Beyond Selling Information

- May 27, 2009 3 MIN READ

The Information Age has turned the intangibles of Data, Information, Knowledge and Ideas into very real careers and livelihoods for many of us. But perhaps it’s time to look beyond selling information.

Most solo businesses will sell either Data, Information, Knowledge or Ideas. The following definitions will help you appreciate where your business fits in:

  • You are selling Data if you collate numbers for surveys, turn voicemail into emails, or manage someone’s calendar.
  • You are selling Information if you compile Data into tables and charts, do research, or mine data to reveal trends.
  • You are selling Knowledge if you combine Information to produce reports, books, videos or training seminars.
  • You are selling Ideas if you combine diverse Knowledge to generate new approaches, strategies, plans, and solutions.

From my observations, the majority of small and solo businesses seem to be selling Information.

The world is very comfortable with selling Information. Unfortunately, this also means more competition. Selling Data, Information and Knowledge is fast becoming a commodity.

From my own experience, the market appears to be moving from Quantity to Timely Relevant Quality. Consider the number of people who still use a travel agent, even for simple itineraries. Also, why do people love Oprah’s Dr Mehmet Oz when there are already tonnes of easily available medical Information and Knowledge out there?

While anyone can access loads of Data and Information, we want experts to do things for us. We are time-poor and results-driven. If you need to fix one specific problem on your website, would you download an HTML course? Or ring a web developer?

I see the following needs coming:

  • We don’t want yet more Data or Information. We want someone to make sense of them, to create relevant knowledge we can apply directly to our business.
  • We want someone to show us the patterns and trends. And to help us make sense of Data and Information in the context of our business.
  • We want expert Knowledge and Ideas on demand – just when we need it, and not before. We want experts who can make a relevant impact on our business.

Want more articles like this? Check out the sales strategies section.

How is your business positioned to meet these needs?

Consider moving up the information value chain. This enables you to add more value to and potentially diversify your portfolio of offerings.

The higher you move up the value chain, the safer you are from the threat of commoditisation, as well as potentially increasing your differentiation.

You don’t have to ditch what you are doing right now. Also, you can partner with complementary businesses.

If you are a virtual assistant, you can offer a restaurant/valet/seminar booking service using suppliers you have personally vetted. You are now selling Information beyond Data. Your clients no longer need to wade through all potential suppliers.

You can also start actively helping to manage your clients’ lives. Move from simply booking great restaurants for meetings and anniversaries, to creating entire experiences around these events. Now that is selling Ideas.

If you compile vertical industry reports for a living, how about using your unique position to produce big picture summaries, with your own unique insights? You are now turning Information into Knowledge.

How about going one step further and start a cross-pollination event so experts from one industry can meet those from other industries? That would be an Idea!

A financial advisor selling Knowledge can move into the Ideas space by starting to offer tailored creative financial plans for those going through mid-life crisis – “how to get that Harley without taking the kids out of school”.

A web designer can move from selling Knowledge (design and build websites) to selling Ideas – how to use web technology to improve your business practice and communications.

As you can see, there is a breathtaking range of possibilities for just about every solopreneur. Get a coffee and start your ideas engine today!

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"