Creating Information Marketing Modules
Any and everyone who creates and markets information products needs a SYSTEM. A system that will make it both easy to CREATE the products AND easy for those who buy the info products to use and implement the concepts and ideas.
I’ve found the best way to do that is to create modules. I define a module as a single concept that people need to learn and understand. For me, I apply the same modular system to ANY kind of product that I produce: audio, video, book, report, etc.
I start by taking every idea I can think of related to a given topic and writing it on an index card. Take the topic of publicity. One of my joint venture partners is a guy named Burke Allen. Burke owns and runs a PR company called Allen Media Strategies. When Burke and I got together not long ago to create the “definitive” PR product, here’s what we did.
I first asked Burke to write out any and every topic he could think of related to PR. As we were discussing things, it became clear to me that when you’re trying to get the media to find out about you, you’re talking about 4 major outlets: television, radio, print and online.
I then asked Burke to come up with any and everything he could think of within each of those categories. He ended up with a LOT of index cards. After he had brainstormed for a good while, I then told him to go back and brainstorm some more. I was trying to wring EVERY POSSIBLE idea out of his head in each of the categories.
When he did it a second time, he came up with a few more. I also explained to him not to worry about duplicates. Many people who do this exercise will interrupt their creative flow by doing so. Instead, just keep writing. Worry about duplicates later. Index cards are cheap. You can always throw away the duplicates.
Which is what I had him do next. And at this point, it doesn’t matter if it’s Burke doing a publicity product or YOU doing YOUR product. Frankly, it’s all the same! Follow the steps as I describe them here.
Burke now had a whole bunch of cards under each of the four categories. He then went through the cards to hunt for duplicates. When he found two that covered more or less the same concept, he threw away one of the cards. No big deal. If you do this exercise, again, PLEASE don’t’ interrupt your FLOW by racking your brain worrying about whether you had already written down “that” idea. It doesn’t matter. You can get it later!
The one question that people will often ask at this point is: How LONG should my product be? How many cards? The answer is as long as it has to be to completely exhaust the topic and give people EVERYTHING they need to know. Really? You shouldn’t hold back anything to sell them later? Really. More on that later.
Burke now had 4 stacks of cards. One for each of the PR topic areas.
The next thing you need to do is to go through each of the cards and ask yourself a few KEY questions.
1. What is the BEST way to illustrate a given point. Should you use a video? Will audio suffice? Would it be better to use text and a chart to show the idea?
So you may end up with a HYBRID product? One that mixes audio, video and text together? Absolutely. Whatever works to best TEACH the concept you’re trying to get across.
Many of my clients products consist of text, audios, videos, screen capture videos and even some software. If it helps to make the product more useable, then do it. Don’t get STUCK thinking that a product must be only ONE of these. Whatever works, USE IT!
2. What story or example can you use to illustrate a given index card concept? Write that down on the card so you don’t forget it. Try and make sure you have at least ONE for each card. If not, that particular concept won’t “come alive” for whomever buys your product.
Sometimes you may not be able to come up with a story or example yourself. No problem, that’s what Google is there for. Google what you’re looking for and you may be able to find a story by someone else that perfectly suits the situation. Also, keep your eyes open for quotes and statistics that relate to this particular module. Include them as well. Make sure to credit your sources. Few information marketers do!
3. Determine the appropriate order for each of your modules/index cards. Order IS important. Slapping the concepts together in no particular order doesn’t best serve your buyers. Instead think in terms of roadmap or recipe. What is the BEST order for the cards to be in?
Think of a set of instructions on how to put together a piece of furniture. If they are OUT OF ORDER, you may end up with a couch when you thought you had bought bunk-beds! Make it so that your customer will have NO problem following the progression from module to module and when they are done, the FULLY understand the concept.
4. Who else should contribute? With each of the cards, write down who you would most like to CONSULT with to help explain the concept if you could pick ONE PERSON other than YOURSELF. You may not be able to get that person to contribute, but it won’t hurt you to TRY. If more than one person comes to mind, put any and all the names down on that card.
When you’re “done” with YOUR work, you’ll want to try and get as many of the people as you can who are listed on the cards to do an interview with you to enhance and improve the module. Don’t worry if you can’t get EVERYONE on your list. It will help to get even a FEW of the folks you targeted.
5. Do You Have a Quick Start Guide?
Regardless of the length of your product, it’s a good idea to have a QUICK START guide. I remember getting a HUGE product from a well known guru that weighed over 20 pounds, came in 3 large boxes and had 6 binders full of information. He certainly overwhelmed me with the VOLUME of material, but he didn’t help me to use and learn his product. I didn’t know where to start.
Take a hint from the folks at Encylopedia Britannica. They’ve been creating “info products” for a long time. They have a MACROPEDIA and a MICROPEDIA. Create a condensed version of your product that people can go through and get a quick OVERVIEW of what it is they need to do. This is basically a cliff notes version of your work.
Remember, if they are overwhelmed and don’t even get started, your return rates will go WAY UP! And no one wants that!