"The competition's tough, and it requires us to be tougher - tough-minded, never hard hearted."
- John Kerry
By Bob Bly
There's a lot of money being made in marketing information products online today. But there's also a lot of competition - as I'm sure you've noticed.
You can't just sit there and pray that your customers never find out about your competitors. Thanks to Google, they can find their offers in seconds. Your best strategy is to identify who and what you're competing against - and fill a gap in the market that they're missing.
Here are the four types of competitors you face as an info marketer... and one good strategy for combating each:
Competitor Category #1: Companies that give away information on your topic absolutely free
There are countless companies out there giving away free information on their sites.
These folks are not in the business of selling information products. They typically sell a physical product or a service... and give away free content to build their e-list.
It can be challenging to compete in a niche where a lot of good free content is published by companies that treat it as a marketing strategy. After all, why should your customers pay you for your content when they can get it - or something close to it - for free elsewhere?
One strategy to use against this type of competition is to establish yourself as a guru in your niche.
Consumers want authoritative information from experts, and are willing to pay a premium to get it. For instance, anyone can compile information on conservative issues and politics. But only Rush Limbaugh can publish and sell The Limbaugh Letter.
Competitor Category #2: Bookstores
I've lost track of the number of times I have reviewed some publisher's expensive information product, only to find that it contains less information than a 250-page paperback I can buy at Barnes & Noble for 15 bucks.
One competitive strategy to use against bookstores is micro-niching - publishing in a highly specialized niche that trade-book publishers won't touch.
Example: I can go to Barnes & Noble today and find several highly useful - and quite inexpensive - books on social networking. But if I publish a title like "Building Your Dental Practice With Social Networks," that is too narrow a niche for bookstore sales.
Competitor Category #3: People who sell low-priced info products on your topic
During the 1990s recession, a major newspaper ran an article about two entrepreneurs selling reports on marketing in a recession. One was me, and the other one was a famous marketer.
The paper told readers how to buy my report but not the famous marketer's. Reason: Mine cost $7, and his cost $1,000.
From one press release, I sold over 3,000 of those booklets.
How could that marketer have hoped to compete with my bargain rate? One way would have been to offer more in-depth content.
In information products, there is a content hierarchy - from weakest to strongest - that goes like this:
Level A. Telling readers what to do (e.g., in a booklet on making money as a landlord, informing the reader that they must make every tenant sign a written lease)
Level B. Telling readers how to do it (e.g., providing a checklist of the nine points every lease should cover)
Level C. Doing it for them (e.g., actually including sample leases)
Low-priced info products mostly cover Level A and, to a lesser degree, Level B. The more your high-priced info products give the readers of Level B and Level C, the greater the price you can command.
Competitor Category #4: People who charge as much as - or more than - you for seemingly equivalent info products
If your pricing is similar to that of your competitors, two of the strategies I mentioned above - establishing yourself as an industry guru and micro-niching - can differentiate you from the crowd. If your price is lower than most of your competitors, play the price card.
In your marketing copy, talk about how the other guys charge an outrageous fortune for big, elaborate packages that the buyer won't have time to absorb and probably will never even look at. Then show how your product saves time because it is tightly written (no fluff) as well as inexpensive.
One other idea for handling competition: Befriend them instead of going to war with them. This strategy is called "coopetition." It recognizes that two businesses can be competitors and joint venture partners simultaneously.
Reach out to your competitors via phone or e-mail. Offer to do joint venture deals and affiliate promotions with them.
Maybe they have a high-priced product that is the perfect back-end to one of your front-end products. Instead of spending a lot of time and money to duplicate what they have done, sell their product to your customers on the back end for a nice affiliate commission on every sale you make.
[Ed. Note: Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of more than 70 books. To subscribe to his free e-zine, The Direct Response Letter, and claim your free gift worth $116, click here now.