3 Main Types of Knowledge Businesses And How To Make Them Grow

15 Nov, 2021 By Bobby Klinck
3 Main Types of Knowledge Businesses And How To Make Them Grow

If you’re thinking of building a knowledge brand, you need to understand the structure of the three main types of knowledge businesses. Basically, you can sell information, service, or expertise. In this post, we’ll talk about each type of knowledge business and how to succeed in each one of them.

Information Sellers

As the name suggests, information sellers are individuals who sell information products. These businesses are all about information and provide little to no actual implementation, which means they require little time and support. If you’re searching for the ultimate scalable product, then you should become an information seller.

Information sellers sell products that are scalable, like packaged templates and packaged information. You need certain skills and knowledge to get this done right. But that’s where the problem comes, too. People can (and do) copy your knowledge and skills. Basically, once you launch your product, someone else can try to steal it.

They might not copy it word for word, but someone can take your idea and create their own version. That doesn’t violate any law because today’s copyright law doesn’t stop people from taking your information product and creating their own version. What copyright laws can do for now is to prevent actual copying and pasting.

As an information seller, you need to accept the reality that once you put your product out there, other people will copy it. You’ll continue to have competition in this area, and they will drive the costs of your individual products down.

Let’s talk about books. There are books that still sell even if they have been in the market for a long time. However, books have a limited shelf life because new information comes up all the time and people can easily create newer versions about it. That means you won’t be making that much money over the long term.

Does that mean you shouldn’t become an information seller? No. But it does mean you need to be strategic to build a successful business selling information.

Sell Multiple Products

One thing you need to do to succeed with information products is to sell multiple products. This means more than just launching one or two information products. I know people who sell as many as 700 different information products online. I sell about 60 templates, which are considered information products.

As you can see, you need to sell more than one information product. You have to present fresh information all the time. If you’re selling courses, you need to update them regularly in terms of the material you present and how they are delivered.

If you want to sell information, you have to constantly innovate. You need to present new products while refreshing existing and older products.

Scale Now

If you want to sell your information products at a premium price, you should get to scale and be known as the person for a certain product, idea, or thing. Basically, that means you should become one of the popular people who teach others about stuff. It’s either you become one of those people who are known to sell that particular information or you sell your product for cheap.

If you decide to choose to sell your products for cheap, you need to sell a lot of them to make it worthwhile. But if you become one of the top few people selling that information, you can offer it at a premium price.

Also, you need to know what your objectives are. How do you create your next product? How do you update your existing products while marketing and communicating to scale?

You might need to start with penetration pricing, which involves pricing your products cheaply so you can get a lot of people to purchase your stuff. Once you have established your position in the market, you can start to sell the product at a higher price. To succeed with selling information, you to think things through and come up with a plan that will help you scale.

Service Businesses

Service providers or service businesses involve one-on-one work. They sell their services and trade hours for dollars. But what sets service providers apart from expert businesses?

A few good examples of service businesses include virtual assistants, designers, and web developers. You’ll find a lot of people who are service providers because it’s not a level of expertise that is closely guarded in a way that only a few people have this skill set.

You will encounter a lot of competition if you decide to be a service provider, and it will drive the prices down. You can offer a certain service for a specific price. But there will always be someone who can do the same job at a cheaper cost.

So what are the key drivers to a successful service business? You need to have the proficiency and the right skill set, but there are some other skills you need to develop.

Marketing Is Key

Marketing and business-building expertise are key to success in this area. You need to be good at messaging so that you can get your name out there for people to see. Once that happens, people will hire you.

Be Efficient

You also have to be efficient and learn how to create systems that will allow you to offer lower prices than your competitors. Let’s say you’ve figured out how to do things faster, which means more money within the service business. It will allow you to have more clients without working more.

Team Building

You should be able to create systems that will help your team work efficiently. Aside from that, you also need to become a good leader who is willing to invest in learning leadership. If you want to build a service business that will provide you with an excellent return on investment over the long term, you have to realize that you won’t be doing everything on your own. You won’t be doing the actual fulfillment of the service very much.

The bottom line is if you want to succeed in the service business, you won’t be doing it alone. Instead, you’re building a team of people who will get things done for you, and they will be the drivers of your success.

Customer Experience Matters

When you and your team provide services to people, the experience you provide matters. You should avoid overpromising and underdelivering because that will have a bad impact on your business.

You have to be careful and understand the expectations that you’re setting. You need to meet those expectations so people will love the service that they got from you. If you manage to do this, you will get a lot of repeat customers and brand advocates. If you don’t provide a good customer experience, you won’t get new and repeat customers. Your services must delight.  

Expert Businesses

You can sell different things if you’re in the expert business. But ultimately, your main offer is yourself. You’re a premium person and people need to pay a premium price to get access to you. But before you can get to this level, you need to invest in your skillset and build your expertise.

Be a Subject Matter Expert

Expert businesses can be in the service space or the information space. If you’re in the information space, you won’t be like the others who share general information. As a person running an expert business, you’re coming up with new information. You’re the thought leader.

An expert business doesn’t mean you do the actual work. Instead, you offer one-on-one coaching, teaching someone how to do certain things. You’re not doing the actual work but you’re teaching them how to get things done through certain methods that yield certain results. Basically, you’re a coach, a strategist, or a consultant.

You can also offer your expertise to a group instead of one-on-one services. You can provide your expertise in a scaled way. Since you can’t have 5,000 people go through your program at the same time, you can find ways to do masterminds instead. Another way to go about this is to build a team of coaches, whom you’ll train so they can help you out with your program.

You need to have a high level of skill knowledge and you must be devoted to your craft if you want to have an expert business. You need to be a thought leader. You have to constantly think, read, understand, and learn so that you can be one of the real experts in your subject matter. Only a few people are willing to put in the work.

Consistently Create Thought Leadership Content

You need to create new content regularly, but not just run-of-the-mill content. Instead, you need to come up with new ways to talk about things. You should create content that will let people see you as an expert. 

If you’re not willing to devote yourself to your craft, become an expert at a level that only a few people can master, and put yourself out there, then an expert business may not be the one for you.

Get Success for People

People will only see you as an expert if you have managed to build a good track record. Whether you’re offering one-on-one coaching or group implementation, you have to help people succeed. You need to help people solve their problems, make some progress, or succeed in a certain endeavor.

It’s your expertise that matters here, not your marketing strategies. You should be the type of person who comes up with new ideas and does thought leadership.

Key Takeaway

For me, long-term sustainability comes from one of two business models: Either you go the service business route and devote yourself to being a master or you build an expert business. 

Building an information business is a hard path to go, and a lot of people are promised the notion that they can sell information products. They love it because it sounds scalable and that it would allow you to work four hours a week and have freedom. Unfortunately, that’s a bunch of BS and very few people make money consistently doing that. That’s why I think you need to make a choice between a service business and an expert business. These routes work over time and bring you long-term success.

Be sure to join my program BADA$$ Online Marketing University (BOMU) to know more about how you can have a successful online knowledge business. BOMU is my FREE training program with multiple courses that can help you in strategizing, planning, and building the right business for you.

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Bobby Klinck

Harvard Lawyer and Online Entrepreneur