Bootstrapping and Products

Sell More Than Just Information

By Brennan Dunn

This week, I launched my latest book: The Blueprint. And unlike my first book, I’m actually selling three versions of the product, at very different price points and each for a specific type of customer.

I first (consciously) came across this technique when Nathan Barry released his first book, The App Design Handbook. At first, I didn’t realize what a brilliant move providing tiered offerings was — both for the seller and the buyer — but I thought I’d share a bit about why I’m now completely sold on packaging ebooks.

Time Is Limited

We live in a world where time is at a premium. We’re all given the same amount of it, and many of us — myself included — end most days thinking, “Damn… there’s so much left to do.”

I buy information because I don’t have the time to dig up and catalog it on my own. Sure, I could hunt around online for blog posts on designing iOS apps, but why bother I could just let Nathan do the hard work for me? After all, time is money.

But the problem with information is that usually comes without execution. I still need to break open the sketch pad and Photoshop, tinker with UI components, and whatever else Nathan recommends me doing when designing apps.

A lot of people prefer executing on their own. They either have excess time, have nothing else that would be more valuable to work on, or maybe don’t value their time. They want to find information and act on it independently.

On the other end of the spectrum are people who just want great looking apps. So they hire consultants or employees to reach this end. This person might have an understanding, at least superficially, of what goes into great design — but they just don’t have the time, or their time is better spent on other things.

The Grey Area Between Information And Execution

There’s an often overlooked gap between knowing how to do something yourself and getting someone else (who’s already knowledgable) to do it for you.

My book is about how to setup a somewhat elaborate website for your consulting company, including autoresponder sequences, downloadable content, and really powerful sales copy.

The book arms you with the knowledge you need to create this style of website and marketing on your own, but that’s it. It’s up to you to put it in action. But execution can mean an opportunity cost — if you’re building your website from scratch, that’s time you could be billing clients or hanging out with your kids.

Knowing this, I set to work segmenting out my audience and thinking of ways to package my newest product. I settled on the following packages:

  • “Do-It-Yourself” — Just the book for $49.
  • “Website Jumpstart!” — The book, along with some downloadable content templates and a handbook full of ready-to-use fragments of copy for consultants for $129.
  • “Client Avalanche!” — Everything from the Jumpstart, but includes a full site template + copy (which obviously needs to be tailored a bit), some video teardowns of consulting websites, and I’ll spend a chunk of time reviewing your website once done for $249.

Offering A Kit

One of the first things I did after buying my first house was to put together our vegetable garden. Big-box home improvement stores have raised bed kits that come with perfectly sized cuts of timber, connectors, screws, and everything else you need to build your own raised bed. But being a ardent do-it-yourselfer (who, frankly, had never used an actual tool in his life) I sawed the lumber, found the right nails, and roamed around Home Depot for a few hours picking up whatever else I might need.

But that’s time that could have been saved had I bought the kit, and if that time saved could have been spent billing clients… well, that kit would have paid for itself.

And that’s why I think selling information — ranging from just the facts to as much implementation you can provide (short of one-off consulting) — can benefit you and your customer. You make more money on customers who want to narrow the gap between now and whatever outcome you’re selling. And your customer saves time acting on your information.

So Let’s Talk About Money

Both Nathan and I have similar results from our packaging experiment. We both offer three tiers, and we each have made the most amount of money on the most expensive tier.

As of March 14th, my revenue figures since launch…

  • “Do It Yourself” — 117 sales at $4,655
  • “Website Jumpstart” — 37 sales at $3,921
  • “Client Avalanche!” — 58 sales at $11,603

An interesting takeaway is that the middle package, though close to the DIY package in total revenue, has fewest total sales. This makes me think that the majority of customers want the lowest (financial) risk possible… buying just the book and doing the work themselves. But a large chunk of people also want more, and aren’t willing to settle on the middle tier when they could get it all for a few dollars more.

So if you’re in the process of writing a book, or have already authored one, think about what more you can offer to your customers. Can you do more than just provide written information? What can you do at scale that benefits both your wallet and your customers’ businesses?

The ebook is dead — long live the ebook!