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Posts Tagged ‘Knowledge Products’

What Do You Want to Know?

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Ask us a question about content marketing or self-publishing a book. No need to leave your name if you’re shy. We’ll answer in a blog post.

Is Your Content Legacy Secure?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

hands passing a batonWhat happens to your content when you die?

As we rapidly shift so much of our working and private lives online, questions are being raised about who owns what, how content can be passed to heirs, and how to effectively archive and preserve what’s important.

First, there’s content generated by your digital profile, the stuff that isn’t necessarily packaged and sold but that you create day after day: things like your Facebook feed, emails, Twitter updates, Flickr photos and more.

It’s important to know what will happen to this content, of course. But for knowledge product creators, the issues go deeper. Creating revenue from a book, an audio series or a member-based website takes hard work and commitment. It makes sense to protect that revenue stream. Here are a few questions to prompt your thinking.

  • Have you legally registered and protected your products? Know the basics of copyright and trademark law. File the appropriate forms. Consult with an intellectual property lawyer if necessary.
  • Are your contracts with suppliers and collaborators legally prepared or reviewed? Avoid future legal battles over ownership by having clear and solid contracts with editors, designers, illustrators, translators, co-authors, contributors and others.
  • Do you understand each clause of your contracts? Know what rights you own and what you may be signing away. For example, do you have a contract with your publisher that grants them full audio and electronic rights to your print book?
  • What happens if you’re hit by a bus tomorrow? Make sure your will includes mention of your intellectual property so that it passes to the person or people you wish to own it.
  • If you pass away, would you want someone to continue development of any products in progress? Would you want someone to continue selling your products or to withdraw them from the market? Would you feel OK about having the new copyright holder make changes to your material, create additional products in a series you started, or use your name to brand a new product?

One way to ensure your wishes are known and can be carried out it is to create a manual on how to continue or shut down your knowledge product empire. Include log-in details and passwords to your various online accounts, such as your shopping cart, PayPal account, Twitter feed, newsletter management system and so on. Make sure at least one person is familiar with the manual’s contents and have them keep an extra copy.

Knowledge products are a wonderful way to create a lasting legacy of your life’s work. Not only do knowledge products capture your expertise so that current and future consumers can benefit even in your absence, they’re also a form of intellectual property. Don’t let it slip through the fingers of future generations or fade away unnecessarily into obscurity.

6 Questions to Uncover Intellectual Capital in your Business

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

treasure map
Nearly every entrepreneur has knowledge that can be identified, packaged, and shared. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look. Here are 6 questions to spur your creative thinking.

1. How do you do what you do?
You likely spent a great deal of time and effort learning how to do what you do. Others will pay for that knowledge—to shorten their own learning curve, avoid costly mistakes, and achieve greater success than they could on their own.

2. Have you created new ways of talking about old issues?
For decades, people have been writing about how to lose weight. You’d think everything there was to say had already been said—yet new diet books come out every single year. That’s because people are always coming up with new theories, methods, stories, or perspectives. You can do the same in your industry.

3. Do you have new insights into your business, industry, or clients?
Share them. Hint: You don’t have to wait for insights to hit like lightning bolts. There are ways to cultivate them, such as looking to completely unrelated industries to see what ideas can be adapted to your own business to create new approaches.

4. What do people outside of your industry not know?
What’s standard knowledge within your industry but virtually unknown outside of it? Open the door on this insider information. It’s fertile ground for training and education products.

5. Can you ask questions that will help others come to useful insights?
You don’t need to have all the answers. Often there is value in asking the right questions and helping people find the answers themselves.

6. Can you anticipate the future?
Look at what’s happened within your industry in the past. Examine factors that contributed to its formation and growth, revolutionary changes that have altered the field, and important developments that have already occurred, especially over the last 12 months. If X led to Y, and Y led to Z, what can you guess about where Z might go? Help people prepare for, or participate in, that future.

What are some other questions that have been helpful to you in developing knowledge products?

What a 1907 Cosmo Magazine Can Tell You About Knowledge Products

Friday, January 21st, 2011

A number of years ago, I attended my very first country auction. It was so exciting to listen to the auctioneer and watch the flurry of bidding on each item. I decided to bid on an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1907—and I won it!

Cosmopolitan magazine in 1907 wasn’t like the Cosmo of today. It was a family magazine full of short stories, essays, investigative journalism, and genteel illustrations. One thing it does share with its modern day counterpart, however, is its abundance of advertising.

As I flipped through the ads, I was struck by how many of them offered information enticements to drive business. With the advent of e-books, downloadable reports, digital audio, and all the other modern methods of information delivery, it’s easy to forget that marketing a business with knowledge products has been around for a long time.

Booklets, books, and magazines were a staple of marketing back then, and the same principles still work now. Take a look and see what 100-year-old lessons you can draw from them.

Click on any thumbnail to enlarge and read the ad.

1907 Cosmo ad Money Matters
A brilliant ad from start to finish, it offers a $1 book for free. A dollar was a lot of money in 1907. Pay attention to the use of testimonials, the list of subjects covered (an early version of the bullet point lists so common today) and the closing paragraph:

“Not like any other book ever published…can be had from no other source…This book is not an advertisement…”


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1907 Cosmo adSix Months Free
This enterprising fellow started a magazine that he sent for free for the first 6 months. Why do you think he would do that? This is the 1907 version of a free e-zine. Check out the personal branding with the large photo of the author.

“…every issue is filled with interesting, helpful articles…”


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1907 Cosmo ad
Chicken Sense
Here are two ads offering information products about the poultry business. The first charges 15 cents for a 220-page book on the care and feeding of chickens, but the text is pretty blah. The second book is free for the price of postage but — here’s the pitch — describes the publisher’s 30 varieties of chickens available for purchase.


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1907 Cosmo ad
Excellent Opportunities to YOU
“Make big money” ads have been around for a very long time. This one promises hefty earnings in real estate and offers a 62-page book for free to tell you all about it.



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1907 Cosmo ad
How This Was Done
Another “make big money” ad and another offer for a free book.




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1907 Cosmo ad
Only Brainy, Steadfast Students, Please
Advertising as a profession was still in its infancy at the turn of the last century yet 100 years later good copywriters are still in demand. I love this line from the seventh paragraph:

“Powell graduates are preferred all along the line to the theoretical ad writers of the old-fogy school plan. “

So there, old fogies!

Look for the offer of two free books in the last paragraph.


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What do you think? Is there anything 21st-century knowledge product marketers can learn from these antique ads?

Are You a Thought Star?

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

rock star thought star

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal underlines what we’ve been saying for years: the book makes the expert. Business people with books get noticed.

Think of it this way: When it comes to your business reputation, you’re either a rock star or a wannabe.

If you’re like the vast majority of the people in your industry, you’re virtually anonymous. You might have lots of expertise, great ideas, and new methodologies, but you’re not making the most of them. You feel frustrated because you know you could take your business farther—you just don’t know how.

Rock stars, on the other hand, are celebrities. They stand out in their market against a sea of faceless competitors.

Very few business people ever garner the reputation of a rock star. But you can bet that those who do, have knowledge products of one kind or another. A book is still the most prestigious but other products work, too. What’s important is that these products serve as springboards, continually pushing their author’s message to more and more people, and continually propelling the author’s reputation to new heights.

Is it time for you to break out and become a business rock star? (Or, as we like to say here at Highspot, a thought star™.) What steps will you take in 2011 to get you there?

7 Tips for Writing Effective How-To Instructions

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Many knowledge products deal with how-to topics. Readers buy these products to learn the specific steps and elements of successfully completing a particular project. For example, they might want to know how to decorate a small balcony, how to write a press release, or how to buy a life insurance policy.

If readers aren’t successful in completing the task by following the steps you’ve described, then your knowledge product isn’t doing its job. Make sure your instructions are clear, practical, and easy to follow. Below are seven tips that will help you improve your how-to writing.

  1. Know your readers and their level of subject matter expertise. Tailor the detail of your instructions accordingly. “Defrag your hard drive” may bewilder a computer beginner but might be all the explanation a technology specialist needs.
  2. Limit the number of steps to nine or fewer. Research shows that the human mind can effectively process and remember no more than nine things at a time. If you have more than nine items, try breaking them into two or more sets of instructions. For example, let’s say your instructions on creating a press release have 16 steps. You might put 9 steps under the heading Writing Your Press Release and 7 steps under Sending Out Your Press Release.
  3. Start each step with a verb. Use the active voice and keep sentences short to make each step easy to read and understand.
  4. Keep the focus clearly on the task you’re describing. If detailed definitions, examples or background explanations need to be included, consider placing them in a sidebar where they won’t interrupt the flow of the task.
  5. Help readers avoid what you know are common mistakes.
    Example: Make sure to dry the pieces for at least 24 hours or they will warp.
  6. Provide readers with opportunities to assess their successful progress through the steps, if possible.
    Example: If formatted correctly, your page should now show a series of grid lines.
  7. Test the clarity of your instructions by having someone else (with the same level of expertise as your readers) follow the steps exactly as you’ve written them. Did the project turn out as expected? Did they run into problems or have questions as they went along? Use the feedback to fine-tune your writing.

Nothing is more frustrating than instructions that are confusing or hard to follow. Take the time to think through each step of the process you’re explaining and use the tips above to describe them effectively. Your readers will thank you.

Knowledge Products: A Business Owner’s Best Friend

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

package wrapped in brown paperWe live in a post-industrial age where information is the coin of the realm. Knowledge is the most valuable asset that a business owns. For most businesses, that knowledge exists primarily in the heads of the people who work there. For entrepreneurs and sole practitioners, what’s in their head usually is the business. That’s both limiting and dangerous.

Let’s take the example of a successful management consultant. Drawing on her knowledge and experience, she’s able to hire herself out at a substantial hourly rate. The trouble is, every time she wants to make some money she has to trade away some of her time.

What happens when she goes on vacation and is no longer putting in time? Her income goes on vacation too. What happens when she’s sleeping, or when she gets sick, or when she wants to retire? As soon as she stops putting in time, she stops getting money.

Even if she could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, there is still a limit to how much money she can make simply because she can’t create more time. When you trade time for money, you put an automatic cap on your income potential.

Something else also starts happening to our consultant. The more successful she is, the more her services are in demand, the harder she works. Did you go into business to work long, hard hours for limited reward? I didn’t think so.

Knowledge products create passive streams of revenue, that is, money that flows to you whether you’re working or not. How? You create the products once and then sell them over and over again. You make an initial investment of time and money and then reap the benefits in multiples. You can’t do that with time; you can’t sell the same hour twice.

What Exactly is a Knowledge Product?
Quite simply, an knowledge product is any chunk of information that has been recorded in some fashion — whether that be print, audio, video or multimedia — so that it can now be passed on to others. There are dozens of ways to package and sell information. These are just a few:

  • Print books and e-books
  • Booklets and special reports
  • Manuals and workbooks
  • MP3s and podcasts
  • Teleclasses
  • Subscription-based web sites

The key is taking something intangible — the knowledge in your head — and turning it into something that others can enjoy and use even when you’re not around.

Every process you employ to serve your clients, every opinion you have on the news in your industry, every past experience you carry with you can be recorded and shared. What’s stopping you?