"I take what's abstract and make it concrete," explains James Roché of his unique entrepreneurial niche.
The Los Angeles-based Roché (pronounced "ro-shay") has adopted the moniker "The Info Product Guy." He specializes, he says, "in taking what somebody does naturally and extracting from them a system or format that can be communicated to the masses." The process helps people transform their know-how into books, audio courses, teleclasses and other wares.
Perhaps the most appealing thing about this concept is that it allows business professionals to view their own expertise and experience as a precious natural resource. Roché believes he is ideally qualified to help distill that resource into both revenue and a heightened profile for its possessor.
An information product, Roché points out, is a way to "duplicate" oneself" to provide the benefits of one's specialty to a far larger customer base than one could serve individually. And the rewards extend beyond the flow of passive revenue (or, in lay terms, continual profit from a completed project).
According to Roché, having information products on the market frees up businesspeople in more ways than one. "You don't have to be locked into trading your hours for dollars," he emphasizes. "You do the work once, you record it, and you distribute it to as many people as possible." Such products also provide a platform for speaking engagements and other ways of establishing authority in one's field.
Although info products serve customers at a remove, Roché still feels they offer a unique opportunity to build relationships.
"You don't have to be locked into trading your hours for dollars. You do the work once, you record it, and you distribute it to as many people as possible.""One of the ways people can get to know you is through your information products," he says, adding that customers will be enticed to do further business with you as a result of this familiarity.
Entrepreneurs wishing to develop info products first sit down for an extensive interview with Roché; he then structures an outline for the recorded material. The information product itself also takes shape as an interview "in the fluid, conversational mode of talk radio" with Roché asking the questions while hewing to the structure dictated by the outline.
"I'm acting as director and producer as well as interviewer," Roché elaborates. "I'm making sure every point is covered so the content is complete — and, just as importantly, making sure the energy is there and a vivacious, interesting conversation is going on. After that it's just editing and adding music, beefing up the production a bit. Then I do the packaging, including the graphics."
In addition to developing products for his clients, Roché has devised some successful items of his own, including the workbook and eight-CD set "Unstoppable Goals Method", a business-success series he co-created with Success Connections' Melanie Benson Strick.
He notes that there's a right time to make the move into info products. "I generally collaborate with entrepreneurs who've been in business for at least two years," he relates. "They've worked magic for their clients, and now they're ready to bottle it, to 'productize' themselves. For example, one of my clients is a bereavement counselor. He has a gift for this work. So what we created is a CD interview with him and a series of meditative visualization CDs to go with it. The interview could also be turned into an eBook. We extract all the content from the audio. That way the client doesn't have to write something from scratch, which can be very intimidating."
There are, of course, crucial matters of research
"Oftentimes we do what we do and we're immersed in our work, but we forget to quantify exactly what clients need."and marketing to consider before producing an information product, he cautions. "Oftentimes we do what we do and we're immersed in our work," Roché observes, "but we forget to quantify exactly what clients need. Their feedback is critical and can be surprising." Only after communicating with potential information-product consumers can entrepreneurs be sure they're providing a solution to an existing problem.
For Roché, becoming the Info Product Guy was the culmination of a process that began in childhood. "I always liked to create things," he asserts.
Born in the L.A. area, he has long been fascinated by people — to the extent, he avers, that he became something of an "eavesdropper." A voracious reader, he was also a proficient graphic artist, draftsman and pianist by his teens, at which time he lived with his family near Cambridge, England, where his father was working.
"Within a three-year period I had traveled all over Europe; I had seen most of the Western world," he recalls. "By the time I was 18, I felt I had done it all." Soaking up as much knowledge as he could no longer satisfied him, and he decided to dedicate himself to spiritual matters. He reflects, "That's when I really opened myself to Eastern philosophy and mysticism. Then I started practicing meditation; it wasn't theoretical anymore."
He studied, practiced and taught meditation for much of the ensuing decade, leading classes up and down the West Coast and traveling to India several times. He provided marketing, PR and outreach services to a national nonprofit, but as his 20s drew to a close, he realized that these highly marketable skills were nonetheless not doing much to aid his material survival.
"I decided to step back a little from the spiritual community and immerse myself in marketing,"
"By the time I was 18, I felt I had done it all."he says. Expertise in Internet marketing followed, then a period as a life coach, but he felt he still hadn't quite found his path. "I was missing a real creative outlet in my life," he says. "So I started to pinpoint what I enjoyed most about the work I'd been doing over the past few years and what it was missing. And that's what turned me into the Info Product Guy." Now, he says, he sits down with clients and "coaches the product out of them."
Roché believes his particular blend of skills enables him to understand his clients on a deeper level; he prides himself on "really seeing who people are — the whole package: body, mind and soul." He maintains that capturing the personality, the essence, of the author is key to bringing an effective information product to fruition.
The only question that seems to catch James Roché off guard is what he does with his leisure time. "My work is my play," he insists, though he admits that he still practices regular meditation, still plays piano and still madly consumes books (he lists "integral" philosophy pioneer Ken Wilber as a huge influence). But most of his energy is indeed channeled into being the Info Product Guy.
"Helping people manifest their talents by creating something that will enrich their lives personally and financially," he confides, "is the best way I've found to exercise my own creativity."