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Microconsultancy – revenue option

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Thursday May 18, 2006 )

I haunt a lot of research company sites in order to get ideas and reference material for some of what I post on this blog and publish in my articles. Excerpts that these companies provide for free contain really valuable information, but to buy the full reports can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

On my usual rounds tonight, I noticed something very interesting that a large research company was doing. They were selling a brief report for a couple of hundred dollars, but also offering a half hour phone consultation with the writer of the report included in the price.

To the purchaser, I can really see the value – reports are great, but often leave questions unanswered or points of particular interest to the purchaser which may have been glossed over. This model gives the purchaser the opportunity to delve deeper into a particular aspect of the report with a person who is very familiar with the subject.

For the vendor, what a great way to justify a high price tag for a small report :).

I can see a similar model working really well for individual publishers and researchers – the bloggers and authors who devote so much time to their craft and usually only generate revenue through accompanying advertising or product/service recommendations with perhaps some full-blown consultancy services on the side.

Let’s simplify this idea even further – perhaps you don’t wish to go to the trouble of offering a report for sale, preferring to publish articles in the same way that you do now in order to maintain your flow. At the end of an article, you could have a paragraph that states something like:

“Like to learn more about the issues discussed in this article? The author is available for a half hour phone consultation for $x”

Buy now/Learn more links/pages could be added; with the Learn more pages outlining the consultancy process; contact times etc. – bingo; done! Using VoIP to contact the purchaser for the consultation, your costs would be minimal.

If you run a popular blog or site and have established yourself as an authority in your field, this could be a nice little earner.

Another reason I think this could be winner is that fairly regularly I have people asking me questions relating to an article I’ve published and offering payment if I will provide a rapid response which is relevant to their circumstances. They don’t need or want full consultancy services, just a nugget of information that’s tailored to their needs.

Sure, there are services out there such as Google Answers – but this idea is different in terms of the customer’s familiarity with your work and their responding to something that you’ve already written, rather than just dropping a random question….and you get to set the terms. The phone aspect is also a twist that might be very popular. Throw in IM as well for imparting written info during the consult. Price your service so that it factors in you may go over the half hour, say 45 minutes tops.

This concept could be applied to just about any field – whether you are writing/blogging on web marketing or chicken raising. I call it microconsultancy! A microconsultancy network could also be built up around this concept, making it easier for consultants and people with questions to connect.


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