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May 19, 2009

To Sell Information Products Online, You Must Give Information Away

If you want to sell “info products” online and make a significant income, you need to give away free information. Don’t misunderstand “give away”. All human interactions are built on exchanges. “To give away information” means to exchange it for something other than money. You exchange the information for a relationship that allows you to keep in touch with your prospects and customers. It’s a common relationship marketing strategy.

The way it works is this: a large income comes from repeat sales. Repeat sales come from relationships. On the web, relationships come from email lists and positive interactions with the people on the lists. Email lists and positive interactions come from giving away information.

You need to have a relationship to somebody to sell to him or her. You have to establish a relationship of trust. Once you have enticed somebody to your web site, you can establish at least a brief relationship on your “pitch page” by telling your story, being honest about some shortcomings of your product, and including many endorsements from satisfied customers.

But consider: you gone through all the trouble to entice people to your page, and you gone through a lot of effort to make them feel confident in you. Suppose they don’t buy the product immediately, which is typically the case. You have expended all that effort for nothing. Remember, you need half a dozen or a dozen interactions with most people before they are willing to buy. And even suppose they buy your product. If they just go away, you have lost all the good work you put into establishing a relationship in the first place. You don’t have a chance to interest them in related products.

It’s always easiest to sell to people you’ve sold to before and who liked what they bought from you. It’s easy to sell to people who know you and are comfortable with you, even if they haven’t purchased anything yet.

Although you can make some money from selling single items to people, it is clearly advantageous to build relationships so people will keep coming back to buy more.

Since you must be in touch with your customers and prospective customers repeatedly, you need an email list.

You want to get prospective customers’ email addresses, but what possible reason do they have for giving them to you? To get prospective customers on your email list, you have to give them something that they want. You can entice them to your squeeze page — the page on which you ask for their email — by offering them information that would help them solve a problem or fulfill a desire. They give you their first name and email, and you email them the information that you promised.

You must keep emailing them to maintain the relationship, but you can’t email them hard core sales pitches. A sales pitch is not a relationship. Indeed, spam emails are sales pitches outside of relationships.

So if you must contact them repeatedly, what do you send them? The only way you’re going to sell any products is if those products solve problems or fulfill desires. The only reason they got on your mailing list in the first place is that you offered them something to help them with the problem or desire. That’s the only thing you know that they’re interested in. So obviously you should send them more suggestions on how to solve the problems and fulfill their desires. To be a commercial success, you must balance giving them useful information against not giving them all the benefits that they will gain from your products.

So both to get an email list and to maintain positive interactions with the people on the list, you must give away information. Giving away information leads to relationships, relationships lead to repeat sales, and repeat sales lead to significant income online.

A growing collection of ecourses and ebooks showing speakers, writers, and self-employed professionals how to “monetize” the web is available at the Online Money-making Opportunity web site. The collection is being gathered, and partially written, by Dr. Christopher, a Colorado public speaker and seminar leader.