The internet has forced companies to rethink ways in which they deliver their products, services and pricing. Although many high value service providers do not post their pricing as a matter of strategy; most don’t do so because their services are tailored to the specific needs of a project. But what happens when you introduce information marketing to that service provider who can then begin charging for the exact reason they don’t post pricing; Specialized knowledge.
However, in most cases due to the vast numbers of service providers available, it is very difficult for a company to differentiate what they can offer. Competitors that do not have the necessary skills in-house can very easily freelance the expertise in order to provide or match the service offerings of others in their market or industry. Established companies can experience a ceiling on their pricing as a result.
Put Your Network in Place
However, businesses that have an industrial marketing network in place are at a distinct advantage in managing through pricing challenges. Marketing for manufacturing, in some cases, works no different than any other business in that there are individuals who cannot afford to work with a particular business although they might want to. Depending on the nature of the business that a company is in, opportunity routinely exists to take the expertise that companies cannot sell to businesses in project work completion, and instead package it and sell it as education/training. (Dramatic Music) Enter Information Marketing.
The existing industrial marketing network mentioned above that might be interested in training and information will consist of:
- An active (SEO) search engine optimized campaign to attract those who are interested in what the company offers,
- A following of industry related contacts from conferences, trade publications and educational content delivery
- A contact database of prospects, former clients and current clients
- A following based on social media platforms of Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn
Companies with this framework in place already have a potential client base for their information products.
Why is this important?
Why is this aspect of business worth pursing? Knowledge and expertise more than service delivery is the chief component of a business that providing a true sustainable competitive advantage. It is the unique character of the knowledge pool within a company is what sets it apart from others. While it can be to the company’s advantage to give a fair amount of this knowledge away so that a company and its executives can be positioned as experts in the industry; it can also be lucrative to take some aspect of the knowledge and provide it to companies that need information more than they need service.
Thinking in this vein is very important because it provides access to a competitor’s client base without necessarily having to offer the same bundle of services. Additionally, while training is easy for others to copy and offer through their own venue, the expertise isn’t easy to duplicate. There will always be some aspect of information that can be offered that is unique to the talent pool of a company’s staff that cannot be offered elsewhere. How then can a company cost effectively bundle this information together without taking their focus away from their core product and service offerings?
Companies can offer the following information bundles and packages for sale to interested buyers:
- Self Published/Commercially Published Books
- Audio/Video Training (Online/Offline)
- Conferences (Online and Offline)
In effect, information marketing provides companies with the option of being able to make an offer of some kind to everyone in their marketing funnel. While offering information products should not preclude a company from providing free training, it can supplement their earning capability by positioning themselves as consultants in addition to service providers. This will help them to offset some of the lag time between a project’s start and its corresponding compensation.
So then how does a company begin building a structure to package information to market to its network?
- Take note of the expertise that the company has
- Survey the network to find out what they want to learn and what training they are already paying for
- Based on this information determine if the expertise can be offered with existing staff
- Add industry expertise from outside of the company, freelancers for pay, industry professionals for exposure
- With this information, decide on the most cost effective way to deliver the information
- Test the product on a segment of the company’s network and gather feedback
- Make suggested changes and offer the product to the entire database
- Recreate the information in the two additional forms from Step 3
- Offer the other forms to the company’s network
- Repeat the process for those problems that industry managers and executives are willing to pay for be trained for.
- Develop a referral and affiliate system offering sales commissions to those who bring new clients to this part of the business
The key component in the process is to survey those who are already purchasing information and follow the trend to figure out what can be immediately offered. This method is advantageous because it can provide visibility in markets that the company was unable to compete in otherwise. It will also provide new visibility to the business in areas where their pricing was too high for those who may have wanted to work with them.
Most importantly, information products offer an excellent opportunity for companies to showcase their expertise to future clients. Often those who experience a business’ philosophy in training will come to understand that their best course of action is to hire the authors of the information to carry out the process instead of trying to implement it themselves.
Is your business being paid for its expertise or only paying for it?
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