Create a Signature Product
Create a signature product. So once you've created your minimum viable product you can tweak that thing, you can make it better, you can create variations of that product, you could do more products like that. That's fine, but at a certain point you need to create what's called a signature product. I've done this with a course and community for writers called Tribe Writers. Shaunta Grimes did that with her course, Brian did that with his course. You're seeing sort of that author-preneur thing. You can do it with a book, you can do it with an event, you can do it with a community. It can be anything, really. But it needs to be something that really builds on the initial demand for whatever you're offering. So what is a signature product? A few examples, Michael Hyatt has a community called Platform University that, gosh, tens of thousands of people now are a part of. Seth Godin is probably best known for his book Purple Cow which has sold tons of copies, probably over a million. I lead ...
a community I mentioned called Tribe Writers. A signature product is a unique offering that defines your brand and place in the marketplace. It's something that is unique to you that you want to be known for. It's typically a higher priced thing, doesn't have to be. But it's something that is gonna be your bread and butter. It is the thing that you're known for, it is the thing that you can tell over and over and over again and keep making more and more money off of it. So here's how you create one. So we talked about creating a product, minimum viable product in 30 days. You're gonna get 20, 50, maybe 100 customers off of this MVP. The next thing that you need to do is you need to talk to those people. I recently was talking to a friend and he had 2,000 people on his email list. He'd launched this course, he was a counselor, and he had been working with people on career advice. And he wanted to launch a course, kinda packaging that career advice in a course format. And launched it and it sold pretty well, made a few thousand dollars. Launched it again, it didn't sell as well. And he kept seeing this diminishing return. And I said, "Well, how many customers do you have?" And he's like, "Ah, you know, I don't know, maybe 50." I said, "How many of those have you talked to on the phone?" He said, "None." And this kinda goes back to don't guess what they want, ask them. And so one of the best things that you could do, as soon as you get somebody to pay you for something, is to not go, "Oh gee, I wish I had more customers, "more readers, more people paying me." It's to find out what's connecting with people, what's resoning, and what's missing. So spend 90 days working with the people that just bought your minimum viable product. And it doesn't have to be super intense. You don't have to be counseling people. You're busy people, I get it. What I did was I took my MVP, it was a short e-book called Every Writer's Dream. Every writer's dream is to get published. And I didn't like it very much. And so I made a few thousand dollars off of it and a month later I took it down. I took it off the internet and I was like, "I wanna turn this into a real book." And I turned it into a real book. I spent a couple months writing and I re-released it under a new title called You Are A Writer So Start Acting Like One. And I self-published it. And in the back of the book I put my email address and a website where people could contact me. I thought, in the back of my mind I was like, "It'd be cool if I could turn this "into some sort of writing community or course." I don't know what that would look like but I'll wait to see if people want this. And so people read the book and at the end of the book, they'd see my email address, they'd email me. And they'd say, "Hey, this is great! "This helped me do, start a blog. "But what about getting published?" or "How do I do this? "But you talk about guest post "but how do I actually really do this?" And I just kept getting more and more feedback from people. That book sold 10,000 copies. So I started making pretty good money off of that, it was a self-published book. And I started getting hundreds and then thousands of emails from readers saying, "I want more." And it was kinda that thing like a year before, people were like, "Can I pay you for something?" And people were like, "Hey, I need help with this." And I would say, "Well it's in the book." Right, "Actually I have that on the blog, it's free." They go, "No, no, no. "I want you to walk me through this. "I need a course, I need something "to guide me through this process." and so I spent a few months having conversations with people. Finally I said, "Okay, we're gonna build something. "And I'm gonna call it Tribe Writers "and you can go sign up for an email list about this." And that was it. And for months, four, five months, I would email those people every week and say, "Hey, I'm working on this. "What do you want it to look like?" And people say, "I need help guest posting." and I'd be like, "Okay, cool." and I'd go create a lesson about guest posting. So they're like, "I need a lesson about this." and I created it just by asking the audience what do they want. And so when you talk to your customers you get to identify what's missing. 'Cause they paid you so really do value what you have to say. Even if it's $10 or $20. So it's valuable information, it's great feedback that they're giving you. They'll help you identify what's missing and then from there you can create some kind of focus group. I just did this via email, Bree put these people on a Facebook group, you can kinda do it however you want. But you need to have someplace where you're connecting with these people and you've got a feedback loop going. And you wanna build a product to suit their needs. And it doesn't have to be perfect but you wanna make this thing right, okay? The goal of a minimum viable product is to get people to pay something even if you don't intend to sell that thing forever. And in my case, I didn't. I took it down and then I created another product to replace it. But I knew with confidence that I could spend three months writing a book and people would buy it 'cause I had already tested the MVP. With the signature product you're trying to create something that will keep selling. They keep iterating on it, but you wanna know for sure that this is a felt need and a problem that you're going to solve. And so you wanna spend some time creating it and then you wanna launch an exclusive beta version of it. Here's how I did this. 2012, our son was born, I published this book and I started working on this course. And my wife had her maternity that was sort of ticking down. And she had two months of paid leave and then she could take an extra month of unpaid leave and we were on that final month of unpaid leave. And I was like, "I gotta launch this course. "I gotta make some money." I'm trying to replace my wife's income. I'd like to say I wouldn't be an entrepreneur if I didn't first become a dad and this really drove me to find ways to make enough money so my wife could stay home and be a mom for a while. And so I was like, "All right, I gotta do this." My course was half done. I had four modules, sort of mapped out, and I've done two of them. And I was talking to a friend of mine and he says, "You gotta launch that!" And I was like, "I know, I know. I'm gonna get to it." He's like, "You gotta launch it now." And he says, "Launch it now and tell people "that it's only half done. "And that as they go through the first half, "they can give you feedback "and you could finish the second half." And I was like, "I don't know. "That's kind of risky." He's like, "Well worse case scenario, what happens?" Well I guess they ask for a refund, I give it to them. He goes, "Yeah, and will this force you "to finish this thing?" I said, "Yeah, it probably will." And at this point, I had been toying with this idea of a course for about eight months. So I was like, "I gotta do something." I have to force my hand, otherwise, I'm gonna keep procrastinating. And so I did. I had this small email list of about 1,800 people that had said, "We're interested in this course." A lot of them read the book, were interested in this course, we wanna get our hands on it. And I had emailed them every week for months saying, "What do you want, what do you want, what do you want?" And so then I said, "Okay, I'm gonna do it." And I emailed them and I said, "Look, this thing is half done. "You're gonna go through the first half, "I'm gonna finish the second half. "I'm gonna give you...", I think I wanted to charge $ and I said, "I'll give it to you for in exchange for all the feedback and a little bit of grace as I finish this thing up. I sold about 200 versions of that $50 course, it was about $10,000. And then I rolled it out to another list of people that had bought my book and I said, "Hey, "this thing is coming out. "I'll charge you $99 for it." Most of the people have already joined it. It's half, the same deal and I got another 250 people to buy it. So I got 450 people out of an email list of about 2,000 people total. 450, that's a huge conversion rate. And I made $25,000 which was life-changing money, I made about $37,000 that year for salary. And I was like, "This is real, this is a thing." And I just emailed a segment of an audience that was very, very interested in something that I had. And so, so I said, "Okay, cool." I shut it down and I walked these 450 people through this process and they emailed me and I responded to every email and they said, "We should have this, "or we should have a forum." I was like, "Okay, I'll create a forum." And I built it around what they wanted. And by the end of about eight weeks it was done and they were done. And I said, "That's cool, I'll do it again. I'll launch it again." And this is the point where I was kinda on the brink of, "Can I quit my job?" and I was like, "Well I'll launch it again. "Maybe it'll do as well as last time. That would be cool." And I launched it again and it did $36,000. And a few months later, I launched it again, it did $60,000, a few months later I launched it again, it did $90,000. And on and on it went. And to this day I made probably $3,000, off of that product. And every time I would get feedback from the audience, from the customers, and I would tweak it, and iterate it, and make it better. And the goal here, of a signature product launch is to make $10,000. To find a way to get into your customer's lives, your reader's lives, your audience's lives and find out what's missing, where are you getting stuck.