Avoid This Common Mistake When Creating Information Products

As I said in my last ETR article, the best way to prevent customers from illegally copying and sharing your information products is to create content that gives the buyer more than his money’s worth.

Selling great information products gives you several other advantages. For one thing, it minimizes refund requests. It also helps you build a base of loyal fans. These fans keep buying additional products from you and recommending them to others.

However, many information product marketers make a serious mistake that results in less quality – and lower customer satisfaction. Let me explain…

What your customers want is solid information that tells them how to do something, whether it’s saving money on a new car or becoming a freelance copywriter. The mistake many info marketers make is that they develop a “what-to” product instead of the “how-to” product their buyers want.

To live up to the customer’s expectation of getting great how-to information, your product has to tell him exactly HOW to do the thing that it’s about. That means specific step-by-step instructions… recommended tools and resources… and strategies, tips, and techniques for doing it better and faster.

But too many info products I see tell the reader what to do – but not how to do it.

For instance, one small-business advertising guide recommended advertising on billboards.

That’s advice on what to do, which is fine. But it’s not enough.

When a reader buys that specialized information product, he also wants to be told HOW to advertise on billboards.

What are the dimensions of a typical billboard? What’s the most effective word length for billboard copy? The recommended size of the letters painted on the board for maximum readability? How can he find billboards in his area where he can advertise? Who does he contact about renting them? What’s a reasonable cost he can expect to pay? Can that be negotiated?

Why do so many information product marketers produce “what-to-do” instead of “how-to-do-it” e-books and reports? It’s because “what-to-do” is so easy to write. All you have to do is present the big picture, and not the niggling details.

But that cheats the reader.

In most instances, the reader already has some idea of what to do. He is buying your specialized information product on the Internet – often at a premium price compared to books available in bookstores on similar topics – because he expects you to go into depth he doesn’t get from “bookstore books.”

I hire a lot of freelance writers to write e-books and reports for my small online publishing business, CTC Publishing. One of my pet peeves – and a classic example of what-to instead of how-to – is when I read a sentence in a first draft that says, “For more information on X, just search the keyword X on Google.”

I tell the writer: The reason the reader is paying for our e-book is because he expects us to have done the research and presented the results.

Telling your reader “Look it up on Google” is the sign of a lazy writer who has not done his homework – and a sin I always ask my writers to correct.

One more point…

Even though information product buyers want “how-to” instead of “what-to-do,” you can often take the quality of your content to an even higher level. You do this when, instead of (or in addition to) telling the reader what to do, you actually DO IT FOR HIM.

For instance, instead of saying “Here are some points to keep in mind when writing a collection letter to a customer who owes you money,” you actually include sample collection letters in your product.

Listen, everyone is lazy. Me. You. Your customers. And your writers. But the information product buyer has paid us to provide him with shortcuts. As the customer, he has the right to be lazy.

As the seller in this transaction of information publishing, we – the information product marketers – give up the right to be lazy. Our customer expects us to do the work, so he doesn’t have to. If we don’t, we are of little value to him. And he will let us know this by asking for his money back.

Read the latest information product you wrote or published… or, even better, the one you are working on right now. On every page, ask yourself: “Is this text telling the reader merely what to do, or is it actually showing him HOW to do it?”

If you are merely telling him what to do instead of how to do it, rewrite to correct the oversight. The result: a top-quality information product worth the premium price you have every right to charge.

[Ed. Note: For expert insights into the world of direct marketing, be sure to sign up for Bob’s free monthly newsletter, The Direct Response Letter. Do so today and get over $100 in free bonuses.]

Bob Bly

Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in business-to-business and direct marketing. He has been hired as a consultant by such companies as Sony, Chemical Bank, J. Walter Thompson, Westinghouse, and Prentice-Hall. Bob is also the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Direct Marketing (Alpha Books), Targeted Public Relations, Selling Your Services, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Keeping Clients Satisfied. A phenomenal public speaker, Bob will share with you how easy it is to start your own business. Whether you’re ready to quit your job or are just looking to make a little money on the side, you’ll want to hear Bob’s advice.