Negative Momentum

I am going to be totally honest with you in this article and tell you what I’ve learned about negative momentum. I think this topic is going to be particularly of interest for anyone who owns a business and wants it to grow more efficiently.

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In my opinion, business becomes easier when the products or services that you’re offering sell themselves. I am not saying that if you have great products that are capable of selling themselves that you should just sit back and do nothing. I am a big believer of sales and marketing campaigns, but I also believe it is important for the product to be able to sell itself.

Personally, I have been selling online training courses that teach people how to grow their businesses for over 10 years now. When I first started doing this in 2005, there was literally nothing like this in Holland – there were no training courses, e-books, DVDs, or anything. So in 2006, I developed my own courses and started selling them for 2,000 to 3,000 euros. First, they started out as DVDs and binders and then they became online courses.

I really love teaching courses and helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses, but I gained a huge insight earlier this year. I was starting to feel a lot of friction from selling these courses for so much money. Something in my body was telling me that it was not right.

Being very honest, my courses never sold themselves. We would always have to promote them through launches, campaigns, webinars, seminars, all kind of different techniques. These techniques set a deadline for people to purchase the product and it puts pressure on them to buy. However, the problem was, these courses never sold themselves and whenever I was not putting pressure on people to buy, sales went down.

It doesn’t matter if the product is great, if the customer feels like they didn’t get their value back, they are going to have a negative experience.

At the core, something was wrong because great products are supposed to sell themselves. Finally, last year, I had a revelation about this, which was that most people who buy a course for 2,000 to 3,000 euros don’t really have success with it. I have had conversations about this with people and there are generally two schools of thought. The first one says, “It’s their fault because they didn’t do anything with the knowledge, so don’t blame yourself” and the other says, “It’s a bad thing to sell stuff to people when you know they don’t get the value back that they paid.”

It’s funny because I’ve bought 2,000 euro courses in the past and sometimes, I didn’t do anything with the knowledge afterwards. Here is the thing: if you sell somebody something that requires a substantial investment and then they don’t do anything with it, guess how they feel about you and your product. It doesn’t matter if the product is great, if the customer feels like they didn’t get their value back, they are going to have a negative experience.

So over the last 10 years, I’ve found that a lot of people don’t do anything after completing these expensive training courses. I have always blamed this on the quality of the products, so I’d always try to create better products. The reality is, it is not due to the quality of the product – people buy the courses not because it is something they need, but because they want it because of the way it’s sold to them.

So about a year ago, I made the decision that with my coaching business, I would stop doing online courses, only live training and books. Whenever I sell an expensive online course, I cannot go all out with giving away free information, but the moment I stopped selling the courses, I just gave away all the best stuff for free. So I got rid of the expensive online courses and it is unbelievable what happened to me and my brand as a result.

I had created an article and a webinar, which was called, “42 Ways to Grow Your Business Using Facebook.” Normally, I would have charged people for that insight, but since I wasn’t doing the courses anymore, I just gave it away for free. I made the post five or six months ago and to this day, I still receive messages from people saying, “This is amazing. It’s really helpful.” Normally, whenever you sell your most valuable information, you give a little, but you also want something. It is never unconditional.

Here’s what I learned – it’s not about information for people, it’s about transformation. When you sell an online course, it doesn’t transform people. When I sold online courses, I was selling information, but it didn’t transform people. When I do my live coaching, however, I know for a fact that it is transforming for people. If the same people were given the same information in an online format, it wouldn’t have been as powerful.

Here’s another thing about selling products for 2,000 to 3,000 euros, it gives you a lot of negative momentum. You receive some positive momentum from the small percentage of people who are raving about it, but that is usually the minority of people. There’s a large percentage of the people who aren’t raving about the product and may even be disappointed because it didn’t bring them success. They might think the information was valuable, but if it didn’t do anything for them, they’re going to consider it a negative experience.

The more you sell, the more negative momentum you create. You will make more money, but it comes at the cost of adding negative momentum. If you can create a product that sells itself though, you have created positive momentum. For example, whenever a new version of the iPhone comes out, people rave about it and that creates positive momentum for Apple. Their products mostly sell themselves and they don’t need to have their ads shown all the time in order to drive sales.

Everything you do should be geared towards creating positive momentum. If you own a business where almost everything you do creates positive growth, you have an amazing business model. However, if your business model creates both positive and negative momentum, your business model is not great and you will always have to work hard to keep it going.

It is funny because I actually decided to launch another 2,000 euro course last week because I’m back in love with internet marketing. I thought to myself, “Let me do just one more training for 2,500 euros. It will be a six-week course and I will deliver the content through webinars. It’s going to be amazing and really valuable.” But deep down inside, I knew it was probably not going to be sustainable. I got distracted and wanted to do the course simply because I felt like it.

There’s a great saying that goes, “Most businesses do what the owner wants instead of what the business needs.”

In this case, that is exactly true, I was doing what I wanted to do instead of what the business needed. What my business needs is products and services that will sell themselves.

Pricing is another really important consideration. For example, the live entrepreneurial training I was describing earlier is called Bar Raisers, and the Bar Raisers course costs around 20,000 euros for people to join. It is a huge investment for an entrepreneur to make, but it could also sell itself. We already have people signing up for Bar Raisers, in fact, and we don’t even have a website for it yet. People want to sign up because they have heard how amazing it is.

I am doing another event which is cheap, but not free, around 250 euros. It is going to be a two-day course where I’m really going to share my best stuff and not try to sell anything to people. My gut feeling on this is that it’s going to create positive momentum for me because people will be getting an amazing value and it’s going to be accessible to almost everyone. But it won’t be free because if you’re going to do something like this for free, you’re going to get the people who only come to free events and that’s not right either.

It’s the same thing with my book, which we sell for 37 Euros. Books are interesting because whenever you make a book free, you can get it into all these homes and onto the New York Times Best Seller list or whatever, but does it create positive momentum for you? The thing is when you get a book for free, you’re not invested in that book. When you haven’t invested money in it, you’re probably not going to invest the time in it right away either.

For example, a while ago, I picked up a free book by Brandon Burchard called “The Motivation Manifesto.” For the first couple of months after I got the book, I was kind of like, “Whatever.” I got the book free, so I didn’t really put that much value in it. After a couple of months, I finally started reading it and my mind was blown. It is his best work and I would highly recommend it to you.

If you can create a product that sells itself though, you have created positive momentum.

But here’s the thing, if he would have sold the book for like $50, the impact would have been 10 times greater. He would have sold fewer copies, obviously, but the moment I purchased the book, I would have started reading it because I had made an investment, and that’s really one of the reasons I sell my book for 37 euros. It’s not only because we have margins, but also, when people buy it, they consume the content because they made an investment, and that creates positive momentum.

It’s important to be honest with yourself about your products and services. It’s so easy just to trick yourself and say, “Yeah, I have a great product. I get these success stories all the time.” But what percentage of your total customers become success stories? It might feel like there are a lot, but it might actually be a very small percentage.

Another great example of a product that sells itself is the Beats by Dre headphones. When these first came out, they were $300 to $400 and they still sold like crazy. If they had tried to sell the same headphones for $60 or so from the beginning, it would have never been such a success. Because the price point was so high, when people bought them, they were like, “Whoa, these are the best headphones ever.” That is how you get positive momentum and that is how the product sells itself.

Go through the products you offer and ask yourself, “Does this really sell itself?” If you have products that aren’t selling themselves, there’s probably a reason for that and you should really think about why that is. The goal is to have great products combined with strategic pricing. If you can crack that code, your business will flow more easily and become more valuable.

If you enjoyed this article, please let me know by leaving a comment below or send me a Tweet @EelcoDeBoer. 


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  • 22 July 2015
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