RocTalk http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk Stay up to date with the latest of Red Oak Cart Mon, 23 May 2016 22:49:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Consuming Your Content – Home Study Courses http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/home-study-courses/ http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/home-study-courses/#respond Mon, 23 May 2016 22:49:38 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=556 What most of us know as a home study course is an interesting beast, because it can consist of any mix of the content delivery methods talked about separately in this book. Commonly, a home study course will consist of some printed component (often a 3-ring binder) and some combination of CDs, DVDs and additional printed components. It can also include a flash drive, some content that is delivered online via a membership site and any number of other things. As such, any of the consumption tips and techniques talked about elsewhere for a specific content delivery method can be

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What most of us know as a home study course is an interesting beast, because it can consist of any mix of the content delivery methods talked about separately in this book. Commonly, a home study course will consist of some printed component (often a 3-ring binder) and some combination of CDs, DVDs and additional printed components.

It can also include a flash drive, some content that is delivered online via a membership site and any number of other things. As such, any of the consumption tips and techniques talked about elsewhere for a specific content delivery method can be applied to a home study course if it contains that type of component.

The biggest factor you need to try to mitigate with any home study course is the overwhelm factor. Picture this—your customer is at home and the post office delivers your new home study course which arrives in a big white box. The customer opens up the box and pulls out the first component—a thick binder containing a few hundred pages worth of material. Then they pull out another binder with more material, followed by a set of DVDs and a few CDs. They pile all the components on their kitchen table and admire the massive amount of stuff they’ve received from you. And then their reaction is commonly something like this—“Oh my God, where do I even start?”

Since it’s not clear to them how they should best start consuming your content they decide to put all the items back into the box thinking they’ll get back to it and sort it all out later. But life gets in the way, later never seems to come and when they realize the time for getting a refund is running out they tape the box back up and return it to you to get their money back.

Obviously, if you can’t even get them started with consuming your content they’ll never finish it. They may well return it for a refund and the chances of them coming back to you to buy other products drops down to nearly zero.

That’s why it is critical for you to have some type of “Read this First” or “Getting Started” guide is printed out and the first thing that they see when they open your home study course box. You need to tell them exactly what to do first, to do second and so on to consume your content as effectively as possible. You can have a “Quick Start” DVD or CD but we really recommend a printed document that they see right away and that doesn’t require they take some additional step in order to use it.

If you want them watch a particular DVD first, tell them. If it’s listen to an audio CD first then tell them. If it’s read a particular part of a manual first, tell them. It is your job to help guide people through your content.

Home study courses often have a higher price point—several hundred to several thousand dollars. We have one client who sold a home study course in the Forex market for $10,000. And it sold very well. But with that higher price point comes a bigger hit to your pocketbook if they opt to return your product for a refund. So in addition to the “Read This First” guide you should incorporate as many “Stick Strategies” as time and costs allow to minimize the chances for returns. Be sure you review the section on “Stick Strategies” near the beginning of this book for ideas on what you might use.

One consumption strategy that you’ll definitely want to employ with your home study course is a series of well written follow-up autoresponder messages that go out on some pre-determined schedule. These messages are designed to be sent out via email and drive your customers back into your content. Autoresponders can be used with any type of content delivery but they are particularly important for higher ticket items such as home study courses.

Again, if your home study course includes things such as CDs or DVDs be sure to utilize some of the techniques mentioned for that particular format of content delivery as part of your consumption strategies for your home study course.

 

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Consuming Your Content – Google Hangouts http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/consuming-your-content-google-hangouts/ http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/consuming-your-content-google-hangouts/#respond Mon, 16 May 2016 22:47:19 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=553 A Google Hangout is a relatively new medium by which one can deliver content and I had the rare privilege of interviewing Alex Mandossian about Google Hangouts, via a Google Hangout, in order to help create the content for this chapter. You can watch that entire Hangout by clicking here or by copying and paste this URL into your browser – http://bit.ly/1QMJEDe. I consider Alex to be the leading authority on Hangouts and during the course of our time together Alex repeatedly stressed that he views a Google Hangout, first and foremost, as a content creation tool. Yes, you are

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A Google Hangout is a relatively new medium by which one can deliver content and I had the rare privilege of interviewing Alex Mandossian about Google Hangouts, via a Google Hangout, in order to help create the content for this chapter. You can watch that entire Hangout by clicking here or by copying and paste this URL into your browser – http://bit.ly/1QMJEDe.

I consider Alex to be the leading authority on Hangouts and during the course of our time together Alex repeatedly stressed that he views a Google Hangout, first and foremost, as a content creation tool. Yes, you are delivering your content via the Hangout, but the repurposing of that content you’ve created during your Hangout is where the real power lies.

You can take the recording of your Hangout and put it up on your website or on a YouTube channel. You can strip the audio from the recording and turn it into a podcast or an audio product. You can have the Hangout transcribed and turn that into articles or blog posts. We discussed repurposing in the Key Concepts section at the beginning of this book and you should review that section if necessary.

Aside from being a fantastic content creation device Google Hangouts are an excellent delivery medium for your content because of the engagement you can create with your audience. While many content delivery methods are entirely one way communication, Google Hangouts allow you to involve your audience in the training process at a deeper level. Alex utilizes Facebook comments for viewer input during his Hangouts and he feels that by engaging his audience more into the process he creates a better learning environment.

He builds that engagement right from the get go by having audience members enter into a chat box their name and where they are watching from. He is getting people to consume his content by essentially involving them in the creation of that content. After he’s done his introductions he queries his audience about where they would like to see him focus the majority of his time during the training phase. He discusses what he plans to cover, anywhere from 3 to 5 major points, and then gets the audience to input what their preference of what should be emphasized is.

Alex has always been a big proponent of the concept that people will support what they have helped to create and by getting them to help craft the focus of the Hangout they are more engaged and, as a result, better content consumers.

To keep the audience watching the Hangout the use of ‘teasers’ such as “At the 33 minute mark of this Hangout I’ll have a special bonus for those of you watching” is another tactic used by Alex and highly recommended. It is just like the teasers used by radio DJs to get listeners to stay with them through a commercial break.

Getting people to stay with you after they’ve signed in is just as important as getting them to show up after they’ve signed up. Do everything you can to make it as easy as humanly possible for your signups to add the Hangout to their calendar so they’ll get additional reminders. Of course, reminder emails right up until the start of the Hangout are important.

Finally, another tactic employed by Alex that positively impacts his show up rates is the encouragement of people to invite their friends and colleagues to also participate in the Hangout. You’re far more inclined to show up for a Hangout if you know someone you’ve invited is also going to be there. Who wants to hear, after the fact, that they missed you at an event that you invited them to?

Whether Google Hangouts remains the medium of choice for this type of content delivery remains to be seen. New technologies and competing platforms are seemingly popping up all the time. You’ll need to do your own due diligence to determine which platform best suits your needs. Regardless of whether it is Google Hangouts or another platform there is no doubt this kind of content delivery method will continue to grow in popularity.

 

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Red Oak Cart and Reality TV? http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/red-oak-cart-reality-tv/ Wed, 11 May 2016 18:42:48 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=765 Red Oak Cart is pleased to announce it is the ecommerce platform of choice for the popular new reality TV show “The Reel Deal”. Check it out at TheReelDeal.tv.

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ReelDealRed Oak Cart is pleased to announce it is the ecommerce platform of choice for the popular new reality TV show “The Reel Deal”. Check it out at TheReelDeal.tv.

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Consuming Your Content – Flash Drives http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/consuming-your-content-flash-drives/ Mon, 09 May 2016 22:46:22 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=551 We’ve certainly seen a rise in popularity over the last few years of using a flash drive (thumb drive, memory stick, or whatever you want to call it) as a delivery device for content. You can get flash drives that can hold massive quantities of content so the perception is that you can lower your delivery costs for your content versus more traditional media such as CDs or DVDs. Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on how much content you need to put on your flash drive. If you have more than a few GB of data then you can

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We’ve certainly seen a rise in popularity over the last few years of using a flash drive (thumb drive, memory stick, or whatever you want to call it) as a delivery device for content. You can get flash drives that can hold massive quantities of content so the perception is that you can lower your delivery costs for your content versus more traditional media such as CDs or DVDs.

Maybe yes, maybe no. It depends on how much content you need to put on your flash drive. If you have more than a few GB of data then you can find rather quickly that you may be able to deliver that content via traditional media less expensively. Just go to one of the major flash drive suppliers such as FlashBay.com and request a quote to see what you are looking at price wise.

That being said, the purpose of this book is to provide you with tips on how to make your content more consumable, so let’s assume for the purposes of this discussion that you’ve already made the decision you’re going to use a flash drive for the delivery of your content.

The first major hurdle you’ll need to overcome is the “out of sight, out of mind” factor that comes along with flash drives traditionally. They are so small they are easily misplaced. Someone drops one into their desk drawer and it may never be seen again. Obviously, if they lose your delivery device of your content they are not going to be consuming your content in any way.

That’s why it is imperative that you deliver your flash drive in larger packaging that someone would be inclined to stick on their bookshelf or leave on their desktop. Custom packaging can give you some of that all-important shelf real estate where your product is more apt to be seen by your customer on a regular basis and therefore, more likely to be consumed.

It also helps with the issue of perceived value. If someone has spent several hundred or several thousand dollars to buy a product from you and you hand them a tiny flash drive in a plastic bag their first reaction is usually something like “I paid $500 for that?” Not the way you want to get started with a new client. Even though you know and they deep down understand the value is in the content itself and not in the device through which it is delivered you’re still creating an incongruent situation in their mind that you’re better off avoiding.

While custom packaging of your flash drive is recommended to help reduce the chances of “out of sight, out of mind” once they’ve inserted your flash drive into the USB port on their computer they can just as easily get lost in the morass of content contained on your drive.

Some will say the greatest benefit of a flash drive is the massive quantities of data that it can hold. Others would say that the greatest deficiency of a flash drive is the massive quantities of data that it can hold.

Let’s face it—you can pack so much data onto a flash drive that the user can easily become so confused that they don’t know where to start. So they don’t. And with any information product, if you can’t get them to start the consumption process the chances of them coming back to you to purchase additional products or services go way, way down.

You need to make it easy for your customer to know where to begin to consume your content by directing them step-by-step on how to get started. Watch this video file first or read this pdf document or listen to this audio. Whatever it is, tell them exactly what to do first, second, third, fourth and so on. Give them what amounts to a GPS to lead them every step of the way through your content.

Can you make this “GPS” a file itself on your flash drive? You could, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Your course guide needs to be part of a cover letter (yes, an actual printed on paper cover letter) that they receive with their flash drive. Or it could be a printed booklet—some type of “Read this First” guide.

They need to understand exactly what it is they are getting on your flash drive and the order in which they should consume it. Don’t assume they’ll figure it out on their own. If they get frustrated at any stage in the process many people will just walk away. It’s your job to be their guide and to essentially take them by the hand and lead them through.

Of course, the consumption rules related to audio CDs and DVDs previously discussed can also be applied to your audio content or video content delivered on a flash drive. Break things into bite-sized chunks so people can feel a sense of progress and continue to move forward in a positive manner.

Flash drives are here to stay. Just be aware of their pros and cons so you can build the necessary consumption aids around the flash drive itself to improve the consumption of your information product.

 

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Consuming Your Content – eMail Series http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/consuming-your-content-email-series/ Mon, 02 May 2016 22:45:14 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=549 If you are delivering content through a series of email messages your biggest challenge is clearly simply getting them to open up your email. When they initially sign up for your email series you should immediately set their expectations as to what they will be receiving from you. This would include the total number of messages in your email series, the timing of those messages and an example of the Subject Line they will be looking for from you. You’re, in essence, training them to look out for your content. The immediate instructions you provide them should also include the

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If you are delivering content through a series of email messages your biggest challenge is clearly simply getting them to open up your email. When they initially sign up for your email series you should immediately set their expectations as to what they will be receiving from you. This would include the total number of messages in your email series, the timing of those messages and an example of the Subject Line they will be looking for from you. You’re, in essence, training them to look out for your content.

The immediate instructions you provide them should also include the specific steps they need to take to make sure the email address from which you’re sending your messages is white listed in their email system. If your content is getting caught up in their spam filters then they’re probably never going to consume it. Be sure to use a consistent “From” address for the sending of your emails. People are far more likely to open an email and consume it if it is coming from an email address they know and trust.

One of the biggest choices you’re going to need to make is whether you’re going to send plain text or HTML emails. There are pros and cons to each. HTML allows you to dress up your message with images and provides what can be a much nicer looking finished product. It can help you with your branding efforts. Plain text is exactly what it sounds like—a text-only format.

Here’s a synopsis of the pros and cons of each approach:

HTML Pros:

#1 – Ability to track performance metrics. If you need to know the success rates of your email then HTML is the way to go. You’ll be able to see if people are opening up and consuming your content.

#2 – Branding. The ability to include your logo or brand colors makes for a much more professional look. People will recognize your email at a glance among the massive influx of message most of us receive daily.

#3 – Social sharing. You can include social sharing buttons within your email if you want. These typically have a higher clickthrough rate compared to emails without them.

#4 – Consumability. It’s easier to break up your content into bite-sized chunks with the user of headers, columns, etc.

HTML Cons:

#1 – Beware the spam filter! Don’t overdo it on the design elements within an HTML email. Spam filters can monitor the ratio of text to HTML and, if the percentages are out of balance by their guidelines, automatically put your message in the spam category. This can really curtail the deliverability of your messages.

#2 – Some email clients warn their customers about HTML email, possibly scaring them office. Some clients also automatically disable images, which requires the end recipient to go through additional steps on their end if they want to see your HTML message in all its glory.

#3 – Inconsistent appearance. All email clients may not handle your HTML message the same way so it may not look consistent from recipient to recipient.

#4 – Time considerations. It takes you longer to construct a good looking HTML email than it does a text email.

Plain Text Pros:

#1 – Universal accessibility. Any device and email service provider will display plain text. Plain text emails will get through to people who have elected to block HTML emails.

#2 – Consistency in appearance. It doesn’t matter what platform or device your end user is using. Your email will look the same.

#3 – Speed of preparation. Sending a plain text email usually feels more personal for your subscribers and is quicker for you to prepare.

#4 – More personal. It appears more like a one to one communication.

Plain Text Cons:

#1 – No ability to track. Without the ability to track open rates like you have with HTML emails you don’t really know how many people are really getting into your content.

#2 – Clumsy links. If you want to include a URL within a text message you can’t embed the link. You have to enter out the entire URL instead of creating a clickable link. Long URLs are clunky and can confuse the reader.

#3 – Reduced engagement. Without any images you’ve got to rely on your words and just your words to paint a picture for your reader.

So how do you choose?

Ultimately, only you can decide whether it will be best for you to use plain text or HTML emails. Content delivery, such as a weekly newsletter, may work best in an HTML format that allows you the branding. The needs of your audience should be first and foremost in your consideration.

We opt to use text-only emails for all our follow-up consumption series for the products that we sell. Primarily because it is much quicker for us to put them together and we don’t have to worry about how the message will look to the end recipient. Now we do also copy and paste that text message into the HTML field in our autoresponder system so we can make any links clickable within our text message for people who are receiving HTML emails.

The guidelines for structuring a text email are, in many ways, similar to some of our suggested guidelines for writing a book. Just like we suggest you keep your chapters fairly short, your email messages should be fairly short. Only a few paragraphs at the most.

Each paragraph should have no more than 4-5 lines in total and then a blank line before beginning the next paragraph. These bite-sized chunks encourage consumption. Also, each individual line within a paragraph should be no more than 60-65 characters in length. At the end of typing 60 to 65 characters hit the enter key on your keyboard to kick your cursor down to the next line. These shorter lines also encourage consumption because they avoid the overwhelm factor you can get with lines that run all the way across the screen and appear to be too much work to read.

Your content should be the primary focus of your emails. Can you sell in your emails? Yes, but in our opinion any selling should be fairly low key and only after the main purpose of your email—delivering your content—has been accomplished first. People signed up for the content, not to be overwhelmed by a bunch of ads.

Do make sure you tease them in each message about the upcoming content. You want to keep them excited about the content they’ll be receiving from you and by previewing upcoming attractions you can help keep their level of interest high.

 

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Consuming Your Content – eBooks/Kindle Books http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/consuming-your-content-ebookskindle-books/ Mon, 25 Apr 2016 22:44:09 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=547 With the explosion of mobile reading devices has come an explosion in eBooks. Or is it the explosion of eBooks that has created an explosion in mobile reading devices? Whichever it is, eBooks, whether it be for the Amazon Kindle platform or another platform, are being sold by the millions. Amazon now claims to sell more eBooks than physical books through their site. Which means you should be definitely be offering up at least some of your content in a digitally published format. The number of digital platforms will probably continue to grow, but the 800 lb. gorilla in the

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With the explosion of mobile reading devices has come an explosion in eBooks. Or is it the explosion of eBooks that has created an explosion in mobile reading devices? Whichever it is, eBooks, whether it be for the Amazon Kindle platform or another platform, are being sold by the millions. Amazon now claims to sell more eBooks than physical books through their site.

Which means you should be definitely be offering up at least some of your content in a digitally published format. The number of digital platforms will probably continue to grow, but the 800 lb. gorilla in the game is certainly Amazon with its Kindle Reader.

Regardless of the platform, the biggest challenge you will face in getting people to consume your content is that many will download an ebook for later and then forget it. Out of sight, out of mind as they say.

If you can get your reader to identify his or herself quickly as a buyer of your eBook you can employ some consumption techniques not available if you don’t know who bought your eBook. If it was purchased directly from your website—great, you know who they are. And you can employ follow-up consumption autoresponder messages to drive people back into your content for an eBook just as you can for any type of information product.

But if they purchased on Amazon or another site the seller doesn’t shoot you an email to tell you who has bought your eBook. That’s why your book has to contain bounceback offers designed to drive them from the book to your website where they will optin for additional content. Then you’ll have them on your list to send your consumption autoresponder series as well as market additional products and services to.

Ideally, these bouncebacks should be as early in your eBook as possible. You don’t want the reader to have to get all the way to the end of your book to find those bonus items they have to go online to collect. Some people have had great success mentioning a bonus item and telling where to retrieve it right on the cover of their book. Then people don’t have to have read any of your eBook at all to possibly get on your mailing list by going to collect your bonus. Heck, they don’t really even have to have bought your book—they may have just previewed your cover online.

Of course, we hope people will buy our eBook and start to eagerly consume our content. Once people get into your content the biggest issue that will affect continue consumption is the formatting of your eBook. If it is poorly formatted it makes you look like an amateur and people won’t take you or your content seriously. It has to look good or it makes you look bad.

Before you make any Kindle book or other eBook live be sure to take advantage of any tools provided to make sure things look good. Kindle has a previewer that will show you what the finished product will look like. Use it.

Look at your eBook in the various reading apps—Kindle, Nook and Apple iBook. Have others look at your eBook before it goes live in these apps. They will often spot issues you never saw yourself even though you’ve proofread your own work ten times.

Bad formatting will simply kill the consumption of your eBook. This is one thing you have to be sure you definitely get right.

Don’t hesitate to use linking within your eBook to increase interactivity. Both internal links and external links can be used to increase reader involvement in your book. An involved reader is more likely to fully consume your book than an uninvolved reader.

Let’s face it—eBooks are here to stay and you should be taking advantage of digital platforms to help you distribute your content. Make sure it is well formatted and, like with any book, physical or digital, make sure that you are delivering quality content that will engage your reader and have them anxiously looking to you for more.

 

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Consuming Your Content – DVDs http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/consuming-your-content-dvds/ Mon, 18 Apr 2016 22:42:56 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=545 The first factor influencing the consumption of any information product you deliver in DVD format is whether your DVD will automatically begin to play whenever it is inserted into someone’s DVD player or their computer. You’ll certainly have better consumption of your video content if the disc autoplays upon insertion. You should have a menu similar to what you see at the beginning of most DVD movies which allows the viewer to select what they want to view on the disc. If your content contains several sections you definitely want to put the control into the hands of the viewer

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The first factor influencing the consumption of any information product you deliver in DVD format is whether your DVD will automatically begin to play whenever it is inserted into someone’s DVD player or their computer. You’ll certainly have better consumption of your video content if the disc autoplays upon insertion.

You should have a menu similar to what you see at the beginning of most DVD movies which allows the viewer to select what they want to view on the disc. If your content contains several sections you definitely want to put the control into the hands of the viewer to select whichever section they want to view.

If you opt to put your video content onto a data disc rather than an autoplay disc then people will only be able to watch your DVD in their computer. This will create some confusion with some viewers when they slip the disc into their traditional DVD player and it will not work. It will increase your customer service burden without a doubt.

Just remember that data DVDs can contain much more than just video content. You might have mp4 file formatted video files on your disc but you can also have pdf files, mp3 files, spreadsheets, word documents or any other kind of data on a data DVD. Again, people will have to access your content via their computer by clicking on the specific file they want to watch, listen to, read or view.

If your video content is included on a data DVD you need to have very clear instructions on your disc label as well as the product packaging itself that they MUST access the disc’s content on their computer. Regardless of whether your video content is contained on an autoplay disc or on a data disc you should have a listing of the contents on the disc(s) on your product packaging.

For a multiple disc set be sure to encourage people when they’ve reached the end of a particular disc to continue on with the program by inserting the next DVD in the set into their player. You want to continue to stimulate that consumption by acknowledging their advancement through your materials and by keeping them moving forward. You can even preview coming attractions at the end of a disc with teasers of the cool things they are going to learn on the next disc in your series.

As much as possible you need to break your video content down into bite sized chunks. We recommend no more than a couple of hours of video on a single DVD. But even that two hour piece should be broken down into segments that people can consume in anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes. People need to have that sense of forward progress so don’t inhibit consumption by overwhelming your viewers with segments that are too long.

Another factor that can influence consumption occurs during the mastering phase of your video. There are what are known as “Region Codes”. Wikipedia defines DVD region codes as a digital rights management technique designed to allow film distributors to control aspects of a release, including content, release date, and price, according to the region.

This is achieved by way of region-locked DVD players, which will play back only DVDs encoded to their region along with those without any region code. DVDs may use one code, a combination of codes (multi-region), every code (all region) or no codes (region free).

For maximum consumability of your video DVD products we certainly encourage you to not incorporate any region codes into your disc when it is mastered.

 

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Consuming Your Content – Audio CDs http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/consuming-your-content-audio-cds/ Mon, 11 Apr 2016 22:41:16 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=543 In today’s increasingly mobile world one might start to question the viability of the audio CD as a delivery mechanism for your content. Will its’ time pass? Sure. How many of us remember 8 track tapes which eventually made way for cassette tapes which eventually gave way to CDs? Younger generations may have never heard of 8 track tapes but for many years they were the preferred delivery format for audio content. Same for cassette tapes. Audio CDs will remain viable for many years to come. Millions of people still have a daily commute to work and still consume continuing

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In today’s increasingly mobile world one might start to question the viability of the audio CD as a delivery mechanism for your content. Will its’ time pass? Sure. How many of us remember 8 track tapes which eventually made way for cassette tapes which eventually gave way to CDs? Younger generations may have never heard of 8 track tapes but for many years they were the preferred delivery format for audio content. Same for cassette tapes.

Audio CDs will remain viable for many years to come. Millions of people still have a daily commute to work and still consume continuing education products during their travel time. Most vehicles these days do not yet have an mp3 compatible player installed so the traditional CD player is still heavily used. My wife still regularly borrows audiobooks from the library to listen to why she travels to and from her appointments.

If you’ve determined your target market is primarily a group that prefers to learn in auditory format you’d be silly to not offer audio CDs as part of your product mix. But that does raise a question. In what format should you deliver your audio CDs?

There are two primary formats in which audio files are delivered. The first is what is known as .wav format and this is the format which most of us are familiar with related to audio CDs. They play in your car or any portable CD player or play in your computer. The maximum time length a single CD can contain is 74 minutes of content.

The other major format most people know of is mp3. This is the format used for online digital delivery of audio content. It’s what we use on our iPods and other mp3 devices. The major reason mp3 format is used is because the file sizes are much, much smaller. That means faster downloads and it also means that you can pack much more content onto a single disc.

This creates a conundrum for many content providers however. Why? Because the consumability of your audio content can be severely hampered by providing it only on mp3 formatted discs. If your end user doesn’t have an mp3 compatible CD player in their vehicle they won’t be able to play your disc. It must be played on a computer. Not to mention the customer service issues you’ll have to deal with because end users don’t recognize the requirement of the computer to play that type of disc.

That’s why it is so important if you choose to deliver your audio CDs in mp3 format that you have very clear instructions on the disc labels and on the disc packaging that these are data discs and must be played in your computer.

Now, without a doubt if you want to deliver your audio content via online digital delivery you’ll want to do it in mp3 format. But if you plan to have a physical CD as your product you’ll have to make the choice between delivering the content in .wav or mp3 format.

Since you can get slightly over an hour of content on a single .wav formatted CD you are basically talking about one CD for each hour of content. So your product duplication costs will be greater because you have more discs to produce compared with doing an mp3 disc which allows you to pack probably all your audio content onto a single data CD.

Wav discs are more user friendly and, as a result, will typically have better consumability. Since mp3 discs must be played on a computer or in an mp3 compatible player you may have some users who will have challenges consuming your content. But there will also be those that prefer it the mp3 way. It allows them to easily download your content into their iTunes, for example, and then load onto any portable player they may have.

Regardless of whether you go the .wav or mp3 route there are other considerations in order to make your content as consumable as possible.

First, break your audio content into tracks. These tracks can be based either on set time increments, e.g. every 5 minutes or they can be based on subdividing your content into appropriate topic breakdowns. This allows your end user to easily return to a point where they may have stopped listening previously. Do not do one single long 60 minute or so track because nobody wants to have to fast forward from the beginning of an audio CD to try and figure out where they left off.

Secondly, if you’ve broken your content into tracks based on topic you should either on the disc label itself or on the packaging list those tracks and those topics. If you have a multiple disc set this is especially important. Your student may be especially interested in topic “x” and by making it easier for them to find the exact content they want you’ll have a happier customer.

Also with a multiple disc set tell the user exactly what to do when they’ve reached the end of a particular disc. Something to the effect of “This is the end of Disc #1. Insert Disc #2 into your player to continue with the program.” You may even want to “preview” coming attractions at the end of each disc to encourage them to keep consuming your audio content.

Of course, the quality of the audio on your audio CD will affect its consumability. Be sure you have a decent microphone like the Audio Technica AT 2020 (what we use) and that you have a noise free recording environment. If you’re interviewing others give them guidelines on what they can do to deliver you higher quality audio on their end. All those factors that affect you will affect them also.

Finally, although we’re not sure how much of an impact it has on consumability, we recommend you insert some front and back music at the end of each disc. It makes your program sound more professional. You’ll need to use royalty free music such as our good friend Mike Stewart has available on his site http://FrontAndBackMusic.com.

Audio CDs will remain part of the landscape for content delivery for some time to come. They can be particularly valuable in a free + shipping scenario as a lead generation device. We’d encourage you to check out our print on demand service for audio CDs that we call Disc Delivered. More info available at http://DiscDelivered.com.

 

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Consuming Your Content – Books http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/consuming-your-content-books/ Mon, 04 Apr 2016 22:35:02 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=524 You can write what many people would consider to be a good book yet have it fall short of being considered a great book simply because it wasn’t as consumable as it could be. Information products about your content, including books, are all about consumption and if your book isn’t optimized for maximum readability then you won’t have the level of success you could otherwise. Bryan and I both love to go into bookstores and browse the shelves, especially the books in the marketing and business sections. I’ll scan the covers and spines that are visible and, if a title

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You can write what many people would consider to be a good book yet have it fall short of being considered a great book simply because it wasn’t as consumable as it could be. Information products about your content, including books, are all about consumption and if your book isn’t optimized for maximum readability then you won’t have the level of success you could otherwise.

Bryan and I both love to go into bookstores and browse the shelves, especially the books in the marketing and business sections. I’ll scan the covers and spines that are visible and, if a title sounds interesting enough, pick the book up and thumb through to the first chapter.

If I look at that first chapter and see that it is twenty or more pages in length in all likelihood I’ll put the book back on the shelf and won’t buy it. Why? Because it looks like it’s just too much work to read. You want people to feel a sense of progress as they read your book and if your chapters are so long that they discourage reading on you’re making a big mistake.

Similarly, many people like to do a little reading before they go to bed. And most people like to consume a book a chapter at a time. If I pick up a book and glance at the next chapter and see it’s very long then chances are I’ll decide not to read any further that night. So I’m not consuming your book as quickly as you would want me to.

A book like this suffers from what I call “consumption obstruction.” You’re far better off having three chapters that are each around seven pages long than a single chapter that is twenty or more pages. As funny as it may sound, people are far more likely to read three or four seven page chapters than a single twenty plus page chapter.

Remember, if you can’t even get them to consume your book the chances of them coming back to you to buy your next book or some other product or service that you have to offer drops dramatically. It really is all about consumption.

So what are some of the other things you need to consider to make your book more readable, and therefore, more consumable?

One thing you certainly need to take into account is the demographics of the audience you want to reach. Let’s say you’re writing a book aimed at, for example, the baby boomer market. Then you’re marketing to a crowd that is largely dealing with bifocals or trifocals and gradually deteriorating eyesight. So if your book interior layout person selects a font size of anything less than 11 point you’re creating readability issues for some of your potential audience.

According to Wikipedia, here are the “Keep Out of Trouble Rules” regarding font usage in a book:

  • Use 11-point Palatino for text.
  • Use 14-point Helvetica for chapter titles and 12-point Helvetica for section headings.
  • Use unusual fonts only for short items, e.g., the title and author’s name on the cover, or for chapter titles.
  • Don’t use too many fonts. Three should be enough for almost any book.
  • Check books you like the look of, and see which fonts they use. Half an hour in a bookstore looking at fonts can be very useful and enlightening.

During the layout of your book you’ll need to determine how you want to break your paragraphs apart for better readability. Let’s demonstrate.

“Here’s a paragraph where sentence after sentence has been packed together and the paragraph seems to run on forever. Run on paragraphs such as this can make it extremely difficult for your readers to consume the content you want to share with them. And when you’re trying to build your platform as an author, speaker or information marketer if you do anything that makes it more of a challenge to consume your information the more challenges you are putting in front of yourself to achieve success. Don’t make it any hard than it needs to be—there are plenty of other things you’re going to have to deal with that are challenging enough. Run on paragraphs are easily dealt with simply by breaking your paragraphs into two or more paragraphs. Our opinion is a paragraph should be no longer than three or four sentences before you start a new paragraph.”

Now compare that to this:

“Here’s that same basic paragraph broken into two separate paragraphs. The sentences don’t run on and the paragraph doesn’t seem to run on forever. Don’t make it difficult for your readers to consume the information you want to share with them. When you’re trying to share your content if you do anything that makes it more of a challenge to consume your content you’re hurting yourself.

Don’t make it any hard than it needs to be—there are plenty of other things you’re going to have to deal with that are challenging enough. Run on paragraphs are easily dealt with simply by breaking your paragraphs into two or more paragraphs.

Our opinion is a paragraph should be no longer than three or four sentences before you start a new paragraph.”

Which seems more readable? This split paragraphs obviously. So it’s simply a matter of laying out your book slightly differently in order to make it more consumable for your reader.

Another thing you can do to increase readability of your book is to include call-outs or bulleted lists to give the eye a break from the same thing page after page after page.

——————————————–

“This is an example of a call out”

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Call outs can be a quote or a salient point about the chapter you most want people to remember.

The “Keep Out of Trouble Rules” above is an example of a bulleted list. Both call outs and bulleted lists should be used in moderation. But both are great tools to improve the consumability of your book.

Avoiding “Consumption Obstruction” is something to which very few authors give thought. Yet, turning your book from a good book into a great book by improving its ability to be consumed may be nothing more than improving your layout to make your book more readable.

Here are a few other interior design elements that can negatively impact the readability of your book. You can do 9 out of 10 things perfectly, but the one thing you overlook can quickly undo those 9 things you did right.

  • Ragged Right Text – almost any professional looking book utilizes justified text, where the right edge of the text is all aligned. It gives your book a much more professional look.
  • Widows and orphans – in book layout, widows and orphans are words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, which are left dangling at the top of bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. You want to avoid widows or orphans.
  • No Subheads – you need to remember that a lot of people read by skimming over the text in a book. If the major topic in a particular chapter has key secondary points that, when combined, make up your major point you should highlight the start of your major secondary points through the use of subheads.
  • Poor leading – in book layout, leading (pronounced ledding), refers to the distance between the bottom edge of successive lines of type. The term originated in the days of hands typesetting, when thin strips of lead were inserted into the forms to increase the vertical distance between lines of type. In consumer-oriented word processing software, this concept is usually referred to as “line spacing” or “interline spacing.” You should use 1.15 or 1.5 spacing in your book layout.
  • There may be some disagreement on this one, but in our opinion, a new chapter should always start on the right side page in a book. Makes for a more professional looking book.
  • No hyphenation of text, causing gaps and spaces on the page. When you’re doing justified text (right and left margins both straight) you can have some longer words that kick down to the next line due to their length. This can cause wider gaps than desired in the previous line as it spaces the words out to fit across your page. This can be avoided by making sure you have hyphenation turned on during the layout process.
  • Margins too small, making your book hard to hold. I recently borrowed a paperback from the library, a copy of one of the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. The layout person had apparently not taken into account at all how readable the book would be, as the left margin of every right side page and the right margin of every left side page in the book was jammed up so tightly to the spine of the book you almost couldn’t open the book wide enough to see all the text.
  • Poor kerning – in book layout kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a more visually pleasing result. Kerning adjusts the space between individual letters. In a well-kerned font, the two-dimensional blank spaces between each pair of characters all have a visually similar area.

Remember, it’s your job as the author to make sure your book is as consumable as possible for your reader. Even if you are not doing your own book layout you need to be aware of these factors so that your content will be consumed and you’ll make a bigger impact with your message.

 

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ABCs of Speaking: Chapter H – Hosting Your Own Events) http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/hosting-your-own-events/ Mon, 28 Mar 2016 22:33:03 +0000 http://www.redoakcart.com/roctalk/?p=522 After you have spoken at a few events for other promoters you may want to consider hosting your own events. After all, it looks so easy, doesn’t it? Well not so fast cowboy. Putting on live events of any type is an entirely different business and has to be treated as such. It is one thing to come into another person’s event and do a presentation and quite another thing to be the one doing all the legwork behind the scenes to pull off an event. The first question you need to answer is what kind of event do you

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After you have spoken at a few events for other promoters you may want to consider hosting your own events. After all, it looks so easy, doesn’t it?

Well not so fast cowboy. Putting on live events of any type is an entirely different business and has to be treated as such. It is one thing to come into another person’s event and do a presentation and quite another thing to be the one doing all the legwork behind the scenes to pull off an event.

The first question you need to answer is what kind of event do you want to put on? Will it be a small informal hands-on workshop with 10 of your best clients, a multi-day event with you as the sole trainer for the entire event, or a multi-speaker event with significant back of the room sales?

All three can be great models and there is certainly no right or wrong answer to the question. Each approach has its own pros and cons and you will need to decide which model you want to start with.

Regardless of the model you might choose the first thing you need to decide if you are thinking about doing a live event is your list. Why your list you might ask? Because your list is where the majority of your event attendees will come from. It will be the people who already know, like and trust you that will be the bulk of your audience.

——————————————————————

You are Kidding Yourself if You

Think You Can Fill an Event with People

Who Aren’t Already Really Sold on You

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You are kidding yourself if you think you can fill an event with people who aren’t already really sold on you. If you are going to do a multi-speaker event and think you can fill your room from the lists of your speakers think again. It just isn’t going to happen.

So you have got to decide if your list is right for an event. Is your list big enough and will they be interested in attending a live event? A lot of first time event promoters have delusions of grandeur, thinking that they can get half of their list to attend a live event. Most event promoters are doing well to get 1% to 5% of their list members to come to a live event. And this has gotten even tougher over the last few years with the economy. It is getting harder and harder to put butts into seats.

So the key question you need to answer first is is your list large enough to support a live event?

If you decide it is a “go” then we recommend a minimum of 16 weeks lead time to successfully plan and pull off your event. If you already have a system and an experienced team in place you can utilize you can execute an event with a 12 week schedule.

Expect to wear many different hats when you decide to host your own event. Big money can be made and big money can be lost on a live event and your ability to strike a balance between what you opt to do yourself and what you delegate or outsource to others to do for you will have a massive impact on your overall success.

Entire courses have been written on putting on live events and there is enough information on the subject to fill multiple books. In this chapter we want to give you a taste of some of the issues you may deal with in hosting your own event.

Following is the list of those things you should be doing 16 weeks in advance of your event. This is pulled from the SMARTTM Seminar Marketing System (SeminarMarketing.com). You can view the complete checklist in the resources section of this book.

Planning

  • Conduct strategic planning meeting: determine event objectives and goals, select dates and location (check for industry or local conflicts and inappropriate dates)
  • Develop event program; schedule, speakers, content
  • Develop preliminary budget

Hotel – Meeting Facility

  • Research meeting facilities; send out request for proposal
  • Perform on-site review of meeting facility
  • Negotiate hotel contract
  • Set up master account for meeting charges

Speakers

  • Invite Speakers to speak
  • Secure Speakers’ contract
  • Send Speakers information about your event: goals, objectives, audience demographics
  • Secure Speaker requirements (audio, visual, etc.)
  • Verify and approve Speakers’ presentation, product package and pricing
  • Verify and approve Speakers’ close
  • Schedule Speakers’ teleseminar call and email to their database to promote event
  • Secure any bonuses and/or door prizes Speaker can contribute to event

Event Team

  • Select event team and helpers
  • Secure helpers
  • Select and secure subconsultants (audio/video, bookstore, etc.)
  • Make travel arrangements for event

Promoting

  • Identify and contact JV partners and/or alliances to assist in promoting
  • Identify and contact affiliates to assist in promoting
  • Develop on-line and off-line strategy to promote event
  • Design website
  • Write sales letter (This could take 8-10 weeks—start early)
  • Set up shopping cart
  • Write autoresponders
  • Write broadcast emails
  • Create event brochure if promoting through off-line strategies

Wow, seems like a lot, doesn’t it? And you may be saying to yourself I don’t even know what he is talking about with some of the things on this checklist.

That is why it is critical you educate yourself on all the aspects of hosting your own events. If you decide you are the one who is going to wear the hat in a particular area you better be sure you know what you are getting into.

Dealing with hotels is an art form in itself. A great negotiator like Adryenn can have multiple hotels throwing themselves at her and offering her everything under the sun because she’s a pro and understand how it all works.

But, if you don’t know how it all works you can really get hosed by the hotels. I had a colleague who did not like the way the wall in a meeting room behind his stage looked. So he ordered a black curtain backdrop behind the stage that dramatically improved the appearance of his room.

But boy, was he shocked at the end of his event when he got the bill and found out that black curtain cost him $6000! Talk about sticker shock.

If the old phrase “You don’t know what you don’t know” applies to you from an event hosting standpoint you have got to educate yourself first to “Know what you don’t know” and our hope is that this chapter will help get you down the road to that understanding.

There is no doubt that hosting your own events can be wildly profitable. It establishes you even more as the expert in your niche, can help you sell more coaching and consulting services and can provide positive cash flow and quick revenue generation.

I have seen multi-speaker events pull in over a million dollars in just a few days. But I have also had event promoters crying on my shoulder because they lost thousands of dollars by not understanding how to negotiate with the hotel.

You have got to know how to do it the right way. So be smart and learn the ropes. As you are speaking at other people’s events be sure to study how they are doing what they are doing.

Then, when you are ready to host your own event you can dramatically increase your chances for success.

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