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When speaking with my clients about growing their influence and making more product sales, one of the areas we come to very quickly is around whether they should offer digital products, physical products, or both?

selling-physical-productsOn one hand, creating physical (tangible) products in today’s digital age might seem a little old-fashioned and outdated, not to mention that physical products demand more of your business resources. You pay more for producing them, have some cost associated with storing them, and then have to use more resources to fulfill orders on them.

In fact, when I published my first book on Amazon, I was a bit overwhelmed with trying to keep the orders fulfilled by myself. It felt like I was practically living at the post office. At the time, I was not in a position to either hire help or use a fulfillment house on such a low-priced product. While the book did well at building my business, it was tiring and exhausting to keep processing the book orders and getting them mailed out.

At that time, technology was also not that advanced, so products were still being offered on cassette tape, transitioning into CDs and DVDs. Those, too, were a bit challenging to create, requiring high-speed duplication machines and, again, effort to mail.

So now, when digital technology has become so good and so easy, why even consider selling physical products at all?

There are 5 reasons to consider selling physical copies of your digital products:

1)  Higher Perceived Value

CDs and DVDs have a higher perceived value than MP3 downloads and video downloads. That means that for the exact same content, people will generally be willing to pay more for DVDs than video downloads. Let’s say you’re selling 8 hours worth of audio. If you sell it in digital form only, people might be willing to pay $97 or $147 for the audios. However, if you offer it in a physical format- such as a CD binder with notes, you might be able to sell the same content for $297 or more. As a business owner, you have to balance between your market’s desire for ease and speed of delivery (which digital products allow) vs. the higher pricepoint (and additional effort) that physical versions can command. You may not want to turn every one of your products into physical format, but might want a few of your higher priced options available in physical form.

2) Starting High Means You Can Go Higher

When I help clients with their business profitability, we focus on what I call a “strategic conversion pathway”- this is what you might have also heard described as a business funnel. It’s the process by which you lead your clients into ever-increasing relationship with you. Physical products placed early in the funnel can allow you to charge more for the other items in your strategic conversion pathway.

If the first item on your pathway is $27, it is more difficult to make the leap to a $597 or $697 product as your second offering. However, if your first offering is at $297 or $397, it’s easier to move to higher pricepoints on subsequent offerings. This holds true for sales of your services too.

The higher perceived value at the beginning makes it easier to move to higher pricepoints later on.

3) Physical Products Build More Credibility

If you speak or sell from the stage, you definitely want to have a physical product. This will lend more credibility and help you be seen as more of an expert. There are some people who still prefer a printed book over a digital one. They like the ease of receiving CDs and being able to immediately use them. Physical products are also a way to stay more “top of mind” – they sit on your client’s shelves or desks, as opposed to being lost in the abyss of their computer files and folders. There is something about committing to producing a physical product that helps convey you are serious about your business. That, too, positively impacts your reputation.

4) Physical Products Are More Likely to Be Used

When people make the commitment and purchase a physical product, they are more likely to open it and use it as soon as it arrives. I liken this to the idea of Christmas presents. For most of us, when we receive a physical item, we open it and use it soon after. We unbox our new iPod, or unwrap our new tablet. Contrast this to downloading a bunch of mp3’s- we might group them in a folder, but then we have to make time to load them onto our iPods, organize them, and then, perhaps find a time to listen to them. Even for the ease of accessing and receiving digital products, they do require extra effort to load and take with you. And many people do not prefer to sit at their computers for hours and hours to access digital content.

The other consideration in this is that when your products are actually used, your clients are better informed and may be likely to buy your next offering.

5) Physical Products Enable You to Serve Your Audience Better (and Attract New People!)

I always believe that people like choices. Not so many that they become overwhelmed, but at least a couple so they feel empowered. Offering your products in physical format is a way to give your clients a choice, and I see that as a positive thing. Plus- and this has happened to me- when your clients buy a physical product from you, you can sometimes make more sales because other people see the product and want a copy too. I’ve had it happen where I sold a physical CD set at a conference, and received additional orders for that same CD set from people who didn’t attend the conference. How did that happen? Well, they saw the CD set being carried onto the plane, asked the owner about it, and took down the information to purchase a copy themselves. Now, granted, this hasn’t happened many times, but, still- there were a few extra sales for no more additional effort.

When considering your business monetization strategies, don’t discount the value of physical products!