Have you heard of Knowledge Commerce before?
To those who are new to the concept of Knowledge Commerce – and even to those who believe they know what it is – there could be many things to surprise. We’ve all heard of e-commerce (Electronic Commerce) and even d-commerce (Digital Commerce). Some people now even refer to m-commerce (Mobile Commerce). So what exactly is Knowledge Commerce?
At Solohacks Academy, we’ve tried to explain the concept in some depth, but in simple language. Go through the FAQs on this page, because these are a collation of the questions people most often ask us when we talk to them of Knowledge Commerce.
If you have more questions on this whole concept, write to us and ask us. Head straight for our Contact Form and plug in your query. We’ll add the question and answer to this page if a lot of people would like to know the answer.
What is Knowledge Commerce?
Knowledge Commerce is about selling your unique knowledge or domain expertise to other people. Your knowledge could be sold as ebooks, online courses, membership sites, consultancy services, and many other ways.
Why would someone pay for your knowledge when so much free information on every topic of expertise is available online? The answer is this.
Due to the commoditization of knowledge online, there is a value to “branded knowledge” that separates itself. People also don’t want run-of-the-mill knowledge. They want unique expertise from someone who has an angle on information that is different, and therefore can enable a competitive edge.
Knowledge Commerce attracts acknowledged experts and eager multitudes of solo freelancers wanting to build unique knowledge brands of themselves.
Why is Knowledge Commerce such a hot idea?
Research suggests that the Knowledge Commerce market will reach $325 billion by 2025. Jonathan Cronstedt, President of Kajabi, a well-known Knowledge Commerce tool, explains the prevalent confusion about “Knowledge Commerce”. He says:
“The global marketplace that’s developed around online learning has been growing for years, but unlike other industries that have fizzled and fallen out of favor, this one shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s growing at a prodigious pace.
Entrepreneurs who take advantage of the opportunity to spread their knowledge and to get paid for creating digital products will reap the rewards.
Despite this industry’s rapid growth, it has yet to revolve around a consistent vocabulary. And when something doesn’t have a consistent name, entrepreneurs who might otherwise benefit from it never even discover it.
When we use the term Knowledge Commerce, we’re referring to the practice of charging customers for access to our knowledge. This could be through an online course, an e-book, a membership site, or any other digital product designed to share knowledge.
Years ago, bloggers could generate a respectable income by sharing their knowledge online and living off advertising income. That’s not nearly as easy to do these days. Furthermore, consumers have come to value knowledge for which they have paid over information they consume for free.
Think about it: Would you trust a medical doctor who offered to treat you for free or one who charged you for applying his knowledge to your case? Some of us would appreciate free medical care, but we would question the doctor who offered services for free. Does he lack the experience necessary to charge for his services? Has he been censured or otherwise criticized for his methods in the past?
You’ve heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” That’s never truer than in the industry of Knowledge Commerce.”
Is it easy to locate a unique niche in Knowledge Commerce?
In Knowledge Commerce, every person is a “unique niche”. There are no two people like you, knowing or doing what you’re special at. You are a “one-and-only” species. At no time is there any real competition. Your uniqueness will never go out of fashion. Especially not if you re-relevance yourself with technological progress.
In fact, you can premium-price your products and services, even as you begin. It takes some smart launch brand-building. Your prices can then only climb as you reinforce your topic authority. People must learn to trust your credibility. You have to develop a hierarchy of products and services they can buy from you. If you can get customers invested in working with you, they’ll stick with you.
Where do you look when you want to discover your unique knowledge? For most people, the starting point would be to look at their own education or career strong points. Sometimes they go further afield and take on areas of passion or deep interest.
But you may have to look a little beyond your professional or interest strong points. You may have to identify a competitive or “differentiating tilt”.
Again, this tilt needn’t be something spun out of thin air. You can discover it too when you look into your repertoire of expertise. Many of us think of ourselves as single-dimensional professionals. Whereas, we may have many facets to our knowledge that remain unexploited. Also, our knowledge facets may have unique nuances.
What is the best business model for Knowledge Commerce?
Two distinct business models in Knowledge Commerce (based on your knowing – or not knowing – what to sell). Model #1 is suitable for those who know right at the start what products they want to sell to target audiences. Model #2 is suitable for those who don’t know what to sell – but would rather take cues from their target audiences.
For both models, though, you need to know your knowledge specialization area. But you may or may not know the specific products you want to create in your unique knowledge area.
In Model #1, you first build the products and services. Let’s say, you’ve decided on a mix of ebooks, courses, and a “members-only” podcast series. You then do some online advertising if you have the budget for it. If you’re on a slim budget it’s better to do “content marketing”. In content marketing, you write blog posts and social media posts.
The idea is not to write sales-y articles or social posts. Instead, you write informative content to woo people to read the articles. You then whet their appetite to know more about the topic. When they get interested, you lead them to check out your related products.
The diagram below explains the Model #1 concept.
In Model #2, you get started with audience-building. You can let the audience show you what they may like to buy from you. In this model, you start writing blog posts and social media posts first. Build a solid reputation as a domain expert in your area. Build a community of loyal readership.
If there is a sizeable demand for certain types of products, your audience surveys can tell you this. Your audience can also tell you what price-points they find viable. In this model, you rely on your regular and vested readers to tell you what products to create. You can spend less time, effort and cost on trial-and-error.
This second model is shown in the diagram below.
What’s the biggest mistake newbies in Knowledge Commerce make?
A major mistake of knowledge product creation? People push themselves to try to make that one perfect product. They try to write the most thorough ebook, or develop the most comprehensive course, with a certificate et al. The common belief is that this is the best way to delivering more than competition ever can.
It’s also the belief that such a product will command a great price. That, in turn, would lead to a shorter route to greater wealth. Some people even believe that higher product prices reflect more topical authority.
Here’s the truth though: not every knowledge product needs to ooze with endless knowledge. You need instead to have a hierarchy of products in your area of unique expertise. This actually helps you more – and helps your customers more.
- Some people want quick practical information on a specific topic. Others want to understand theory more before they begin action. You need to serve both types of audiences.
- Some people are more textually-oriented and prefer written material. Others may relate better to videos or podcasts or other audio-visual material. So, again, you need to cater to many types of preferences for information.
- People hardly ever jump in to buy your $1000 product without knowing you better. You need to build your credibility step by step. That’s why you may need to plan and execute a hierarchical range of products. These need to be at various growing price-points.
What are some of the most popular knowledge products to sell?
The Big Four are these:
- Consulting Services
But there are many other types of formats that also sell well. These include:
- Self-Assessment Quizzes/FAQs
- Short Reports/eDocs
- Video Tutorials/Screencasts
- Resource Lists/Tool Kits
- Podcast Learning Series
- Email-Based Training Sequences
- Guest Posts on Renowned Websites
- Powerpoint or Skype Presentations
- Interviews/Case Studies
- Guided Do-It-Yourself Projects
- Done-For-You Services
- Collaborative Online Events With Other Experts
- Online Research Assistance Services
- Libraries of Images, Music or Video Clips
- Customized Collated Knowledge Packs
- Developing Your Own App or Tool
- Developing a Jobs Board In Your Niche
What should marketers be careful about in Knowledge Commerce?
When creating products, ensure that every one of them reinforces your unique expertise. Every piece must promote you as a never-fail source of valuable, reliable knowledge.
Consistency of quality is the key to reinforcing your brand when you have a wide or deep mix of products. Some experts are ultra-careful with some high-priced products. But their quality slides on other lower-priced items they sell.
Finally, a word of caution on safeguarding your products against piracy. You can’t do a lot to prevent clever plagiarism. Unless someone uses your content word for word, it’s not considered a breach. If they “re-state the same point in their own words” they are okay. You have to be okay too.
To the extent you can, copyright or trademark whatever is important or very unique to your brand. Make sure to get good legal help. Put the right copyright protection notices on all your products.
There’s one other smart way to stay ahead of the “problematic plagiarists”. Refresh your knowledge products often, and mention that they are “Updated”. That way you’ll always be ahead of the crowd that likes to pinch once and then sit in peace.
This ploy also helps gladden customers. It will make them feel that you are always giving them the latest.
What contributes most to success in Knowledge Commerce?
Most successful entrepreneurs in Knowledge Commerce see their branding as the most important asset. They examine the way their branding impacts their target audiences.
Simply put, a “brand” reflects the superiority of your product and business. It defines your quality and the values you stand for. It has a distinct tone of voice in communications. It promises the solution to certain problems or routes to achieve certain dreams.
Branding helps simplify buying for a customer. Branding is a kind of shorthand for your product quality and differentiation.
Your target audiences must resonate with your branding. The net result should be greater bonding between target audiences and your brand. That will generate greater sales. It will also increase customer-loyalty retention.
Besides branding, marketing your products is the other most important success-builder. A lot of knowledge product marketers ensure that they spend more time initially on marketing and less on creating new products. That stands to reason, doesn’t it? Why overstock on inventory without a system of getting your products to zip off your shelves?
Once you have a marketing system that’s almost as good as automated, you can create as many products as you like and push them through your tried, tested and no-fail marketing system.
Does the pricing of products affect Knowledge Commerce sales?
Pricing is important, but it’s also difficult to get right the first time. You have to check out the competition, check out the kind of demand in your own niche, and the spend-happiness of your target audiences in general. Then fix a price that’s competitive, but just a shade above the market. This slight premium pricing helps your brand get a better image.
If you find from experience that a slight downward revision in price is needed you can always do that with timely discounts. But an initially higher price bracket (again, just above the competition but not too high) does help to establish where your brand stands in the market as an authority. So make sure the price sells both: the brand and the product.
Also don’t fall into the trap of thinking that lower prices equal more sales. That’s not true at all. In a sea of commonplace goods (as the online market is), people look at price as a label that signals “quality”. So if you are seen as the dregs of the market it actually doesn’t help sales at all.