Great question! I’ll work off the premise that by “product” you’re referring to anything from writing a book to creating a live or self-study training class.
Products can be a great way to sell to different price-points; if clients resist paying $400 – $1,000 a month for private one-on-one sessions with you, they might join a group or buy a book. Products are also a way to honor people’s chosen learning style. Some people prefer self-study; others prefer classes, while others prefer one-on-one mentoring.
Should you create product?
My response would be, “It depends on your business model, vision, and strategy.”
- If your business model is to have a multi-tiered business where you offer multiple services and products, then yes, go ahead and create product. Make sure your financial plan and marketing plan is in place, make sure you have the support of a VA or administrative assistant if necessary, and then go for it.
- If your business strategy is to position yourself as an expert in a certain niche, then yes, go ahead and create product.
- If the vision for your business is to stay compact and focused, if the strategy is to reach people on an individual basis, then a product may be a distraction to the thing you’re actually selling: your personal service.
Small business owners shouldn’t create product just to create product — there should be a business reason for initiating the product creation cycle and a business reason for creating a particular product at a particular time.
I’ve seen too many small business owners create product which has no natural tie-in to their core marketing efforts to their primary target market. It’s like they’re launching a secondary business which needs its own marketing to capture its own audience. That’s a lot of work.
For instance, in the National Speakers Association, members are highly encouraged to create product, but with one strategy in mind: that you can sell that product to the audience after giving a speech. You literally sell books in the back of the room, or promote our next webinar series from the podium. Your marketing efforts are focused solely on getting speeches; the selling of the product happens naturally following the speech.
The small business owner needs to ask:
- Why am I creating this product?
- Do I have the bandwidth and money to create and support this product?
- Do I have a natural avenue to an audience to sell my product?
- And if not, how will I reach that new audience?
Creating products opens up a lot of marketing questions and marketing work, along with the time it takes to create and test the product. (Of course, you can always hire someone to create the product for you, but that’s another story.) My opinion is that a new small business owner, or a really busy small business owner, should consider carefully whether he/she has the bandwidth in time and money to begin creating and selling product in conjunction with their core business.
But if you have a good business reason to do it, and the time and money to invest in it, then go for it! Creating products is great fun and a wonderful learning experience.