©1999 Paulette Ensign
Everyone has something they want the world to know about. An informational tips booklet is just one of many ways to circulate that information. From there, that content can be recycled over and over and over again into other saleable formats, all without ever writing another new word of copy.
In the early 1990's when the US economy was in dismal shape, so was the economy of Organizing Solutions, Inc., a speaking and consulting company. On a 'zero budget' (translation: flat broke!), a tips booklet called, "110 Ideas for Organizing Your Business Life" was produced. Little did anyone know that was the beginning of a journey of selling over 500,000 copies in two languages without spending a penny on advertising to do it. It actually spurred an entire new business in the process.
The booklet contents came from things that were said to clients or to audiences over a period of eight years, all about getting organized. It was information people wanted to know, and information that was absorbed well in small amounts.
To accomplish these sales results, a variety of marketing methods was used. The first was sending a copy of the booklet to national publications, inviting them to excerpt from the booklet, and adding a tag line at the bottom inviting the reader to send a small amount of money for their own complete copy. Approximately 15,000 single copies were sold that way. Next, major corporations were contacted to sell them large quantities of the booklet, usually for their own promotional purposes, at large quantity pricing discounts. About 50,000 copies were sold this way.
Then things started really expanding. Non-exclusive rights to reprint several hundred thousand copies were sold to a mail order catalog company. At the same time, a connection was made online with a marketing company in Italy, who licensed the contents to create an Italian version of the booklet. Over 100,000 copies of the Italian version were sold to a magazine who bundled it with one issue of their own publication as a gift to their subscribers. The booklet contents have also been licensed into several other languages and other physical formats.
At one point, a well known American public seminar company expressed interest in producing an audio program based on the booklet. The audio set has sold about 20,000 copies unto itself. That audio program also triggered a 20-minute interview on the in-flight audio programming of a major airline for two months, world-wide. Two companies who each produce laminated guides also licensed the non-exclusive rights to the contents. They then produced the product and pay royalties for all units they sell.
There are still many ways to utilize the tips that were written just once. They can show up as calendars, coffee mugs, tee-shirts and any advertising specialty you can think of. They can be licensed to a company as part of a radio, television or print campaign, under the banner of "An organizing moment brought to you by.........(the name of the sponsoring company)." They could be made into an emroidery design, a poster, a board game, CD, video, and truly endless other products and applications.
You most likely already have copy from which to draw. Have you ever written an article, given a speech or workshop, had an article written about you, written a book or special report, done an audio or video? All those formats can be transformed into informational, bulleted tip format.
By recycling your contents, you will develop products at different price points and in different formats, thereby always having a 'yes' answer when someone wants some of what you've got. You will also be responding to the range of learning styles of the general population. Having your information in print, audio, video, small type, larger type, with graphics, without graphics -- all means you are broadening your appeal to a wider audience. The cost for developing products described in this article can range from zero to a substantial amount, and everything in between! Whenever possible, have the products developed on someone else's budget by licensing your contents to them. You may need to produce a small amount of finished product first, just for the sake of distributing some well-perceived samples. A decision maker will sometimes decide merely from reviewing a printed or electronic manuscript of your tips. Regardless of the deals you make with others, be sure to always keep the copyright in your own possession so you can continue recycling the material without anyone else's limitation.
So, what do you already know a lot about that you want to share with the rest of the world? What do you already have that can be recycled? You are sitting on a gold mine. Your new products can serve as new profit centers, as marketing tools for your current business, or both. Go out and get started TODAY!
Paulette Ensign is the CEO of San Diego, CA-based Tips Products International. She is also past national president of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Ensign's company offers a manual, video and booklet package and teleclasses for the do-it-yourselfer, consulting services for those who want partnership and complete production and marketing services for the delegators. She has never taken a business course in her life and, until recently, did all her work on a computer with no hard drive and a 2400 baud modem. She finally bought a Pentium.