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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

Today’s Wednesday Work Wisdom

I recently attended a training class where the instructor was telling professional speakers how they could leverage their content as a way of making money in their sleep. The reality is, the focus was really on how to make products, not how to make money. Let’s face it, at the end of the day, the goal of a business is to make money, not to make products.

What I found interesting is the use of the word “leverage.” This individual was actually using the word leverage to mean reuse. For example, if I have a blog entry, I can convert it into a book, which can be adapted into articles, which in turn could be made into audio recordings and more.

From my perspective this is not leverage; this is just repurposing.

All too often, I will hear consultants use the word leverage in this manner. They might ask, “How might we leverage our assets?” Again, this is typically about reuse.

Leverage comes from the word lever. A lever is something that allows you to get the greatest results with the least amount of force.

In the word of business and innovation, leverage is about figuring out what are the things you can do that will unleash the greatest value.

The teacher of the class suggested that people should take their content and create a lot of different products (e.g., ebooks, mp3s, webinars) as a way of creating leverage in order to make passive income.  She suggested that these various items would allow someone to make money in their sleep, and therefore they should not give them away for free.

This is a mistake!

Many speakers in the group were relatively new to the business.  Their mailing lists are very small.  Even if they made a bunch of these low cost items, the odds are they would never make more than a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars. This would hardly justify the effort involved in creating the products in the first place.

When thinking in terms of leverage, they should ask, “How do I use my content to most efficiently create the greatest ultimate return?”

I think a better use of their time would be to figure out the best way of creating a huge following so that when they decide to create a product, they have a market.

I could charge for a webinar that I market to my list. Maybe I would get a handful of buyers to pay me a couple hundred dollars each to attend. Maybe I would make a few thousand dollars doing this. But there is no leverage in this.

Instead, I choose to give away my webinars. I do free webinars for various organizations that have access to the people I want to attract. For example, I am doing a webinar for Soundview Business Book Summaries. Anyone interested in business book summaries is probably in my target market. I am doing a webinar for a major website where many people in the innovation space gather.

These webinars always generate leads for speaking. In addition, these free webinars add more people to my list; people that may not otherwise know about me. Each becomes a prospective buyer in the long run. The lifetime value of one free webinar to the right audience can be many times that of a webinar done only to my list for a fee. This is leverage.

When assessing your business strategy, be sure to look at what will increase your access to your buyers.

There is a big difference between making products and making money. Leverage is not about repurposing in order to create something new that might provide incremental value. Leverage is about creating exponential returns.

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