Our Solohacks Consulting Services can help with large or small projects in Knowledge Commerce
- Your project may be large. You may require guidance and mentoring through a full site startup or site revamp cycle. You may need help with the creation of products, or with the setting up of specific marketing campaigns.
- Your projects may be smaller. You may require quick advice and smart tactics for problem-solutions with the different kinds of Knowledge Commerce products. Innovative, competitive or cost-efficient and do-able strategies may be called for.
- Your needs may not be for projects, but for skill-training or tutorials on the use of certain new tools and techniques. These kinds of short training projects may involve “how-to” type of teaching.
You can get in touch with us for any queries you may have and we, at Solohacks Academy, can give you a solution that fits the size of the problem – at a solopreneur-friendly budget.
The steps of our Solohacks Consulting process
Every consulting project involves a mix of content types, delivery mechanisms, marketing techniques, and workflow sequences that combine to achieve your desired outcome. For convenience, we offer duration-limited “packages”. After a Free Discovery call, we recommend ideal consulting packages and durations, according to your situation, challenge and budget. Here is an insight into the process we use for delivering our Solohacks Consulting Services.
1. Free Discovery Call: On this preliminary call, of between 15-20 minutes, we discuss your problems and goals and determine whether or not there is a good fit between our approaches and your desired outcomes. We also guarantee confidentiality to our clients. We aim to define a scope for the consulting project – the key dates, deliverables, pricing, and expected outcomes. We recommend the right consulting package of the right duration for you. We set start and end dates, and milestones along the way.
2. Scoping/Package Recommendation/Scheduling: Once you’ve orally agreed one of our Paid Consulting Packages, we will follow up with a detailed email, containing a Consulting Project Agreement. This Agreement will firm up the start date for the consulting assignment, list the materials needed from either side, and detail the week-by-week project steps – the milestone dates, and deliverables from either side, as well as the outcomes for each milestone completion. We give you this Consulting Project Agreement even for our simpler 2-hour Skype Call Package or our Site Audit & Recommendations Package, as we do for all the longer Consulting Packages. This ensures that you know upfront exactly what you’ll get for the price you pay. Clients would need to sign their approval of this Agreement for the go-ahead, and then make the payment for the chosen package.
3. There are generally 4 areas covered in each consulting project:
- Project Strategy: This could entail strategy development or problem-solution. During strategy development, we work in collaboration with the client to determine the most appropriate ideas that the client can implement, within his resources and constraints.
- Implementation Support & Training: We aim to ensure that the solutions or strategies, we zero in on, are built into the workflow of clients – so that they become part of the business process the client follows. Training, if needed, is included. We also suggest ways the client can sustain the tempo of action on the solutions and strategies.
- Fixes For Remaining Issues: Every strategy or solution takes a bit of trial-and-error and time to get perfectly right. We understand that each client has his adoption curve. We hand-hold you till you feel you’re okay now to proceed on your own. Many consultants tune-off from clients too early. Our aim is to see that you are cruising smoothly before we get out of your speed-path.
- Reporting, Feedback & Copyright Handover: For longer projects, we provide reporting, analytics, and feedback, at set intervals, along the way. For shorter projects, these will be delivered on project completion. On completion of the total consulting project we will also hand over to clients an express “License-To-Use” of any innovative or proprietary ideas we have supplied them.
- During the progress of any of our consulting packages – 4 weeks, 8 weeks or 12 weeks packages, we include up to two Skype calls per week (each of 3–40 minutes duration) plus unlimited to-and-fro of emails. We strongly advocate written communication as much as possible, so that there is never any ambiguity or understanding gap from either side.
- We recommend usually that a single-point client-side representative with the authority to make decisions (usually the business owner) works with us. Too many cooks spoil the broth.
- We also provide password-protected client areas on our site, where key files and media can be stored and accessed, and project progress can be viewed and tracked.
- As a best-practice, we urge you to read and get familiar with our Solohacks Academy Website Agreements and Refunds Policy.
Get your Free Discovery Call first and then choose the right consulting package for you
Step #1: Schedule Your Free Discovery Call … we’ll discuss your needs and budgets and see which consulting package you may find ideal
Step #2: Choose from one of the consulting packages we have for you – longer duration packages offer better value, naturally
A few case studies of problem-solution consulting: customer issues and our advice
- Planning Your Expertise
- Branding Your Expertise
- Marketing Your Expertise
- Monetizing Your Expertise
- Creating/Promoting Ebooks
- Creating/Promoting Courses
- Creating/Promoting Memberships
- Creating/Promoting Consultancy
CASE STUDY: PLANNING
"I thought it would be great to start with my biggest, priciest product first to boost my name. I was starting out totally wrong, it seems ..."
Our solutions for knowledge expertise planning have helped countless customers start Knowledge Commerce right
First things first: don’t aim to make that one perfect knowledge product
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. People who envision such perfection, end up researching their topic dry.
They reshoot videos many times. They rewrite paragraphs till all the spontaneity goes right out of them. All this leads to burnout or a waning of interest, and the product never gets completed. Or even if the masterpiece product gets done, the entrepreneur is too drained to do a great marketing job.
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.
Building trust slowly and steadily is very important
You may make an early lucky sale for a large item in your product repertoire. But, it's better always to aim to begin the relationship with low-priced products and go up the ladder. There are distinct advantages to this method. Here’s why.
The bigger the price label on a product, the more the customer expects in value-return. Even small deficiencies in your product get magnified in customers' eyes. They look like big inadequacies compared to the huge sums paid.
The weak trust built behind an early large impulse sale can soon turn the relationship sour. The customer tends to look for faults, rather than to appreciate the gains. When the trust built is commensurate with product-price, the customer stays satisfied.
To be able to build customer trust as purchases go up the pricing ladder, experts use the idea of "tripwire sales".
The big secret of small “tripwire sales”
What is a “tripwire”?
It’s the analogy that comes from the electrical world. A tripwire is “… a wire stretched close to the ground, working a trap, explosion, or alarm when disturbed and serving to detect or prevent people or animals entering an area.”
The military also uses the word tripwire to describe “… a weak military force employed as the first line of defense, engagement with which will trigger the intervention of stronger forces.”
In other words, you, as a solo brand marketer can aim to sell small opening products (low-priced ebooks?) that reset customers' mental image of you and themselves and your relationship. Like tripwires, small sales help put people into a state of mind ready for the “bigger thing”.
Another important thing. Tripwire sales change the nature of your relationship with your customers. Your “prospective customers” become “actual customers”.
It doesn’t matter if they’ve spent just $5 on your site. Their changed status as “customers” makes them feel like part of your privileged set.
As time grows, you can have more and more trust built up. With enough trust accumulated, even very big sales feel satisfying and wonderful to customers.
CASE STUDY: BRANDING
"I thought my brand should resonate with only one set of audiences - my buyers. I didn't realize I had to factor in another audience entirely ..."
Our solutions for knowledge expertise branding have helped countless customers resonate with all vital audiences
Your branding must resonate perfectly with your target audiences
Most entrepreneurs see their branding and their target audience choices as separate issues. But think about this. What value does branding offer if it cannot help impact your target audiences?
What is a “brand”? 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.
What is the “target audience”? It is the segment of people who are most likely to buy your products and services. These people have both ... the need for your products and the purchasing-power and inclination to spend on them.
Branding helps simplify buying for a customer. Branding is a kind of shorthand for your product quality and differentiation.
Your primary target audiences are those who have the capacity and potential to pay you
Don't look at target audiences only as potential readers and subscribers. Try to find target audiences who have the capacity, potential and need to pay you.
You will be spending a lot of time and effort cajoling your prospects. You shouldn't find they were all only going along for free products.
You have to get into the heads of your potential customers. Look for those wanting to make money themselves. Those will be the people with goals that involve big money purchases.
Unless people have a goal of making money, they would hesitate to buy what they want. They would hesitate to spend money unless it can get them that bigger money they desire.
Your secondary target audiences are those who can influence those who can pay you
The primary people to target as an audience are those who will pay you. But, those are not your only targets to aim for. There is a secondary audience to target too. It should be the people who can influence the people that can pay you.
Let me tell you a short story of how much this helped me in my Digital Marketing consulting business. I was targeting businesspeople with new businesses as my primary target audience. But the going was rather slow.
Quite by chance, I had a brainwave one morning. I thought to myself: “Who can I get hold of who can tell these businesspeople that it’s OK to work with me? Who can tell them I’m an experienced hand and a safe bet for them?”
Research showed me that most of my targeted businesses were venture-capitalist funded. I decided to make these venture funders my secondary audience. Business poured in. I never looked back!
CASE STUDY: MARKETING
"Business wasn't moving even though I was really focused on my target audiences. Things changed dramatically when I granulated my audience ..."
Our solutions for knowledge expertise marketing have helped countless customers understand micro-marketing
What is micro-marketing and why does it work better?
In micro-marketing, you break down your audiences into many tiny segments. Micro marketing requires narrowed, intensive focus on small groups of target audiences. You then can build several nuanced products that serve small groups.
How does micro marketing help you grow faster?
In micro marketing, since you address small groups of people, you get to know their pain-points in depth. Your marketing communication gets very concentrated on their needs.
Your words resonate with these small audiences better. You relate to audiences at an emotional and empathetic level.
Your audiences instinctively begin to feel that you know them and their issues very well. They feel as if you are writing for them, almost on a one-to-one basis.
Trust bonds develop faster when people feel “understood”. As trust builds, so does sales.
Some ways to develop Knowledge Commerce products using micro-marketing ideas
How can you create a range of Knowledge Commerce products for micro audiences? Here are some examples of how to slice and dice your niche and target audience. Think of small audience segments. Think of the many small problems people have. You’ll find plenty of ideas.
If you are in the fitness or medical space, you can group people by their physical problems or physical characteristics. You can target people of a certain height, weight, age group, or health problems. For instance, you can build knowledge products for women “on the brink of diabetes”. Or build knowledge products for men with “shoulder-dislocation sports injuries”. Your solution can be specific to physical problems.
If you’re in the family counselling niche, you can break up micro-market knowledge products by the kinds of relationships issues people have. For example, a professional I know targets “mothers fed up with quarrelling daughters”. She sells sibling-rivalry counselling and therapy services, and publishes lots of ebooklets on antagonism-ridden families.
The more granular you get with target audiences, the faster you build authority, trust and sales
If you notice, all of these ideas are about identifying the small problems that small groups of people in your niche have. For them you can create knowledge products directed at solving their specific problems.
Many solopreneurs in Knowledge Commerce think that creating big products at high prices, to solve huge problems for the whole target audience, is the way to build topical authority. The exact opposite is true.
Authority is built incrementally. And the closer you get to your audiences, and help solve their particular problems, you’ll see that “one size can never fit all”.
CASE STUDY: MONETIZING
"It took me lots of trials before I realized I could monetize my business much faster using a panel of social influencers as my force-multipliers ..."
Our solutions for knowledge expertise monetization have helped countless customers understand force-multiplicaton
How to perceive and use Influencer Marketing as part of your armory
Influencer Marketing isn't just a part of the marketing you do for your brand’s target audiences. It requires you to see influencers as separate classes of “stakeholders” in your brand.
You should cultivate, encourage and motivate influencers. Influencers are those whom people in a niche respect as experts. Their words count for a lot among their vast numbers of followers.
The Influencer Marketing tactics you use should be different for the different types of influencers you “recruit”. The idea is to get influencers to use their word on behalf of your brand.
People like to feel important and influential. Influencer marketing campaigns use this human need to the fullest. Don't look at influencers defensively, and feel as if they are doing your brand a favor.
When to use influencer marketing besides your regular marketing
A lot of brands use Influencer Marketing without applying thought to when it is most ideal to use. They don't consider how it should work as an adjunct to regular content marketing and social marketing.
Influencer Marketing campaigns may look like a good idea at any time. But they are particularly powerful if deployed at specific times. Consider Influencer Marketing when your regular marketing could use reinforcing “stakeholder” voices. These voices should add an extra push to your brand’s persuasive communication.
Here are some occasions when Influencer Marketing helps:
- When your target audience is quite homogenous, Influencer Marketing can be powerful
- For fragmented target audiences, use different levels and types of influencers in parallel
- When audiences show authority-dependence for decision-making, influencers can work wonders
- When resistant audiences need softening before a high-cost brand campaign, influencers can help
- When the brand has low credibility or has had a setback, third-party voices can help
- Influencers generally help a brand sound less boastful and more polished
- When brand interest slackens, bursts of awakening influencer marketing helps
Always ensure you monitor influencer marketing ROI
If the idea behind using influencers is to multiply your own reach, sales and monetization, you have to realize you need to spend on influencers to get that return.
Influencer campaigns can run away with your good money. It's up to you to constantly monitor if they are producing more profits for extra expenditures made.
You may need more than one influencer at any time. All your influencers must run a coherent campaign in support of your brand voice even if their approaches are different. And most importantly, every influencer has to deliver more bang for your buck if you want high profitability. You can't have some dead ducks on your influencer panel offset by the earnings of the others.
CASE STUDY: EBOOKS
"Ebooks are my thing. I started writing loads of ebooks at speed, without fear, after I learnt the easy way to secure against ebook piracy ..."
Our solutions for piracy-protection have helped countless customers protect their ebooks
If you’re distributing free downloadable ebooks it doesn’t matter. But if you’re trying to sell ebooks, theft and piracy are huge problems. People discuss all manner of solutions. These range from software and hardware locks, changing laws, or naming and shaming thieves.
Unfortunately, nothing has worked to date. But we have found an answer that at least totally discourages ebook theft. Read on.
1. Securing your ebook
We all find it easy to convert our ebooks into PDFs. They also provide ease of customer reading on different devices. But we can also see that PDF-encryption-hackers are enjoying themselves.
Then, we have the well-meaning people who buy our low-priced ebooks and then email it to all their friends. It’s no world for the genuine ebook writer with small means and simple expectations of security. We need to go into more elaborate protection.
2. DRM pros and cons
DRM (or Digital Right Management) provides digital content protection. DRM can help prevent downloading, uploading, accessing or lending. It can control how many devices you can download the ebook onto. It can also restrict the copy-paste feature.
Unfortunately, DRM has not been as successful as expected. Just Google the search keyword “DRM cracking” and see how many tools there are now to make mincemeat of DRM. But don’t lose heart. As we said, we have found the near-perfect psychologically-discouraging way to protect my ebooks.
3. Using WP PDF Stamper Plugin – your lifeline
In our search for a near-foolproof PDF protection system, we came across this absolutely nifty WordPress plugin. It's called the WP PDF Stamper Plugin … from the company TipsAndTricks.com. Look at the clever little idea it uses.
When a person buys your ebook from your site, you can get his postal and email address, right? Just before the ebook download, the PDF Stamper stamps the bottom of all the pages of the ebook, in unobtrusive font, with the buyer’s address and email ... in the clever guise of licensing the book to him. Tell me, who’d ever want to “lend” this book to random friends, when his personal details are stamped on every page?
CASE STUDY: COURSES
"I was stymied by all the information overload when creating my courses, till I learned the far simpler problem-solution system ..."
Our solutions for course content planning have helped several customers make it a breeze
You would think picking a course to create is the biggest problem you can have. But when you start planning your course content, your head-scratching will reach record levels. You know you have to create a course, so you read and research the topic till you’re out of your brain.
All that content … where will you start and where will you end with it all?
1. Plan your content by a problem-solution method
When solving a problem, first describe why the problem occurs. Try to list the reasons. People may find a point of identification with one or more of these reasons. Then explain your range of solutions. For each solution say why, and then how.
After that, state what can go wrong with the solution – and if it does, how to solve it. Finally, give something extra for those who are willing to take more risks. Show them a 5X or 10X solution.
2. The best course content has clear topics and modules
Don’t aim for an elaborate curriculum for your first course. Instead, keep it simple to create, and simple to follow. Have a course introduction, followed by 4 main topics. Each topic can have 4 modules under it. End with a conclusion.
An extra word about course videos. Use a smart instruction style that people like. When explaining the theory, use a Powerpoint slide kind of format in your videos. When showing how to activate a process, use a “watch me as I do it” kind of format in your videos. People expect to see this kind of teaching.
3. Plan the delivery mode of your course
Give thought to your course delivery method. Experts believe people react best to video-based instruction. They also like to see the instructor’s face, and see him or her speaking. Credibility is the highest for this mode of delivery.
But if you are really camera-shy, you can opt to record your voice, reading out a script to match what’s on the screen. Add a photo of your face on a corner of the screen. This is the next best thing to fluent video-delivery of speeches. Make sure your voice is neutral in accent and clear and crisp. Incidentally, if you can get yourself trained for online video-speaking, it’s well worth the investment.
CASE STUDY: MEMBERSHIPS
"I didn't realize why members join membership sites, and what would make them stay subscribed. Then I hit upon 3 big reasons ..."
Our solutions for membership sites have helped many customers understand loyalty-building
It helps to know what members perceive as “value” in membership sites. What makes them want to belong to the site? What makes them remain members for a long time? There is a lot of worthwhile research that gives us some good answers.
Solopreneurs with membership sites will see some churn of members. But by understanding member-psychology, churn can be stemmed.
1. Members value being invited to “exclusive events”
Webinars, seminars or mastermind classes are great events that people like to be invited specially for. Those times when groups of members get together to share knowledge is when the community bonding develops. Community-kinship is a great loyalty-builder.
You don’t have to stage such events too frequently. It can be monthly, or even once every two months. You can also spice things up a bit by inviting a special guest – a top influencer – to talk to your group.
2. Members like to have themselves or their businesses assessed
If you’re catering to other business owners, here's one of the things they love to get done. Offer to audit their business or website for free, and suggest customized recommendations. Your membership site will feel like a venture that cares for its members’ growth.
If you’re not dealing with businesses but individuals, a self-assessment quiz is a great idea. Follow this up with a few personalized recommendations from you. It can make a big difference to your members. Make sure you offer this assessment or audit right upfront when a member joins.
3. Members like knowing who else is a member
Everybody likes to be seen in good company - especially company that is greater than their usual circle. A lot of members I once surveyed, on why they joined membership sites, told me they liked being part of environments where the others are successful or known people.
That’s probably why many membership sites like to show lots of testimonials from existing members who have some repute. Another extension of this idea, which some membership sites have, is a bulletin email of new members who have joined. This, no doubt, helps in retaining many members who were planning to leave. As they see the interest of others in joining the site, they tend to reconsider leaving.
CASE STUDY: CONSULTING
"I was grossly under-charging on my consulting services and defeating myself. I then saw how I could switch to a different pricing model ..."
Our solutions for consultancy-pricing have helped diverse the different ways to price
Of all the Knowledge Commerce products you can sell, professional consultancy is the hardest to price. Most often, you may need enough social proof to validate your price - like knowledge certifications, client testimonials, good reviews ...
Here are some pricing models that work for consultants. Choose the ones that best fit customer-expectations.
1. Charging prices by hourly rates
One method consultants use to charge customers is hourly rates. But it's not about the hours you think you are going to spend on the assignment. There are authoritative sources that tell you approximately how many hours a project should take.
Also, check competitive consultants to see how they quote on likely hours and costs for projects. Price slightly on the premium side if you want to raise your brand profile.
2. Charging prices by projects
There are two ways to charge customers by projects. One way is to add up your costs, add your desired profit margin, and give the customer the quote. This is how smaller consultants work. But big-ticket consultants have a riskier but far more lucrative method of charging.
They check what additional revenue or cost-savings they can bring to their customers as a result of their handling the assignment. They then declare that they have a base consulting rate, but will also take 20% or so of the revenues or cost gains the customer derives - as an additional fee for achieving or exceeding targets. They back themselves on results.
3. Charging prices by retainers
Consulting on a retainer basis will give you a fixed monthly fee for which you agree to be available for a fixed number of hours per week or month. This kind of consulting arrangement is usual when the customer and the consultant are both in favor of fixing the money.
But retainer arrangements also have their downsides. Some customers may preclude you from working for competitors. See that your contract is well-drafted using strong legal help because there can be many a slip between the cup and the lip. A lot of retainer-based projects are the ones that get sour later, because, with time the adherence to the contract tends to slide from both sides.