Strategic Alliance Success Through Identifying the Predictable Pitfalls

Caveat Pars, partners beware! Partnering, as with any activity, has its unexpected challenges and pitfalls. Actually, this is probably more so than in traditional adversary relationships. In adversary relationships you must always watch your back. In relationships based on trust or what is perceived as trust, one can be lulled into a false sense of security. While you need to protect yourself from these dangerous situations, you do not want to create them by exhibiting the wrong attitude.

To keep your alliances healthy, conflict should be dealt with immediately. This is your best chance for moving forward in any relationship. But, improperly challenged, conflict can be the death sentence to an alliance.

Alliance conflict emanates from five core areas:

1. Values

2. Goals

3. Facts

4. Procedures

5. Misinformation

Conflict doesn’t have to be a roadblock to a successful alliance if you and your partnering alliance members are willing to resolve the conflict at the core level, in a timely manner. In fact, the resolved conflict can lead to a stronger relationship through improved communication. Unfortunately, conflict that is left unresolved will lead to fatal flaws that will erode the relationship.

Some of the more common areas of conflict in alliance relationships are accessibility, culture clashes, hidden agendas, management tenure, poor communications and unrealistic expectations. Many advocates and consultants for alliances believe that the alliance mortality rate is around 50 percent.

If you wait to build partnering relationships until all the potential pitfalls are unearthed, your industry will pass you by. Others, who you might have considered as possible members for strategic alliances, might be aligned with your competition. Be realistic though, as with a spouse, partnering alliance members don’t change with time. They do not become, who and what, you want them to be. But rather, evolve to whom and what they desire. If you suspect core problems, you probably are accurate in your assessment and the chances for a successful alliance is greatly diminished. Partnering, like marriage, will not change people. What it does do, is to remove the facades, and exposes the good and bad.

Trust in others and the belief that alliance Partnering starts at the top are crucial elements to your success. These two topics are frequent causes for failed Partnering agreements when they’re not followed. Also, in alliance agreements, be cautious of things you can’t see now but may experience later. Little things like the small print in a detailed alliance contract. Don’t let your enthusiasm cloud your judgment.

Just because you’re working with a company of integrity, it doesn’t mean they will look out for you. Even in a Partnering relationship, you are still accountable for your own success and well-being. Make sure your bottom-line expectations take into account that servicing the partnering agreement is going to require extra resources. Be certain of everybody’s alliance partnering goals. Here are examples of potential Partnering pitfalls. Be aware of them before you enter an agreement. Your chances for success will increase.

At Timex:

Timex, for example learned the hard way. They forfeited $60 million in lost revenue and learned about the challenges of Partnering overseas. You could say it took a licking and kept on ticking. After 18 months of frustration, Timex wanted out of the partnership it created in India. It all started a decade ago when it was illegal to export watches into India. Timex wanted into the market and proceeded to select a local watchmaker as its partner. Unfortunately Timex should have spent more time on due diligence and asked around a bit more about the partner to be. Timex assumed it could dominate the relationship and have the Indian manufacturer carry out its manufacturing needs on cue.

Was Timex surprised? The head of Timex’s joint venture in India, Robert Werner was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article as stating, “Until its Indian joint venture, Timex had been accustomed to owning companies outright, and its problems in India were a learning experience for many at Timex.” He said It took Timex six months of negotiations and an undisclosed settlement before the company could rid itself of the partner.

Today, Timex is happily partnered with Indian watchmaker Titan Industries, which is a subsidiary of Tata Group, one of the largest corporations in India. The Timex-Tata joint venture went to market in late 1992 and in its first year sold 400,000 watches. Two years later annual sales leaped to 1.9 million watches. They have been enjoying partnering success for over a decade now.

At Donnelly Corporation:

Founded in 1905, Donnelly Corporation started as a glass mirror manufacturer and supplier for the turn-of-the-century (1900) furniture industry. Today, through joint ventures and strategic alliances, they have operations in 12 countries and are successfully Partnering around the globe.

Dwane Baumgardner, chairman & CEO at Donnelly feels strongly about what it takes for Partnering to work. When we visited at their Holland, MI headquarters he said to me, “If you have management that is not operating on the basic believe, that it has to start at the top, those beliefs have to be held and permeated throughout the organization. For example, with employees, if you have to believe your people can be trusted, that they want to work together in a supportive and cooperative fashion. The same must be true with another company; you have to believe when you form a strategic alliance that they will operate with the same motive that you operate. If you don’t have those beliefs, I think you’re going to run into problems.”

Values Based Pitfalls

In looking at the issue of values, frequently partners of an alliance will have core values that are conflicting. This is especially a problem with issues like trust and integrity. Corporate culture clashes; employee turf protection, and resistance of certain employees to new ideas can wreak havoc on your efforts to maintain a prosperous alliance.

When one of the alliances partners does not completely embrace the principles of Partnering, big challenges occur. This can include top-level executives or even supervisory and functional employees in departments, divisions or regions within a Partnering organization. As an example, DuPont believes that if a contractor is looking just to maximize his profits, on just one job, then Partnering with that contractor is not for DuPont because they know there will be problems in the relationship.

Because the dynamics of alliance relationships are constantly changing, inflexibility of partners can kill an alliance quickly. Each member must be willing to give a little, especially in times of change for a Partnering agreement to work. Just as devastating is a partner making a Partnering commitment, and having a hidden agenda that would be destructive to the alliance. Not quite as bad is a partner deciding they don’t want to follow through, or one that does not have the capability to fulfill their commitment.

Supplier relationships can become challenging, especially when business is great. Suppliers can make the relationship mistake of conveniently forgetting about the loyalty of smaller long-term customers, and snubbing them for the larger orders. This is short-term profitability and long-term disaster. When those large order companies go out of business or are consolidated, the supplier could be left without any customers.

Complacency of either partner is an insidious relationship-killer. Continuously ask your alliance partner questions in a way that encourages them to relate performance problems and shortcomings. Ask, “What haven’t we done lately?” And ask, “What is it you really need from us?”

Dependency on your alliance partner can put your business at a similar risk. If you become the weak link in the alliance and your alliance relationship no longer delivers value to your partner, more than not, they will discontinue the alliance.

If you or your alliance partner is not relationship oriented little problems can easily escalate. Then anger comes and the blaming others for your current situation. The not invented here, mentality often exhibited by senior management is a result of low relationship tolerance. Also the lack of commitment to the alliance or innovations developed by alliance partners can easily slay your relationship.

There is the situation where you might lose control of a technology or best practice to an alliance partner who later becomes a competitor. A while back, Staples and Office Depot were going to merge but it did not work out. A problem for Office Depot was that Staples learned of an Office Depot best practice during the merger talks. Office Depot was delivering COD to small businesses in the northeast and getting most of the business. After the failed merger, Stapled duplicated Office Depot’s practice and took away Office Depot’s competitive advantage in the area.

Goals Based Pitfalls

In situations where a customer is the driving force behind a Partnering arrangement, you can be left holding the bag. Be sure to examine each Partnering proposal in the context of your company’s overall business strategy. This challenge was recently apparent to IBM and it discontinued its alliance with Somerset PowerPC and Motorola, in producing microprocessors for Apple.

When sitting down at the Partnering table a partner might find the relationship seat uncomfortable. It could be that your partner has a different level of emotional and physical comfort, or sometimes it is simply a change in corporate strategy or a restructuring which leads away from a partner’s product and/or technology causing the partners distress. It is important that you know the short and long-term goals of your alliance partner.

When you try to partner with a potential or current customer and have them renege on the promise of purchasing from you, the disloyalty challenges that can occur can be wasteful. Be cautious, as there is also the possibility of your partner being unethical and attempting to capture your technology or trade secrets. This is a difficult area from which to protect yourself, but if you do your due diligence, your chances for success increase.

Facts Based Pitfalls

Relinquishing some control with the expectation of greater shared returns can be a difficult waiting game. Additionally, your resources can get pulled in too many directions based on collective alliance decisions. Be certain you can spare the resources you devote to your alliance. Otherwise you may put the success of your entire operation in harm’s way.

The lack of third-party cooperation can be a true relationship problem. All the primary members of a Partnering agreement will have to give a little for your agreement to work. Worse yet is your partner receiving unfavorable or harmful media coverage. This is because you are usually pulled into the picture and believed guilty by association. Real or perceived, image and reputation are critical to any company’s success.

Be careful in global alliances. Contracts with an overseas market, for instance, often take a long time to finalize. By the time you get going, in the technology industries, your competition may have already gotten started. If you are already behind and you have developed an alliance with a partner organization that is weak and bleeding, they will only bring you down faster and harder.

Procedures Based Pitfalls

It is easy to underestimate how much time, energy and resources will be necessary to commit to your new alliance. Then not having access to your alliance partner’s employees is an important issue. The closer the planned relationship between the two companies, the greater the importance of the linkages between them. You might find yourself in a situation of a small company Partnering with a large company. A challenge in working together will be that of the representatives, usually top executives of the small can make decisions on the spot. Unfortunately, the employees of the giant must take a proposal up the chain of command. This sometimes slows progress to a snail’s pace.

Culture clash is a frequent Partnering challenge. The failed alliance of IBM and Apple is a typical example. The heralded announcement promising cooperation eventually spawned Taligent Technology and Kaleida Labs. Unfortunately the two could not coexist so the alliances eventually gave way to a quiet breakup within five years.

Putting all your alliance relationship eggs in the basket of only one executive or manager is not a smart idea. The management tenure of your alliance contact can signal success or failure. If you have a one-person relationship, what happens if they get promoted out of the area, fired or even die? You are out of luck. Build relationships with several key contacts in the organization of your alliance partner.

What if your partner’s internal or external rewards structure interferes with the success of the alliance? This could apply to employees, customers or suppliers. If you are a supply partner and your partner has traditional rewards for their buyers, the buyers will only be interested in concessions and cost reductions. On the flip side, sellers usually offer rewards for sales performance and this also can be challenging in making a relationship work.

There certainly is a difficulty in communicating across various time zones. Solving problems quickly when your Partnering factory is located halfway around the world is hard enough, but when also speak a different language, that just makes it more of a formidable task.

Inertia, not having the emotional ownership in getting started is a true pitfall. Add this to chaos, seeing too many alliance choices and ways to create an alliance, some never do get started. The two sides of the sword are, if you wait for everything to be perfect, they never will. And if you do not put enough energy into an intelligent choice, your alliance could be doomed from its inception.

Misinformation Based Pitfalls

You could easily be guilty of underestimating the complexity of coordinating and integrating corporate resources, and overestimating your partner’s abilities to achieve the end result. Self-doubt and not believing you have the skills and tools to create an alliance can crop up here.

Eventually, Partnering success depends on management’s abilities, skills, commitment, aspirations and passions in assembling the pieces of the puzzle. When unequal dependence in a relationship occurs, the partner with the least dependence could be less likely to compromise and put energy into the relationship.

Meanings assigned to words by different cultures can cause serious problems. In one culture quick delivery could mean one day and in another it could mean one month. This opens the can of worms often referred to as unrealistic expectations of a partner’s capabilities. The areas commonly include technology, research, production skills, marketing might, and financial backing.

We also have the unexpected inefficiencies or poor management practices of a partner that can be the demise of a well-intended alliance plan. Also at risk is the area of developing an alliance with multiple partners, who later become rivals to one another. This puts a serious strain on the integrity of the remaining alliance.

Now that you’ve had a view of Partnering from the downside, don’t let these hurdles stop you. Be clear on what alliance partnering is not. It is not instant gratification, nor a quick fix. It is not a flavor of the month management strategy. Strategic alliances are separate entities that have come together to solve their individual problems in a way that serves the whole mutually. It is sharing core competencies that overlap and create synergies. The struggle is a necessary part of any relationship that is valuable and lasting.

To reduce the effects of Partnering pitfalls, David Elliott, senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Technicolor in Hollywood, CA shared his thoughts with me. “If a partner fails to meet their responsibilities, a clear agenda is necessary that both sides are operating from. When the agendas are different or conflicted–that’s a problem.” He went on to say, “We don’t have partnering horror stories because we include an exit strategy, before going into the relationship.”

Elliott’s advice for others entering into partnering relationships is to do your homework, know the agenda of all partners in the relationship and measure against it. If after doing your homework you’re still not completely sold on partnering with a company, start small. Begin your alliance by partnering with another for a simple or small promotion and get your feet wet. If you do stumble, then having the ability to regenerate after a fall is crucial, especially if you or a partner simply make a mistake.

Having knowledge of the alliance unknown should keep you from becoming immobilized and waiting for opportunities that could easily pass you by. Sure, there are some risks, but to lessen the effects, do your homework, know the agenda of all partners in the relationship and measure against it. If after doing your homework you’re still not completely sold on an alliance relationship with a company, start small. Begin your alliance by Partnering with another for a simple or small promotion and get your feet wet.

If you do stumble, having the ability to regenerate after a fall is crucial, especially if you or a partner simply makes a mistake. Be careful when events and circumstances are not what you hoped or planned for. You might go to a place of apathy. If you remain in a toxic mind-set, you’ll wait and wait for things to get better before you move into action. The trouble is that things rarely get better until you propel yourself into a state of activity.

To be successful at partnering you must commit to functioning at a higher level. A level that will allow you to stretch your comfort zone and then commit to moving into action. Without these two issues in concert, you might not get started or restart when necessary.

Once you get back in the action, you can go after small wins to reestablish your confidence to take risks in pursuit of an even larger prize. The key is to not wait for all to be perfect before you commence. It’s okay to subscribe to the idea of: ready, shoot, aim. Do though; take the time to adjust your aim after you begin. Be like a commercial airline pilot and course correct regularly. Keep your future focus on the partnering journey. Keep it improving. Be decisive, and show the qualities of a leader in your industry. You will be rewarded.

Strategic Alliances for Innovation, Technology and Training

Daily, more organizations are looking toward partnering strategies to assist in global competitiveness. Business executives are realizing that their companies can no longer go it alone. Many are achieving business success and growth through methodical and strategic planning. Three important reasons for you to consider adopting the development of strategic alliances in your strategic plan are:

1. Increase in Technological Sophistication

2. Improvement in Training

3. Accelerate Your Innovation Process

Technological Sophistication

An exchange of technology to compliment your core strengths shores up your core weakness and improves production capabilities to better serve customers. An example of this type of alliance is the alliance of Kinko’s Service Corp. (copy centers) and Xerox Engineering Systems to establish a nationwide network for faxing large-format documents. This service was especially valuable to architects, contractors and advertising agencies before file transfer protocol became practical. Kinko’s gets a revenue boost and Xerox gets additional placement and unit sales.

Technical hotlines and on-site technical support are regularly available from suppliers with whom you’ve developed alliances. While much of this has been outsourced to India over the years, this type of alliance can overcome the cost benefit in outsourcing offshore.

To receive a technological contribution or possibly a technological edge in your industry like the alliance between IBM and Apple to develop a new computer operating system that allows both hardware formats to communicate, or like Nynex Corp. and Philips Electronics who joined to develop screen telephones for residential use.

Training

Learning curve commitment. Cost savings are passed along as experience is gained in producing a new product, and discounts are available on start-up products to encourage early sales.

Better sales and technical training for your employees is an important benefit in partnering with your suppliers. More manufacturers and distributors are developing training programs for dealers.

Guggenheim Dental, a dental supply distributor in Southern California is now regularly offering training programs for their top customers. Recently, at a seminar I delivered for the National Nutritional Foods Association, I suggested to the retailers that they only buy their nutritional supplements from suppliers that offer training DVDs. This is an added benefit in the seller/buyer relationship.

Innovation

The computer and electronics industries have profited greatly from alliance relationships. Innovation has become commonplace for firms that have chosen to work together. The University of Toronto’s Innovations Foundation signed an agreement with Northway Explorations Ltd. and Polyphalt, a private Ontario, Canada company, to deliver polymer-modified asphalt materials technology for longer lasting roads to the commercial market.

To differentiate oneself from the competition. Steelcase’s alliance with Peerless Lighting, located in Berkeley, California, offers state-of-the-art office lighting. The relationship has brought Steelcase an additional $15 to $35 million in annual furniture sales. Also, they received additional dollars from the light fixture billings.

A term that is appearing in some business publications, Open Innovation really means innovation through partnering. Open innovation refers to companies admitting they do not have all the answers and are now considering strategic alliances with other companies to access their proprietorial or intellectual properties to use in new ideas for their own company. While this is simply a new name for strategic alliance, the system has been proven successful for decades. Finally, more organizations are getting on-board with the idea.

Technological sophistication, training and innovation are three of many reasons that you will want to have strategic alliances in your future strategic plans.

How to Create Your Own Product 1 – Research and Outline

MODULE 1

CHAPTER 11

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN PRODUCT 1

– RESEARCH AND OUTLINE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

2.0 OBJECTIVES

3.0 MAIN CONTENT

3.1 Start with Information Product

3.2 The pros

  • The Leverages
  • Global Marketplace
  • Deploying the Power of Global Alliances
  • Better Kitted for Success on a Global Dimension
  • You Become a Highly Marketable Expert
  • Robust Resources for Premium Sales
  • Residual Income Extraordinaire
  • High Returns on Investment

3.3 The Cons

3.3.1 The Learning Curve

3.4 A Blissful Start

3.5 Remember, ‘Everything is a Remix’

3.6.0 How to Decide on the Kind of Product That You Want to Create

3.6.1 Meet Specific Need

  • Conduct a Survey of Your Audience
  • Scour the Internet for Blog Comments and Forums on Your Niche Market
  • Read Between the Lines
  • Showcase Your Expertise

3.7.0 Start with Your Most Convenient Method

  • Audio
  • eBook
  • Video

3.8 Product Forms

3.9.0 The Process

3.9.1 Do your market research

3.9.2 Sourcing for Marketable Information

  • Private resale rights
  • Interview experts
  • Compile popular questions and give answers
  • Permissible thefts
  • Record other people seminar and reuse
  • Set up webinars and teleseminars
  • Screen capture your skills using your computer
  • Adapt a successful eBook into another language

3.10.0 The Act and the Art of Creating Your Own Product

3.10.1 Write out your product outline

  • Write the eBook in Full
  • Turn it into PDF
  • Make Your eBook Beautiful

3.11 Write the Email Swipes

3.12 Create and Set up the Sales letter

4.0 CONCLUSION

5.0 SUMMARY

6.0 ASSIGNMENT

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Creating your own product for sale to your market is by far, a better idea, but it has some pros and cons.

2.0 OBJECTIVES

  • To give details procedures involve in creating an information products
  • To provide resourceful links to make this possible
  • To encourage learners to use this ecourse to plan and create their first information product

3.0 MAIN COURSE

When you are about to start an Internet Marketing business, two things will readily come to your mind.

The two things are:

  • are you going to sell your own products, and render services directly from your own self hosted website
  • or sell someone else product and services?

In other words, what are you going to sell to your customers?

3.1 Start with Information Product

Let me assume that your answer is that you want to sell your own information products. You may not want to start with a service like web hosting or website design service as you may not be a Technical person (AKA a Techie).

Hopefully, you will get to that point someday, if that is what you want. But for now it is a good flay of wisdom to offer an information product for obvious reasons – it is an easier, faster and highly profitable approach to online business.

Creating your own product for sale to your market is by far, a better idea, but it has some pros and cons:

3.2.0 The pros

  • The Leverages

Internet offers the greatest leverages now for any business than had ever existed in Industrial History till date.

If you have not done so before now, please hurry, find and read the book ‘Retire Young, Retire Rich’ by Robert Kiyosaki, and you will understand the above statement more.

This simply means more leverages, more profits at shorter period for your business.

  • Global Marketplace

Having even one digital product to sell to the whole world is abundantly more than enough to pull you out of the woods – i.e. if you know what to do.

Infact, it is knowing the process that really matter in this business, and that is what you should pay rapt attention to learn in these your formative years in this business.

After that, the rest is history, and it is you that is going to create or rather, recreate that your life history.

  • Deploying the Power of Global Alliances

By way of Affiliates who offer their lists and expertise to serve you in marketing your product(s) for free.

  • Better Kitted for Success on a Global Dimension

Talking about the skills and experience you gain in the process, you are among the best, on a global scale, not just a local champion and not just for a while but for expended period of any foreseeable future. Can you beat that?

  • You Become a Highly Marketable Expert

You can now build more and more products faster after the initial experience. Your can do this for yourself and others if you wish to.

  • Robust Resources for Premium Sales

Your initial product can easily be turn into other forms for sales at higher prices – Audio, eBook, Membership site, etc.

  • Residual Income Extraordinaire

You just create it once and sell over and over again, with few and rare revisions when necessary to keep up with technological development in the marketplace.

  • High returns on investment

Such that is never heard of in any other industry. Most of the time, when done, correctly, it usually brings in on a consistent basis, over 100% returns on investment (ROI).

There are so many other advantages to be enjoyed by a digital product owner, but let us just break here so that we can focus on other related issues.

3.3.0 The cons

3.3.1 The Learning Curve

This will cost you a bit more in terms of time and money.

But, it is doable.

3.4 A Blissful Start

If you are a professional or you have a high in demand skill set, you can easily start by selling some useful advice on that online.

For instance, you may be a Tailor, Seamstress, Organist, Teacher, Nurse, Doctor, Engineer, Accountant, etc. Do market research on the aspects of your profession that people are searching for more information with the tools that we discussed in chapters 2 and 3 of this ecourse.

Use those results of your market research to build your own product as we shall discuss in this and subsequent chapter.

A teacher may for instance decide to own a website and teach the whole instead of just his classroom members. Look in the direction of any of the following courses which are already in high demand globally:

beauty tips,

language lessons – French, German, Russian, Chinese and even English.

Remember, our world has become a global village, there is therefore a very high demand for these lessons worldwide.

A Nurse can teach Health with special bias on Natural Remedies. Most ailments that have become anathema in Western (Orthodox) medicine have been resolved with the help of these natural remedies. Thus, information on natural cures for cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc. are selling like hot cake online now.

We have noted somewhere that as far as information marketing is concerned, the big three areas are Health and Beauty, Love and Relationship, and How to Make Money.

But this does not mean that information are not selling in other areas, or that people are not making a living online selling other products outside the big three. For instance, an Engineer may resort to Technical Writing. People who are not even Engineers are doing well in technical writing.

In your own country, what is the current challenges that people have? Remember your information product is not meant to be all about you, but to help people who buy them to solve their immediate problems.

Some people in your country want to travel abroad, learn baking, get overseas education, do rice farming, do importation, export cassava and garlic, learn computer programming, web design, SEO, decoration, etc., etc.

Please note that to minimize delay and confusion of what product to sell, you must first of all decide if you want to start selling at the local or foreign market.

There are a whole world of differences in both marketplaces.

Again, you don’t have to be an expert.

Just find out what people want and assemble information that satisfies that specific want and give it to them at a profit.

3.5 Remember, ‘Everything is a Remix’

Google for ‘Everything is a Remix on Vimeo’ and watch the online video.

Also remember what Steve Jobs said:

‘Good Artists Copy, Great Artist Steal. We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas’ – Steve Jobs, 1994.

This boils down to: creativity + innovation(s) = invention(s).

Again, let’s look at it this way, the basis of modern day information and communication industry started with the invention of:

Telephone, then,

Radio, then,

Telegram (telegraph), then,

Black and white television, then,

Coloured television, then,

Satellite television, then,

Mobile telephone, then,

Mobile satellite television (in mobile phones and PCs), then,

Mobile private and public satellite Video (TV) Channel e.g. YouTube

Mobile private and public satellite Radio Channel (in mobile phones and PCs), then,

And so on and so forth… more abound that I have not mentioned here, and many more are yet to come.

I am not about the order of which one came first, I am leaving that to the students of history and philosophy of science, but my concerns are:

the connectivity of the basic idea* + the main new idea**,

the creativity,

the innovation and

the ‘invention mix’ (as in the ‘market mix’).

And, it all started with GRAHAM BELL’s telephone.

In fact, if you scour the internet, you will discover that, it was not Graham Bell that originally invented the telephone, but the court, US and history at large just credited it to his name because of the wise and skilful innovations he added to the original patent that made it commercially viable till date!

(* the basic idea or the general idea here refers to communication by the old, usual and the natural means.

** while the main new idea here refers to communication by the new means i.e. the newly discovered or to be discovered means, in the case of telephone – communication by means of electrical wires).

That is what I referred to as ‘stealing wisely’ in chapter 9 of this course:

In our days – the 21st century, you don’t even need to steal, just ask the experts for a sample or complimentary copy and they will happily oblique.

So don’t be afraid to give an old information a new dress, shape or form. It could turn out to be very useful to you or at least to the rest of the people out there.

No, just go and take a long-drawn-look at the marketplaces, the categories, the niches and the sub niches and you will discover profitable niches to play along.

Sites like Nairaland, Hot Spot, ClickBank or JVZoo are good places to begin.

3.6.0 How to Decide on the Kind of Product That You Want to Create

Please note well what I want to say now.

It is what makes the difference between a successful business and a struggling one. It also applies to offline business, not just internet marketing only.

Do not sell what people are not looking for. Find out what they are looking for to use and solve their problems and fetch out or create the information product(s) for them and they will happily and repeatedly hand over their money to you in exchange for the solution to their problem.

Another way to say this is:

People generally want to buy solution to their problems. They have a pain they want to relieve, they have a sore or painful area in their live that they want to resolve as soon as possible or they have a level of pleasure that they want to enjoy. That is the reason they go online to seek for solutions.

Thus, your product must be a solution to their sore or painful areas of their lives, or it must provide the pleasure they need. It must relieve a specific pain(s) or give them a specific pleasure(s) they were looking for.

That and that alone is what will make them match down your website in droves in search for your product. So far as it resolve the pains or provide the needed pleasure, they will happily and repeatedly pay you for it.

But, there is still another way of saying this: ‘in online business, first, find out what people want to buy, then, find (or create) the product and sell to them at a profit’.

In practice, this applies in reverse order to offline business: where people first, find or create the product before they set out to find a market to sell to.

Thus, this small difference is what makes online business a highly profitable venture compared to offline counterparts.

By the time you finish the process of getting your information product, the market is ready, willing and even very hungry to buy it from you.

3.6.1 Meet Specific Need

You Can Be Sure Your Product Will Meet Specific Need and bring in high returns by doing the following things:

  • Conduct a Survey of Your Audience

This is possible if you have an existing Blog or Email list. If not, do not worry, there are many other ways to do this as we shall see next.

On your blog comment or email feedback, ask them the type of product that they will like to have, the format and the topics they will like treated. Find time to interact with your blog readers or members of your list. It can be very rewarding.

  • Scour the Internet for Blog Comments and Forums on Your Niche Market

Many people go online to talk about their problems and their cares. If there are many people talking about a certain issue in a forum or blog, this means that products that resolve such matter will sell well. Some blogs and forum require signed membership for this very reason, so do not be afraid to sign up. Do not ignore the social media in the process: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google Hangout, etc.

  • Read Between the Lines

This an advanced tactics. If you are already selling affiliate products online successfully, then watch out the type of products that people buys regularly and create similar product of your own in the market. It will sell like wildfire.

Remember, everything is a remix!

Not only in this business but in all aspects of life, everything is a remix.

You can also observe your blog for the most widely read articles and then create related products for sale. Then just add your links to those popular products and you are good to go.

  • Showcase Your Expertise

I have already talked on this in the previous paragraphs. As a professional, if you have a high-in-demand expertise (e.g. a beautician, physiotherapist, naturalist, etc.), then you can do market research to find out how people like you are selling theirs online and follow suit.

To avoid creating a product that will not make you money for your effort and investment follow these step one by one and will you find among them one, two or more that you can follow through based on your level of experience.

Please go back and follow the above steps one after the other to arrive at a marketable and profitable product(s).

3.7.0 Start with Your Most Convenient Method

  • Audio – you can just read out or dictate or talk what you intend to write in a standby microphone in a silent environment where there is no background noise. At the end what you have is an Audio product that you can sell anywhere around the globe.

Audacity is one of the best tools for doing this, Google for: audacityteam.

  • eBook – later, copying out the content of your audio product into a computer software like the Microsoft word (Open Office, it’s a FREE software, just browse and get it on the net) will create an eBook for you.

To sell it online all you need is to turn it into a Portable Document File (PDF) and it becomes a scalable product. More on this in a while.

  • Video – in most part of the world, people who wax music for the first time usually start with an audio CD and later a Video CD and progress to other formats including FLAC, MP3, WMA, WAV, etc. or vice versa.

Did you ever ask, why?

Convenience, cost and preferences.

Camtasia Studio is one of the best and industry standard nowadays for online video. But you can even start with your smart phone and upload the videos onto YouTube and it will be acceptable while you are making money to acquire expensive camera or learning how to use online software like Camtasia.

3.8 Other Product Forms

In the final analysis, your product must take so many forms so that you can sell it in so many markets in response to the market preferences.

Such forms include:

Audio training

Video series

Questions and answers

Membership Site with new contents added monthly

eBooks

Coaching supported by telephone calls,

Emails,

Skype,

Webinar,

Short reports,

Assignments,

Templates,

Continuity programs – weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly, bimonthly, etc.

Workbooks,

Swipe files, and so on and so forth.

Suppose you want to start by creating your own digital product now, how do you start?

3.9.0 The Process

Below is an example of steps to follow in your information product creation process:

3.9.1 Do your market research

Google Keyword Planner, Market Samurai, and Longtail Pro, Nichebot are the best tools in the market for this task. I have already discussed in one of this course how to use at least one of them. You can Google for others.

3.9.2 Sourcing for Marketable Information

To make product creation a lot easier for most green horns and even topflight experienced business executives, there are ethical ways that you can source for information to make your new products.

Such ways include but not limited to:

  • Private resale rights

Just type that into your browser and you will find multiple sites to choose from. Usually you buy and rewrite them as your own product and add your own angle to the product. Remember this product is sold to many people and not only you, so endeavor to polish it to make it unique. If you are using free products for this, always endeavor to check out the rights, to avoid legal issues in the future.

  • Interview experts

Find out experts in your field and interview them. You can then use transcription services at Fiverr, Upwork, etc. to write them out in any form that you want.

  • Compile popular questions and give answers

You can do this by yourself even as a newbie in your market niche. You can also use freelancers at: Peopleperhour, 99designs, Craiglist, Toptal, etc.

  • Permissible thefts

Go to EzineArticles.com and browse for your popular categories. Download about 50 articles in your chosen niche topic and compile them into an eBook. You can cite them in bits and pieces and spice the book up with some Vimeo or YouTube videos.

This is legal so far as you keep the authors’ resource boxes intact. Remember to insert link to your site as you introduce the subject matter, turn it into PDF and sell.

  • Record other people seminar and reuse

You can help a friend record his seminar on the agreement that you will use it also to promote your own products. Your phone or your camera can do the job cheap for you, no need for a professional cameraman.

  • Set up webinars and teleseminars

You need some experience and confidence to do this, albeit it is not a hard thing. You can skip this till when you have enough money to hire expert to help you in the process. There are free and paid services to choose from.

The free ones are: Google hangout, zoom, bigbluebutton, join.me, meetingburner, mikogo, zohomeeting, webhurdle.

Anymeeting and gotomeeting are paid service, but they also have free trials for new clients.

  • Screen capture your skills using your computer

If you want to teach your skills to online audience, this is the preferred approach.

There is a free tool you can use for this: screencast-o-matic

  • Adapt a successful eBook into another language

China is a global destination now for global trade. Find a book, obtain the right and adapt it into Chinese and it will sell like hot cake. You can also do this with other books and other languages.

This is called Transcription service.

3.10.0 The Act and the Art of Creating Your Own Product

3.10.1 Write out your product outline

Start with major topics that you would discuss in your eBook, then write out the bullet points under each topic. As you fill in simple explanations in between the major topics will later become the chapters, while the bullet points will become the sections and sub sections of the book.

3.10.2 Write the eBook in Full

After the initial rough or manuscript as some may like to call it, go through the product again with the aim of crossing the tees and dotting the ais. Also read the whole plot with the aim of ensuring Mechanical Accuracy and some Congruence in the points presented.

Some people may differ on this by saying that you should not aim at perfection, there is actually no prefect product in the market as the Internet world is always changing in a very fast rate.

But I am not advocating perfection here, but wish to clarify the fact that there is always a growing competition in the marketplace and most victims are poorly and unduly hurried products.

If you found it more convenience to start with the Audio format, you can also use this software to get both Audio and eBook copies delivered to you online at the same time at:

dragon speech recognition software

3.10.3 Turn it into PDF

From your Microsoft word (Microsoft Open Office), you can easily convert your eBook into a PDF format. PDF is a globally available software that is usable in all types of computers.

This is advisable to do as you will be sending your eBook to different people in different parts of the world. Different people in different environments are orientated to different software, so it is good to have your eBook in a generally acceptable format that satisfies these global markets.

Henceforth, think and see your business as a global venture.

3.10.4 Make Your eBook Beautiful

It is more than a common sense to note here that if you add an attractive eBook cover to your product, you will attract more sales than if you just sold it as an ordinary PDF.

Period.

If you don’t know how to do this yourself, employ the services of experts online at ebookbaby, myecovermaker or even at Fiverr.

3.11 Write the Email Swipes

Email swipes will form part of your marketing materials.

See yourself now as a Vendor in one or more of the Affiliate Program sites like ClickBank or Affiliate network like Commission Junction.

Email swipes are follow up emails that you and your Affiliates will be using to follow up your prospects. It is known that most people won’t buy from you until you have been in touch with them for about seven times. Go ahead and write them now.

3.12 Create and Set up the Sales letter

A Sales Letter is your secret sales machine and the untiring Salesman.

This is going to be the page that you are going to show to your prospects who sign-up in response to your ads. It gives in details the benefits of your product, why he should buy now, how much he should pay into which account.

Ensure that your sales letter is professionally written. A good blend of text and graphics is recommended.

But if you are scared, you can get a virtual assistant at Fiverr to handle this on your behalf.

3.13 Set up Everything and Get Ready For Sales

By now you must have set-up a self-hosted website for this product. There are FREE and reliable software as well as paid once for this depending on your budget.

Just upload everything – the email swipes, sales letter, all the graphics and relevant files onto the website.

Remember to test-run everything by yourself, as well as asking your friends or mentors to also help you test-run, before you begin to advertise your business to the public.

3.14 The Profits are in the Links

I want to end this chapter by emphasizing the fact that we are living in the LINK ECONOMY. In other words, the profits of this business flows through the links.

This means check all your links to ensure that they all work fine. Use affiliate link where appropriate, confirm your right to use free products sourced online to avoid legal issues; and most of all be sure the download link of your own product is working as intended.

That’s the deal.

4.0 CONCLUSION

I just notice that I have gone so far, many pages, many sections and sub sections.

This is because, when you have your own product that is where the Internet Riches that you have been hearing of, actually comes from.

5.0 SUMMARY

I covered step by step details on how to create your own profitable product for the marketplace. But there are still other details that I have left out for the next chapter.

6.0 ASSIGNMENT

Go over this chapter again and again to get a good grasp of the process as I will be dealing with another aspect of this fast-tract riches in the next chapter.