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Issue #1 • January 2017

How to Build a Valuable Product From a Simple Idea

Monetize Your List

With all that influences us on a daily basis, it’s easy to become an “idea person”. You know that guy, right? Chock full of ideas, but fairly short on execution of any of them. Maybe you’ve even been that person… don’t worry, we all have at one point or another.

There’s no such thing as a bad idea, right? Ideas are fun, they’re exciting, and they’re full of possibility. Ideas are a spark for creativity too. They’re a playspace for our brain and they often lead to even more ideas. Plus, you’re passionate about a lot of things, so you’re bound to have plenty of ideas if you let your mind run free.

But if you’re serious about building your business, those ideas need to move quickly into one of two buckets:

Bucket A: Idea Not Worth Pursuing

Bucket B: Idea Worth Pursuing

As a creative, business-minded person, you’re inherently going to fill Bucket A much faster than Bucket B. Your ideas that you end up not pursuing could take too much time, not make you enough money, or they could be ideas that you simply need to set aside for the greater good of your business. That last one, by the way, is the hardest to swallow.

As entrepreneurs, we have to look at our ideas through an analytical lens. When we take this approach, we might realize that an idea is a great one, but not one that will serve our business  goals right now.

For example, you might have an idea to run an online summit to help you grow your email list. You know you’re great at connecting with other professionals who would want to be involved. You have the topic in mind and have even connected the summit theme to an offer you’ll extend through your follow-up email sequence. So it’s a great idea, yes? Bucket B?

Not so fast. While that summit might seem like a great idea at first glance, you realize that organizing a summit with so many moving parts and pieces is too much work for you to manage on your own while you continue to serve your one-on-one clients. Juggling contributors, daily emails to your subscribers, and simple tasks like building the landing page start chewing up more time than you have to give. You realize your one-on-one business will suffer if you pursue the summit without additional support.

So that idea goes into Bucket A.

But what about those Bucket B ideas? Those ideas worth pursuing? How do you go from idea to finished (and profitable) product?

That’s what we’re diving into today, and there’s one big takeaway I’ll share at the end (but don’t just scroll to the bottom here – let’s go through it and see if you notice a trend, okay).

8 Steps to Go From Idea to Finished product

Regina Anjou is no stranger to big ideas and big action. As a guide for the Infopreneur (an entrepreneur who sustains their business on information – read: digital products), Regina has turned well over a dozen of her Bucket B ideas into products, from easy downloads to long format eCourses.

Over time, Regina has developed an easy-to-follow pattern to take her ideas from the bucket and turn them into money-making products. In short, those steps are:

  • Position
  • Plan
  • Preview
  • Price
  • Package
  • Promote
  • Produce
  • Protect

Regina loves the letter P.

In fact, here’s a note from Regina with a few more useful P words in it:

Releasing courses, learning how to create content that helps, figuring out how to sell your materials . . . it all gets more organized and efficient as you go. Things start to make sense. Things start to flow. You start to see patterns. You become more epic at it. I truly believe we will never become “perfect” at releasing courses or other information products, but we can certainly figure out what works well and set ourselves up to learn more as we go.

Ah yes, the one idea we MUST let go of: the idea of being “perfect”. Speaking of which, here’s Regina again:

I’m pretty much afraid of launching almost everything I’ve launched: Will it be useful? Will people like it? Is it helping? Is it pretty enough? Are people tired of me? If you wait until you feel “ready” . . . until you’re sure of something, it will never get done.

So let’s unpack this a bit more since you’re never going to be “ready” anyways.

Phase 1 – Idea to Action

Figuring out your core concept for your idea is exactly where you need to get started. Forget the logo design and brand colors and fun naming exercises right now. What you need to focus on is that main message your product is delivering. For best results, get down to that action step your buyer will take to see an impact in their own life or business.

Let’s use Regina’s course The Epic Business Lock-In as an example here.

Idea: Provide a space for online business owners to actually work on their business.

Problem: Many people who start online businesses work full-time during the week and “side hustle” on the weekends. They don’t have time or money to travel to a conference or in-person event.

Solution: A virtual retreat over a weekend complete with community aspects like live calls and a Facebook Group to talk to other participants.

Regina’s Position with this course is that it’s possible to build an incredible business with infoproducts. You just need to set aside the time to make it happen.

Now she’s on to her Plan.

Remember, The Epic Business Lock-In likely didn’t even have a name at this point. The Plan phase tends to move quickly since it’s more idea generation (and your brain is really good at those ideas).

As you’re planning you’ll want to look for these key points:

  • What’s the format of the product?
  • How hands-on will you be in the delivery of the content?
  • What is the deliverable at the end of the course? What can a buyer expect to take away?
  • What can you surprise your buyer with? Asked another way, how can you take this product to the next level?

Planning for Regina’s course could look like:

  • Decide on weekend-long format and pick a weekend to host it
  • Block off time for live calls
  • Separate out learning into four distinct “tracks” so that there’s a single deliverable at the end of the weekend
  • Add community element with a Facebook Group and lifetime access

Now, you’ll likely want to go a tiny bit more in depth depending on your format. In this case, Regina has some live elements so her potential buyers might want to know what happens if they have to miss some of the time, they might want to know if everything is recorded, etc.

But don’t worry about building it out too much because here’s where the fun happens:

Phase 2 – Set Your Idea Free

In Regina’s list of “Ps”, this phase is Preview, Price, Package, Promote.

This phase is that scary part Regina mentioned earlier… it’s time to share your idea with the world and get feedback. For The Epic Business Lock-In, Regina took to Periscope to talk directly to her audience and give them live answers to their questions (all while taking copious notes on where she could do a better job of explaining the course up front). You can do this phase in a number of ways, but one of our favorites is through a free email course.

With your email course, you’re going to walk your readers through one section of the bigger offering you’ve dreamed up, or you could give them a super high level overview of what’s to come. The free email course for The Epic Business Lock-In could have been a five day series starting with a link trigger to choose your “track” followed by four more days with one key lesson from each specific track. The final email of the series is an offer to join Regina and the community in the full program.

The key to this phase is to provide value also while asking for feedback. Give them actionable steps they can take (a great way to test content for your course!) and ask them to reply to you with what they’re learning along the way. You can have this interaction via email, on Twitter, in public groups, or over a webinar.

This second phase is about developing a bit more of your course details too. And that, my friend, includes price.

Regina points out some good things to consider regarding pricing:

  • Your time, tasks, and emotional expenditure
  • Material inputs, fees, and cost of goods sold
  • Business overhead and what you want to invest in your business
  • The client’s perception of the value you are adding to their life or business with your course
  • Competitor prices and market prices
  • How many of each course you expect to sell per week/month and how much of your income you want those sales to make up
  • Gut feeling and testing the market

With a large audience and multiple tracks, Regina was able to keep the costs down on The Epic Business Lock-In and price each individual track at just $55 – with an option to upgrade and get all four tracks for one bundled price.

How to price your product

Since her hands-on time is done in a group setting, Regina can factor that into her pricing too.

Does your product include a 1×1 session with you? Brand new materials you’ve created? An expensive piece of software to deliver the course? Think through all of these points, set a price, and share it.

Oh, and here’s a secret about pricing: it can always change.

Set it higher than the market will respond to? Provide a discount code to your email subscribers or offer a payment plan.

Priced it a bit low? Call it an introductory price and let people know the price will be going up when you launch it all again.

The last part of Phase 2 is, unfortunately, the part most people jump to right away. But you’re reading this so you’ll have covered all of our other bases first. Now it’s time to wrap that product up with a bow and hand it over.

But guess what? We’re still not building out the product yet. It’s simply time to package it.

How to promote your product

In order to formally promote your product, you’ll want to create a landing page or sales page with all of the pertinent details. At this point in the process, this step should be easy. Your planning phase gives you the outline of what you’re selling, your position gives you your main talking points on that sales page, you’ve nailed down your pricing, and your audience feedback from your promotion gives you a well-rounded FAQ section.

You’re ready to create a page like this.

This is what that whole “Minimum Viable Product” thing is about. Popularized by Eric Reis’ The Lean Startup, a MVP is a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development. It’s a great way to avoid developing products no one wants. Take an idea out of the box, unpack it a bit, and then show it to the world to see if anybody wants your thing. When you’ve done it right (following these steps above), you get to know quickly if you should move on to Phase 3.

Phase 3 – Make It Yours

Produce and Protect might be the most exciting part of this process but, unfortunately, it’s where most people start instead of end. But you’re not going to make that mistake, right? You’re here and you now know that this fun part comes at the end – in Phase 3.

You’ll notice this part is the shortest part we’ll talk about. That’s because at this phase the hard work is done! Sure, you have to do the work of creating that thing you’ve tested and (possibly already) sold, but you are now so very clear on what your product looks like, this phase is just a matter of setting aside the time and getting it done.

At this point in the process Regina got to work building the true content for the Epic Business Lock-In. Sure, she knew all along what she was offering, but why create worksheets, slides, and graphics if you don’t know that someone is going to buy it. (Hence, the promotion phase first).

Once it was sold, Regina could take her expertise around building out a course and, well, build it. But what can you do if you’ve never built a course before? I have just the thing for you:

Once you’ve built the product, it’s time to protect it. You know that friend of a friend who had her sales page completely copied or found the carefully crafted title to his product listed on someone else’s product page? Yeah, that can happen to you too if you don’t protect your work.

As a lawyer for creative bloggers, Autumn Witt Boyd is all too familiar with this problem. You can learn about her five steps every blogger should take to get legit legally so you’re prepared for this product and many more to come.

But Don’t Stop There

Just like ideas are plentiful, product types are too. Products don’t just look like digital products for many bloggers. You can use this same game plan for physical products or even live events. While the deliverable looks different in the long run, the three-part plan doesn’t change much. Turn your idea into action, take it to the public, and then reign it back in and call it your own.

No matter how big or small your idea might be, you now have a way to sort through, find the gems, and turn them into products that make you money and leave you fulfilled at the end of your day. And that, as Mastercard would say, is priceless.

Are you ready to take your ideas and turn them into finished products? Did this blog post help you get there? If so, share it with your friends and start creating some products together!

Val Geisler

Val is a yogi, mom, military wife, and avid podcast fan. She is ridiculously obsessed with sharing and creating content that actually makes a difference in the world, connecting with her fellow bloggers, and doing more with less effort. Val is based on Columbus, Ohio (O-H!) and can often be found oversharing on Instagram at @lovevalgeisler.

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