Ten years ago, in 2006, Jeff Walker released his cornerstone offering to the internet marketing community, Product Launch Formula. This killer, foundational training on taking a product to market online, was groundbreaking. Jeff was a first mover, a hell of an author and a visionary on what was to come.
Jeff’s Product Launch Formula, or PLF as it quickly became known as, sold for a hefty $2,000 price tag. This same year, Frank Kern and Ed Dale had their Underachiever’s Conference in San Diego; StomperNet was in full swing and internet market was the wild west.
I cut my teeth during these years, reading hand-me-down copies of Perry Marshall’s Definitive Guide to Google AdWords and soaking up as much personal development info products as I could.
This was literally the heyday of turning advice and council into a product and making a ton of money
Not just a decent living, but a killing. Marketers were claiming 7-figure launches using craptastic stylesheets that would make disgust Dan Kennedy and his Insider Circle. Two years later, in 2008, Yanik Silver started his Underground Seminar.
Rereading the sales letters I stored away in my swipe file from these launches brings back a feeling akin to reading the back of Boys Life magazine and seeing the tiny space ad selling instructions on turning 3 coffee tins, a leaf blower and the wood in my dad’s shop into a hoverboard. If I could live in 2006 with what I know today, I’d trump Trump.
Alas, reflecting on yesteryear and swiping from what Ed Dale (say that with your best Australian accent) and Frankdaddy created just won’t cut it. Borrowing a phrase from Dan Kennedy, we can’t just Swipe and Deploy anymore.
That’s because it’s Q3 of 2016 and info products are on the decline.
Listen – I’m not here to be the bearer of bad news. There’s good news at the end of the tunnel, but here are some supporting facts about internet marketing and the trends we’re seeing…
First, all markets online are directly affected by the pornography market. I won’t get into any touchy topics here, so bare with me…
Like it or not, pornorgraphy is big business online. There is a lot of money made every day in the niche, so much so that it’s always on the cutting edge. Do you think Pokémon Go was the first Augmented Reality app available to the masses? Where do you think that technology first started?
Two or three years ago, I heard from a trusted source in the pornography and adult world that pornographic photos and videos no longer provide the income streams to the companies that host the largest adult sites. These sites have found that there is simply too much pornography online to differentiate. Therefore, they’ve had to find alternative ways to monetize. No longer can a website charge $20 for a month of access when billions of images are available for free with just a few queries.
How does the pornography market affect you?
Hey skimmer! Now that I have your attention… read on!
Never before has there been as much information in the world as there is today. There are more self-help books, more diet plans, more workouts. There are tomes of “how to build a business from scratch” and “how to be a better leader” that you can pick up on Amazon for less than $5.
Futurist and Space Junkie Peter Diamandis, in his “6 D’s of Exponential Growth” defines the 4th D as Demonetization. That is, in the exponential growth curve of an industry, the cost of acquiring something moves closer and closer to $0. First it was pornography, then nearly everything else followed.
Do you think the information product business is safe from this fate?
Self-publishing platforms like Amazon’s CreateSpace; companies like Blurb, Smashwords and Lulu are all riding the trend of making the information product space as inexpensive to join as possible.
I even had a student of mine from Tulane, Harry, write a book in a few weeks and post the Kindle version on Amazon. Within 48 hours, he had reached “Best Seller” status. Mind you, he was the Best Seller in some micro-niche category for a timespan of 12 hours… but he was still a Best Selling author.
Here are some more facts…
- In 2006, Jeff Walker sold Product Launch Formula for ~$2,000
- In 2008, Jeff sold PLF 2.0 for about $2,000
- In 2015, Jeff sold a phenomenal paperback called Launch for $10.28 which covers the theme and strategy of his $2k course
You see, Jeff gets it. He knows that a $2k course in 2006 was worth potentially millions. It was the high times for information products. But today? It’s a much different world.
Ok, ok… I accept it. With more books and info products in the marketplace than ever before, it’s getting harder and harder to command enough money to make a living from an info product. What should I do?
The first thing you should do is stop thinking you can click, copy and cash your way to success. A 62-page CreateSpace book isn’t going to turn you into Scrooge McDuck. It’s still a very useful tool in your marketing arsenal, but it’s not your business.
Let me repeat – An info product can NOT be your business. It can only be a tool.
In order to turn your idea of an info product into a lasting business, you need to think far beyond the initial transaction and look for the transformation you can cause in your prospects.
First, is the best way to provide transformation for your prospect selling them a few PDFs and videos?
If the answer is no, then figure out how you can directly apply your experience and knowledge into a business. Look for big levers. It’s more exciting to play a big game with your experience, so find a way to execute something big with your information. Your reward (both financial and internal warm fuzzies) will be miles above what a pure information product can do for you.
Second, do your prospects need 200 pages, 32 MP4’s and a dozen MP3’s in order to have success?
There’s more noise in the market than there is signal. Prospects are tuning out thousands of marketing messages every day. If you want to cut through the crap, make sure your offering is punchy. Give them exactly what they want in the format they’ll consume it in. Are you trying to get a busy CEO to think about their diet? Do you think they have time to read a book? Figure out a new way to get in front of them. Podcast? Audiobook? Direct response mail? Solve their problem, don’t stroke your ego.
Third, provide a strategy for accountability.
There are tens of thousands of products that have been created to help busy entrepreneurs, child-juggling moms, and people born with so much social anxiety their palms resemble waterfalls. But nearly zero of those products provide accountability. They provide a prescription, but no transformation. “Breath deep when you feel anxious. It’s that easy.” Easy my ass. If your strategy lacks accountability, you lose credibility. Make it your solemn duty to solve a problem for your customers and you’ll have people who will continue to pay you for what you can do.
If you do these three things, you’re not launching an info product, you’re solving a problem. You’re creating transformation. You’re ensuring those who invest the time to listen to what you have to say will, in fact, have the outcome they want.
Anything less than that is the work of a charlatan. We must make it our duty to solve problems for our prospects and reduce their suffering.
Alright. That’s my rant. Info products are dying because they’re over-produced, under-transformational and many are a total waste of bytes. If you want to have a wildly successful business that leverages the potential power of information products, you need to provide transformation. Do that the best way you can, even if that means doubling down on customer service. Profit margins are smaller than they’ve ever been before but many of the flash-in-the-pan marketers (none of whom I’ve mentioned here) from the early 2000’s are still in business. They made their riches and squandered them or disappeared into the ether. Either way, their old model isn’t sustainable. It’s up to you to do better, to rise up and make the world a better place.
Until next week,
PS – What I’m saying is absolutely true in many of the markets in the US. It’s true in health, fitness, dog training, business opportunity and a whole lot more. There still might be some untapped potential opportunities for a $2,000 Underwater Basket Weaving or Clay Throwing info product, but most of the US is tapped. However, if you live outside the US, times are much different. In Japan, there’s a very talented marketer who has seen quite a bit of success modeling after what Brendon Burchard has done with his launch sequences. I recently met two guys from Mexico City who had a phenomenal pet training info product and food delivery business. I hear info products are new and different and exciting in many places around the world.
If you live in one of these countries, you already know the US is a bit ahead of your country in terms of marketing tool availability and marketing messaging. If that’s the case, you’re in serious luck. Go find a way to provide tremendous value to your customers with info products. Live out my 2006 fantasy; hit a 7-figure launch. I really do believe it’s possible. But don’t believe in a future where that income stream and launch viability is so high. Know that change is coming. Anticipate it and stay ahead of the curve.