Webinar Basics and Beyond

A webinar is a powerful tool for business owners.  However, starting your research on a sales page for a webinar platform is a sure-fire way to end up shelling out money for more features than you need.  Not to mention, it is both time-consuming and confusing to review options and decide which one is the best fit.

Before you dive in and start exploring webinar platforms, it is essential that you understand a few webinar basics.  This article will give you an overview of webinar technology, compare promotional versus paid webinars and review essential elements needed to conduct a successful webinar.

Be sure to grab my free webinar checklist!  It contains questions to answer before beginning your webinar planning and a list of features to help you determine which platform will best meet your needs.

 

What is a webinar?

A webinar is synonymous with the term, web-based seminar.  Traditionally, seminars and presentations were given to a live audience, however the internet created the opportunity for speakers and audiences to be in different locations.  A webinar uses a technology platform that allows audience members to join and view the presentation and speaker from a different location.

Webinars have gained popularity and the technology used to connect the speaker and audience now have an incredible array of features. These include a host of tools for audience engagement such as conducting polls and administering quizzes, to full-featured sales tools that allow for special product offers to be purchased during the webinar event.  It can be dizzying to review the options for webinar technology.   Making sense of these features and how to use them is no simple task.

To better understand the features and select a platform suited to your needs, it is important to first explore the two main types of webinars, promotional and paid.

 

Types of Webinars

Promotional Webinars

A promotional webinar is a marketing tactic that attracts an audience with information from a knowledgeable expert.  These are usually offered free and may be marketed as a masterclass, workshop or mini training.

A hallmark of a promotional webinar is a sales pitch at some point during the webinar.  The presenter will offer paid products or services related to the webinar content.  Often there is a special bonus offered only to webinar participants and is often time-sensitive.

An essential element of a high quality, promotional webinar is providing attendees with high value information.  Attendees’ time is valuable and if they don’t feel that your webinar provided a great deal of value, it is unlikely they will decide to purchase paid products or services from you.  While the “sales pitch” element can feel intimidating, making it clear for those that want to work with you further or purchase a resource with more detailed information, is a must for a promotional webinar.

 

Paid Webinars

A paid webinar differs greatly from a promotional webinar.  The purpose of the webinar is to deliver information or training on a topic.  You might be familiar with educational webinars offered by professional organizations.  Typically, you must be a paid member or pay a registration fee to attend the webinar.

A paid webinar requires that you consider how you will collect payment in advance of the webinar and provide access only to paid attendees.   Typically for paid webinars, attendees expect to be provided with access to a recorded version of the webinar after the event.

 

Webinar Essentials

Registration

Whether your webinar is paid or promotional, you need a way for to people to register or sign-up for your event.

For a promotional webinar, because payment isn’t typically involved, this can be as simple as a landing page or a dedicated page on your website.  After providing required details including email address, the registered attendee should receive a confirmation email.

Most email service providers such as Mailchimp and MailerLite allow you to create free landing pages.  The landing page has a specific URL and can be linked from blog or social media posts/profiles.  If you opt for a paid webinar platform such as Zoom Webinars or WebinarJam, tools to support registration are provided as part of the fee paid.

For paid webinars, tools such as Eventbrite allow you to setup a paid event.  It is also common to use a shopping cart tool such as WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads to set up and sell registration to a webinar.  For connecting various applications such as a payment gateway and email service provider, Zapier is a popular and powerful tool.  If you plan to offer paid webinars, it is essential to carefully plan out how you will collect payment and provide access to paid attendees.

 

Communication with Registered Attendees

Email is the most common way to connect with registered attendees.  Some webinar platforms allow you to text message or use tools such as Facebook messenger.

Leading up to the event, it is essential to remind attendees about the event and in the case of promotional webinars, provide motivation for them to attend.  This might be providing details about what they will learn or how the information will help to solve a specific problem.

A typical email sequence for a webinar is a message 4-7 days before, the day of, and 30 minutes before the event starts.  Be sure to provide clear details on how to access the webinar and provide a link to the web-based meeting event.  Confusion about how to access the webinar will certainly create dissatisfaction.

Communication after the event is equally important.  A webinar is a great opportunity to establish authority on a topic and drive traffic to products or your blog/website.  Have a plan to send a sequence of emails to attendees after the event.

 

Web/internet-based Meeting Tool

A webinar can be conducted with a number of technology tools.  Some are inexpensive such as Google Hangouts on Air, a Facebook or YouTube event.  Full-featured options include GoToWebinar, Zoom Webinar and WebinarJam.  The essential component needed is a web-based, group meeting.  Attendees are provided a hyperlink and join the web-based meeting via the link. As the presenter, you have control over the audio and screen during the event.

 

Advanced Webinar Features

Many webinar platforms offer advanced features.  The most common include audience engagement, integration with tools to help follow-up on customers (leads) and evergreen or simulated webinars.

Audience engagement includes features such as polls or quizzes.  This allows for attendees to stay engaged in the presentation and to gather important information about your customers.   While audience engagement is a valuable tool, it is often necessary to have a virtual assistant or support person available during a webinar when including polls or quizzes.

Analytics and advanced reports allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of your webinar and target follow-up to attendees.  Details such as whether a customer that registered attended the webinar, how long they watched and even if they had the webinar as “front screen” can be tracked.  With this detail, you can send specific follow-up messages to customers that did not attend or left before you made your product pitch.  Tools like GoToWebinar and Zoom Webinar offer advanced reporting.

An innovative webinar approach is the use of evergreen or simulated webinars.  These webinars are pre-recorded but have the look and feel of a live event to the attendees.  Tools like StealthSeminar and EverWebinar allow you to create an on-demand or pre-scheduled webinar.  These are advanced webinar techniques, but something to consider once you have a high performing webinar.

 

Summary

While there are some essential elements that you must consider when conducting a webinar, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task.  First and foremost, you must decide on the purpose of your webinar and what your goals are for the event.  This allows you to focus on the essential technology elements and map out a registration and communication process to support your goals.

It may make sense to opt for a more expensive paid option if the features support your goals, but you may find that your needs are met by a lower cost option such as an unlisted YouTube live event.   What can be guaranteed is that once you conduct your webinar, you will have a list of things you want to improve and change for the next one!

Be sure to grab my free webinar checklist!

It contains questions to answer BEFORE beginning your webinar planning and a list of features to help you determine which platform will best meet your needs.

Add To Wish List

 

pricing digital products

Pricing Digital Products

Pricing digital products may be one of the most difficult steps in the process of selling online.  You are worried about selecting a price that is too high and might scare away buyers, but also don’t want to underestimate your worth.  How do you find that sweet spot?  Is there really a perfect price point for your product?

Since launching RD2RD, one of the most common questions besides “what can I sell?” is how to price digital products.  This is not a question with a simple answer.  Digital products are quite different from physical products and the pricing strategy looks very different as well.

Traditional Approach – Pricing Digital Products

A traditional pricing approach looks at the inputs to produce the product and then applies a mark-up.  This might look at the time and materials to produce a physical item and then adding a mark-up or multiplier.  While this approach may make sense for a piece of clothing or even a menu item at a restaurant, it doesn’t fit the bill for digital products.  This article gives a great overview of the traditional pricing approach. For digital products, you need to look beyond the cost of the input and focus on the value of your product to your customers.

Value-Based Approach – Pricing Digital Products

With the value-based pricing approach, you start not by considering the cost of time and materials, but instead focus on pinpointing the value of the solution your product offers.  This approach is rooted in the concept that customers are purchasing a solution, or something that makes their life better.

In the case of a product targeted for business not personal use, the value is often framed in business growth, increased brand recognition or revenue.  Whether your product is targeted at consumers or business owners, the key for value-based pricing is an intimate understanding of your target purchaser and the exact pain points that your product solves.

Case Studies from RD2RD Product Listings

Here are three examples of successful products on RD2RD and a closer look at how they build value with a well-written description.

  1. The Grocery Store Tour Toolkit

This product’s product description quickly identifies the target customer and offers a “promise” or solution.

Offering a grocery store tour is a business-building opportunity, but is time consuming to organize and prepare.  This description clearly identifies the pain points of time and feeling disorganized.  A solution to these problems is the value.  After establishing the problems solved, the seller builds additional value by listing product features and the contents of the toolkit.  The customer isn’t left wondering “exactly what will I get if I purchase this product?”

Imagine if the product description was just 1 or 2 sentences about what a grocery store tour is or simply a list of the product contents.  This product description establishes value by clearly offering a solution and then using specific product features to support the “promise” and justify the price.

  1. Financial Agreement Policy

This is a policy template for private practice dietitians.   One of the challenges of a new practice owner is getting essential business documents established.

The product description echoes frustrations private practice dietitians have with getting paid for their services.  These pain points are likely reasons the customer is seeking to implement a payment policy for their practice.  It builds value by describing the cost of not having a policy in place both in time and frustration.

The seller clearly lists what essential elements are included in the template.  The buyer knows what is being purchased and the description also highlights that it is in an editable document format.  The list of elements would be less value-building if the seller hadn’t first set the stage by describing the pain points and positioning her product as a solution.

  1. Webinar & Workbook: How to Practice the Anti-Diet Approach to Dietetics.

This product is a combination of both a webinar recording and a workbook.  It makes a strong promise in the first paragraph which will resonate strongly with customers – “A how-to guide for any RD or RD2Be looking to adopt this approach to their nutrition career.”

It is important that you make it clear who your product is for.  This description does an excellent job of this and has been rewarded with numerous sales.  The value of the included 15-page workbook can’t be understated and by offering these resources, references and tips in addition to the webinar, the value of the product is increased.

Thinking about how you might bundle multiple items together to create more value and perhaps a more appealing product is a strategy to consider.  It is also common to offer multiple pricing tiers for a product and to include additional products at higher price points.

Clearly Communicate the Value of Your Product

When pricing digital products, it is essential to consider the item’s value to the customer.  The time and money you’ve spent creating the product isn’t the primary factor in determining your product’s price.  When you clearly show the value of the solution, your product will generate sales.

To effectively build value in your product description, you need to have your target customer clearly identified and pain points identified.   While this process does take time, it is an investment as the description will generate ongoing sales. Investing the time in crafting a product description is one of the most important steps you can take to achieve success selling online.

Want to learn more?

Selling digital products is a great opportunity for your business, both to generate passive income, but also to attract new customers.  To learn more about how to create digital products, download my FREE ebook, a guide for RDNs getting started selling digital products.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!

 

How to Choose an Online Course Platform

A challenge for online course creators is choosing a course builder platform.  Do you opt for an easy-to-use hosted tool or a more customizable self-hosted option?  It is easy to spend hours reviewing features and demo sites.  Determining which is the best fit for you can leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear from RDs with real world experience using top-rated course platforms?  In this article, RD course creators explain how and why they chose the course builder tool they are using now and what they’ve learned along the way.

Meet the Experts:

Nina Mills, B.HSc, M.HumNutr, M.Diet uses Teachable to sell her courses including A Taste of Mindful Eating.

Jennifer Cohen, Ph.D uses Everlesson to sell courses for parents of fussy eaters including The Calm and Happy Mealtime Solution.

Danielle Omar, MS, RDN uses AccessAlly to sell her course, Nourish, 21 days of Clean Eating.

Heather Neal, MS, RD, LDN, CLT uses MemberPress for the RD Entrepreneur Symposium.

Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT is transition from a DIY combination of MailChimp/Google Drive/Vimeo/Zoom to Teachable deliver her course, The BAR Method (Branding, Advertising and Relationships).

Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD is using Teachable to build a course on the principles of intuitive eating.

Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD is using MemberPress for her course, Turn Picky Eating Around and additional membership products.

 

Course Builder Platform Decision Interviews:

Is your website built on WordPress.org, Squarespace, Wix or something else?

Nina (Teachable), Jennifer (Everlesson), Danielle (AccessAlly), Heather (MemberPress), Mandy (DIY), Cara (Teachable), Natalia Stasenko (MemberPress): WordPress

 

What additional option(s) did you consider before choosing the tool/platform you decided on?

Nina Mills (Teachable): I considered Thinkific.  At the time I was making my choice. I was experiencing web hosting issues and didn’t want to use a plugin that might add more burden to my website.  When I was researching, Teachable and Thinkific were the most well-known and established.  I took advantage of free accounts and got familiar with the back-end and ultimately chose Teachable because it was less expensive at the time.  It has proven to be a great decision as Teachable’s release of new/enhanced features has outpaced Thinkific, in my opinion.

Jennifer Cohen (Everlesson): I started with Teachable because it offered a free version.  It gave me the most functionality within a budget.  I wanted a platform that was not going to cost me too much money up front and did not involve doing any coding. The platform interface is visually-appealing and easy to use.  I moved to Everlesson when they were doing a special price for the beta version.  It was a one-off price so it was an amazing deal at the time.  I have been with them for a year now and have been pleased with the expanded capabilities.  It is fairly easy-to-use and allows you to customize to your brand and add game-play elements to encourage engagement with course content.

Danielle Omar (AccessAlly): I used Wishlist Member with Ontraport for a while but did not like the functionality.  I found it to be buggy.

Heather Neal (MemberPress): I used a combination of Google Drive/email delivery for my very first online programs years ago.  I’ve also used Teachable in the past.  Before switching, I experimented with several options including Thinkific, Course Cats, WP Courseware, WP Lunchbox, Lifter LMS, and LearnDash LMS, and Easy Digital Downloads.

Mandy Enright (DIY/Teachable):  I’m in the process of moving to Teachable, but prior to that, I was using a combination of MailChimp/Google Drive/Vimeo/Zoom to deliver content and interact with students.  Before making an investment in a course builder platform, I wanted to perfect my content and format, run smaller pilot programs to gain student insight and leverage positive feedback as well as establish myself as an expert.

Cara Harbstreet (Teachable): I considered self-hosted membership plugins for my website.

Natalia Stasenko (MemberPress): I chose MemberPress because of its affordability and simplicity. I used to be a member of Membersite Academy, a support membership on building membership sites and when I asked for recommendations, it was endorsed by others.  It was easy to integrate into the system I already had (Active Campaign, WordPress and Stripe), so it was very easy to set up.

 

What were the most important aspects of the course builder tool you chose?

Nina Mills (Teachable): I had some functionality that I needed the platform to be able to deliver (e.g. dripping out content) which influenced my decision.  I was also looking for something relatively inexpensive as I am in Australia, so you automatically add around 30% onto the purchase price plus currency conversion fees!  The experience for my students was a consideration and I wanted it to be easy and pleasant to access course materials.  Finally, because I would be setting up and maintaining the course myself, I needed something easy to learn and customize.

Jennifer Cohen (Everlesson): For me, it is still about cost combined with ease of use as I build my programs.  Over time I want to be able to integrate more functionality such as gamification.

Danielle Omar (AccessAlly): Functionality and flexibility were the main reason.  I was looking for a tool that would allow the most customization and that would grow with me.  I did want all my programs to look the same.  I also wanted one login for all my programs and great compatibility with WordPress.  Good customer service and tutorials were also a consideration.

Heather Neal (MemberPress): User-friendliness, ability to incorporate a robust affiliate program, reasonable ongoing maintenance costs and the ability to customize design/

Mandy Enright (DIY/Teachable): Cost, ease of use, reputation, ability to easily transfer my existing content to a course structure that would allow me to run the program similar to the successful approach I found with my DIY approach.  I also wanted the built-in affiliate program, sales pages/sales tools and low fees for purchases.

Cara Harbstreet (Teachable): Ease of use, 100%!  I’m not a tech savvy person and that is the primary reason I did not stay on my WordPress site.  It has been easy to use and I’ve been able to focus on creating content, instead of troubleshooting frustrating tech issues.  As a close second, I wanted something that would be easy to navigate and use from the other side.  I’ve participated in courses that were slow to load, hard to navigate or just clunky and visually unappealing.  These experiences made me keep my course participant in mind when selecting a platform.

Natalia Stasenko (MemberPress): Ease of use and quick set-up were very important to me.

 

Did you install/configure the course builder yourself or hire/use expert?

Nina Mills (Teachable): DIY all the way!

Jennifer Cohen (Everlesson): I did it all myself!

Danielle Omar (AccessAlly): Hired an expert.

Heather Neal (MemberPress): Did it myself.

Mandy Enright (DIY/Teachable): DIY

Cara Harbstreet (Teachable): DIY. In the future, I will likely experiment with plugins and based on what I learn, consider outsourcing to an expert.

Natalia Stasenko (MemberPress): I did it all myself.

 

How many and what types of courses do you sell?

Nina Mills (Teachable): I have 2 courses for sale at the moment, both of which fit into the Health at Every Size® niche.  My 5-day Mindset Reset is an entry level course on exploring mindset blocks and diet myths.  My current signature course is A Taste of Mindful Eating.  I had found from working in private practice that a lot of my clients could intellectualize the concept of mindful eating, but they were always wanting to know how to DO it. So, A Taste of Mindful Eating, provides students over 6-weeks, the tools and resources that I, in my clinical experience, have found work best for my clients to develop the practical skills of mindful eating.

Jennifer Cohen (Everlesson): I have my main product and a low introductory program.  In the next year, I plan to add another lower price point and another main product.  Calm and Happy Mealtime Solution is a 6-week online program for parents of fussy eaters.  I open the doors to this program 2-3 times per year.  Understanding Fussy Eating is a mini course to help parents understand the reason for their child’s fussy eating and provide information on the first steps in helping their fussy eater try new foods.  It is available year round.

Danielle Omar (AccessAlly):  I sell 3 courses one of which is Nourish: 21 Day of Clean Eating. This program opens for registration again in the Fall of 2018.

Heather Neal (MemberPress): I host a biannual online conference, the RD Entrepreneur Symposium, which changes with each edition (not evergreen).  The content is predominantly video-based.

Mandy Enright (DIY/Teachable): My courses/programs explore principles of branding, advertising and relationship building (BAR) for dietitians.  The level 1 BAR Method is a 12-week course and includes weekly modules, assignments and small group meetings.  I also meet with students one-on-one every 4 weeks.  The course is designed to have a college-course feel to provide dietitians with skills in Branding, Advertising and Relationship Building that weren’t included in their formal training.  My level 2 program includes advanced topics and expert speakers and is designed for those that complete level 1 and focuses on application of the knowledge from level 1.  Eventually I plan to have an ongoing level 3 Mastermind to give program participants the opportunity to share their learnings and continue growing.

Cara Harbstreet (Teachable): I’m currently building a course that is an introduction to intuitive eating that will allow participants to familiarize themselves with the principles of intuitive eating and take actionable steps to implement them.  It utilizes video, text and reflection/writing prompts and is self-paced.  Participants have the option to add virtual coaching with me.

Natalia Stasenko (MemberPress): I sell one course for parents of picky eaters, Turn Picky Eating Around and one membership product on starting solids.

What is one thing you wish you had known before selecting the option you chose?

Nina Mills (Teachable): I don’t think there has been anything that has made me wish I had gone with a different option.  Everything I had questions about, I have been able to work out or get support from Teachable themselves or via the Teachable community on Facebook.  Teachable has also been great about listening to their instructors when we suggest future enhancements.

Jennifer Cohen (Everlesson): Which platform is the easiest to use and the most cost effective.

Danielle Omar (AccessAlly): I haven’t had any issues with AccessAlly so far.

Heather Neal (MemberPress): How many different plugins I’d have to incorporate in order to replicate the course “feel” I wanted (even multiple plugins within an overall plugin).  Really understanding the integration with different plugins (some will list a feature, but in reality, it only “talks” to another plugin that you have to install/configure).  Knowing that it couldn’t also operate as a shopping cart (easily add multiple items to a cart and allow promotions based on selected options).

Mandy Enright (DIY/Teachable): I’m glad I went the route I did first to start and then used the time to explore other options when I’m fully ready to roll the program out.

Cara Harbstreet: I wish I had known how easy Teachable really was! I would have likely just started there instead of spending time researching other methods.  For the first course, it was a priority to create it quickly and get it out there, I was OK with not having all the bells and whistles that can come with other platforms.

Natalia Stasenko (MemberPress): n/a

 

What type of interaction do you have with your students and do you use functionality from your course platform or something else?

Nina Mills (Teachable): Students have the option to email me or post in the dedicated Facebook group.  I can allow students to leave questions and comments on the course content within Teachable, but I have taken courses that have used this functionality in the past and I didn’t find it to be very effective, so I haven’t enabled it.

Jennifer Cohen (Everlesson): I provide a private Facebook group for those that are in my main program where I do Facebook Lives.  I also offer a couple of Zoom® coaching sessions.

Danielle Omar (AccessAlly): I use a Facebook group for this.

Heather Neal (MemberPress): I have a Facebook group for discussion with other Symposium attendees and speakers.  Even when I used Teachable which can easily integrate discussion, I preferred to use Facebook since people are already there anyway.

Mandy Enright (DIY/Teachable):  For my 12-week level 1 course, I meet weekly to review assignments and brainstorm.  Every 4th week participants have a 1-on-1 session with me for individualized attention.  With the move to Teachable, I am also going to be offering a self-study version for Level 1 with the option for additional mentorship with me and a bridge to level 2 option.  With mentorship, participants work with me one to three times per month depending on goal and needs.

Cara Harbstreet (Teachable): The primary interaction will be via a Facebook group that will offer opportunities to engage and connect.  Additionally, course enrollees join my email list and receive updates and news from me.

Natalia Stasenko (MemberPress): I run my support groups on Facebook.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share on this topic?

Nina Mills (Teachable): it’s tempting to want to pick a tool quickly and get straight into the fun stuff like setting up and selling your course (wait, scratch that – the selling part is NOT fun!), but it is worth taking some time to think about how you want to deliver your course and what you want your user’s experience to be.  This can really help you narrow down you options as well as making sure you are going to be able to teach your content in the way you want and find the most effective.

If you are DIY-ing, play in a demo or free version.  You want to be confident that you can use the tool or platform and that it will do what you want it to do.  At the very least, get the sales team to send you some examples of people who are using the product.

Jennifer Cohen (Everlesson): Setting up a program takes work.  For me, doing a course about creating courses really helped me with the push I needed to develop the program.  Creating an online course is just one step in the process, you need to have a launch sequence, sales pager, etc.  I suggest people start out by building their email lists and social media following before building a course.

Danielle Omar (AccessAlly): n/a

Heather Neal (MemberPress): Choosing a pre-built course platform vs. using a plugin largely comes down to your specific needs.  How many features do you need and either your tech comfort level or your time/funds available to build a course.  One advantage of a hosted course builder platform is that all the navigation is built in and you don’t have to worry about updating a bunch of links if you need to move a lesson or module in your course.  I wrote a comprehensive blog post comparing pre-built and self-hosted options and my experience with the options I’ve used.

Mandy Enright (DIY/Teachable): As I’ve said, there’s nothing wrong with running small pilots and getting your content perfected first using more cost-effective methods (such as Google Drive and email) before moving over to a pricier course platform.

Cara Harbstreet (Teachable): Given that I’m rather inexperienced, no, other than encouraging dietitians who are considering it to take the plunge and give it a try.  I was hesitant to take the steps to put my work out there, but I realized its potential for a passive income source, something I really dedicated myself to developing this year.  I would love to be able to meet with more people in 1:1 counseling, but the reality is I simply can’t work with that many people by myself.  An online course is a great way to provide evidence-based engaging content for those who seek it and elevates my voice/expertise as a dietitian.

Natalia Stasenko (MemberPress): I think a self-hosted membership platform gives me more flexibility in the long term, but if I needed a quick solution to just one course, I would go for a done-for-you option like Teachable or Thinkific.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a method to build and sell your online course can feel like an overwhelming task.  This article gave you a backstage pass into the approach other RD course creators.  Their candid sharing of experiences has likely given you a new and more focused set of considerations and some specific platforms to consider.

Did you know that you sell your online courses or webinar recordings on RD2RD?  Here are a few examples of course products on RD2RD.

Course: Fast Track to Pretty Graphics with Canva

Webinar + Workbook: How to Practice the Anti-Diet Approach in Your Nutrition Practice

Course: The Role of Medical Nutrition Therapy in Acne Care

To learn more about creating or listing your existing course on RD2RD, join the RD2RD email list and be the first to know about upcoming information sessions for RD course creators.



How to Write Product Descriptions that Sell

{Guest Post by Corinne Kantor, BS, DTR, CLT}

A good product listing is key to being successful at selling products and services online. If your product listing is not well written and does not contain the information that potential buyers want to know when making a purchasing decision, you could be disappointed with your online sales.

One of the most important factors to consider when creating a product listing is the target audience. The person looking at your product listing most likely knows nothing about your product and in many cases might not know anything about you. Therefore, your product listing could be their first impression of you. Keep in mind that when buying a product or service online, especially a digital download, buyers can’t pick up or touch your product, so it is important to include as much information as you can about the product in the product listing – think about what you would want to know about the product if you were considering buying it.

A product listing consists of two main elements: the product listing description and the product listing image.  In this RD2RD LIVE interview, Corinne explains these essential elements.

Product Listing Description

The product listing description should state what the product is and what the buyer is getting. It should be easy to read and to the point. Therefore, utilize short paragraphs and bullets to describe your product – this makes the description more “scannable” to readers, allowing them to easily find the information they are looking for.

Begin your product listing description with a short summary of the product, and then use bullets to include additional details, such as an outline of what is in the product. Don’t forget to include information about the benefits of the product, either in the summary or in a separate bulleted list. Do not make the product listing description too general or vague. Depending on the product, you might also want to include the number of pages, the file format, licensing info, and verbiage that says there are no refunds available.

Product Listing Image

Because the product listing image is typically the first thing potential buyers see about your product, you want the image to be attractive and eye-appealing. If you need ideas for product listing images, look at product listing images on other web sites that sell digital products, including RD2RD, Etsy, and Teachers Pay Teachers.

Before you begin creating your image, find out what the image size recommendations or requirements are for the web site you are posting your product on. This is important to know so the image looks good on the web site – you don’t want the image to be cut off.

The product listing image should include the title of the product, and you might also want to include your name or your business name for branding purposes. When using text on an image, use a font that is simple and easy to read – there are a lot of beautiful fonts available but some of them are very difficult to read.

While you don’t want the image to look too busy, include some color so it looks more eye-appealing. Do more than just taking a screen shot of your product and using that as the image, such as a form, unless it’s a cover for an e-book. While a screen shot gives potential buyers an idea of what your product looks like so they can see what they will be getting, a downside to using a screen shot of your product as the product listing image is that someone might be able to save your image on their computer, and as a result, they were just able to obtain your product for free – one way to prevent this from occurring is to use a watermark on the screen shot.

What software should you use to create product listing images? Canva is a free, very simple, and user-friendly tool that is growing in popularity – it includes free backgrounds, images, and fonts for you to use. You can also upload your own images to Canva. Adobe Illustrator is also another option for creating images. Corel Paint Shop Pro is basically a miniature version of Photoshop that is great for taking and editing screen shots.

In short, when writing a product listing, think about whether you would buy your product based on what you wrote. Consider showing your product listing to others before posting it to get some feedback – they may have questions about the product that you didn’t think about including in the product listing. Other might also notice any spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors that you missed.

Remember, if your product description is not well-written, people might not think your product is very high quality and they will be less likely to buy it.

About guest author, Corinne Kantor, BS, DTR, CLT

I am founder of The Food Cop and Diet Tech Central. I am a Registered Dietetic Technician, Certified LEAP (Lifestyle Eating and Performance) Therapist, and award-winning writer. I’ve been featured in numerous publications, including U.S. News & World Report, Parenting OC magazine, and the Orange County Register. My goal is to educate others about the importance of nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. I especially enjoying educating others about clean, healthy food; edible gardens; and food sensitivities. A little more about my background…I have undergraduate degrees in Dietetics and Journalism, and I am also a certified U.S. Diabetes Conversation Map Facilitator. I have been the dietary supervisor at a skilled nursing facility, and I have also worked in the nutrition department at various acute care hospitals. My writing awards have been in the field of technical writing from the Society for Technical Communication.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!



Do This first! What RDs with Successful Digital Products Want You to Know

Digital products have the potential to generate a valuable income stream for your business.  You might wonder how to get started or be sure your product will generate the sales you desire.  These tips from RDs with successful digital products will help you set sail with a clear vision and chart a profitable course.

Pro Tip #1: Create something your audience wants and needs.

While this may sound obvious, it is very common to think we know what our customers want and create our product in a vacuum.  Is it essential to validate your product and confirm your audience is willing to pay for.  Do this before you spend valuable time developing it.

Jill Castle, MS, RDN, author and childhood nutrition expert has numerous successful digital products.  Her best advice is “to create a product that your audience actually wants and needs.”  She often asks her audience for their input.  This is exactly how she developed “Try New Food: How to Help New Eaters, Picky Eaters and Extreme Picky Eaters Taste, Eat and Like New Food!”

What exactly does it look like to ask your audience?  This could be a formal survey you send out to your email list or a quick “can you help” post on social media.  You may also consider doing focused interviews with your ideal customers.  Offer a gift card can encourage participation.

There are added benefit of speaking directly with target customers of your product.  You will be able to hone in on the words they use to describe the problem your product solves.  Using these words and phrases in your product description is a best practice for attracting customers and driving sales.  Notice the title of Jill’s book strategically uses words that resonate with her audience.  She utilizes language her customers use, like “eat and try new food” and doesn’t utilize complex or scientific terms.

What if you don’t have an audience?  Listening and asking a similar audience in an online community can reveal valuable information.  Perhaps you are a member of a Facebook group or electronic mailing list.  These are excellent places to both identify common questions and pain points as well as ask direct questions about a product you are developing.  Be an active member of communities and online forums where your target customers “hang-out.”

Take it from a pro and listen to your audience, ask them directly and create a product they want to buy!

 

Pro Tip #2: Survey your customers for updates and additions they would be interested in.

While finding new customers for your product is often a core focus, did you know that it takes 6-7 more times the effort to get a new customer than keep a current one?  Focusing on existing customers can be a valuable approach to drive repeat sales and word-of-mouth marketing.  Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, co-creator of the Master the Media e-course uses this approach to determine what updates and additions her audience is interested in.   This approach keeps current customers happy and leverages new sales as well.

One of the approaches used by Amy to market the Master the Media e-course is a webinar that teaches 5 tips to break into the media.  This free webinar attracts a great deal of potential purchasers and helps to drive sales of the course.  While not all attendees will purchase the e-course, these attendees are a valuable source of feedback.  By keeping a line of communication open with quality content with email marketing, you can continue to nurture the relationship for future sales.

Using a promotional (free) webinar to build your email list and market your paid product is excellent approach to drive sales.  However, putting the pieces together to create a successful webinar can be overwhelming.  For a comprehensive look at how Amy has developed a successful webinar for the Master the Media e-course, watch this video.

Your existing customers and current followers are an excellent source of feedback on how to improve your product or what new features would add value.  Taking the time to continue to serve your audience can reap great rewards with repeat purchases and word-of-mouth marketing.

 

Pro Tip #3 Be sure your audience is willing to pay for the products you know they need.

Offering a free download or promotional product can a great deal of interest and activity, but it may not translate into sales if you launch a paid product.  People are often willing to grab free products, but won’t opt for a paid version.

Monica Bashaw, MScA, RD offers insight that “what our clients need is not necessarily the same as what they are willing to pay for.”  Developing your product from an RD perspective and clinical expertise may result in a very high-quality product, but not appeal to your audience.  Consider taking time to validate your product idea.

Monica is an expert in bariatric surgery nutrition and the author of “The Complete Guide to Weight Loss Surgery: Your Questions Finally Answered.”   She has found that current clients provide much more insight than polling her Facebook audience.   Routinely seeking input from your existing clients or using a post-visit survey can provide valuable input.  This feedback can be translated into products that are desired and that your customers would be willing to pay for.

The key nugget of advice is to not create products wearing our “RD hat” and focusing on what we know our clients need.  Instead, you will be more successful by gathering insight from your clients and developing products they are asking for.

 

Tip #4 Always upsell or provide the next step to working with you.

Digital products are a great opportunity to offer a low-cost entry point for clients to explore your services.  However, they also offer a valuable opportunity to upsell more expensive products and services.  Jennifer Skoog, RDN, LD, CDE offers the advice “always upsell or suggesting the next step to working with you.”

Think about a time you’ve been shopping online and have been presented with a higher priced version of a product you are considering, perhaps the “upsell” includes additional valuable services or is a more comprehensive product.

Upsells are incredibly powerful with digital products are a unique aspect of the online environment.  Most comprehensive online shopping cart tools offer functionality to set-up an upsell.  You will need to spend time thinking about how you can structure your products and services so you can consistently offer customers that are shopping your entry level products an upsell or encourage them to take the next step to work with you.  For more on choosing a shopping cart to sell your digital products, check out this article featuring popular options.

Jennifer offers a “Healthy Meals Masterclass” for moms.  Included in her product is a built-in upsell that includes a more comprehensive meal planning guide.  This upsell process allows you to offer an entry level product to attract potential customers, but also maximize your earnings by offering higher priced items during the purchase process.

Take the Next Step

Selling digital products is a great opportunity for your business, both to generate passive income, but also to attract new customers.  To learn more about how to create digital products, download my FREE ebook, a guide for RDNs getting started selling digital products.

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!



3 Myths About Selling Digital Downloads

Selling digital downloads can feel a bit overwhelming.  You may have a plan for developing your product but find yourself perplexed by the prospect of selling the item.

It doesn’t have to be a confusing, and debunking a few myths can help you discover a shopping cart solution that is well-suited to you and your product.

This article tackles 3 common myths and includes a downloadable decision tool that quickly identifies a shopping cart solution that meets your needs.

Ready to go from confused to confident?  Let’s tackle the myths that most often hold people back from successful selling.

Myth #1: It’s difficult and you must be a tech wiz.

It’s a great time to start selling digital downloads.  Because of the boom in online sales of digital products like ebooks, photos, online courses and software, there are numerous comprehensive and affordable options for selling your digital downloads.  The hardest part will likely be choosing from the vast number of options.  While lots of choices can be a blessing, it can also be a source of confusion.

To narrow down your search and choose a good fit for you and your product, there are few key considerations.  An important one is the complexity of the technology to get things set-up.

A great choice if you are taking a DIY approach to selling your digital products are hosted options.  While hiring a web developer to set up an ecommerce store is certainly an option, it isn’t necessary.  These “out-of-the box” shopping cart solutions are structured as a service and offer a great deal of convenience if you are planning on setting up your product listings without the help of a web developer.  This article features three RDs that have done just that using hosted shopping cart solutions.

Understanding how these hosted options work takes some of the mystery and confusion out of the process.  Hosted shopping cart solutions such as Gumroad, e-Junkie and DPD store the file that will be provided to the purchaser, provide payment processing (or allow you to connect existing accounts) and automatically deliver the download to the purchaser after payment is received.  Read a more detailed review of these options here.

Hosted shopping cart solutions typically offer all the tools you need to sell your product, but do charge a monthly flat fee and/or transaction fee with each sale.  Because your website isn’t processing the sale, an SSL certificate isn’t required. An added benefit is they also feature comprehensive, step-by-step tools to help you get your product listing set-up and ready to sell.  Most offer an affiliate program which allows you to offer affiliates a percentage of each sale for promoting your product.  Convenient reports and even the option to sell other digital products like subscriptions and streaming video make them an appealing option.  Grab my decision tree to help you decide which one is best for you.

Hosted shopping cart solutions make it easy to just create a listing and then either add an “Add to Cart” button on your website or use a hyperlink that takes the buyer to a separate product listing page to complete the purchase.  One objection often expressed is that these shopping carts take the buyer to different website to complete the purchase and that it is necessary to choose a licensed shopping cart built into your website to offer a checkout experience that feels integrated into your website.

To eliminate the customer experience of being taken to a different website to purchase the product, some hosted shopping cart solutions allow you to create an “overlay checkout” experience.  With an overlay checkout screen, the buyer doesn’t have the experience of being taken to a different website for checkout.  Setting up the overlay checkout requires a bit more tech savvy, but is certainly an option if you don’t want your customers to experience a checkout process that appears to occur on another website.  If you are using an overlay checkout, payment processing and delivery of the download is still completed by the hosted shopping cart solution, but the checkout experience feels integrated on your website.  Grab my free download to see which hosted shopping cart solutions offer an overlay checkout.

One major consideration for hosted options that adds a layer of complexity (and often confusion) is payment processors.  With online sales, payments are processed through a payment gateway such as PayPal Business, Stripe, AuthorizeNet and others.  Some of the hosted options require you to connect your accounts with payment processors while others offer a built-in payment processing.  If you don’t have accounts set-up with payment gateways and/or don’t want the added complexity of setting up accounts, you should consider choosing one of the options that offers built-in payment processing.  Download the decision support tree that provide you with options based on your preferred approach to payment processing.

Selling a digital download online will require you to develop new skills but isn’t reserved only for those with advanced technical skills.  Many of the hosted options are designed with just this objection in mind.  They are designed to be easy-to-use and while they do come with some monthly fees and/or transaction fees, they make the process of getting your digital download available for sale much easier than setting up all these components on your own website.

Myth #2: You have to have a website.

While selling digital downloads from your personal website is a common way to sell digital downloads, it isn’t required.  You can create an online store by using a number of shopping cart solutions or online marketplace providers.  Your online “store” is a web address and contains a listing of all the products you offer conveniently listed in one location.  You can easily share this link on social media or promote in other ways.

A well-known example of this is Etsy.  Each seller has their own store on Etsy, creates and manages their own products, can view earning as well as communicate with customers.  You may be most familiar with Etsy for physical products, but it also allows you to sell digital downloads.

An added benefit of Etsy is the exposure that your product receives as a part of this marketplace.  Etsy is a highly recognizable brand and is a destination for online shoppers.  This means that your product will be seen by a wider audience.  While creating your product and product listing is a big step toward selling your product, another large component is getting your product seen by potential buyers.

RD2RD is a marketplace website that is designed exclusively for RDs and DTRs.  Listing your product on RD2RD gets your product in front of a wider audience to promote sales.  Products can be purchased by both professionals as well as the public, but only RDs and DTRs can create stores and list products.  It is a destination for RD and DTR created nutrition resources.  Learn more about RD2RD here.

Myth #3: If you create a digital product listing, people will flock to purchase it.

Creating an ebook, toolkit or other downloadable product is a LOT of work, however a quality product won’t sell itself.   Creating an appealing product listing is just one step in the process of selling a digital download.   The marketing for your digital product to promote sales represents much more of a time investment than creating the actual product.

You will need a marketing approach to generate product sales.  This is an individualized process, but perhaps you have an established clientele and plan to promote your product to this group.  Alternatively, you may be a blogger and use your product to generate sales from website visitors.  For great examples of this, check out Lindsay Livingston’s Ultimate Food Prep Guide described in this article.  She uses Gumroad to sell it.

A marketplace site gets your product out in front of a wider audience.  However, marketplace sites do have associated fees/expenses.   Considering how you intend to market your product as well as if you already have an audience established (i.e. email list or social media following) can help you to determine if listing on a marketplace site is a good fit for you.  Remember that you can sell your product in numerous locations.  Selling both on your own website as well as a marketplace is a popular strategy for creators of digital products.

The Bottom Line:

Selling digital downloads doesn’t have to be confusing.  Choosing a shopping cart solution that is suited to you and your product will make the process much easier.  Tackling these common myths have positioned you to make a decision, get your product listed and start generating passive income.

To help you make the decision, download my decision support tool that will provide you with recommended shopping cart solutions.


The future of social media? First look at Vero

Another new social media platform!  Vero is dubbed “true social” and is free from advertising, an algorithm and offers a chronological format.  After taking the platform for a test drive, I have a few reactions to share.

First, it certainly doesn’t look and feel like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.  While it does feature a traditional scrolling feed, your content is also organized in collections.  There are suggested products, featured users and editor’s picks when you open the search area.

This article goes into more detail about what exactly Vero is, but the statement “as a subscription-based service, our users are our customers, not the product we sell to advertisers” gives a interesting perspective about this newcomer.

Posting Content

In each of the collections, there are items you’ve shared as well as those shared with you.  When you add a new post, you choose a collection (photo, video, link, book, movie, etc).   From your home screen you can view your collections.

Just to give it a full test run, I posted a photo, link and video to get a feel for how the process works and how content will be organized.  Additionally, I made and received connection requests.

Making Connections

When making connections on Vero, you can choose if the person is a close friend, friend or acquaintance.  Note in the screenshots below, there is an area for both connections and followers.  This allows you to separate friends AND followers.  Within connections, you have further ability with the groups previously mentioned.

Each new post asks you to specify if the content should be private, seen by just friends or acquaintances.   Note in the image below that this content is view able to followers (the binoculars).  However, after posting it, I wasn’t possible to change the audience.  You can edit the post’s content but not audience (at least I couldn’t figure out how).

As previously mentioned, the platform also allows followers.  Followers are treated differently than your connections.  You can choose to follow someone without making them a friend or acquaintance.  In settings you can specify if you want to allow followers.

Another interesting feature of Vero is that you can choose which collections you want to see from each connection.  This means that if you only want to see videos/photos and not links from a specific connection, you can.  This gives you control over your feed and the content you see.

The different categories of friends and followers feature allows you to get very specific about who can see your content and what content shows up on your feed.  Remember that when you add a post, you can also make the content viewable to followers (the binoculars).

My first reaction to this platform is positive.  As an RD business owner, one of the biggest struggles I have is managing social media and keeping my private life, private.

Vero features an easy yet powerful way to control my content audience and also allows me to share business-related content with followers from ONE account.

Will Vero be the Next Big Thing?

Vero is offering free accounts to the first 1 million subscribers.  After that, it has plans to make subscription-based access to the platform.  How this will resonate with social media users is yet to be determined.  Will its ad-free/algorithm-free format be sustainable?  I don’t have the answers to that.  Forbes magazine says businesses says that for now “it’s a resource stretcher no brand likely needs now.”

Bottom Line

Vero puts you in complete control over the content on your feed and how/if the content you share is seen by others.  Their statement “our users are our customers, not the product we sell to advertisers” seems to be the mission with which they developed their platform.

It is easy to connect and categorize connections (close friend vs. friend vs acquaintance).  Further, you can allow followers that don’t fall into any of these categories.  When making a post, it is easy to specify where it should be displayed and to control the specific content from connections that you see.

Important note, Vero is receiving some criticism for its terms of use and specifically that content you post can be used without limitation.  For details about how the TOU compare with other social media platforms, this article gives a great comparison.

What do you think of Vero?

NOTE:  This is a developing article as new details and user feedback becomes available.

 

Filmora scrn – Why These 3 Features Make it a Top Pick for Screen Recording

Capturing and editing a screen recording is an essential skill for online course creators.  Screen recordings also make engaging videos for landing/sales pages and social media!

Are you disappointed by the functionality of free screen recording tools?

Do you want a screen recording tool with full-featured editing but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars for Camtasia?

Do you spend time re-recording entire video lessons for your course when edits on just a few slides are needed?

Filmora scrn is a screen recording software tool from the makers of the popular video editing tool, Filmora.  It brings a combination of easy-to-use functionality and advanced editing features.  Watch the tutorial video for a full demo.

Pricing: Free demo (videos contain watermark), Pro $19.99/year or $29.99/lifetime)

Favorite Features:

  1. Record both your screen and webcam simultaneously

Capturing both your webcam and screen at the same time allows you to be face-to-face with your audience when recording a presentation or creating a tutorial.   When setting up for a recording, you can specify if you want to capture your screen, webcam or both.  The set-up for a screen capture is shown in the image below.

Once the recording is finished, it displays the webcam as an overlay against the screen recording.  You can adjust the size, location of the webcam capture, or remove it entirely.

Using the powerful editing suite, you can snip out sections of both the webcam and screen recording. This allows you to create variation in your final video where you have just your webcam, screen only or both displaying together.  In the tutorial video you’ll notice that within the first minute, I switch between screen only, webcam and then a picture-in-picture format.

The advanced editing features are both powerful and easy-to-use.  By featuring both webcam and screen, you can create an engaging presentation that stands out from the crowd. This feature is particularly useful if you are creating video lessons for an online course.  Watch the demo video, where I show you these options in detail.

  1. Easily add annotations such as captions and cursors

Filmora scrn makes it easy to add captions to your videos.  This is an incredibly useful tool, particularly for tutorial videos.  You can add instructions or steps on the screen.  In the demo video I show how to use annotations.

In addition to adding text on the screen, you can add cursor highlights and click rings in the editor area.  This allows you highlight specific on-screen content during video editing.  The image below shows the editing area of the program.

  1. Custom recording field (select the specific area of your screen to be recorded)

Capturing a full screen window is not always desirable.  Perhaps you want to omit the taskbar or webpage tabs across the top of the screen.  Filmora scrn allows you to choose a custom field and capture only the part of your screen you desire.

Use the custom screen capture field when recording a PowerPoint slideshow.  With your slideshow in presenter view, create a custom screen capture field that only records the slides as they are displayed.  Presenter notes remain visable on the screen but not captured by the recording.

Watch the demo video for specific details on set-up for a custom field.  The image below shows a custom screen capture field.  The dotted red lines around the slides will be recorded.

An additional advantage of presenter view is that custom animations, timing and video clips can still be used.  While recording in traditional full screen slide show view is perfectly acceptable, using the presenter view allows you to easily see speaker notes while looking at the computer screen.  If you are capturing webcam at the same time and don’t want to be looking at notes off to the side, this allows you to stay present for the webcam but also have easy access to speaker notes.

The Bottom Line

The power of being able to capture both a quality webcam recording and screen recording simultaneously means that you’ll spend less time recording.  Combined with the powerful editing tools, Filmora scrn takes screen recording to the next level at a budget-friendly price.

Want to join live for my next demo or be notified of new tutorials?  Join my email list to be sure to receive event notices directly to your inbox!



Side-by-side LIVE Facebook Interview with OBS+Zoom

Live video is a powerful tool on social media!   A side-by-side Facebook interview takes the power of video to a new level for your business.

The Benefits of a Facebook Live Interview

Hosting a live side-by-side Facebook interview allows you to collaborate with a colleague and share the spotlight.   It’s a win-win as you can leverage the knowledge of your guest to benefit your audience.  Not to mention, it is easier to have a conversation with another person than just the computer screen!

Tools Available for a LIVE Side-by-side Interview

Facebook offers some support to invite guests to join your LIVE broadcast, but it doesn’t match the power of a broadcasting tool like OBS studioBeLive.tv is a great option but in order to do side-by-side interview that is longer than 20 minutes or screen share, you need a pricey paid plan.  Want to learn about a free option?

I’ve been doing live Q&A interviews on Facebook for the last several months.  In addition to being popular content on social media, I’ve also been able to share this content in a video library format on my website.  Additionally, taking small “snips” from the interview like the one below with Christin Morgan, MS, RDN, creator of the MyDietRebellion Society can be a great teaser to use on social media or to drive traffic to the full video.

 

Check out my 10 minute video tutorial that walks you through the process of using OBS studio and Zoom to do a side-by-side live stream to Facebook.  Give it a try and let me know how you use this tool!

Check out my upcoming live events on Facebook to see this tool in action.  The RD2RD Live show is Wednesdays at 1PM EST!

Join my email list and receive email reminders about upcoming events and links to replays after.

 



4 Strategies to Validate Your Product Idea

Creating a digital product has you excited about the potential for passive income.  You have an idea that you KNOW is going to be a wild success.  How confident are you?  Taking the time to validate your product idea is the key to success!

Why bother with this step?

There are plenty of books in the Kindle store that have no more than a few courtesy purchases from friends and family of the author.

Countless courses full of quality content have negligible enrollment.

The Successful Digital Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon

Many content creators start with fervent enthusiasm for their product, they have an idea and they create what they think will sell.

This is NOT the way to succeed with a digital product.  Taking the time to validate your product idea BEFORE you spend valuable time and effort creating it, is an essential step that most learn the hard way.  You don’t have to and it’s easier than you think to do.

Validate your Product Idea

A Google search will yield an incredible array of options and recommendations for validating your product idea.  The options can feel a bit overwhelming.  New skills and technology may be required to put them to use.

Don’t retreat to the familiarity of creating your content or seek artificial comfort in unfounded confidence that you KNOW what customers will buy.  Do your homework, pick a strategy and execute. In this article, I discuss 4 options you can consider.

Use Validation to Improve an Existing Product

Dig you launch a digital product but it didn’t generate the sales you desired?  Taking a step back and using validation techniques can help you determine what changes may be needed to drive sales.

Of course, marketing strategy is a key topic here, but investing time and money marketing a product that your audience doesn’t want to buy, isn’t going to work.

Taking a step back and validating that your product is something your customers want and are willing to pay for, is a good idea before doubling down on marketing efforts for an existing product.

Product Validation Approaches

  1. Create a Minimum Viable Product

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a “version of a new product which allows you to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”  This definition provided by Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup points to the importance of spending the least amount of effort needed.

You may think that you need to create an actual product to use this approach.  However, even creating a single page with a description of your idea (include a high-quality video for even greater appeal) and a sign-up form can help you determine customer’s response to your idea.

Take it one step further and ask why the customer is interested in your product.  This approach can yield valuable input as to exactly what your customers want.

Consider providing a link to a survey or creating an automated email asking those that like your idea for more information.  Nurturing a relationship with customers interested in your product is a high reward activity.

A minimum viable product (MVP) probably takes less investment of time than you think, but yields valuable results.  This article gives 10 examples of successful products that used a MVP to validate their idea.

2. Create a Coming Soon Page

One excellent example of an MVP isn’t even a product.  Create a coming soon page describing your e-book, course or toolkit.  Describe the pain points it solves and create a compelling argument for why your specific approach or content is the solution.  Allow visitors to the page to provide their email address to get more information or be notified about your product when it launches.

A coming soon page allows you to test the waters and gauge interest in your product.  It is easy to change and update this page in order to determine what message your target audience responds to best.  This article by Neil Patel goes into detail about coming soon pages and how to optimize them.

You likely selected your product to solve a common question, problem or pain point.  If you are a member of groups, listservs or other online communities/social media relevant to your product topic (and you should be), these are fertile grounds for product validation.  When the question or problem is expressed, you can easily share your page and build you interest list.

From this list you can start to gather important information about what your target customers want and can create a successful product.  Validate your product by telling people about it!

I used this approach for RD2RD and created a coming soon page.  I had identified that sharing digital resources was a pain point for RDNs.  More times than I could count, I saw requests like “Does anyone have a (handout, form, policy, tool, etc)?” on listservs and social media.

Many RDNs were willing to share their resources and others even sold resources on their individual websites.  A barrier to wider adoption of selling digital resources was both time and technology.  My landing page highlighted these barriers and offered a description of a new option, a marketplace that offered convenience and broader exposure for RD-created digital products.

3. Analyze Your Competition

While it goes without saying that your product will be superior and more desirable than anything else out there on the market, you need to survey the competition.  You’ve seen those home shows where a couple is completely unrealistic about the value of their home.  They mistakenly think specific choices they’ve made will appeal to a wide audience.  Watching a seasoned real estate agent deliver the unwelcome truth can be a painful experience.

You need to do the equivalent of a comparative market analysis for your digital product.  What else is out there on the market?  What is the price?  How often is the topic searched for?

Don’t stop there, browse the social media accounts of competitors.  Just as you might attend an open house of a property in your neighborhood or look through pictures a home similar to yours online, this is the exact approach you should take to validate your product idea.  Learn as much as you can about the market.  How can you expect to develop a successful product without understanding your competition and the market?

I took this approach for RD2RD.  There wasn’t a specific “competitor” marketplace available for RDs.  However, I looked to other similar marketplaces.  One in particular that provide me with the most valuable insight was TeachersPayTeachers.  Teacher authors buy and sell resources they’ve created for their own use to each other.  Everything from first day of school desk signs to math curriculum for the entire year.  This marketplace has been incredibly successful.

4. Pre-Sell Your Product

This approach may seem intimidating.  Selling a product before you’ve even spent time developing it seems risky.  However, this approach allows you to see if your audience is willing to PAY for the product you are developing.  It is the ultimate technique to validate your product.

Perhaps you’ve built an email list via your coming soon page and with relevant freebie opt-ins.  You can offer an early bird price and provide a specific date in the future when the product will be available.  If sales/interest in your product don’t warrant development, you can refund purchases and save yourself a great deal of time developing a product.

One of the added benefits of pre-selling is that it forces you to consider the marketing aspects of your product.  You must consider how you are going to nurture the relationship with your email list, develop a plan for your launch and perhaps even host a webinar or other marketing approach.

Alternatively, it may have you identifying key leaders in you niche and reaching out to determine how you might be able to get your product in front of their audience.  These are lessons and strategies you will need to have a successful product.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve identified a product idea, take time to validate that your product is something people are willing to pay for.  Consider a coming soon page, research your competition and even pre-selling your product.  These actions will both offer you insight into your customers wants and allow you to build and launch a product that you KNOW will sell!

Be sure to grab a copy of my FREE e-book, “Leveraging Digital Goods: More Money, More Business” with a BONUS getting started checklist.  Click here or enter your email, below!



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