Is Information Marketing Dead? Pat Flynn Thinks So

Pat Flynn is a well-known and highly respected figure in the world of online courses and digital marketing.

As the founder of Smart Passive Income, he’s helped countless entrepreneurs build successful online businesses, including yours truly. Remember his old monthly income reports? They were a great source of inspiration that encouraged me to take action, so thanks for that Pat! 😁

In a recent video, Pat made a bold claim: “Selling information doesn’t work anymore.

Intrigued, I watched the video with interest and quickly realised that the headline was a bit clickbaity. Selling information does still work, but how you sell it is more important than ever.

However, with or without the attention grabbing headline, Pat makes some excellent points about the limitations of selling information products alone and the video is well worth watching if you’re in the information selling space.

As he notes, most online courses suffer from abysmally low completion rates, with only 5-15% of students finishing the average course, but this isn’t new news. Students finishing and even more importantly, actually taking action on your training, is something that’s always been a massive challenge, as long as I’ve been an online educator (14+ years).

The reality is that any course creator worth their salt has always recognized the importance of providing community, support, and accountability alongside their content. Successful online programs have long included elements like group coaching calls, private forums or Facebook groups, and opportunities for students to connect with each other.

My most successful courses have been live rounds, where I create a group, host live sessions, upload training videos within the group and set weekly challenges.

In my experience, the community and implementation support are often more valuable to students than the course content itself. This is because information is widely available for free, but having expert guidance and a network of supportive peers can be truly transformative.

So while I don’t necessarily agree this is a recent problem, I do think Pat’s spot-on in emphasizing that the most effective online courses focus on helping customers achieve real results, not just consume information.

Why Information Alone Often Falls Short

In today’s digital age, we’re drowning in a sea of information. A quick Google search can turn up dozens of articles, videos, and guides on virtually any topic imaginable.

This abundance of free content has made it increasingly difficult for course creators to stand out and convince potential students to invest in their paid offerings.

Even when students do purchase an information product, they often struggle to actually apply what they’ve learned. Without guidance, accountability, and support, it’s all too easy to consume content passively without taking meaningful action.

This leads to the disappointing course completion rates Pat mentioned. Students may start with the best of intentions, but most never make it across the finish line.

Completing a course is no guarantee of results, either. Information alone is rarely sufficient for mastery. Students need to practise new skills, get feedback, troubleshoot obstacles, and integrate their learning into real-world situations.

A course that simply delivers content, without supporting the challenging work of implementation, is unlikely to create lasting transformations.

Beyond Selling Courses: 3 Models for Helping Customers Achieve Real Results

So, what’s the solution?

To truly serve students, course creators need to shift from selling information to enabling implementation.

Pat outlines three promising models for doing this:

a) Do it for them (DFY): One option is to move beyond courses entirely and offer done-for-you services. By productizing your expertise into packaged services, you can take the implementation burden off your clients’ shoulders. This could look like a full-service agency model, or more targeted offerings like writing copy, designing websites, or managing ad campaigns.

b) Do it with them (DWY): Another approach is to provide 1:1 or small group coaching, consulting, or mentorship. In this model, you guide clients through the process of implementing your strategies, offering accountability, feedback, and customised advice. By working closely with students, you can help them overcome challenges and stay on track.

c) Do it with others: Finally, you can harness the power of community-based learning. This could involve running cohort-based courses with defined start and end dates, maintaining a private membership community, or facilitating mastermind groups. The key is to connect students with a network of supportive peers who can encourage and challenge each other. (This is my favourite model)

While each of these models has its own advantages, they all share a common focus on implementation over information.

By providing the structure, accountability, and support students need to put learning into practice, these approaches can lead to far better outcomes than a typical self-study course.

Getting Started With Each Model

Here’s some tips on getting started with each model;

1. Do it For Them (DFY):

  1. Identify the most common problems or desires your target market faces
  2. Develop packaged services that solve these problems or fulfill these desires
  3. Determine your pricing and delivery process for each service
  4. Create a sales page or proposal template clearly outlining the benefits and deliverables
  5. Decide whether to deliver the services yourself or hire a team to scale
  6. Promote your services through your existing channels and network, or sign up to freelancing job sites like Upwork or Fiverr
  7. Consider productizing your services further by creating standard operating procedures (SOPs) and automating parts of the delivery process

2. Do it With Them (DWY):

  1. Clarify the specific outcomes and transformations you help students/clients achieve
  2. Develop a structured coaching or consulting program that guides students through your process
  3. Determine your pricing and package options (e.g., 3-month program, 6-month intensive)
  4. Create an application process to ensure good fit and committed students
  5. Set up a scheduling system for booking sessions and managing your calendar
  6. Decide on your coaching format and tools (e.g., Zoom for video calls, Voxer for voice messaging)
  7. Offer a free discovery call or consultation to enroll clients
  8. Provide regular check-ins, assignments, and feedback to keep clients accountable and on track

3. Do it With Others:

  1. Choose a community platform (e.g., Circle, Mighty Networks, Facebook Group) 
  2. Determine your membership pricing and model (e.g., monthly subscription, annual fee, lifetime access)
  3. Develop a content calendar and schedule for community events and programming
  4. Create a welcome sequence and onboarding process for new members
  5. Identify key leaders or ambassadors within your community to foster engagement
  6. Set up regular challenges, accountability groups, or mastermind pairings

For Cohort-Based Courses:

  1. Decide on the course length and start/end dates
  2. Map out your curriculum and course modules
  3. Choose a course platform for hosting your content and community (e.g., Teachable, Thinkific)
  4. Create a launch plan and promotional campaign to fill your cohort
  5. Develop a schedule for live calls, Q&A sessions, and office hours
  6. Provide opportunities for peer feedback and collaboration among students

Remember, you don’t have to pursue all three models at once. Start with the approach that best aligns with your strengths, audience, and offer. You can always iterate and expand over time.

Other Key Takeaways

Emphasise Convenience & Specificity of Solutions vs. Generic Info – When selling implementation support, highlight how your offer provides a convenient, done-for-you or done-with-you solution. Students are looking for specific, tailored guidance, not just general information they could find on their own.

Use Proof, Case Studies, and Testimonials to Show you get People Real Results – Social proof is critical for building trust and credibility. Share success stories, testimonials, and case studies from past clients to demonstrate the tangible results people can achieve by working with you.

Start By Getting One Client One Result, then Scale up – If you’re just getting started with coaching or services, focus on landing your first client and helping them generate a clear transformation. Use this initial success to refine your process and gather testimonials before expanding your offerings.

Information Marketing is Out, Implementation Marketing is In

While Pat Flynn’s claim that “selling information doesn’t work anymore” may be a touch overstated, he raises an important point about the need to prioritise implementation and results.

Selling information can still be a viable business model, but it requires careful positioning and a strong focus on helping customers achieve their desired outcomes.

The three models Pat recommends – doing it for them, doing it with them, and doing it with others – are powerful frameworks for enabling client success. By productizing your expertise, offering 1:1 guidance, or facilitating community-based learning, you can guide your customers to meaningful, lasting transformations.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to choose just one model. Many successful businesses incorporate elements of all three, hybridising their offerings to meet the diverse needs of their audience (although bear in mind this can mean a lot more work on your part, so make sure you have robust systems or a team in place to help action this).

The key is to stay focused on the end goal: empowering your clients or students to put your ideas into action and achieve remarkable results.

The most successful online entrepreneurs will be those who prioritise implementation and results above all else.

Subscribe to the Working Traveller Newsletter and alongside weekly money making and nomadic lifestyle tips, get instant access to my FREE ebook – 200+ Ways to Generate an Income While Travelling the World!

Free ebook image - 200+ ways to generate an income while travelling the world

About the author

Disclaimer: Please note this post may contain affiliate links, from which, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Also as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I only recommend products and services I’ve used or would use myself. If you choose to purchase from any of my links, thanks so much for your support! 😊