The first product I ever released was a little thing called "SEO Forever," which was focused on explaining how search engines worked from the other side. Since I'd worked on the MSN Live Search team, and later on Bing, I had a perspective on this which most people didn't (and couldn't) have,
So I wrote up this extensive report on how exactly search engines worked, and why that made most SEO efforts a stupid fucking waste of time, and why you just plain shouldn't do it. I also detailed what search engines are, in fact, looking for when they rank websites... and how you can provide that without being a doucheball or something.
Since I'm in the process of taking stock, I figured what better to do with this week of time-traveling posts than go over a postmortem for each of my four most successful products? Among them, they made me a total of almost $40k, so they're pretty good examples of what "good" products are and should be.
Before I get started on that, though, let's talk about what goes into a postmortem.
Now that you've got your product Assembled, it's time to Package it in a way that you can actually make money with it. The simplest form of that is something like this:
Made a product about it. Like to buy it? Here you go.
Well, that's all well and good for the small fry, but the big boys use two major elements of the process to exploit their customers for more money.
Sorry, does that sound bad? Exploitation isn't bad. To exploit something is to use it for your own benefit. That's what your customers are for. They are to benefit you and your business. If they are not doing either, what the fuck good are they? In fact, if they aren't giving you money, they aren't really customers.
I told you it wasn't pretty.
Now, this doesn't mean you don't care about your customers; "service them well and hold their custom" became a saying for a reason, although you've not heard that unless you're a freak like me and read business books from over a hundred years ago.
Or unless you've watched Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street enough to recognise Judge Turpin's line to the still-incognito Benjamin Barker. Which, you know, is still being a freak like me, (Because my favourite Broadway musical may be Sweeney Todd, but I do have a favourite Broadway musical.) What it means is that you have a secondary goal besides caring about them and helping them, which is obviously enough to get their money.
Not all of it. Never all of it. I like to work under the assumption that you want the same thing the average church wants: ten percent. At any given point in time, you want to take no more than ten percent of a customer's expendable income. (Also a good rule of thumb as a customer: add a zero to the end of a product's price; if you don't have that much money, don't buy it. So if someone is selling a $5,000 product, you don't care unless and until you have $50,000 to spend.) jhgfhuhygtyhuyghuhuhyyhyuyhuhjgyuhjyuhhyuyhyhyhkjjfgjjgfdsfrt
Sorry, I just dropped some mashed potatoes on my keyboard and had to wipe it up. I could just erase the resultant gibberish, but that wouldn't be funny.
A lot of people like to talk about "leaving money on the table." I prefer to think of it as "leaving money in my customer's pocket," which in general is a Good Thing because the last Goddamn thing I want is a bunch of broke customers.
I mean, think about that. Especially when you just sold them something that purports to help them make money: you have exacerbated the pain of "you need money," then taken all their money, and now you have to support and guarantee your product for a bunch of people who are literally desperate to make money. It's like guaranteeing yourself a long string of people without money that expect you to help them. So you either help them for free, or send them away unhappy, and either way you can't run a fucking business like that. It doesn't scale.
What scales is the four-tier model.
This post is obviously going to run a little long. 😉
Where you start is with these three options. A lot of people label them Bronze, Silver, and Gold.
It is the natural tendency of all people to take the middle option.
But let's say they don't. Let's say they go for the $17 option. Your next step is to upsell them to a higher price point. You want more than $17, right? This is where everyone fucks up.
What they try to do is upsell to the $47 point, then to the $97 point, Nope. Nope nope nope nope nope.
You want to upsell straight to the $97 point.
The reason for this is that if they say no, you want to extend this with a downsell. You follow the "I only want the cheap one" with "well, how about the expensive one instead?" and if they go "no, just the cheap one" you want to say "okay, okay, how about the one in the middle?"
And now if they say "no" you just give them the cheap one. You want to ask at most twice for them to buy something else. Cheap! How about expensive? No, cheap. Middle of the road? No. Okay, cheap.
But if they say yes to expensive, then up the ante and tell them about the secret special ultimate option that isn't even on the page. So it goes: Cheap! How about expensive? Sure! How about ultimate?
Ultimate would be like, $197 or something. And it would have awesome features none of the other packages had.
So you've got two questions when someone picks cheap. You have an upsell, followed by another upsell if they say yes... and a downsell if they say no. And after two questions, they get their product. Done.
But what if they go for the middle package, as most people will? Simple: just like the cheap package, go up two levels. Offer the ultimate immediately. If they want it, great. If they don't, then offer the expensive one. And that's your two questions.
Obviously, if they want the expensive one, upsell the ultimate and that's it. No downsell. Nowhere to go.
There's a lot of effort (and complexity) that can be put into this, but I'll leave it at that for this blog post. Just bear in mind that when you Package your product for delivery, it's not exclusively to get the product into people's hands, but to encourage them to spend more,
Next week we'll cover... uhh... something else. I don't know what. I'll figure it out.
Now you've got all your pieces, so it's time to Assemble them and put everything together. This is an Excise task through and through - all the Revenue work is done, and you're just getting everything into the right order and snapped together. Now, the critical part of this is that you don't want it to look like you just put lipstick on the pig, smacked its butt, and sent it out into the world. You want a coherent look and feel to your stuff, which means you're going to have to do some editing. Continue reading Assemble the Team!
So the next step in getting your CRAP done is that now you've Created what you can, it's time to Request what you can't do yourself. This goes back to the TMI principle that everything you want requires an investment of Time, Money, or Influence.
If you are a real freak and you actually want to do things yourself from end to end, you can invest the Time to learn it. And in the early stages of your efforts, this may be all you have - a lot of people reach the point of developing badassery because they've insufficient Money and are living paycheque to paycheque, and being new in an industry naturally means you've no Influence to leverage.
So the critical part of product creation is, you know, Creating it. And the core of whatever product you want to make is something you can definitely do, because otherwise you wouldn't be wanting to make it.
A lot of people get bound up trying to do everything. You don't have to do everything. Nobody ever does. A professional writer normally has an editor and a proofreader and someone to design the book covers and an entire team of marketing people making sure the world knows about their book. Anyone who just wasted their time sitting around going "I can't do all that stuff" would never write a book, but all they need to concentrate on is the Revenue task of writing the book.
Okay, so let's finally get around to closing the loop on this CRAP thing I've been talking about. And first, let me explain my rationale for it.
The hardest part about my whole SHIT acronym is that I can't go around telling people "buy my SHIT" because then it sounds like my products and services are designed to fuck with them and keep them Shortsighted, Helpless, Inadequate, and Trivial. So instead, I have been training myself to say "buy my CRAP" instead because it's the same basic concept except the acronym stands for something very different.
So we hear this all the time: show, don't tell. It's a hallmark of good writing. It's also, in a slightly different way, a hallmark of good product creation. Your Offer needs to Show the process you're talking about.
Have you ever noticed that people love complaining about how various products are "stuffed up with fluff" and that 33 page report could have been just two or three pages?