And I firm believer of keeping the videos really short and one topic per video so if it’s How to install a blog or How to create a header graphic or something like that so that they can be really synched to the point I’m like we’re talking about two to five minutes each. So that was a big stepping point for me.
James: I really want to lock in that point. Two to five minutes each is such a critical thing and there’s been a lot of discussion about this in one of the communities that I run called SuperFastBusiness where I used to load up the products in 45 minute or 60 minute chunks, which would be a 90 minute webinar cut down, top and tailed and cleaned out and edited out all of my “uhms and aahs” and make me sound amazing. Now, then I started chopping them down in chapters. What I would do is build the slide deck by topic. I would have a similar to you, an intro and an outro or conclusion.
You know that one about tell them what you’re going to tell them and then tell them what you told them and all that sort of stuff. And in the middle, I went a little bit more depth there using the format principle which is the “Why, What, How, What If” principle – telling them why need to know this, what it is, how to do it and then cover all of the objections.
So I put them in these little segments and some people said “Oh you know, I just want to watch it all on Apple TV” and I thought I’m going to go and look at my heat maps and I’m going to do the numbers on this and the statistics that I pulled were absolutely clear that these small bite-sized modules were getting viewed more. More people made it all the way through the entire course in small pieces than sitting through one session. The stick rate for two to five minutes; twelve is my maximum by the way, that’s the number I work with, is over 85 percent retention, so more than 85 percent of people will watch a 10 minute video.
As soon as you start going up to 25, 30, 60 or 90, you start dropping down to 25 percent or 15 percent because life gets in the way, someone interrupts or the TV show starts or they’ve got to drop their kids to school. And what I took was the total number of people who started watching the first video and then followed them all the way through the little sausage machine using Wistia’s heat mapping and the total at the end was about twice as many people made it all the way through to the end.
I think it was about half made it all the way through to the end instead of 25 percent from a 60 minute video so first tip is small batch sizes. And how much easier is it to create a small video than a large one?
Small vs. large video
Mike: It’s a piece of cake and there’s other advantages too. I mean it doesn’t surprise me at all the results that you got from testing that. But you know, when you look at it from the internet marketing world, as far as like selling your product or talking about the features or benefits, it helps you also get crystal clear on what you’re going to teach.
For instance like when you make bullets on a sales page, you say “Here’s what you’re going to discover”, you never say “Here’s what you’re going to learn” right?, and so you might say “How to” for instance “set up a blog”, “How to create a page”, “How to create a post”, “How to add an image”, “How to put a video on your page”.
So what you’re doing is you’re writing your sales copy but you’re also writing your outline for making those videos and when people come back to it a week later or a month later or whatever, and they go “I forgot how to add a video”. They don’t have to sit down and listen to a 45 minute thing which may be great content but they’re like “I just need to know how to add a video”, you know what I’m saying?
James: I do and I’m glad that you highlighted “discover” because it’s much more exciting to discover something than it is to learn something and How-to is a no-brainer. You’ll notice a lot of the podcasts I do and videos that I put up are How-to because that educational content will get a lot more eyeballs and a lot more people are interested in that. Do you have a course planning structure or is it as simple as the introduction and the conclusion and then fill it in the middle?
Mike’s course planning structure
Mike: Well you know, when I first was first talking about my background, I had about 25 products. Now I’ve got over a hundred, well close to a hundred I actually haven’t kept track of it recently, but I don’t really have to think about it much at this point because some of it just so much of it is just kind of automated. Now it’s more broken down into you know, my videos.
The number of videos that I do is normally between seven and ten. There’s always and intro and a conclusion. The intro is what this is, why you need it, what to expect, what not to expect that kind of thing. And then I very much “let’s cut to the chase and forget the fluff and just show you how it’s done”. I’m a big fan of using Camtasia or Jing or whatever you’re going to use for your software and showing people clearly how to do it.
Because sometimes if you’ve done something a lot, you’ll forget to say “Oh, you have to click on this before you get to this” but people can see you do it. So if they’re doing it along with you with video, it’s like being there. So, I think that’s the big element as far as making the actual product and then I also always try and have some kind of a bonus that they don’t know about just so that they’re overly happy with what I’ve done and how to be relevant.
And you know, one of the big advantages that’s related to that, as far as making your own product, is when you make your own bonuses too is they can’t get it anywhere else. So when you send your sales copy or whatever and there’s a surprise bonus valued at 957 bucks, it shows you how to do blank, it’s true when it gets people excited and it gets people curious. And when they actually see the product and the bonus, they’re that much happier that they bought.
James: I love it. So, your main tools of trade, then the computer and some sort of screen capture video.
Mike: Yeah, and there’s a bunch of them out there. And if people are on a shoestring budget, you can get Jing, which is actually maybe the same company that makes Camtasia and they’re actually going to be stopping Jing and they’re just going to be doing a different piece of software called Snagit, which is both of those are excellent, really nice quality or you can just take the plunge and get Camtasia, which if you’re on a PC, it’s 300 bucks, if you’re on a Mac, it’s 100 bucks; which is everybody should be on a Mac. I don’t know.
James: Yeah, and I’m going to put in a vote for ScreenFlow here. I really dislike Camtasia on the Mac. It was very buggy and problematic for me and I’m sure it’s fantastic now but ScreenFlow is cheaper a really great editing tool as well as a screen capture so I predominantly use that for all of my video and audio, just the one editing tool so it’s another alternative.
Mike: Yeah I do have both of those and there’s some others too like for instance, Screenr, which is S-C-R-E-E-N-R.COM, is an online web capture tool. So if like you’re out and about, you don’t have your computer, you don’t have your software and you get an idea, you can just go on there and log in through Facebook or Twitter and record videos for up to five minutes and then upload it to YouTube or to Facebook or download it or email it to somebody and it’s for free. And I actually like the five minute limit because it keeps you focused on keeping your videos short.
James: Yeah I’d say keep your videos short. Everything I’ve learned about videos, short gets retention. Also, when it comes to the type of products that you can create, you’ve got your screen capture type products.
Another way to really do a screen capture product is to build out a PowerPoint or a Keynote slide deck and pre populate it with all the things you want to illustrate including all the little arrows and some circles and highlights and, if you need to (it’s not necessary) – transitions, that will really cut down the amount of editing time you have if you can pre-prepare a PowerPoint or a Keynote, drag all your images and screenshots and especially Snagit images, I love the little “tear-away” effects and the drop shadows, but I use Keynote as my Snagit; Keynote does all of those things.
And then you can just flick on the screen capture and using two screens and presenter’s notes, you can talk through each of the slides and then hit stop and just trim the start and the finish, put in a little video bumper or something nice and professional and there’s your product. And that’s how I made TrafficGrab, which was a good solid six figure product and it went out to several thousand people. And I also used that to make the majority of my information products.
Quite often I’ll take a webinar, and then record that and then chop it up into little pieces with title slides and make it into a full-blown product. And now, I’m averaging one a month as a run rate and that will typically be seven to ten modules. And if you’ve got a hundred products, you must be popping them out like crazy?
Mike: Well, I was…we talked the other day about the webinars. I used to have a weekly webinar show and so what I would do was literally every week, I would make a product and I’ve learned a bunch of different ways to do that. Sometimes you can start out with the actual product I’ve done and kind of talk about one of the strategies or two of the strategies and then see if you like this, I’ve got, you know, ten more or whatever. Or what you can do is you can tell people before the webinar like as it starts “Listen, tonight I’m going to be creating a product and you’re going to get just pure content for free being on the call” and at the end, “if you’d like to buy the replay, I’ll make it a special price for you” you know, for being live on the call.
And then, you literally have this built-in accountability to put out a great product with great content and because they’re listening and they’re typing in questions, you know if you’re missing something or if you need to emphasize something more, so it ends up being a better product. And then what you do is in the end you say “Great, so first, I’m going to sell this for X number of dollars, I told you I’d give you a great price so here’s the discount plus I’m also going to include this bonus or this bonus that I didn’t show you tonight” so it’s a double whammy and it’s a great way to get paid to make a product.
Building a framework
James: Fantastic. Well, I think we should talk about monetization models in a second, so we’ll come back to that. By the way, that is an open loop which is very effective to use within products to have people stick to the end to assist their learning; an open-nested loop where you’ll open up something that they’ll get later and then commence with the training part. And I’m a big believer in actually delivering good value so the people can get a result from the training.
It’s not just because they want to pay me, they’ve turned up. It’s because they want to learn something or achieve a result after the training that they couldn’t do beforehand and that’s always a good thing to focus on in the introduction and it’s a great thing to recap at the end is some action steps.
Let’s talk about for a minute there about the, I just want to recap on this framework or structure for a presentation. So, someone’s sitting there, they’ve got a blank whiteboard or a piece of paper, they’re listening to this thinking about making a product, they now have an awareness that it’s possible to make a product every week and frankly, they could probably make one everyday if they were super prolific; and you and I have both knocked out products within hours, so It’s totally possible. It might not be the world’s greatest product but it will be to the point, a series of little videos and it will be neat.
So, knowing that they are able to do this, we’ve talked about a framework of having an introduction and a conclusion and then filling in the middle, and it could be that simple. They could simply write the topic at the top, introduce the topic and cover the Why, What, the How, and then cover off objections and then conclude it with a summary and an action list. And they can do that for each video module, bundle those modules together, and there is a product. So someone listening to this is only one weekend in a motel with a laptop away from having their own product. Agreed?
The wide and deep model
James: Now the wide and deep model. I just want to go a little bit into this, and this is really effective if you sell from stage, or if you’re putting together a Webinar. If you’re at that sales part where there’s more products that they can provide at the end. That’s where if you say you have 6 or 7 points that you wanted to make, a typical mistake and I used to make this, is you cover each point say 10 or 20% you cover 20% of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 evenly across the board. That’s wide but what I recommend people to do is to go very, very deep in at least one of the points.
So maybe on a couple of points just go 10% deep and then one of them go 100% deep and show them everything you’ve got in that one point so that they can get a feel for not just your range but your depth and they know how specialized you are in this particular topic, and that creates an awareness of the gap there that the other 80% they’re missing out on all the other points is really desirable now and something that they’ll really be interested in paying for the next level of solution for.
Mike: I agree 100% and I also want to emphasize that one area that you do go down 100%, it should be in my opinion the most exciting part or element of your topic, you know what I mean? It’s just like a performance, say here’s my record, what song are they going to play on the radio? The best song.