Following on from yesterday’s post about offline business and where you as a copywriting freelancer or online entrepreneur can fit in, I thought I’d make an important clarification about the whole thing.
Where Is The Value Add In Online Business?
Before you can understand the offline business world, you need to understand the value of the online business world. The two business worlds are pretty much a game of opposites.
In the online business world:
- Quick and easy wins the day
- Heavy focus on automation
- Cheap and/or cost effective – competition on price
- Sales is shady and we’re all just trying to steal credit card numbers (or at least that’s a public perception)
- Information Is The Major Value Proposition
Take for instance upsells.
If you ask the average online consumer, upsells are the devil.
“Sure, I’ll take all of your free opt-ins, but don’t you dare try to sell me a $5 ebook.”
“Wait… If I can learn this stuff online for free, why are you charging for it?”
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“Why would I need your $500 consultation when I can get your $10 ebook… shouldn’t you be putting everything you possible know in that book for me?”
The list goes on, but be under no mistake; upsells are considered underhanded. We all laugh at the idea of some shmuck paying $60k to go and see Tony Robbins live on a private island or whatever.
Why is this?
Because online business is about a single thing: information.
People pay for information in whatever way you can give it to them. Because information has a low cost of transmission – there are literally a billion blogs and YouTube videos – that same information that powers the whole thing isn’t valued at all.
This is, good or bad, how it works. But it’s important to bear in mind for the next section.
Offline Business Isn’t Remotely The Same
Information is a big part of offline business, but it’s not the sole and only currency in offline business.
To the average cheapskate online, a $5 ebook should cost the same as a consultation, because it’s all about the information. (And you’d be amazed how many people think $5 is a lot for an ebook and a one-to-one consultation is daylight robbery.)
Offline though… of course it makes sense that a live training costs more than an ebook. That’s because outside of the internet marketing bubble, presence has a value and a cost.
If you wanted me to give you a face-to-face consultation, it would cost more than a phone consultation because it’s obvious.
If you want to make money and be appreciated for your efforts, it’s much better to think in the frame of mind I’ve given you above.
Your information is part of your core value proposition, no doubt, but there are intangibles that internet marketing based businesses ignore altogether. You have to train yourself out of the mindset where you’re getting paid for the content you produce or the products you create.
Of course a seminar that requires your presence should cost more than an e-course. This is despite the fact that:
- An e-course is more convenient (people can watch it anywhere, anytime)
- An e-course can be used perpetually
- It costs less to produce and less to buy
- It integrates better into business practices in a multitude of ways
The seminar is better because your presence has value and you have value.
This is the framework by which offline business still works. Let’s go back to the list I made above and rewrite it for the business world outside of online business:
Offline Business World Characteristics
- Quick and easy is a sign of competing on price which is low value. The price is the price and that’s what you put on it. If you don’t charge a premium for quick and easy, then you’re an idiot and people will think your service is rubbish
- Heavy focus on the personal.
- Cheap and/or cost effective don’t matter. The quality matters more.
- Sales is natural. Billions of people go into the shopping centres every day with the intent of not only spending money but with the intent to be wooed into spending money they haven’t planned on. Upsells are natural too – nobody goes into a restaurant wanting to be tempted by the side dishes.
- Information Is A Part Of The Value Proposition, But It’s Way Down The List
For all the talk of “building a personal brand” most online guys are rubbish at it. They’re talking about “building a brand” so they can fight over sales of a $5 ebook while there are handbag manufacturers who literally price a Chinese leather holdall at the same price as a new car and sell it based on nothing but a label.
Final Thoughts And The Solution
By all means don’t leave the internet marketing stuff behind totally. It’s a set of tools, tips and tricks that are handy. It’s a Swiss Army knife of ways to effectively market with very little capital and a set of business systems that allow you to compete with massive companies as a one-man band.
But don’t think that those tools are out there and don’t fall down the guru well.
Most importantly, don’t base your “brand” around guru marketing advice because it’s really kind of stupid the more you think about it when you compare it to how real-world, offline businesses treat branding, marketing and value.
Generally, offline business stuff strips away branding in favour of a purely information-valued approach, and if you’ve got any sort of expertise or individual offer, then this puts you at a compete-by-price disadvantage.