I hope you enjoyed last week’s conversation about how just 5 levers can get you more time, money & freedom from your practice. Collectively, the levers show we get paid for being productive, not for being busy. And where we spend our time dictates how well we’ll be rewarded.
On to this week. Two weeks ago, I talked about ways to recover the cost of our research libraries. It sparked several replies. But one email, in particular, stood out because it illustrated the synergy of creating YOUR industry research … so you raise YOUR visibility … so you can sell YOUR industry research.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
One thing I found last week: File Syncing Showdown: Google Drive vs. Dropbox vs. OneDrive. We all need cloud storage, but everyone has an opinion about which one is best. Here’s an independent shakedown by Lifehacker.
My take: If Google Drive is for people who live in Google’s ecosystem, OneDrive is for anyone who is invested in the Microsoft ecosystem. Dropbox (what I use) is for everyone else and it works great no matter what platform you use.
Here’s what I would like you to do with this post:
- Read my lightly edited version of my email exchange with Sharon.
- Look at the niche Sharon has carved out for herself.
- See how her published industry research reinforces her visibility.
- Consider the alternative revenue stream that has been created.
Sharon: I found your newsletter this week to be quite interesting, and I wondered whether you’ve ever thought about your library costs from the other side of the table?
For example, I’m sitting across the table. My company does appraisals, but we also offer our research for sale. And as the publisher of The Official Helicopter Bluebook® for the past 38 years, we struggle with the question of how much we should charge.
The costs to publish our Bluebook are mostly fixed. They don’t vary much, whether we publish pricing on the 100 most helicopter popular models or all 260. The website has to be maintained and upgraded and kept current, no matter how many subscribers we have today, tomorrow, next month, or next year. And the work has to be done before we sell a single subscription.
So how do we set a price? Over the past 30 years we’ve tried models from ridiculously simple to ridiculously complex: What will the market bear? What’s fairest to us and our clients? How much income beyond appraisal revenues do we need to run the business? How much time and effort are we putting into the Book? What do similar publications charge per year? Then there’s this: Should we even be making this research available for sale? Are we simply enabling our competition?
I’m not going to answer these questions – the answers change yearly with the economy and the competitive landscape. I just thought you might want a publisher’s point of view.
Rod: Great thoughts! The fact that you are even in a position to offer this kind of industry information is fantastic, and I imagine it’s a result of your decision to specialize.
I think you should keep it up, even if it educates your competition. It positions your firm as a thought leader, and the upside offsets the downside in my opinion.
Sharon: I agree that specialization is incredibly important. I’m not just an appraiser, I’m an aircraft appraiser who specializes in helicopters. In fact, I’m not just a helicopter appraiser, I’m THE helicopter appraiser. And my reputation has been growing since the mid-1980s.
Everyone in the helicopter industry – and now quite a few in the appraisal industry – knows my name and expertise. I get a lot of speaking engagements in Europe and the US, which lead to more clients, which boosts my reputation as an expert in my very narrow niche. Now I can take that reputation and parlay it into building up my right-hand guy’s reputation. Which means when I retire, I’ll have a built-in buyer and a company worth paying for.
Can you imagine yourself in this thought leadership position?
What could you do to raise your visibility … your expertise … your brand?
Maybe it’s publishing research like Sharon’s … or a must-read industry blog … or a quarterly/annual pulse-of-the-industry survey … or a how-to eBook. Maybe it’s podcasting a high-profile interview series … or organizing a must-attend practice area conference.
Except for the helicopter valuation niche, the skies are wide open.
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