Can You Handle The Truth?

Feedback big mouth“You can’t handle the truth” is a line from the classic movie ‘A Few Good Men’. Can you handle the truth? Especially when it comes to your blog?

Last month I released my first ‘proper’ product – a guide on pricing and selling products or services.

Producing the product and launching it for sale has been a huge learning curve for me and I’ll be sharing some of my experiences over the coming weeks. Today I want to touch on one aspect – feedback. It’s both scary, but very encouraging at the same time.

Let me explain.

My Original Product

The original draft of the guide was a little over 70 pages long. I have this problem (that I think is shared by some other bloggers) that I want to impart a lot of information, so I write a lot. I thought that a longer guide would be better value than a shorter one.

I was wrong. To explain how I found that out, let’s go back in time.

A number of months ago I launched my first ‘test’ product on the Warrior Forum – a guide about one aspect of Twitter that I sold for $1. The plan was not to make millions from the product (I didn’t even make 100’s) but instead to learn about how to launch a product on the Warrior Forum. As part of launching the product, a number of people applied to become affiliates for my product. Out of the 20 or so who I approved, only a few promoted it to their lists and I gained a few sales from them.

As part of the pre-launch of this product I approached a couple of these affiliates for feedback. I gave them a copy of the 70 page draft and asked them to be as honest as possible.

And they certainly gave me feedback!

The main comment I received from all of them was that the material was great, but there was too much of it. The people I was trying to sell it to (i.e. the average purchaser of Warrior Special Offers) don’t necessarily want a lot of pages. In fact, many of them want the following – something that is short and actionable.

The frustrating thing about the feedback was that I started to feel that I’d wasted my time writing the long version. I wished I’d asked for feedback earlier.

But I couldn’t argue with the feedback. Not everyone is like me, and, as I wrote in an earlier article, it doesn’t matter what I think.

The New Product

So a new product was born! I shortened the original guide down to 32 pages. I took out a lot of the ‘why it works’ stuff and just focused on the ‘do this because it works’ stuff.

I also provided more information on how much to price certain products because one of my reviewers suggested the readers would want this.

I sent this product back to the reviewers for feedback, and they all came back and said it was much improved on the previous version.

So I knew I was on the right track, but I still felt I could create something even better.

The Product Strategy

Thinking about product strategyAt this point it’s worth mentioning that I had a product strategy mapped out (you wouldn’t expect any less from me!).

The Warrior Forum is full of people interested in internet marketing. It’s a good place to launch a product and get immediate feedback. However, it’s also full of people who don’t want to pay full price for anything, and expect everything to be discounted.

My plan is to release my initial product through the Warrior Forum, enhance and update the guide and then sell it for a higher price via Clickbank.

So my goal with the Warrior Forum was more around refining the product via purchaser feedback than it was about making the most money.

The Bonus Product Is Born

So here’s my dilemma at that stage.

  • I’ve created this 70+ page product that I think is good.
  • My reviewers suggest a much shorter version which I create.
  • I still think my product is lacking, but I’m not sure what to add to it.

So I had an idea to find out what people wanted.

When you purchase the 32 page guide, you also get access to the full 70+ page version. I didn’t edit it or remove any bits from it that made it into the shorter guide.

All you need to do to get access is to give me feedback.

So I created a short four question survey on a page in my blog, and included the link at the back of the book. So people finish reading the short version and are them prompted to read the bigger guide to learn more.

The Feedback Has Been Great

The point of all of this has been to receive something incredibly valuable – feedback.

Importantly, it’s feedback from buyers.

Here’s some of the things I’ve learnt:

  • People liked the formatting and look of the guide. I purposely used some coloured text and lots of pictures and highlights to make it look different from the average e-book that gets released. I was very pleased that this was noticed. Here’s what one person said
I particularly liked the formatting and use of colorful illustrations. No more skimpy black print on white. And the quality of the content — based on personal experience and research with loads of helpful tips to bring it right down to the reader\’s business.

  • People liked the parts that were ‘actionable’.
I liked the section (most of the book) where you discuss strategies for selling more.

  • I asked what changes would improve the value of the guide and the feedback was asking for more information on how to implement some of the strategies. This reinforces my opinion that learning how to do something is not enough – you actually need to do it.

Finally, I asked “When it comes to pricing and selling a product, what are your biggest challenges?”  The common feedback here was how to sell a product for a higher price when everyone else sells something similar for less.

What Did I Gain?

This feedback has been invaluable to me. Rather than making my product bigger for the sake of it, I now know what extra information will be most valuable.

I’m working now on adding some extra parts to help people take action, and more on how to differentiate your product so it’s perceived as being different from the others.

The extra content in the 70+ page bonus guide isn’t wasted either. I can take a lot of that information and incorporate some of it into an autoresponder sequence. I want people to actually take action, so sending them a weekly email that reinforces or reminds them of some of the key concepts could be very effective.

My Future Plans

Pricing ebook coverI’m working on the updated version of the product now. For the time being I’ll leave the current version for sale on the Warrior Forum at a much reduced price (remember, it’s about getting feedback to create a better product).

In a few weeks I’ll remove the lower priced product from the Warrior Forum and sell the new improved version via Clickbank for a higher price.

If you haven’t already seen it, here’s a link to the world’s best guide that teaches bloggers how to price and sell their products :)
photo credit: freeflyer09 via photo pin cc

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About

Allan lives in Adelaide, South Australia with his wife and two boys. He is the founder of Blogger Business Plan and loves helping bloggers learn how to transform their blogs from hobbies into sustainable businesses.
When he's not blogging or working in his financial planning business, you'll find Allan playing guitar, reading or coaching his son's soccer team.

How to price your product or service ebook
3 Responses to Can You Handle The Truth?
  1. Sherryl Perry
    August 10, 2012 | 1:24 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this Allan. I am way behind on creating a product (but it is definitely in the future for me). I’ve learned a lot from reading about your experience. I’m aware of the Warrior Forum and have made a few purchases there (only because someone who I really trust was an affiliate). Up until now, I only thought of them as someone to buy from not to sell on. So, your post opened up my eyes. Thanks so much!
    Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Tips You Should Know When You Start BloggingMy Profile

    • Allan Ward
      August 10, 2012 | 11:56 am

      Hi Sherryl,

      Thanks for the comment. I hope this article has helped you with your future product creation. One thing I didn’t mention that your comment touches on is that the Warrior Forum suited my product, because it’s aimed at people who want to sell products online. The Warrior Forum doesn’t suit everyone. For example, I also have a guitar website. When I launch a product for that site, I won’t release it via the Warrior Forum because that’s not where my customers are.

      • Sherryl Perry
        August 11, 2012 | 2:40 am

        I totally agree with you Allan that we need to market our products on sites that target our niche customer. The Warrior Forum would be the perfect place for me to use to help launch my product. I just hadn’t thought that far ahead yet. :)
        Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Basic Steps to Better Blogging, Better Branding and More BusinessMy Profile

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