How To Develop An Info-Product

There are many discussions lately on how you could develop a product or rather how to develop an info-product. Info-products are these particular intangible products comprise of bits-and-bites as are the e-books, courses, seminars, webinars, applications, etc. The development procedure is not difficult but it needs some caution at first!

How To Develop An Info-Product

Developing products usually associated with new financial business models, startups, new age, digital-based companies, new economic tools (like crowdfunding, etc.), but is not just that. Usually, the new trend in products is the development of small pilot implementation (MVPs) or the development of startups which can further exploit the original idea in financial terms.

And all that have related to the rise of YouEconomy or YouPreneurship.

You Do Not Need Anyone’s Permission

The YouEconomy or the YouPreneurship are both manifestations of the same simple principle. In the digital economy, you are not just consumer, as in previous times, but you are a producer as well. With a PC and an internet connection, you can provide services and products from everywhere in the globe to anyone interested for that.

We are living the rise of a new era where you are able to adjust your job to your lifestyle (including the work you want to do, the place you want to live and/or work, the time you want to consume for money gathering activities, the ways you employ to gain money, etc.), instead of the opposite.

You do note need anyone’s permission to do that. You just need the knowledge/skills for engaging in such ventures, commitment to the final results and a different mindset, stating that you are the entrepreneur now and you are responsible for the gains as for the spoils.

One way to do that is to capitalize on your knowledge and exploit your skills/competencies are in demand in today’s market. To do so, you can:

  • hire your talent and time in the service of someone else (like assuming writing/copywriting tasks, graphics development projects, IT or application development projects, etc.), or/and
  • rent your capabilities to someone else (employing consulting or coaching schemes, project management, outsourced services, etc.), or/and
  • providing a vast amount of value by packaging required portions of knowledge, skills, expertise, etc. into info-products or digital products (like digital services, whitepapers, e-Books, courses, webinars, etc.)

To employ such activities you need to start thinking in duality: as a consumer and as a producer, and this is the problem most of the time.

But fortunately enough, the procedure for the development of info-products is not so difficult. You need just to decide to change your mindset, to start with what you have, to get the required feedback and gradually improve the product or service you offer in the market.

Conceptualize The Situation

Usually before start developing anything you need to focus on a specific situation you want to enhance/improve or on a problem you know many people dealing with today. Ideas can come from many directions, but that it does not mean that you can implement them or use them as a base for a product.

To do something like this you need to have domain or subject expertise of the situation you try to solve or enhance, the necessary skills/knowledge that can help you face the situation in an efficient way and of course the knowledge (or certainty) tat there are people willing to pay the cost for such a product/service.

Usually, you start employing 2 most common ways of action:

  1. Identify the problem because it affects you, check what other people say, gather intelligence, pinpoint some solutions, etc. or
  2. Start out of the blue to develop something does not exist, come up with some new ideas, brainstorming some more, check related forums, discussions, in order to verify your idea for a product, launch some ideas in public, get back some results, re-published until you find interest, etc.

In any case, the point is to conceptualize the situation you want to develop a product/service for in a coherent way and based on an entrepreneurship approach.

Assume The Initiative (And Accountability Of Its Results)

If you find your core premises (the problem your product tries to solve or the value can bring to the lives of people) and you are ready for the next step, you need to take the initiative to solve THIS particular problem via the launch of a new info-product or service.

It needs commitment and dedication because if you decide to launch a new product for solving this or that problem (or remedy this or that pain of people) you need to invest time and energy to its realization.

But before that, you need to decide on your why.

Find Your Why

Why do you need to assume the responsibility to develop a new product and with such vehicle bring more value to the people?

Is it because you need to provide more value, gain more money, develop a work portfolio, you are creative and that what you are doing, etc.

Your why will cover other necessary parameters you need to clarify upon. Like to find out if you are the right person to solve this particular problem, or how you should do it.

It is about motivation and keeps on focusing on the info-product’s accomplishment. Furthermore, before pitch your product idea to someone else, you need to convince yourself of its validity and its necessity.

Your prime reason, your why is what will bring incentive on the table, build the necessary motivation and fuel your activities towards the product completion.

Because, in order to move one, you will need to set your goals (and start assembly your GOAL) in relation to this particular product.

Set Clear & SMART Goals

This is a crucial step in relation to your product development because without clear, SMART – driven goals you wouldn’t have any way to measure your success.

As far as the info-product concerns you should set your goals with clarity and what you expect to gain (at any level). Your goals should be:

  • Specific: You should define explicitly what your product would be, what service(s) will offer, who is going to use it, how, what more value your product will provide, etc. The “I will be a millionaire before the age of 30” is a description specific enough (even not so realistic as a goal for most of the people) but not so specific as the statement “I will develop and operate a website for dog training, offering subscription services for specific information, views, and insights related to proper dog training
  • Measurable: You should select some specific measurement(s) to help you find out how close or far you are from your goal. Here you set a reprehensive quantitate measurement of your goal(s) (I want to gather $10,000 from this/that activity) and specific metrics/indexes to help you evaluate your present status and how far you are from you selected goal. Such indexes may be the sales, the traffic of your site, the number of comments on a site, the total amount earned by the sales of the product, etc.
  • Assignable: As an entrepreneur, you are accountable for the specific product and its results. But, many times, you are not the only person in the development process. Your goal should involve all the person that will be responsible for particular tasks in the products’ development.
  • Realistic: Your goals about the specific product should be realistic in relation to your abilities, the market situation and the market you operate in. For instance, the goal “I will get the 40% of the world market of frozen products, 6 months after my launch” is not a realistic one.
  • Time-related: Every goal should be time restricted, otherwise in not a goal at all. The goal stating that “I will release the 1st release of my application in the next 3 months” is a valid one. A goal without time boundaries is a constant noise and blur your focus on what’s important.

It is important for product’s creation to have considering all these dimensions of SMART goals, in order to be sure you have a winning possibility to reach your product’s launch.

Verify Your Product Idea

Once you set up your goals, you need to verify your original ideas and the core solutions you are providing with your product.

“Life’s too short to build something nobody wants.” Ash Maurya

This is usually meant to get out of your lab/office/home/comfort zone and speak with other people, trying to find out if they interested in a product as that.

This is a complex process, taking some time because you should set up a strategy and a way to documenting your contacts and the results you have received.

It involves cold e-mailing, posts & comments in relating forums and discussions groups, the setup of pre-launch surveys and questionnaires, etc. In this phase, you use any trick in the book to get back some feedback if your idea has any purpose at all, or if it will serve some people later on.

This is also the phase, most people, usually, drop their idea if they do not see the feedback they expected to. And this is a normal reaction. But, entrepreneurship, usually have nothing to do with just rational decisions.

So here is your chance to “drop” your commitment to building a specific product (and have a great excuse about that) in favor of a more “profitable” option.

In any case, if the feedback is bad, you should try to find alternative ideas to input again for feedback or abandon completely your product idea.

But if the feedback is good, you should start focusing on developing a proof of concept or in our case, an MVP (or a Minimum Viable Product).

Develop Your Product

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is:

a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development (Wikipedia: Minimum viable product)

The same principle is to apply to the info-product development as well (if not more).

To start developing your product, after you have validated your original idea, you need to take some vital decisions. Among them included decisions as the following ones:

  1. You can do it alone, or you going to need more assistance/expertise/resources/infrastructure, etc.
  2. You need to invest on something you going to need during the development process (i.e. new knowledge, software, skill development, books, etc.) or not. Perhaps you should consult books as the “The Lean Product Playbook“, the “Agile Product Management” or the “Launch” to help you decide on the implementation process and the launch phase
  3. What is the time you intend to commit to your product development
  4. What methodology you should use for its implementation
  5. Have you pitch your idea to a 3rd person or not
  6. Would you implement a pre-sales face or not
  7. Would you employ outsourcing services, you would gather a remote or local team, or you will do it alone
  8. Would you employ a pilot implementation vs. a full implementation of the product or you going to pursue a gradual implementation which would rapid release to interested parties in order to gain more feedback, etc.

Marketing/Selling The Product

Before you complete the development phase, you should also start, in parallel, the marketing operations that are able to promote the product you are developing. You should be able to verify your niche market in order to launch your product at the right audience.

This phase, of course, depends on the decision you have already made and the models you have used to develop some educated hypotheses for your product and guided your product development.

In this phase, you should promote your info-product and publicize it in order to gain the necessary visibility in the public’s consciousness.

Typically this phase starts almost at the same time as the verification phase of your product with the launch of small targeted announcements.messages in specialized placed (forums, specialized sites, discussion groups, guest posting, webinars, etc.) and the traction of as many interested people at your product.

The marketing phase is the one which will lead to your sales process even before your product is ready and will bring the necessary feedback to enhance your product and fix the problems or weaknesses might have. That’s why you need to employ it as soon as possible to your product development circle and

It is essential to acquire a personalized relationship with some selected interested parties that might use them as an early adopter, as multipliers for your products and for gaining greater visibility before the official launch.

To this end, you can utilize every relationship you can master and start to cultivate meaningful relationships with the influencers in your niche market.

Evaluate The Results

The end phase of this process (and the start of a new circle for the product’s enhancements or modifications) is the feedback you have collected during previous phases and the evaluation of the results you have received.

These are the 2 pillars for the redesign some parts, alter other, omit some more and continuing the implementation of the product in the new base developed by the customer’s feedback.

Questions: How do you develop info-products? You can leave your comments or your questions, by clicking here.

    Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.