In nature, it is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones that are the most adaptable to change. This is the law of natural selection at work, and you can see this law at work in business as well.
As an entrepreneur, you must be willing to embrace and adapt to change in order to survive and thrive. Changes in technology, changes in the desires and expectations of your customers, and changes in your competition all have the potential to wipe you out if you’re not careful. Instead of avoiding change, it’s best to get in front of it as it occurs and adapt accordingly.
Now is a great time to build a business around your expertise
2018 is a great year to be an entrepreneur. It’s also a great time to build a business by sharing your expertise with others (aka an expert business).
In every industry, consumers are searching for information to help them solve a problem or achieve a specific result. This creates a tremendous opportunity for individuals to package their hard-won knowledge and expertise into products, programs, and services that can be sold at a profit.
To put this into perspective, in 2017 the global market for online courses (e-learning) reached an enormous $255 billion (World Economic Forum). This doesn’t even include the amount of money being spent on coaching, consulting, professional advice, or non-fiction books.
But whether you’re an author, speaker, trainer, coach, consultant, online course creator, or service provider, there is a new reality that you need to be aware of as you build your expert business.
Over the past several years, an enormous amount of free and inexpensive information has been published online. Some of it is great (and some of it not so much), but the reality is that information no longer has the perceived value that it once did. In many industries, information has become a commodity, which means that selling information is becoming increasingly difficult.
Your customers likely don’t need more information. They have enough of that available at their fingertips already. What they need is someone who can help them apply the right information in the right order, to solve their problem or achieve the result they want. What they need is a transformation.
The start of Transformation Age
I don’t know who is in charge of defining the era that we are in, but if it was up to me, I wouldn’t be calling this era the Information Age anymore. I would call it the Transformation Age.
As we shift from the Information Age to the Transformation Age, there are some trends you should know about so you can adapt your business, scale faster, and make a positive impact in the lives of others with your knowledge and expertise.The Top 3 Marketing Trends for Scaling Your Expert Business in 2018 #coaching #consulting #onlinecourses #marketingtrends Click To Tweet
Trend #1: Building Community
The old way: Build a massive audience
For whatever reason, the advent of social media encouraged countless entrepreneurs to lose focus on what is truly important. Instead of focusing on creating great products and services for their customers, they started focusing on vanity metrics such as the number of followers, likes, shares, and comments they receive on their social media profiles.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t need millions of people to know who you are in order to build a successful business, and you certainly don’t need to become a household name. Unless you’re building a global brand (think Coca-Cola, Apple, Disney, etc.) you don’t need the entire world to know who you are.
The new way: Become the leader of a community
Instead of trying to build a massive audience, shift your focus to becoming a leader of a community in a specific niche. Define your ideal clients, and build a community for them to interact with each other, share ideas, support each other, and reach out to you directly.
Facebook is leading the trend on building communities. Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg announced a significant change in how they will display content in their News Feed. Going forward, Facebook will be severely limiting the organic reach of posts from Facebook Pages. Instead, they are instead encouraging publishers to create meaningful interactions and build communities.
“Those businesses who have strong tribes and have developed a real community are going to shine, and those who don’t have this are going to need to catch up quickly.”
– Scott Oldford
Trend #2: Premium pricing
The old way: Start with inexpensive products, then upsell your customers
Over the past few years, we’ve watched a lot of early stage entrepreneurs struggle to create what is often referred to as an “Ascension Model” of products and services.
With an Ascension Model, you start by selling something inexpensive (like a book or a short course), and then you upsell your customers to more expensive products and services such as coaching, consulting, and live events. Here’s what this can look like:
I’m not saying that this model no longer works. Having an array of products and services to offer your customers works very well. In fact, many of Thinkific’s most successful customers offer several (and sometimes all) of these types of products and services to their customers.
What doesn’t work is trying to sell someone a course when what they really want is private coaching, or trying to sell private coaching to someone that wants you to do the work for them, or trying to sell a conference ticket to someone that wants to join a mastermind group.
Every one of these types of products and programs appeals to a different type of customer with different priorities and budgets. So while upselling sounds great in theory, some customers know exactly what they want, which in many cases isn’t your least expensive offer.
The new way: Start with high-touch offers and premium prices
The demand is the marketplace is shifting from demand for information to the demand for transformation. Customers need help achieving results, and they’re willing to pay a premium for the help they need.
With that in mind, we recommend not trying to sell your customers your least inexpensive product first, with the goal of upselling them a more expensive product or service at some point in the future.
Especially if you’re in the early stages of building your expert business, our recommendation is to sell a high-touch service (coaching, consulting, done-for-you service, etc.) before you start selling less expensive information products such as books and courses. Once you reach your capacity for working with people one-on-one, then start creating products to help more people.
This is the same approach that video marketing expert Sunny Lenarduzzi took to build her business. She started off by consulting with other companies and entrepreneurs. When she reached her capacity, she created online courses to scale her business and help more people. You can read the full case study here.
What early-stage entrepreneurs often don’t realize is that it can be very difficult to promote inexpensive books and online courses to a large number of customers profitably. If you’ve only just recently launched your business, focus on selling your more expensive high-touch offers first, and then use the profits from those sales to fund the creation and the promotion of your less expensive products.
Plus, when you work with clients on a one-to-one basis first, it gives you the opportunity to validate your expertise, refine your process and content, and collect feedback and testimonials from your clients before you venture into creating information products.
Trend #3: Customer Experience
The old way: Acquire as many customers as you can
A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing the majority of their efforts on acquiring new customers, at the expense of providing a great experience to those customers. Consequently, many of their customers never buy from them again or refer other people to them. This creates a vicious (and expensive!) cycle where the entrepreneur must continually acquire new customers in order to stay in business.
As competition in your industry increases, along with the expectations of your target audience, neglecting to provide your customers with a positive experience before and after they buy from you will have a detrimental impact on the profitability and sustainability of your business.
The new way: Help your customers achieve success
There is a specific result that your customers want and value. To your customers, your product or service is just a means to an end, and likely just one of many alternative options that promise to help achieve the same result.
So while acquiring new customers is important, supporting your customers is even more important, and vital to the growth and profitability of your business. If you don’t help your customers get the result they want with your product or service, they likely won’t remain your customer for very long.
Today’s most successful entrepreneurs are committed to understanding the specific challenges and desired results of their customers, and they’re designing experiences to help their customers overcome their challenges and achieve their desired results. They’re prioritizing customer experience and success.
When you design an experience to help your customers achieve success, they stay with you longer, spend more money with you, and refer other customers to you more often. This combination of increased customer retention, customer lifetime value, and referrals are the ingredients of a successful and sustainable business.
“We’re not in this business just to get people to buy our stuff. We want them to see the change and the impact and create the success stories.”
– Nick Unsworth
Learn the specific strategies to help you adapt to these trends
There has never been a better time to build a business by sharing your knowledge expertise with others. All of the tools, platforms, and resources that you could ever need to build a business are at your disposal, and there is a huge market of people that can benefit from your knowledge and experience, and are willing to pay for it.
As you build your business, the most important metric you can use to measure your success is the success of your customers. If your customers are getting the result they want with the help of your products and services, you’ve done your job.
As thousands of industry experts and entrepreneurs continue to build their business over the next few years, the ones who build a reputation for having successful customers will rise to the top of their industry. By embracing and adapting to the trends in this article, we are confident that you’ll be one of them!
If you would like to learn about the specific strategies that some of today’s most successful entrepreneurs are using to scale their expert business in 2018, I invite you to watch our free video training here.The Top 3 Marketing Trends for Scaling Your Expert Business in 2018 #coaching #consulting #onlinecourses #marketingtrends Click To Tweet