why info products might not be as valuable as we’re told

Years ago, I came to a realization.

And the other day, my colleague Dan Blank wrote a piece that just nails it. You can read it below.

The Information Age was dead.

I was sitting there staring at my bookshelf full of books and binders, my laptop full of read and unread ebooks and my life was pretty much in the same place. The information hadn’t changed much in my life.

If ‘more information’ was the answer most of us would be utterly healthy, happy and fulfilled. Every seminar junkie would be rich.

Religion is often based in this, ‘if you read this book then you will be saved’. And the whole seminar industry promotes the idea that ‘knowledge is power’. I think that’s bullshit. Knowledge is, at best, context (which can be a massive relief and incredibly clarifying). Seminars tout the promise of ‘come to my workshop and your life will be transformed by this new information.’

And sometimes the marketing is so good that we buy it that, ‘this one will be different.’

But this model of ‘information transmission’ isn’t what changes people. Relationships are. When people feel lost they need four things (in my mind anyway) – only one of which is more information.

Plus, there are a few challenges here:

  • the information is rarely new. it’s usually old stuff renamed and trotted out as revolutionary and different.
  • information isn’t enough. People need empathy and hand holding too.
  • the kind of information that’s valuable to one person might be useless to another
  • the style the information is given in might work for one person and not another.

And now the next level is the ‘automated’ coaching programs. You know – you become a member, get videos and exercises every week. That kind of thing. Dan writes more about that below.

But here’s the nub of it for all us information product marketers – are we focused on the value we’re (ostensibly) giving or on the value they’re (actually) getting.

I’d read that again.

When I go to buy a book and I’m offered 600 pages of bonuses . . . is that really value?

Is a 300 page workbook that we don’t really go through during the workshop actually valuable to me if it’s just going to sit on my shelf forever?

The issue isn’t about GIVING value (via raw tonnage of more information) – it’s about finding unique and innovative ways to help them GET more value. And how to do this in a way that’s sustainable for you.

Some quick examples of what I’ve been experimenting with:

  • take time at your workshop to go through the materials you are giving them and give them sticky tab/post it notes to tag the things that are relevant to them. Slow things down. Don’t just give them a huge binder and expect them to appreciate the value or to know how to use which parts.
  • do exercises during the workshop where they actually apply what they learn and work on something practical for their own situation
  • create quizzes and assessments where they can get a snapshot of where they’re strong and weak and at least some rough guidance on what they need to do
  • create spaces where your clients can come together and support each other.
  • offer weekly coaching calls to your best clients to help them integrate things.
  • make sure your blog is well categorized and searchable so people can find what they want fast (or so that you can send them the exact link they’re needing easily).
  • cover less content in your workshops, but go deeper with it. Less is more. And, ironically, having a narrower focus will likely make your workshop more appealing too.
  • make sure it’s crystal clear who your workshops and products are for. Make sure that everyone who comes is really ready for it and that it’s not coming too soon (overwhelm!) or too late (boredom!) for them.

 

Okay. So, enough ranting from me. Here’s Dan’s brilliant article.

 

I Love Teaching. Why? Because I Love Learning.

I spend a lot of time considering how we learn, and how training and education programs for adults are created. So today, I want to talk about why I think teaching is so important, why I think it should be at the core of my business, and why I feel the web has reshaped the ability for us to learn in new ways.

The Problem With Many Education Programs: Teaching and Automation
Dan Blank Too often training and education are automated. For instance, in a training program in which a curriculum is created, trainers “deliver” the modules to group after group, and then the check-box is marked that it has been “rolled out.” There may even be a 300 page PDF file shared as a “leave behind” in case students have a question.

In an online education system, scheduling software, “online classrooms,” and pre-recorded components allow a simple “delivery of material” over the course of a period of time, thereby calling it a course or training program. But chunking up a book into 12 parts, and sharing it over 12 weeks is not teaching, is not education, is not training. The same way that throwing a newspaper on your drivew

Sometimes, courseware is simply a way to scale a particular effort. That they set it up, and then just try to pump as many “students” through it as possible. Again, this is delivering educational material, but not necessarily the process of education itself.

ay each morning is not the key part of informing you of world events.

In the same regard, online courseware has been evolving for a long time now, but I am always amazed at how it focuses on providing many options around process, and what seems lost is an environment that truly connects people. (more on that below)

 

To read the rest of Dan’s article (it’s really, really good):

click here

 

If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.


About Tad

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for tagging me on this post Tad and asking for my input on this topic.  It’s been something I have struggled with as we move our Money Map to Freedom program into homestudy instead of me continuing to lead the program live.  I’ve been looking at all the ways I can make the information in both the Money Map and my LIFT program on legal, ins, financial and tax foundations available in a way that is affordable and effective for people without me continuing to deliver the work live.  

    So …. what we are doing is 1) we have a forum for connection, questions and support, 2) we have a monthly ongoing coaching program that we give for 3 months at no charge where participants can connect with me and ask me questions, 3) I have trained Money Map masters who can facilitate the work for people who need more support, and 4) we are building in more follow up for people who just buy the home study making sure they are getting the support they need.

    I have also heard of an accountability program that is being created so we can hold people accountable on a daily basis without a huge time commitment by the coach, so we are looking into that.

    Would love to hear more thoughts about all that.

    Ali

  • Tad, great post.  As always, you make people think, question, reconsider.  And that, to me, is a bigger part of learning, far greater than the simple giving or offering of information. 

    After teaching at university for several years I came to the conclusion that cramming people full of information (even interesting or relevant information) is rarely transformative – but experience can be. 

    So I love your idea of going slower and deeper, of engaging both left and right sides of the brain (integrating experience with concepts).  Also using multiple modalities (visual, kinesthetic, auditory), bringing in multiple ways of engaging (community etc.)  I also use art, ritual, sacred processes, writing exercises to get people into their truth, hearts, what’s real for them. 

    One of the shifts from university teaching to coaching and facilitating for me was a recognition that there’s wisdom in the room, in each participant and that it’s my job not so much to inform or tell (although I do share my expertise) but to hold space for the beauty, wisdom, direction that’s already there – whether it’s in an individual or a lecture theatre.  As a result, I’ve become more minimalist as a teacher.

    I’m with you in the idea that relationship is what matters – seeing someone’s vision, believing in it even when they lose the faith, helping them shift out of the blindspot potholes we all fall into – just because we love them and have been there too.  In the end, I don’t think it’s information that matters so much as our love. 

    AND we teach by who we are being.  As I move from teaching to facilitation to ‘being’ as my way of impacting, this constantly humbles me and sets me against my own values, edges and blindspots – and constantly guides me in my quest to learn what it really means to teach by example. 

    Having said all this, I do think there’s a place for info products. We need systems and tools to give form to our dreams, visions and purposes. Good info products can help do that.  But no product can create or guarantee implementation, experience, reflection and ultimately breakthroughs – that’s the realm of commitment, readiness, courage, action… and maybe even a real, live person holding your hand and dream while you do it. 

  • alexis. such a joy to have your comments here. i’m in the process of creating a homestudy course for my ‘Marketing 101 for Holistic Practitioners’ event as well. and this summer will be creating a tonne of info products.

    i love all the things you’re offering people. it’s beautiful. it all sounds so incredibly valuable to them.

    it’s my ongoing question – and one i’m aware that sometimes I don’t focus on as much as i’d like, ‘how to help them truly get more value from what i’m offering’.

    i think i’ll create a post just on this topic and list all the ways people come up with including yours and link it to you. yes.

  • marilyn! so brilliant. and so deep. yes. it’s interesting – whatever we’re teaching – the more we embody it – the more real and possible it becomes for people. yes.

    and i agree. there’s fully a place for info products.

    carrie klassen is coming out with a workbook on how to write your homepage and it’s going to be brilliant. because it’s so focused. and so practical. step by step handholding. gives good examples.

  • Tad, I really appreciate what you are proposing. It’s such a simple shift of focus and yet really a profoundly different orientation. It does feel so important to me to be paying attention to how the value of our services, information, guidance, teaching, or products is received — how receivable it really is.

    I am reminded of restaurants with an all-you-can-eat buffet: they seem to be a great value but they rarely offer true value, since ultimately it’s all about the nourishment the customer receives. Getting more on the plate than we can digest is not genuine value. Getting food with little nutritional value is not genuine value. Quality food prepared with great ingredients and love and artistry and the intention to create enjoyment, nourishment, and inspiration for the receiver is a whole different order of experience. I want to offer that sort of real quality. And want to give my business to others who do the same.

    I love that in the work you are doing here you seem to be inviting us to realize deeper and more integrated expressions of responsibility. As I understand it, HOW we do our work, offer our services, market our product has real impact in itself — it can be, if done with integrity, impeccability, and joy, a good part of the gift we are offering. I think it’s as important as WHAT we doing/creating/offering.

    Thank you. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  • hey lauren. ‘receivable’. i love that word. thank you so much for your words.