What is your beef and cheddar? i.e. What is your product offering?

Beef_n_Cheddar

Fun fact: That red sauce is NOT Arby’s sauce. It is a special recipe and I would drink it by the gallon if I could.

The legend of the beef and cheddar — the pinnacle of roast beef sandwiches

The almighty beef and cheddar is one of the most coveted Arby’s sandwiches to this day. It greatly outsells the regular roast beef sandwiches, and even with the introduction of the marketfresh sandwiches in the late 1990s (possibly even 2000), the beef and cheddar continues to dominate Arby’s sales nationwide.*

Do I know this because I like to analyze sales data from Arby’s? Definitely not. You know I’m a writer, right?

No. I know this because I lived it. I worked for Arby’s throughout highschool and even a little bit into my college years. My time there will always be reflected upon as a blossoming moment in my youth. But what do I remember the most? How many god damn beef and cheddars we sold. Seriously. We sold a lot! And I know that continues to this day. Okay, I suspect it continues to this day (happy now). Which leads me to my next question…

What’s your product offering?

A lot of writers tend to answer that with “I’m a writer. I write. That’s what I have to offer.”

And yes, I definitely feel that way at times. You don’t want to package up your skills into a product offering because it feels so…not creative. Right?

But if you’re like me, you aren’t in a position to turn down a steady income, either. If you’re not like me and you’ve got an inheritance coming your way, or you just won the lottery, or you married someone with a boatload of money that says things like, “Why don’t you take it easy, [husband/wife], and go find a yoga class to remove any anxiety. Then take a blissful shower while the kids are at [daycare/school] and get that latte in that nice coffee shop overlooking the [lake/quaint village] before you start to ponder the world of your characters. I’ll be home at five to cook dinner for you and the kids,” …then you have a really good thing going and you go glen coco!!

*shakes head*

Sorry, I was daydreaming for a minute there. Anyway, back to those who are like me…the ones who worked (or still work) at an Arby’s.

In order to think about what could be your product offering(s), you need to assess your marketable skills. As an example, I’ve included a short list of my own marketable skills. Mind you, I’m being serious with this. Although I consider the title of “Lion King expert” an asset to my already-sterling resume, it won’t be included in this list.

Technical writing skills:

  • Writing about health insurance and health care reform topics
  • Writing for regulated industries
  • Breaking down complex legal jargon into digestible, user-friendly content/ideas
  • Putting together case studies
  • Planning out web content and hierarchical organization for entire websites
  • Persona-based writing

Creative writing skills (i.e. things I do when I’m not working my 9 to 5):

  • Writing a novel
  • Writing about the process of of writing and publishing a book
  • Helping others explore the greater Milwaukee area
  • Connecting parents with their true passion
  • Showing others how to balance a 9 to 5 with other interests they want to pursue.
  • Writing about the intersection of health, parenting and working a full-time job.

If I had to choose my beef and cheddar (I mean…my product) it would be writing a novel. Don’t get me wrong, everything else will in some way support the novel, they just can’t all have as much importance as the novel I’d like to promote/sell.

But truly, that’s where my heart lies. So that’s going to be the pillar of my product offerings. And then I’ll put on my black Arby’s hat and hold down the drive-thru button on my headset microphone and say, “With the purchase of this novel, you can get my ebook,  ‘Crappy first drafts need love too: how a little idea fought its way to Amazon,’ for just a dollar more. Can I interest you in upgrading, today?”

And then you’ll throw money at me like it’s raining and I’ll jump for joy because I know it means A LOT to part with one’s money these days.

Shhh. Just let me stay in the dream.

How can you get started?

First thing’s first: go find your product. Go figure out what sets you apart from the rest. Then start making that a reality, one small little special-sauce-covered bite at a time. That’s been my plan since last year when I first started writing my book.

But if your primary offering is going to take a while to create, then there’s no shame in still offering up a quick-to-market line of products that complement your primary offering. I consider that like the sale that happens at 2:15pm in the Arby’s drive thru. It’s the guy who just wants a chocolate shake. It’s too late for a full meal, but you might be able to convince him to get a side of fries with that. Because who doesn’t love fries dipped in a chocolate shake.

Okay, really the first thing you need to do is go find some Arby’s. THEN go figure out your product and come back and tell me about it. Good luck!

 

*I did absolutely no research on this. It may or may not be true. But my gut says I’m not far off on this. And if I could cite my gut as a source, I would.

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