Category Archives for "Online Business"

Mar 14

The Product Launch Debate

By Amber Jalink | Online Business

Do you find yourself on multiple email lists, and wonder how on earth the person has time to continually launch new products?

Of course a lot of the time the emails are for other people’s products, but what if you bought a tool or course only to find that a few weeks or months later, the product creator is now releasing something else?

Are you annoyed? Often the answer is yes.

Do you feel like they shouldn’t be launching other products?

What if they launch something “complimentary” than what you already have? Shouldn’t the product creator simply enhance their first product?

And what if they’re launching things that aren’t complimentary, perhaps something different. Shouldn’t they be focusing on the product/offer YOU purchased??

These are slightly loaded questions, ones I will address here (because I get these questions at times), and I’m going to play a little “devils advocate” here, covering both sides of the issue: both from the consumer side, and the product creator side.

So let’s start off with the consumer’s view.

Let’s admit it: when a marketer sends you emails daily with a new pitch in EVERY email, it gets annoying. Even I admit I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of lists for this reason. When I give my email (which usually happens automatically when you buy something), I’m giving temporary permission to connect with me.

… so wow me! (More on that in a moment).

And of course, if every email is a pitch for yet another product from yet another person, it really seriously adds to “SOS” (Shiny Object Syndrome), and this is a problem that halts many people from focusing and achieving success. Because they’re going in too many different directions.

And yes it IS annoying to join a program or buy a product, only to be endlessly pitched particulary when the product owner DOES NOT support the product. Because then it just feels like a money grab (and often that’s what it is).

But not always.

So let’s now look at the product creator’s side for a little more insight.

When a product is not supported, then that is the direct fault of the product creator. EVERY product you put out needs to be supported. If you won’t do it or don’t have time for it, you absolutely MUST hire someone who can handle 90% of the support for you, so that you CAN move on to other things if you wish.

Bottom line: product creators: support your products.

BUT – what if the product creator *IS* supporting the product(s)… and what if that product creator is continually updating and working on it? Does that mean they should never launch anything else?

NO. That should absolutely NOT stop further launches, even if complimentary.

If the product creator launched the exact same thing under a different name, then (in my opinion), that’s unacceptable and not necessary, and only makes customers feel duped.

However, if you add a tool that is complimentary – but not the same, then it is absolutely acceptable, and sometimes more practical.

Example: We have our system that allows people to upload and sell planners and journals, essentially a print on demand (POD) for planners.

However, the system was NOT fully capable of designing an entire planner or journal from within. Yes, it has a designer, but that is better used on the covers, and never fully expected to be for the entire product. We always advised download the templates, modify, then upload the completed pdf to put live to the public.

When we created our journal creator software, a few complained, feeling that we should have added it into the print on demand system.

Yet it was a completely different software system powering it, AND it is expensive to run. Had we added it into the POD system, we would have been forced to charge a monthly fee for it, even to those who had ‘lifetime’ membership in the POD system. That alone would have created backlash for those expecting to never pay again.

But because it costs us every month to run, AND not everyone in the POD system cared about journals, it absolutely made more sense to launch it as a separate product. However, it IS complimentary – the products created within the journal creator CAN be uploaded and sold with the POD system – OR not.

You see, the POD system has the restriction that if you use our templates, you are forced to use our POD system for product delivery. (It’s only fair to us since we included a lot of templates without further cost to the members).

However, the journal creator has the rights that you can sell the products ANYWHERE – with no kickbacks to us.

So in some situations like ours, creating additional / complimentary products are very practical, and necessary, especially when different licensing issues are in place.

Additionally, sometimes the product has features and development stages that the product owner themselves cannot personally do. Example: I’m not a programmer, I can work fairly extensively with html, but not php etc. So while I might seem to be “moving on” to other products, it’s highly likely that it’s because I’ve actually got someone ELSE working on my particular product/service that I cannot personally do.

But what about perhaps non-complimentary products? I.e., some product creators seem to launch new products on a regular basis.

Does that mean they shouldn’t? Again – NO.

This is NOT to bash anyone here – but it’s a blunt point: I can almost guarantee that those who insist that a person should ONLY have one product for their business, has not been working online for any amount of time.

While a customer might have one focused mind (i.e., publishing their latest fiction novel), that’s great – but that does NOT mean that the product creator has to have the same focused mind.

In the blunt harsh reality of the internet, a business needs multiple streams of income.

That means, they are earning from more than one product or service.

Just like an “offline consultant” (a person who sells services to local businesses) has many clients – they also usually have multiple services they offer, not “just” web hosting for example.

The reason for this is simple: technology is always changing. And people’s financial situations change. And their desires and direction they want to go changes.

If you relied on ONE product only – someone else will come along and create something similar… and you lose customers. Or, technology changed so fast, your product is so out of date and redundant, that you HAVE to create something different.

Gas stations do not just sell gas, they sell “convenience” of having chocolate bars and snack foods near the cash register. (Many of them admit their income is greater for other products than just selling gas).

Again, an offline client will likely sell web hosting, but they’ll also usually offer other services such as newsletters, app building and maintenance, Facebook advertising, and more.

And realistically, ALL of these products and services cost money to the consultant in one way or another. (If they outsource, it’s staff costs. If they do the work themselves, it’s their time).

Strong companies have multiple product and/or service lines. “One hit wonders” come and go, but strong ones stick around. They evolve, expand their product offerings (complimentary or not), and they DO have the right to creating multiple products.

Solid businesses work that way. (Heck, even Apple doesn’t just sell a Mac, they added the iphone, the ipad, the ipod, and so on!)

The iPhone and iPod do almost the same thing… realistically they are – except the iphone is a phone. But it does everything the iPod does. Should they NOT release both products, just because they’re similar?  Of course not.

So the next time you look at a company/person/product creator and complain that they shouldn’t be doing anything other than what you bought, think about what is mentioned here.

If you want to focus 100% on one thing (like writing that novel, or creating that ONE piece of software) – all the power to you. But be prepared to realize that your income may be short lived, or worse – the product/service you create just might not be as marketable as you thought, and might not bring you any income at all.

Focus on one thing, get it done, then create the next, get it done, then the next and so on.

Never be afraid to launch, as long as you support your products of course ;).

And as a consumer, never ever be afraid to submit comments, (POLITE) criticism, concerns or suggestions to product owners – that’s how we make products/services better, because we can’t read your minds! However – as mentioned, ALWAYS be polite. Bashing is never acceptable.

 

Mar 13

Why do companies charge monthly?

By Amber Jalink | Online Business

When you are looking at programs, products and services, one thing you will often find is the option to buy a membership of some sort on a monthly basis. Perhaps it’s a training site, or more features for the plugin, theme or software you are using.

And, they ask for a monthly commitment. Why?

This is something we are often asked, and we’re sometimes told that the person really wanted our product or service, but they were disappointed we were “going with the monthly pricing model”.

In fact, I had this question over the weekend, and since it’s happened on occasion, I felt that this is the time we need to clarify exactly WHY this is typically an option out there.

It IS a valid question – but there is also a very valid explanation for it (in most cases).

Some people think it’s a money grab… and I can understand that. Let’s face it, many people today are struggling to make ends meet, and to add a monthly payment into their budget can be difficult.

So let’s go over the reasons for actually doing this – but from both sides.

When it’s an infoproduct:

Typically info products (like ebooks, reports etc) are a one time purchase. But have you ever logged into one you’ve bought and found it completely overwhelming… it’s fantastic – there could be as much as 40 hours of content to get through! And… that’s exactly the point. 40 hours to get through… how many people have that much time to tackle right off the bat?

I’ve seen it time and time again, and I admit – I’m just as bad for this. Sure you might get through the first 5, maybe even 10 hours (if you’re lucky) of the training. Then you get busy, sidetracked, or attempting to implement some part of the course… and then you get sidetracked again… or busy again… and you don’t get back to it to finish it.

If you’ve been working online for any amount of time beyond a few months and have bought different courses, you’re likely nodding your head right now in agreement.

Life is too busy to get through it all in one sitting in most cases, and distractions, life, and work get in our way to get back and finish something. (And this by the way, is a reason why many people say “it doesn’t work” – things DO work if you actually finish and implement!)

I’ve been in a few courses where it’s in stages – you literally cannot just jump ahead to the section you want until you finish it step by step. I’ll admit this can sometimes be annoying if you’re someone like me who has a lot of the experience behind and doesn’t need to know how to install WordPress for example, in order to learn how to use the plugin.

But, to be “drip fed” the content in a situation like this where there is anything over 10 hours – it makes absolute sense!  It’s fantastic if you can continue a section and move to the next when you’ve finished, so those who CAN get through it faster can do so, but those who are slower, can also go on their time frames.

The problem (and biggest reasoning) with “one time” vs “monthly”, is usually how long a product is supported and responded to.

So think about it, what would you rather have that course above on a one time payment, knowing that if it takes you 2-3 months to get through… by the time you’re done, you’re starting to hear crickets in their Facebook group, or pitches for other products, or your support ticket response times are getting slower and slower?

This is exactly the reason why, even with an info product (course, report, ebook etc) – that a monthly option is completely practical.

Typically monthly means that the product is being constantly updated, and you are able to get ongoing support (sometimes coaching built in!), and that’s awesome, and why it’s so important.

What about services or software?

This is one we get questioned on all the time.  While this should answer itself, I’m going to put it here.

When the software is a one time download, runs on your computer, and perhaps includes 1 year of support/updates, that makes sense to be a 1 time payment. (Be aware though, that just because they “say” 1 year of support/updates… doesn’t necessarily mean there will be any, I’ve seen this often.)

When software is an online service, such as an app builder (like ours), then if it has a “one time payment” with the INTENTION of staying that way? Run away as fast as you can!

Why? Because I can almost guarantee that a few things will happen:

  1. The software will be obsolete and will likely NOT work after a certain period of time (OR the owner will NOT pay his hosting bill and the site will be shut down).
  2. The software WILL NOT be supported endlessly.
  3. The creator will suddenly have “new software” and “new upgrades” to sell you later… because they aren’t earning enough to support the system.
  4. Their support “might” last the first month, then it will likely disappear or be slow at best. And any bug fixes will probably not get fixed.

The simple reason is because it costs money to keep support going – especially updates to software.

What most people do NOT realize is the costs involved in software as a service (or any service online).

So let’s take a look, shall we of example costs per month to run software (this isn’t off the cuff, these are real costs that we ourselves have incurred on our projects).

  • Software powering the system in the first place: $200-$600/mo
  • Server / website hosting costs to support the site AND with enough bandwidth so it doesn’t crawl: $50++/mo (if you have a dedicated server, this cost is typically closer to $3-500/mo)
  • Qualified Support staff (within North America – NOT outsourced to some other country): $700-$1,200/mo depending on how many hours the support staff works
  • Further enhancements, bug fixes, development: $300-3/000/mo.

Now, totaling up those costs, the monthly MINIMUM is about $950 – excluding further enhancements/development.

And if you didn’t notice, I completely did NOT account for the “pre-launch / development” costs to create the product/service in the first place.

Sure, you might say if you have a dedicated server, it doesn’t cost you any “more” per month and that’s true. But that server cost is STILL there, and it still has to be paid for, just like support staff. “IF” you wish to do the support yourself, that’s all fine and dandy – except if you have too much time spent on support, YOUR time is not available for other important things (like marketing!)

And isn’t YOUR time worth money? Absolutely it is! You don’t eat for free. You don’t live for free. You have monthly expenses of a mortgage or rent – and even if not – you still have to pay for wherever you reside (even if it’s just in property taxes and utilities). It all costs money.

And if you work for free – you’ll have NOTHING to pay those bills on an ongoing basis.

Yes, in some instances people will offer a “lifetime” membership to a service or software as a service at the start… that is usually simply to help (a) get people trying and testing the system and (b) to kick off a launch. Usually that software flips to monthly after – so if you can get in when there’s a lifetime option that’s fantastic, and I say go for it. But read the sales page closely – if it doesn’t say anything about firmly switching to a monthly cost as of a set date, use caution and logic as to how long it will likely be around.

Proof: our app builder is a monthly cost – but it’s been running since August 2012 with updates and new templates added, and ongoing support that typically answers within a few hours. Many of our competitors have done the “one time” thing – and most of them aren’t around any longer, leaving customers in the lurch! THAT is not acceptable to me.

So let me now ask you this… would you still rather have a “one time purchase” that loses its support in a matter of a few months (or continuously sells you add ons, upgrades, or other software products just to keep themselves afloat), or would you rather pay a small/reasonable monthly fee to help support the system, and in turn, be able to know that the system is in fact fully supported and upgraded on a regular basis with either enhancements or new features?

I’d say the latter.

But does that mean a product creator should be forced to “only” have that one product/service, and not be able to create other complimentary products or services? That’s for another post….

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