by Marcy Nelson-Garrison
You love what you do, who you serve and the impact you have. Now imagine expanding your reach, credibility and income without taking on more clients. Did that get your attention? If so, then creating products may be the next phase of business growth for you.
Products give voice to your ideas, your wisdom and your experience in a way that also builds your brand. They provide instant credibility, give potential customers an easy way to get to know you, and generate an additional income stream. Oh, and did I mention that creating products is fun?!
Having been immersed in all things product for the past seven years, I can tell you that not all products are created equal. I want yours to stand out, and here are some tips that will help:
Create from passion
Creating from passion may sound obvious, but I’ve seen many coaches simply slap something together because they think they should have a product. I do not recommend that approach. Instead, once you find your authentic voice and your unique way of serving your niche, everything you create should reflect that point of view. You want your product to enhance your branding and credibility even when it’s a free lead generator.
The process of creating a large product, such as a multimedia home study program, is very similar to writing a book. In both cases, you develop the content over time. It’s important to heed the words of New York publishing strategist Janet Goldstein who says the process of accumulating writing over time for a book changes you. For this reason it’s important to choose your projects carefully. What do you want to be changed by?
Devote time to idea generation
I’m on an anti-"slap-it-together" kick and want you to spend some time in the creative process. Idea generation requires two ingredients: (1) permission to play and experiment with ideas and (2) stimulus to fuel the creative process.
The most important permission to give yourself is to fully claim your own deep wisdom. Sit down with a pad and paper and ask yourself the question, "What do I know?" Do this before looking outside yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised at the depth of your own wisdom and experiences.
Once you have a general direction for your content, your idea needs room to breathe and evolve. Your wisdom and expertise—what you know—can be packaged in so many different ways. Begin to look for creative stimulus. The goal of stimulus is to expand possibilities and find new innovative ways to put things together.
You can stimulate ideas by applying cognitive tools like those found in Michael Michalko’s book THINKERTOYS. Another bit of stimulus fun is to walk through a store totally unrelated to personal development. Pick up random objects and ask yourself, "How could I apply a coach approach or my product idea to this?" You will be amazed at the quirky ideas that show up if you are open and playful. You never know which quirky off-the-wall idea will trigger the golden one.
Nurture your ideas
Allow yourself time and support to dream big. Would you like to have your product endorsed by someone famous? Would you like it to be the next hot thing that everyone must have? Do you want people wearing your message? (Think about the guys who created the Life is Good line of T-shirts.) Knowing what you want from your product will help influence the decisions you make down the road, so take some time to play here and explore possibilities.
There are a number of steps and decisions to be made as you nurture your ideas along. While all products require some investment, some cost more and take more time and planning than others. My recommendation is to start with the less costly routes like ebooks, ecourses, MP3s and print-on-demand. These give you the ability to test your ideas affordably—and feedback is such an important partner in the creative process. Feedback will help the idea evolve and you will have a better product in the end—one you know your customers want. Once you know you have a winner, make the investment and do whatever you need to do to get it out there, big time.
Don’t let the details cloud the big vision, it’s all doable! Get the help you need, keep putting one foot in front of the other, test your ideas and get feedback as you go. Every one of you has wisdom and expertise that can be packaged in unique and creative ways for your markets. I invite you to take the plunge!
Marcy Nelson-Garrison MA, LP, CPCC, is a coach, product mentor, visual artist and Masters-level licensed psychologist in Minnesota. Her online store coachingtoys.com offers a venue for innovative products created by coaches and she also reviews coaching products for choice Magazine. Learn more about Marcy at www.ProductMentorCoaching.com.