I’ve observed on many an occasion a lack of clarity around the potential value an author or thought leader has relative to their content. In order to understand what the potential value is and how you can go about obtaining it you need to be able to answer the following question.
Is it the right solution, for the right group in the right format at the right price?
Here’s how I’d suggest you break this question down.
1) Is it the right solution? What are the specific problems that your content solves? What will people be able to do , think, act or behave in a different manner after internalizing? What does that mean for them as individuals and for their organizations? For example if you’ve created a killer selling process will it shorten the sales cycle? Teach sales professionals how to generate leads more effectively? Provide them with strategies and tactics to penetrate their key accounts? Think about the content from the end users perspective, they typically want to be able to do something better, smarter, faster or cheaper. Does your work support that? Are you effectively communicating the impact of the solution or are you focusing too heavily on the features or tools?
2) Who is the right group? If you were to imagine the absolute perfect audience what would they look like? Be as specific as you can. If your answer is “managers” as opposed to “managers that have been newly promoted from individual producers to having direct reports” you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle. The specificity of the target group may be tied to a function, an industry, a level of performance, an age group, the number of people they manage or the size of the P and L they are responsible for . Once you understand the challenges that face your target group you can continue to tailor your message accordingly.
3) What is the right format? This is the area where I see the most frustration and lack of clarity. Many thought leaders think about format from the standpoint of what they prefer or the medium they are most comfortable in. If you really enjoy being a keynote speaker but your target group prefers an e-learning solution or a coaching solution as their preferred format you are not going to achieve your potential. Often times it is a lack of understanding or a lack of experience converting your content into other formats that is the hurdle. In most cases you will need the help, assistance and guidance of outside experts. There is a tremendous difference between creating a great piece of content and turning it into an effective solution. I’ve seen many smart and talented thought leaders attempt to do this on their own and struggle and waste time and valuable resources only to produce something that is not effective. You need to understand the market, technology as well as the preferences of your target market to be able to do this effectively. The risk of going the “home grown” route is simply one that I would not recommend.
4) How do I price it? Pricing is part art, part science and is not an easy task to master. I’ve seen clients focus too heavily on their “day rate” and leave hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table by not being able to price their work on a per head basis. I’ve seen clients give away tools that clients are used to paying for. You need to understand your market and have a clear vision for how your ideal client will consume your content and pay you for it in a way that is representative of the investment you’ve made in it and the value it has to their business. Each format has unique pricing nuances; every industry has standards that they are used to and willing to pay. Low-balling your initial work to “get in the door” is rarely a strategy that pays off in the long term. If you are not well versed in the various pricing models find someone that can help you that is.
There is no easy way to take your content from it’s current state of being monetized and achieve it’s full potential value. It is a process and it takes time and energy that is allocated to it accordingly. There is no “one size fits all” strategy. Most importantly I’d counsel you to be honest with yourself and realize that there are gaps that you may need help with, be that on the product development side, marketing side, pricing or positioning side.
If you’ve developed amazing content you should be spending your time on what it is you do best to protect it and continue to refine it over the years. It is incredibly rare that one individual has the ability and capacity to develop an idea and simultaneously have the ability to find the ideal market, the perfect modality and the optimal pricing of the solution. If you believe that the opportunity for your work has greater potential that you are currently realizing from it than don’t be afraid to involve others in the process to help you achieve your goals.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them.