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Posts Tagged ‘trends’

Planning Ahead with Product Creation

Many information marketers today create and sell digital only products and do quite well with that method of delivery. Personally, it’s my favorite form of product creation. No physical production costs, shipping issues, etc. Plus the customer has instant access to your product, 24/7. However, having said that, I believe it’s STILL important to PLAN for physical product creation…even if you only intend to offer your product in digital form. Here’s why…

Whether you are designing a product (book, video or audio) for physical production, all the processes are the same as far as pagination, cover design, book editing, video editing, etc. so why NOT plan for physical? So ALWAYS plan for physical but offer as digital…whether you’re creating online videos and need a digital cover for those, offering an MP3 and need a cover for that, or an e-book. There is always a chance you may want to go physical…DVD series, CD, print book, whatever. If you plan for it in the beginning, you’re covered…plus it doesn’t require additional work to design high-res. However, if you design for web only and then decide to go the physical route, you have to re-create everything, which is a waste of time, effort and money. Not good.

Almost none of my products are currently available in print or physical form, but every one of them have been designed that way, just in case. Every online video series I’ve created and sold has print resolution covers designed for them. Every e-book I sell has print resolution covers designed for them and every video can easily be re-rendered at DVD or HD resolution for physical products. You should consider doing the same.

Choosing the BEST Colors for Your Designs

As many of you know, I worked as a graphic designer for 18 years, mostly designing book covers for publishers and authors around the world. During that time, I developed a great understanding and appreciation for the power of color and its effect on the consumer. It’s a topic that I’d like to share about briefly in this post for one simple reason…I see many in the Internet Marketing community creating websites, e-book covers or Powerpoint presentations without any regard to the effect their color choices are having on their visitors or prospects. In other words, “because it looks cool or pretty” is NOT the reason to use a certain color scheme…grin.

Color has a language of its own and that language should be understood by anyone who expects to use it to its best effect. Many good website designs or product covers have been spoiled because the colors used said one thing and the words and illustrations another. Color has three dimensions: hue, intensity, and value.

Each of these has its part in the message of color, but the message of hue is most universally understood. For example, red suggests heat; yellow, light; blue, cold; purple suggests darkness; orange suggests flame; green suggests the blending light and coolness that conveys rest. Of course, these examples are just that…examples…because color can have multiple meanings. For instance, red can also mean “stop” and green “go.”

Intensity of color is measured by its brightness or dullness. The usual danger is that of using colors that are too bright. In general, it may be said that a full intensity color should never be used for backgrounds or for large spaces. Dull or neutralized colors are better for these purposes. The primary reason for this is that having a large area of bright color can be distractive. Your eye doesn’t know where to land because of the huge area of bright color. When, from a selling perspective, we want the reader’s eye to land on our website headline or book title.

The value of color is measured by its lightness or darkness. The lighter values should be used for backgrounds because they look larger; the darker values for the material which is to be emphasized. Of course, there are exceptions to this from a stylized design perspective. But let me ask you a question that drives this point home: “How many of the top 25 websites online have “dark” backgrounds?” (The Top 4 are pictured below). Enough said.

Of course, Colors should normally be used in harmonious combinations. There are of two types of these combinations; the combination of allied colors and the combination of contrasting or complementary colors. Allied colors are those which contain some part of the same primary hue. Two shades of green, or of blue, form an allied combination. Brown and yellow make a good combination. In the same way a pair of complements, as red and green, yellow and purple, blue and orange, may be used. For the best effect and result for your designs, never use complementary combinations in their full intensity. Two complementary colors in full intensity form the crudest of all harmonious color combinations. Red and green is perhaps the worst of all combinations and the most frequently used and abused. A quick glance at the illustration below should be enough explanation for this warning.

My favorite website for choosing the best color schemes for any design I work on, whether it’s a WordPress theme or a book cover, is Color Scheme Designer (http://www.colorschemedesigner.com). It allows you to generate endless combinations of allied and complementary color schemes. And best of all, this amazing tool is free. If you are creating ANY kind of design – website graphics, banners, book covers, logos, etc. – Color Scheme Designer should become your newest best friend. Have fun with it!

A Robot’s View on Product Creation

I always appreciate great testimonials, and this one by my robot friend on product creation and the Public Domain is no exception. Thanks, my friend!

Product Creation Lessons from Aeropostale

My daughter, Ashlea, works at Aeropostale, so over the past several months, I’ve been in the store many times. I’ve also been paying attention to what they do and how they do it when it comes to how they create and market their products (clothes and accessories). Aeropostale is hugely popular with the younger generation and it’s evident that they understand their demographic (14 to 17 year-olds) very well. Heck, even I like a lot of their clothes and I wouldn’t consider myself a part of their target audience. That said, there are a few lessons we can ALL learn from Aeropostale when it comes to branding and product creation.

For Aeropostale, branding and product creation are synonymous. If you’ve been to one of their stores or to their website, the ONE thing that will stand out immediately is that their brand is on everything…their clothing turns their customers into walking billboards. It’s rather brilliant actually. Of course, they’re not the only company to do this…many do…but I’d have to say they’re one of the best at it for sure.

Aeropostale also provides a LOT of variations with their products. Now stay with me here…their main brand simply involves their name and the year they began their company…1987. Here is where it gets fun…the variations they create on those two elements is nearly limitless, it seems. As a product creator, this is an important lesson to understand. With just the words Aeropostale, Aero, 1987, A87 and other variations, they produce hundreds, if not thousands, of variations on the theme. You can do the same thing with your products and your business…especially if your products are image based!

Here is a challenge for you…go the the Aeropostale website and just look at their t-shirt lines…that’s it. Now, using Aero’s approach as your inspiration, consider a graphic, photograph, logo, or brand related to your business and make a list (or sketches) of every possible variation on the theme you can think of. Ask friends and family to do the same. You will be surprised (and amazed) at the outcome. I guarantee it! Then, share your results and what you learned here in the comments! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Sell Quality and the Price Won’t Matter

There are many people selling online today, especially those just starting their own business, who are convinced that the reason they cannot get more business is because their price is too high. They think that if they just cut their prices a little more than their competition, they would get a lot more business. But would they?

Truly successful companies and individuals recognize that their long-term game plan cannot be built around having the lowest price, but rather, having highest quality merchandise and charging prices corresponding with that quality.

When you look at sellers who try to establish their reputation on price, the fact becomes clear that the combined sales of these price pirates are but a fraction of the sales generated by the businesses focused on quality…and that includes selling e-books! The old axiom is true: “You get what you pay for!”

Cheap things are made for people who cannot pay more; for people who must get along the best they can with something almost as good. Unfortunately, when the expected service is not delivered, the customer is aggravated and upset. He or she never forgets the person who sold them that crappy product. On the flip side, the customer who buys a quality product soon forgets that he or she paid more for it, and remembers only the satisfaction it gives them. Quality is the strongest testimony you could ever have.

Quality means repeat orders. It creates relationships that stay with you year in and year out. It means that you will be able to hold what you have and add to it. In short, quality products means enduring success, and not success built upon the quick sands of here-today-and-gone-tomorrow customers.

Here is something else to consider, if your business were to follow a plan of meeting every price cut that you see others offer, there would be no figure for your customer to use as a basis of price comparison. In other words, selling would simmer down into a seesaw proposition. You have the lowest price today on this product, and your competitor has it tomorrow.

Permanent success can be built only on a quality foundation. A cut in price–if out of line with the general market trend–will undo a reputation for quality quicker than any other one thing. It breeds suspicion. Buyers think: “If his stuff were as good as he says it is he wouldn’t have to cut the price.” And their reasoning is logical.

So you see that quality is synonymous with satisfied customers, and we all know that the product which gives the most satisfaction, in the long run, is the easiest to sell. If you sell a product that is better than what your competitor is selling, you can be sure that the world will find it out about it and want it. Word-of-mouth spreads quickly…especially in this day and age of social media. This is why I emphasize over and over again that you should NEVER publish or re-use Public Domain content as-is. Not that the content is necessarily bad…but it is more an issue of YOUR quality. The quality of product that defines YOU as a great person or business to buy from. When people start wanting the products you are selling, the measure of your success depends only on your ability to embrace even greater opportunities as they are presented to you.

Unexpected Success Strategies

In my last post, I invited people to share what was holding them back from succeeding online. I asked, “What Are You Waiting For?” and then offered to reply to every comment that was posted…which I did. As the comments rolled in, however, I began to notice a trend that was unexpected but exciting. Some of those posting were sharing their success strategies! Not some theory-based, generic “ideas” but strategies they are using to actually make money from Public Domain content! Now I say this is unexpected, not because I’m surprised they’re succeeding, but because I’m excited about their generosity for wanting to help others make it too! That’s been my commitment as well. And so, with THIS post, I’d like to offer a new challenge…

I would LOVE to hear about your successes with using Public Domain content in your business. It doesn’t have to be a story of making millions…perhaps you’ve only made a sale or two so far. But I would enjoy hearing about what you are doing with Public Domain content (and I think others would two). As you comment and share, I will offer my own thoughts on how you might be able to ramp up what you’re already doing to see even greater success! And…I encourage others to do the same! Why not work together so we can ALL achieve greater success in our businesses?! Now, obviously, I don’t expect you to share proprietary secrets or even exact niches unless you choose to. This isn’t about giving others the opportunity to rip us off. It’s the core strategies that work universally…in any niche…and those are what I want to hear about.

So let me ask you…

What core strategies are creating success for YOU?

Share your comments below! Oh and, BTW…if you would prefer to respond with a video answer, create your video, upload it to YouTube, and share the link with your comments! Can’t wait to hear from you!

Innovation and Creativity

Innovation and Creativity

The Gospel According to Magazines

After a little bit of introspection, I’ve concluded that I’m a bit of a magazine junkie. I can’t help myself…I love ’em…and for a LOT of reasons. And because of my fondness for magazines, they’ve played a big role in my business as well. They can help your business as well in some ways you may have not considered before now. Here are a few quick business-building “magazine” strategies for your consideration.

Market Research

It’s no big secret that one of the keys to success in business, online or offline, is understanding the interest and needs of your customers. And while there are numerous ways to identify these consumer trends (keyword research, Ebay and Amazon buying trends, Twitter trends, etc.), one of my favorite ways to investigate consumer trends is to take a look at magazines. The short and concise revelation of trends with magazines is simply this: If there aren’t any (or many) magazines about a given topic or niche, then it’s likely that there is little interest there for Joe Consumer.

While this axiom is certainly not exclusive in its scope, it certainly rings true in most cases. If there is massive consumer interest in a given niche, there will likely be a large number of magazines to support that interest. Take golf for instance. Golf is considered an “evergreen” niche…one that will always be popular. Magazines.com offers no less than ten magazines specific to golf…Amazon.com offers even more with all the international editions they include. So just by this statistic alone, you could easily say that this is a strong, albeit competitive, market to look at for product creation.

simple trip to Borders or Barnes and Noble can offer great research insights for what’s hot and what’s not. But in case you want to stay close to home, here are the best places online to see which niches boast a strong (or weak) presence in the magazine marketplace.

Magazines.com – Features more than 2,000 magazine publications on their site and makes it easy to identify the most popular magazines in any given topic.

Amazon.com/magazines (Amazon’s magazine bestseller list is also worth some of your research time. You can access it HERE).

Magazine.org – The official website for Magazine Publishers of America. This is a great site to explore for identifying trends in magazine offerings, ad spending, popular topics and more.

Product Creation and Blog Content

I have written and taught in some detail about the significance and benefit of using content from magazines in the Public Domain as a part of your product creation or blog posting process. With less than one percent of all magazines published before 1964 now in the Public Domain, these magazines are a virtually untapped goldmine for fresh content for your products, blogs and articles. While I go into great detail how to find and use magazines from the Public Domain in my popular product, Limitless Blog Content, I thought I’d share a few places to discover old magazines online. Discovery is an important part of the process, of course, because you can’t find what you don’t know to look for, except by accident. And I prefer to be deliberate in my business.

I often talk about using Ebay as a great source for older magazines, and the truth is that it is perhaps the best online source for old magazines there is. A great place to start on Ebay is right here in their Old Magazines section. There are also a few other online sources for identifying and locating older magazines as well. While I have not shared these before now, I will tell you that they are worthy of your investigation.

The first website I’d like to share is Past Paper. They offer over a million rare and back-issues of magazines for sale on the site. Not all the magazines they carry are in the Public Domain, but I’ve found them to be a great resource for tracking down magazines on a given topic. The second website is Used Magazines. I share this one hesitantly because the magazines they offer are primarily focused in men’s niches (like cars and motorcycles) but also include adult magazines as well…so visit at your own risk. They do, however, offer a great selection of automobile and motorcycle-related magazines.

For more insights and strategies on how to use Magazines to enhance and build your products, blogs, articles and more, be sure to check out Limitless Blog Content, the definitive, step-by-step guide to Public Domain magazines.

40 Free Trend Tracking Tools and Websites

One of the keys to succeeding online—whether you are selling products or just trying to get traffic to your blog—is to understand what people are looking for…what they want or NEED. By researching these trends, you can focus your efforts (and product offerings) with laser accuracy and increase your chances for success exponentially. I’ve compiled a list of 40 different resources that are free for you to use in your trend research. While each website tracks trends in a wide variety of different ways, not all the resources may suit your needs. However, I would encourage you to spend some time familiarizing yourself with each of the sites to best determine which ones will provide you with the best data on the trends within your niche market.

For ease of use, I’ve listed the websites in alphabetical order.

Alexa Movers and Shakers

Alexa’s traffic rankings are far from perfect, but the Movers and Shakers list may help you to identify some current trends.

Alltop

Alltop links to popular sources of content in a wide range of topics.

Amazon’s Best Sellers

Amazon’s Best Sellers list includes various categories and can provide a glimpse that may be helpful, especially for affiliate marketers.

Amazon’s Hot New Releases

You can follow Amazon’s Hot New Releases list to stay on top of the latest products that are of broad interest.

Amazon’s Movers and Shakers

Amazon’s Movers and Shakers may not be the top sellers, but they’re the products that are gaining the most in terms of ranking.

AOL Hot Searches

AOL Hot Searches is similar to MSN A-List with a variety of information on hot topics.

Ask.com – Top Searches

Ask.com also has its own list of top searches.

Bing X-Rank

xRank keeps track of notable people and puts them in order for you.

eBay Pulse

The eBay Pulse shows what items are selling right now, and which items are being watched the most.

Friendfeed Top Links

See which pages are being linked to the most by Friendfeed users.

Google Insights for Search

With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, and time frames.

Google Trends

Google trends provides data on search phrases that are hot.

Google Trends for Websites

Enter a URL and Google Trends for Websites will show you where it’s visitors are (geographically), other sites that they visit, and other searches that they perform.

Google Zeitgeist

Google’s Zeitgeist is the collective effort of other Google trend tools mentioned in this post.

Hitwise Widgets

Download a Hitwise widget to bring the latest online trends to your desktop.

Ice Rocket Trend Tool

Ice Tocket’s Trend Tool will letter you enter a word or phrase (or multiple phrases) to see how often it has been mentioned on a timeline.

Keyword Forecast – Microsoft AdCenter

Keyword Forecaster from Microsoft AdCenter forecasts the impression count and predicts demographic distributions of keywords.

Kijiji

Most popular searches for NYC Classifieds.

Lycos 50

The Lycos 50 lists the top 50 search phrases of 2008 on Lycos.

MSN A-List

MSN A-List provides information on popular topics, people searches, and rumors.

mySimon.com Top Searches

mySimon’s Top Searches reveals what products people are searching for in nearly any category.

New York Times – Most Popular

The New York Times also provides a look at popular searches on its site.

POPURLS

At Popurls you can quickly see what is doing well at a large number of social media sites.

RSSmeme

RSSmeme shows popular blog posts that have been shared.

Search.com – Most Popular Searches

Search.com popular search list provides a quick way to see what is popular at the moment.

SEOmoz Popular Searches

Updated once daily, SEOmoz’s Popular Searches is an aggregation of popular search queries gathered from various sources across the web.

Shopping.com Consumer Demand Index

The Shopping.com Consumer Demand Index (CDI) makes it easy for you to put your finger on the pulse of consumer demand.

Shopzilla – Top Searches

Shopzilla provides some useful information that shows what shoppers are searching for.

Techmeme

Techmeme is a constantly updated site that publishes links to tech news.

Techmeme Leaderboard

The Leaderboard at Techmeme shows which sites are mentioned most frequently on Techmeme.

Technorati Popular

Technorati’s Popular page will show you some current trends of the blog world.

Top Ten Wholesale Trends

Your search for hottest wholesale and retail trends can now begin and end at the latest go-to trend-tracking site, Top Ten Trends

TrendHunter Magazine

With 9+ million monthly views, TrendHunter.com is the world’s largest, most popular trend community.

Trendpedia

Trendpedia lists popular search phrases and also lets you compare trends of multiple phrases.

TrendWatching

trendwatching.com is an independent and opinionated trend firm, scanning the globe for the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas.

Truemors

Truemors allows you to follow news and rumors.

Twist

Twist allows you to see what is being mentioned on Twitter.

URLTrends

URLTrends will provide a trends report based on a particular URL.

Wall Street Journal’s Most Popular

For finance-related content, Wall Street Journal will show you what’s popular.

Yahoo! Buzz

Yahoo! Buzz tracks the buzz about anything — from breaking stories on major news to viral videos on personal blogs.

Download this Information in PDF Form HERE!

Product and Niche Research with Magazines

I want to share some valuable lessons I’ve learned through a method of research I use to determine the best niches to sell in and the types of products to develop for those niches. I will also share some unique insights with this method that you may have not considered before now, but that can have a profound impact on your product creation process.

There are a number of effective methods for researching niche markets to identify which are the best for achieving success, but the one method I want to focus on in this article is this: Using current print magazines as research tools. There are some huge benefits to utilizing print magazines for niche market research, and while some are obvious, others may be less apparent. Let’s look at these benefits as they apply to effective niche research:

1. Magazines Help Identify Niche Trends. If there is a niche you are interested in pursuing but you’re having a hard time finding print magazines related to that niche, it’s likely that the niche is a waste of your time. Of course, as in all things, there are exceptions to this rule, but I’ve found that this is a rule worth paying attention to for a number of reasons.

First off, magazine publishers spend a LOT of money doing market research as well when producing or preparing to produce a magazine. If there is little interest in a topic, the readership (also known as circulation) will not be there and neither will the advertisers; and it’s in those two areas where the money is in traditional magazine publishing. So, in a sense, we could say that you need to “follow the money.” If there is a strong readership/circulation AND an abundance of advertisers for the magazine, then it’s likely that the niche will have sales potential. A good resource to read that I highly recommend is the 2008-2009 Magazine Handbook found here: http://www.magazine.org/consumer_marketing/circ_trends/index.aspx. You can also find a wealth of magazine trend information here: http://www.mediainfocenter.org/magazine/magazinecategories.asp. Also, if you have access to it (check your local library), the SRDS manual can shed valuable insights into the true circulation numbers for most magazines. It’s worth checking out!

Another feature to watch for when searching for magazines in a specific niche is how many magazines there are for that niche! If you can only find one or two magazines for a niche, it’s likely that there is not the same public interest there that you would find for a niche that has 10 magazines in it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should still consider the niche with only a few magazines in it, it just means that the market share is likely to be smaller.

2. Magazines Help Identify the Best Content Demands. What topics are the magazines you found writing about consistently? As you study the various magazines you find, you’re going to see trends…again, pay attention! There is a reason why those topics are coming up over and over again—it’s what the consumer is looking for! When doing this type of magazine research, I would HIGHLY recommend that you purchase copies of EVERY magazine related to your niche so that you can study the articles and content. As you review the magazines, make a list of the content topics that are the SAME in every magazine…this is valuable data that can help to focus your own product efforts. If you find that all the magazines related to your niche offer certain types of data or content, you NEED to offer those same types of data as well! This seems like an obvious point here, but not surprising, most marketers never pay much attention to this.

3. Pay Attention to the Advertisers. Just like you will see trends in the articles and features, you will also see trends in the advertising. Pay attention to this. Advertisers are paying a lot of money to be in the magazine, and many are there on a regular basis. Learn to leverage advertiser’s research and money expenditures for your own benefit. If advertisers are consistent with offering certain types of products or services within the niche your magazines serve, you need to note that and pay attention to it as well!

4. Learn From the Design and Layout of the Magazine. This point is one that most people overlook and one that can be extremely valuable for you! I’m sure I’ve been more sensitive to this because of my work as a graphic designer, but it will serve you well to deliberately consider the design and layout of the articles, features and regular columns. Here’s why…THIS is what your target audience is USED to…it’s what they see (and expect) from content in this niche. You WANT to give your customer what they want, right? Then you need to know not only what “what they want” is from a content perspective, but also how it’s being presented to them. I ALWAYS look for these design trends. Consider these questions when flipping through the magazines:

a. What fonts are being used?
b. How are photographs and artwork being used? And what types of artwork?
c. Is there secondary or support information included with the articles? What is it and how is it presented?
d. What colors are being used for headers or for backgrounds?
e. How effective are the article titles?
f. How is the Table of Contents designed?
g. Are statistics, charts and graphs used? How?
h. Are there Q&A’s, step-by-step articles, editorials, interviews, testimonials, etc.?
i. Is the content presented in bite-sized chunks or in long form? What is the balance between the two?

These questions and others help identify the design and content trends for your niche. Again, a lot of money is spent identifying these trends and then designing for them…leverage that research for your own benefit! Use the magazine design to spark ideas for your own product design, layout and creation! It will only serve to improve your product and presentation.

I love this method of research using current magazines because it gives you the ability to benefit from millions of dollars of research for a niche market, and all for the cost of a few dollars! Think about that…the publishers have spent millions in research and the advertisers have spent millions in research, and you get ALL that for $5.95 or whatever the cost of the magazine is! Now that’s leverage! Niche research just doesn’t get better than this…so use it to maximize your own efforts and enjoy the success it brings. I know I do!

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