To Create And Market A
Best Selling Info-Product
Discover The Info-Product Creation And Marketing
Secrets That Have Made J. F. Straw Over $82
Million In Sales Over The Last 30 Years ...
Both On And Off The Internet!
Louis Allport here ... and thank you very much for downloading this interview. :-)
In this eBook you'll find the complete transcript of the interview I had recently with J. F. Straw specifically on just one subject:
How To Create A Best-Selling Info-Product!
Since just one of Jim's (many) products has brought in over $3,000,000 in sales ... he really does know what he's talking about. Here is just a little background on him:
Over the past 30 years, J.F. Straw has written well over 300 books, booklets, manuals, reports, courses and articles about doing business all based on his own personal, hands-on experience. His writings are "specific" methods, techniques and approaches to doing business that anyone can use to start or expand their business.
Then three years ago, Jim decided to start selling some of his products over the web ... and even though some affiliate directories still won't list his site (they consider it too simple-looking) it now brings in around 50% of his annual revenue.
And since his company's annual revenue is in the millions of dollars ... you do the math! Visit his site here:
Copyright © 2004 Allport Publishing. All rights reserved.
This publication is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.
Hi Jim ... so, I know that looking around your web site you have your Power Tools section which I believe you consider your perennial best selling products -- let's say they didn't exist and you wanted to create a best-selling info-product to sell online ... what would be your first step?
Oh goodness -- that's a hard question Louis. You see I've never researched a product in my life ... I am exactly like my customers ... I started off as a 9 year old kid picking up the ads out of the back of the comic books and selling stuff and moved on into other businesses.
I was in business for over 20 years before I ever started writing about it ... when I wrote about it I only wrote about things that I had actually done or had been involved with doing ... and after I completed doing something that was successful I wrote about it. The things I did that weren't successful I didn't write about.
And of course since there are other people like me out there in the world I discovered that people would pay for that kind of information, that's why I became an info-publisher ... but until I semi-retired here a few years ago I did the other businesses and my wife and kids actually took care of the publishing side of it, all I did was write the products.
Now I write them and sell them and mess with the web site and all of that. And I've never had a loser as far as a product although I have had some products that it took me two or three years to find the advertising that would work to sell that product.
Because the products themselves ... I don't try to figure out what people want because there's just too many people out there for me to try to figure on, but the things that I do I know that other people like me would be interested in doing them so I simply tell the stories of how I've done it, how I go about it, and then let them follow through. I think that's probably the reason for the success of my products over the years.
Right. So in a way people are really interested in them because they actually want to emulate your proven success?
Oh yes. But if I was actually doing any research writing I would not rely entirely upon the internet for information and all of that in order to write a report ... I have gone out on the search engines and searched out product information and information on various operations and believe me it's not all the way they say it is.
And now I've got between 4,000 and 5,000 books in my own personal library but when I'm working on something, if I need to know something I may check the internet and search through and find information but then I go to the books ... hard-copy books ... I go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and down to the local library and I check and see what's written there because I found that too many ner-do-wells with a computer in front of them can make up all kinds of things about a subject matter.
Especially after having been in business for 50 years I could take a look at a lot of their stuff and see where these people have never really done it, they're simply spectators telling you what they think it's about.
So, which would you say is your most successful product out of your Power-Tools collection?
Currently the most successful out there is the mail order marketing course -- "Own Your Own Mail Order Business". Because there's a great deal of interest in mail order marketing -- always has been.
I didn't want to write that report, refused to write that report for 20 years and then I started buying information on mail order marketing that I saw on television infomercials and like that and discovered that it was a lot of crap. People who were teaching it had never done it and didn't know anything about doing it. And so I wrote the thing in self-defense literally so that people would know the truth about mail order.
And I think one thing about your product that makes it more interesting and maybe more of an opportunity rather than just information is that you also offer dealerships? 60% dealerships, is that right?
Well, it's 50% on the affiliate program, on the internet ... then of course they can earn a 60% profit on the products through the direct mail where they do their own processing and all of that.
I see. And that product of yours, has it been like a perennial best-seller?
Yes, since I wrote it it's been my best-seller right down the line. Of course my best all time seller is the finders fee course. I taught that course originally in 1978 and there have been well over 30,000 people who've bought that since 1978 ... it's a $100 course. Back then they told me I couldn't sell a $100 course by mail, but I did.
You said something very interesting, that on one of your products it took two or three years for repositioning it and working on the advertising to really make it sell. I was going to ask you how important you felt the actual product was against the way it's marketed and maybe not the slickness of the copy, but the way it's presented?
Whenever it comes to product and selling, the product actually has to be better than your sales material but you have to have the right keys in your sales material in order to make the sales.
I once wrote a beautiful sales piece ... I thought it was absolutely best thing I'd ever written ... showed it to everyone in the office, all of them praised it ... I didn't even test it I rolled out with a 10,000 piece mailing. I got one order.
So the product was good but the ad-copy wasn't worth a dart. As a member of Mensa with a high IQ I had a friend read my sales copy for that piece, he wrote me back and said "Only two people in the world could understand it, you and me".
So you can't get too smart for your customers, you have to be able to speak their language at their level and so the ad-copy is ... 99% of your business has to be your advertising. Of course if you have good advertising and bad product it doesn't help you very much because then your refund rate is high and your complaint rate gets higher and higher so you end up with more problems than a business.
So out of interest how did you ... I imagine you reworked that piece of advertising ... so how did you develop it after that?
Well, it was just a matter of testing. That's the name of the game in mail order ... the only reason that an old-pro like me is an old-pro is because I test everything.
Since 1999 when I set up our website I have tested just about everything and anything you can imagine on when email should be mailed, what they should say, what part of them are most important, what time of the day to mail, what day of the week to mail.
Because each of those items are important to the success of your mailings. Whether it be direct mailing or emailing and every element of it has to be tested, re-tested, and then tested some more.
And that's how you end up with the winners. You find something that works and keep it as a control. A control is a piece that you know that if you mail it you'll get x percentage or x dollars profit on each mailing.
Then you mail a split-mail where you mail your control and a new test piece so that the test-piece says something different, and see how it produces against something you know is already producing. And you keep doing that, testing the different elements until you come up with your best-selling pieces.
Is it possible you could give me an example of one such test you've done for your web site?
Let's see ... I have a report out there "How To Make A Fortune Just Snooping Around" and I have run seven different test emails producing at various levels. I ended up with one that produced a significant amount of orders each time I put it out. So I kept that as my control.
Two weeks ago I tested a new piece against it and I pulled twice as many orders. So that's now my control.
But you have to do that even when you've got a winner, because even your winner's are going to wear out when people have seen it too many times ... and so the name of the game ... success in email marketing, or direct mail marketing is to constantly be testing for new methods and new times of the week for mailing, new headlines...
A problem that too many people do when they do testing is they test too many things at once. Where I may change only a headline and test that then I'll add a paragraph in one and delete a paragraph from the other one but I test only one element at a time.
So testing is ... probably the biggest percentage of my time and effort in order to keep the sales up, is in testing.
So, let's say someone's about to develop their first info-product or put together a new info-product, and they're really looking for a best-seller, what would be your advice to them? To help them have as much chance of success as possible, what would you suggest?
Well, the best thing to do of course is you respond to the need of the buyers out there. And I have seen a number of products that if I were a research writer I could write and make some money on, simply by going to the various discussion boards and reading the kind of questions that are out there.
And whenever you find a bunch of questions about one particular piece of information then that's something you could research and create a product from because if there's enough interest, if people are asking the question then you could find an answer for it, if you can find an answer you've got a market.
So really you would say to create a best-selling info-product is answer the question that a lot of people are asking?
The answer is ... you've got to listen. Because see, besides selling info-products I've sold just about everything else you can imagine and I've always listened to the public. Listened to what they are asking for.
As a matter of fact one of my best newsletters of many years ago was Offshore Banking News. And the reason it was a best-seller is because there was a great interest in the off-shore banking community ... What was going on? What was happening? ...
Most of the newsletters in that genre were written from the stand point of tax evasion, tax-avoidance, that kind of thing. And what I did was develop the Offshore Banking News which actually reported on the financial activities within the various countries around the world.
I had stringers in 40 counties that picked up news items, clipped articles from magazines and newspapers in their local area, translated them into English, and sent them to us. We reported on the banks in Panama with Noriaga and we got a call from CBS News and they featured Offshore Banking News in the article we had written about Noriaga's banks in Panama.
Because we were picking up legitimate information about the offshore banking community, the financial institutions in those areas, rather than touting the tax evasion and all of the other nonsense that was going on in the supposed offshore banking newsletters.
It's interesting that you said you didn't go through perhaps the usual method of surveying the market, and then creating the product, you created it because it's something you'd done and been successful in.
Well, when I started Offshore Banking News I owned an offshore bank. And because of the interest from the people out there then I knew what they were really looking for was information about what the financial community was actually doing because we didn't cater to the tax avoidance, tax evasion type of people, we catered to the investment type of people that were interested in what was going on in the financial communities. And like I say I was doing it and so I wrote about it.
Maybe that's one distinct advantage you have ... you've been so immersed in different businesses ...
You see I am just exactly like my customers. I'm just an older version is all. Because what the young guys are thinking about ... you know making money out there, how to get into business, and all of that, that's what I was doing when I was their age too. And so my product fulfils a need that I would have had at their age.