One of the main reasons why entrepreneurs are attracted to information products is because of scalability. An information product is anything that is sold online that provides value via online education. The downside is that information is time-dependent; growing fast and foundationally means everything, as content can become irrelevant quickly.
Hitting the $1 million mark means that you have market validation and proof of concept for your teachings. It doesn’t mean that all you have to do to continue to grow is ramp up your ad spend. There are some foundational items you must do in order to set yourself up for success as you scale. Here are my top five ways to scale an information-products company:
Invest in growing your community.
A community is built around your niche or the problem that you’re solving. It’s about getting like-minded people together with the goal of improving everyone’s outcome. The most important thing that your community can give you is the ability to grow incredibly quickly.
There are usually many different communities out there for your niche. However, when you create a community, you have massive positioning power. This makes your company much more stable because you have a community you can share and test ideas with, get product feedback from and even feel supported by when you need it most. This also increases the lifetime value of customers, reduces churn, creates an informal ascension model and increases the valuation of your business.
To create a community around your info product, either host live events or add community elements to your product (forums, groups, mentorship opportunities, etc.). I recommend spending at least 25% of your operating budget on building a community. It could be the best investment you will ever make.
Brand your business.
Branding is a longer term trust-building investment. You want customers to instantly recognize your brand, voice and tone when they are consuming your content.
One downside to having an information product is that it’s difficult to build trust with potential customers quickly. To combat this, share content and free courses to get consumers acclimated with your brand before they buy and/or invest in branding so they recognize that you have invested in the product and are clear on your business.
One of the biggest elements of branding is to understand your customer avatar. “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller outlines a comprehensive, introductory approach to describing your customer road map and identifying your customer avatar.
Build an in-house reputation management team.
To be successful, you need an amazing product, excellent customer service and an authentic selling process. The best way to get a handle on how business is doing as a whole is to communicate with your customers. Otherwise, they’ll find other avenues for venting their frustrations — outlets that are much more SEO-friendly than your site. The worst thing that can happen to an info-product business is to get a bad review that ranks higher for its keywords than reputation resources it does control.
One of the biggest assets you have is your reputation — especially while you are scaling. Treat it as such. Over-deliver, under-promise, and always give refunds if people ask. Try your best not to outsource your customer service or reputation management and make sure to invest in good people that authentically represent your brand.
You can’t be everything to everyone. It never works. Getting people into your sales funnel who are not your target avatar are often the biggest nightmares — and usually the loudest on review sites.
If you’re polarizing in your copy and imagery, it will lead to much more aligned customers, which reduces churn, increases lifetime value and helps reputation management. To polarize your brand, get really clear about your brand and how you talk to your ideal customers. This means you’re magnetizing to the people who will be a great fit and repelling those who are not.
Create a customer road map and focus on lifetime value.
The problem most info-product companies have that prevents them from scaling is that they either only have only one flagship product or they have no idea how to cross-sell/upsell/downsell other products. Or, they have mindset issues about partnering with complementary companies that could help their customers. To grow your company, focus on either an ascension model or your customer road map.
In the ascension model, you very clearly describe to a potential customer where they fall among your product offerings (beginner, intermediate, advanced, for example), and price each offering accordingly. Typically, products are cheaper and lower touch at the beginning (usually automated) and higher touch as they escalate. This will increase your lifetime value without having to add new customers as they’ll have a linear product path to follow, and you’re only high-touch with the ones who pay you the most money.
The customer road map is similar but different. Map out exactly where a customer comes into your products and where they go from there. This gives you the opportunity to cross-sell your own products or to get creative and include others’ products (that you get a commission on) that are in direct alignment with your unique customer road map.
Step 1: Map out the customer journey.
Step 2: Identify the goals of each step that moves a customer to the next step.
Step 3: Identify what will happen at each milestone and look for internal or external opportunities to send customers on to.
Step 4: Implement these rules in your marketing automation platform.
While the information-product industry faces unique challenges, focusing on both the customer and the community is a surefire way to continue to grow. You can set yourself up for success by following these tips.