Most of the information entrepreneurs I’ve coached have either created no information products yet or just one, two or three of them. At that stage, they’re easily receptive to planning the creation of products in an organized fashion, such as a free giveaway item that leads to the purchase of a low-priced item, which encourages a medium-sized purchase, which in turn naturally leads to a higher-end involvement like a seminar, retreat or coaching program. That’s a classic marketing funnel, and it’s a profitable model for many information entrepreneurs.
When someone has created at least four paid products, however, without a mental model of how they fit together, it may be challenging for the product creator to put the products into a marketing system that they can build on and add to. So here are five models that make this process easier.
1. Linear. In this model, you set out your products in a sequence, with Product A being a prerequisite for buying Product B, which in turn is a prerequisite for Product C and so on. Your sequence might be either strict (no one can register for or purchase a product out of sequence) or loose (the sequence is suggested, but not enforced). This model works especially well where you have educational content that becomes increasingly advanced or where each product offering assumes the knowledge or topics in the preceding one or ones.
2. Hub and spokes. Here you envision one offering as a center or starting point, with many possibilities after that. In this arrangement, once prospects become customers or members, they can buy in any sequence. The hub might consist of a free report, a book that provides how-to instruction on the theme of the business, a DVD that explains the core philosophy of a certain approach or a newsletter that serves as the primary source of every other product offer.
3. Tracks. With this model, an expert conceives of his or her products in distinct groupings, according to either topic or level. For example, a financial management expert might have one track on getting out of debt, another on saving for college, another on providing for disabled children and yet another on planning for retirement. Or there might be tracks for amateurs and professionals, or for beginners, intermediates and advanced members. This differs from the linear model because within each track, products don’t necessarily have a sequence.
4. Triangle. Here different topics have an important relationship to one another, such that customers logically will want help with each of the three points of the triangle, though they can tackle them in any order. If there are more than three crucial points, then the model would consist of a square, a pentagon or a hexagon, and so on, instead of a triangle. This model particularly fits a situation where customers are looking to fulfill requirements for continuing education in their profession or to qualify for some kind of certificate or achievement.
5. Portfolio. Perhaps, however, the products actually have little or no relationship to one another. Don’t feel you have to force a relationship. In the same way that a brokerage account can hold a variety of stocks and bonds whose performance you keep watch over, you can have a portfolio of products that you present and promote separately. You’ll find it helpful to come to the realization that these products shouldn’t be aggregated into one site or one catalog!