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11.Income Autopilot III

MBA—MANAGEMENT BY ABSENCE

The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.

—WARREN G. BENNIS, University of Southern California Professor of Business Administration; adviser to Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy

Most entrepreneurs don’t start out with automation as a goal. This leaves them open to mass confusion in a world where each business guru contradicts the next. Consider the following: A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear…. If the employees come first, then they’re happy.

—HERB KELLEHER, cofounder of Southwest Airlines

Look, kiddie. I built this business by being a bastard. I run it by being a bastard. I’ll always be a bastard, and don’t you ever try to change me.50 —CHARLES REVSON, founder of Revlon, to a senior executive within his company

Hmm … Whom to follow? If you are fast on your feet, you’ll notice that I just offered you an either-or option. The good news is that, as usual, there is a third option.

The contradictory advice you find in business books and elsewhere usually relates to managing employees—how to handle the human element. Herb tells you to give them a hug, Revson tells you to kick them in the balls, and I tell you to solve the problem by eliminating it altogether: Remove the human element.

Once you have a product that sells, it’s time to design a self-correcting business architecture that runs itself.

The Remote-Control CEO

The power of hiding ourselves from one another is mercifully given, for men are wild beasts, and would devour one another but for this protection.

—HENRY WARD BEECHER, U.S. abolitionist and clergyman, “Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit”

RURAL PENNSYLVANIA

In a 200-year-old stone farmhouse, a quiet “experiment in 21st-century leadership” is proceeding exactly as planned.51Stephen McDonnell is upstairs in his flip-flops looking at a spreadsheet on his computer. His company has increased its annual revenue 30% per year since it all began, and he is able to spend more time with his three daughters than he ever thought possible.

The experiment? As CEO of Applegate Farms, he insists on spending just one day per week at the company headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey. He’s not the only CEO who spends time at home, of course—there are hundreds who have heart attacks or nervous breakdowns and need time to recover—but there is a huge difference. McDonnell has been doing it for more than 17 years. Rarer still, he started doing it just six months after founding the company.

This intentional absence has enabled him to create a process-driven instead of founder-driven business. Limiting contact with managers forces the entrepreneur to develop operational rules that enable others to deal with problems themselves instead of calling for help.

This isn’t just for small operations. Applegate Farms sells more than 120 organic and natural meat products to high-end retailers and generates more than $35 million in revenue per year.

It is all possible because McDonnell started with the end in mind.

Behind the Scenes: The Muse Architecture

Orders are nobody can see the Great Oz! Not nobody, not nohow!

—GUARDIAN OF THE EMERALD CITY GATES, The Wizard of Oz

Starting with the end in mind—an organizational map of what the eventual business will look like—is not new.

Infamous deal-maker Wayne Huizenga copied the org chart of McDonald’s to turn Blockbuster into a billion-dollar behemoth, and dozens of titans have done much the same. In our case, it’s the “end in mind” that is different. Our goal isn’t to create a business that is as large as possible, but rather a business that bothers us as little as possible. The architecture has to place us out of the information flow instead of putting us at the top of it.

I didn’t get this right the first time I tried.

In 2003, I was interviewed in my home office for a documentary called As Seen on TV. We were interrupted every 20–30 seconds with beeping e-mail notifications, IM pings, and ringing phones. I couldn’t leave them unanswered, because dozens of decisions depended on me. If I didn’t ensure the trains were running on time and put out the fires, no one would.

The Anatomy of Automation

THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK VIRTUAL ARCHITECTURE

Splitting the Pie: Outsourcer Economics

Each outsourcer takes a piece of the revenue pie. Here is what the general profit-loss might look like for a hypothetical $80 product sold via phone and developed with the help of an expert, who is paid a royalty. I recommend calculating profit margins using higher-than-anticipated expenses. This will account for unforeseen costs (read: screwups) and miscellaneous fees such as monthly reports, etc.

How do you factor in advertising cost? If a $1,000 ad or $1,000 in PPC produces 50 sales, my advertising cost per order (CPO) is $20. This makes the actual‘ per-unit profit $40.94.

I set a new goal after that experience, and when I was interviewed six months later as a follow-up, one change was more pronounced than all others: silence. I had redesigned the business from the ground up so that I had no phone calls to answer and no e-mail to respond to.

I’m often asked how big my company is—how many people I employ full-time. The answer is one. Most people lose interest at that point. If someone were to ask me how many people run Brain-QUICKEN LLC, on the other hand, the answer is different: between 200 and 300. I am the ghost in the machine.52 From advertisements—print in this example—to a cash deposit in my bank account, the diagram is what a simplified version of my architecture looks like, including some sample costs. If you have developed a product based on the guidelines in the last two chapters, it will plug into this structure hand-in-glove.

Where am I in the diagram? Nowhere.

I am not a tollbooth through which anything needs to pass. I am more like a police officer on the side of the road who can step in if need be, and I use detailed reports from outsourcers to ensure the cogs are moving as intended. I check reports from fulfillment each Monday and monthly reports from the same the first of each month. The latter reports include orders received from the call center, which I can compare to the call center bills to gauge profit. Otherwise, I just check bank accounts online on the first and fifteenth of each month to look for odd deductions. If I find something, one e-mail will fix it, and if not, it’s back to kendo, painting, hiking, or whatever I happen to be doing at the time.

Removing Yourself from the Equation: When and How

The system is the solution.

—AT&T

The diagram should be your rough blueprint for designing a self-sustaining virtual architecture. There could be differences—more or fewer elements—but the main principles are the same: 1. Contract outsourcing companies53 that specialize in one function vs. freelancers whenever possible so that if someone is fired, quits, or doesn’t perform, you can replace them without interrupting your business. Hire trained groups of people who can provide detailed reporting and replace one another as needed.

  1. Ensure that all outsourcers are willing to communicate among themselves to solve problems, and give them written permission to make most inexpensive decisions without consulting you first (I started at less than $100 and moved to $400 after two months).

How do you get there? It helps to look at where entrepreneurs typically lose their momentum and stall permanently.

Most entrepreneurs begin with the cheapest tools available, bootstrapping and doing things themselves to get up and running with little cash. This isn’t the problem. In fact, it’s necessary so that the entrepreneurs can train outsourcers later. The problem is that these same entrepreneurs don’t know when and how to replace themselves or their homemade infrastructure with something more scalable.

By “scalable,” I mean a business architecture that can handle 10,000 orders per week as easily as it can handle 10 orders per week. Doing this requires minimizing your decision-making responsibilities, which achieves our goal of time freedom while setting the stage for doubling and tripling income with no change in hours worked.

Call the companies at the end of the chapter to research costs. Plan and budget accordingly to upgrade infrastructure at the following milestones, which I measure in units of product shipped: Phase I: 0–50 Total Units of Product Shipped

Do it all yourself. Put your phone number on the site for both general questions and order-taking—this is important in the beginning—and take customer calls to determine common questions that you will answer later in an online FAQ. This FAQ will also be the main material for training phone operators and developing sales scripts.

Is PPC, an offline advertisement, or your website too vague or misleading, thus attracting unqualified and time-consuming consumers? If so, change them to answer common questions and make the product benefits (including what it isn’t or doesn’t do) clearer.

Answer all e-mail and save your responses in one folder called “customer service questions.” CC yourself on responses and put the nature of the customers’ questions in the subject lines for future indexing. Personally pack and ship all product to determine the cheapest options for both. Investigate opening a merchant account from your local small bank (easier to get than with a larger bank) for later outsourced credit card processing at higher roll-out volumes.

Phase II: >10 Units Shipped Per Week

Add the extensive FAQ to your website and continue to add answers to common questions as received. Find local fulfillment companies in the yellow pages under “fulfillment services” or “mailing services.” If you cannot find one there or at www.mfsanet.org, call local printers and ask them for recommendations. Narrow the field to those (often the smallest) who will agree not to charge you setup fees and monthly minimums. If this isn’t possible, ask for at least 50% off both and then request that the setup fee be applied as an advance against shipping or their other fees.

Limit the candidates further to those who can respond to order status e-mail (ideal) or phone calls from customers. The e-mail from your “customer service” folder will be provided as copy-and-paste responses, especially those related to order status and refund requests.54 To lower or eliminate miscellaneous fees, explain that you are a start-up and that your budget is small. Tell them you need the cash for advertising that will drive more shipments. If needed, mention the competitive companies that you are considering and pit them against one another, using lower pricing or concessions from one to get larger discounts and bonuses from the others.

Before making your final selection, ask for at least three client references and use the following to elicit the negatives: “I understand they’re good, but everyone has weaknesses. If you had to point out where you’ve had some issues and what they’re not the best at, what would you say? Can you please describe an incident or a disagreement? I expect these with all companies, so it’s no big deal, and it’s confidential, of course.” Ask for “net-30 terms”—payment for services 30 days after they’re rendered—after one month of prompt payment for their services. It is easier to negotiate all of the above points with smaller operations that need the business. Have your contract manufacturer ship product directly to the fulfillment house once you have decided on one and put the fulfillment house’s e-mail (you can use an e-mail address at your domain and forward it) or phone number on the online “thank you” page for order status questions.

Phase III: >20 Units Shipped Per Week

Now you will have the cash flow to afford the setup fees and the monthly minimums that bigger, more sophisticated outsourcers will ask for. Call the end-to-end fulfillment houses that handle it all—from order status to returns and refunds. Interview them about costs and ask them for referrals to call centers and credit card processors they’ve collaborated with for file transfers and problem solving. Don’t assemble an architecture of strangers—there will be programming costs and mistakes, both of which are expensive.

Set up an account with the credit card processor first, for which you will need your own merchant account. This is critical, as the fulfillment house can only handle refunds and declined cards for transactions they process themselves through an outsourced credit card processor.

Optionally, set up an account with one of the call centers your new fulfillment center recommends. These will often have toll-free numbers you can use instead of purchasing your own. Look at the percentage split of online to phone orders during testing and consider carefully if the extra revenue from the latter is worth the hassle. It often isn’t. Those who call to order will generally order online if given no other option.

Before signing on with a call center, get several 800 numbers they answer for current clients and make test calls, asking difficult product-related questions and gauging sales abilities. Call each number at least three times (morning, afternoon, and evening) and note the make-or-break factor: wait time. The phone should be answered within three to four rings, and if you are put on hold, the shorter the wait the better. More than 15 seconds will result in too many abandoned calls and waste advertising dollars.

The Art of Undecision: Fewer Options = More Revenue

Companies go out of business when they make the wrong decisions or, just as important, make too many decisions. The latter creates complexity.

—MIKE MAPLES, cofounder of Motive Communications (IPO to $260 million market cap), founding executive of Tivoli (sold to IBM for $750 million), and investor in companies such as Digg.com Joseph Sugarman is the marketing genius behind dozens of direct-response and retail successes, including the BluBlocker sunglasses phenomenon. Prior to his string of home runs on television (he sold 20,000 pairs of BluBlockers within 15 minutes of his first QVC appearance), his domain was print media, where he made millions and built an empire called JS&A Group. He was once recruited to design an advertisement for a manufacturer’s watch line. The manufacturer wanted to feature nine different watches in the ad, and Joe recommended featuring just one. The client insisted and Joe offered to do both and test them in the same issue of The Wall Street Journal. The result? The one-watch offer outsold the nine-watch offer 6-to-1.55 Henry Ford once said, referring to his Model-T, the bestselling car of all time,56 “The customer can have any color he wants, so long as it’s black.” He understood something that businesspeople seem to have forgotten: Serving the customer (“customer service”) is not becoming a personal concierge and catering to their every whim and want. Customer service is providing an excellent product at an acceptable price and solving legitimate problems (lost packages, replacements, refunds, etc.) in the fastest manner possible. That’s it.

The more options you offer the customer, the more indecision you create and the fewer orders you receive—it is a disservice all around. Furthermore, the more options you offer the customer, the more manufacturing and customer service burden you create for yourself.

The art of “undecision” refers to minimizing the number of decisions your customers can or need to make. Here are a few methods that I and other NR have used to reduce service overhead 20–80%: Offer one or two purchase options (“basic” and “premium,” for example) and no more.

Do not offer multiple shipping options. Offer one fast method instead and charge a premium.

Do not offer overnight or expedited shipping (it is possible to refer them to a reseller who does, as is true with all of these points), as these shipping methods will produce hundreds of anxious phone calls.

Eliminate phone orders completely and direct all prospects to online ordering. This seems outrageous until you realize that success stories like Amazon.com have depended on it as a fundamental cost-saver to survive and thrive.

Do not offer international shipments. Spending 10 minutes per order filling out customs forms and then dealing with customer complaints when the product costs 20–100% more with tariffs and duties is about as fun as headbutting a curb. It’s about as profitable, too.

Some of these policies hint at what is perhaps the biggest time-saver of all: customer filtering.

Not All Customers Are Created Equal

Once you reach Phase III and have some cash flow, it’s time to re-evaluate your customers and thin the herd. There are good and bad versions of all things: good food, bad food; good movies, bad movies; good sex, bad sex; and, yes, good customers and bad customers.

Decide now to do business with the former and avoid the latter. I recommend looking at the customer as an equal trading partner and not as an infallible blessing of a human being to be pleased at all costs. If you offer an excellent product at an acceptable price, it is an equal trade and not a begging session between subordinate (you) and superior (customer). Be professional but never kowtow to unreasonable people.

Instead of dealing with problem customers, I recommend you prevent them from ordering in the first place.

I know dozens of NR who don’t accept Western Union or checks as payment. Some would respond to this with, “You’re giving up 10–15% of your sales!” The NR, in turn, would say, “I am, but I’m also avoiding the 10–15% of the customers who create 40% of the expenses and eat 40% of my time.” It’s classic 80/20.

Those who spend the least and ask for the most before ordering will do the same after the sale. Cutting them out is both a good lifestyle decision and a good financial decision. Low-profit and high-maintenance customers like to call operators and spend up to 30 minutes on the phone asking questions that are unimportant or answered online, costing—in my case—$24.90 (30 x $0.83) per 30-minute incident, eliminating the minuscule profit they contribute in the first place.

Those who spend the most complain the least. In addition to our premium $50–200 pricing, here are a few additional policies that attract the high-profit and low-maintenance customers we want: Do not accept payment via Western Union, checks, or money order.

Raise wholesale minimums to 12–100 units and require a tax ID number to qualify resellers who are real businesspeople and not time-intensive novices. Don’t run a personal business school.

Refer all potential resellers to an online order form that must be printed, filled out, and faxed in. Never negotiate pricing or approve lower pricing for higher-volume orders. Cite “company policy” due to having had problems in the past.

Offer low-priced products (à la MRI’s NO2 book) instead of free products to capture contact information for follow-up sales. Offering something for free is the best way to attract time-eaters and spend money on those unwilling to return the favor.

Offer a lose-win guarantee (see boxed text) instead of free trials.

Do not accept orders from common mail fraud countries such as Nigeria.

Make your customer base an exclusive club, and treat the members well once they’ve been accepted.

The Lose-Win Guarantee—How to Sell Anything to Anyone

If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.

—CLINT EASTWOOD

The 30-day money-back guarantee is dead. It just doesn’t have the pizzazz it once did. If a product doesn’t work, I’ve been lied to and will have to spend an afternoon at the post office to return it. This costs me more than just the price I paid for the product, both in time and actual postage. Risk elimination just isn’t enough.

This is where we enter the neglected realm of lose-win guarantees and risk reversal. The NR use what most consider an afterthought—the guarantee—as a cornerstone sales tool.

The NR aim to make it profitable for the customer even if the product fails. Lose-win guarantees not only remove risk for the consumer but put the company at financial risk.

Here are a few examples of putting your money where your mouth is.

Delivered in 30 minutes or less or it’s free!

(Domino’s Pizza built its business on this guarantee.)

We’re so confident you’ll like CIALIS, if you don’t we’ll pay for the brand of your choice.

(The “CIALIS® Promise Program” offers a free sample of CIALIS and then offers to pay for competing products if CIALIS doesn’t live up to the hype.) If your car is stolen, we’ll pay $500 of your insurance deductible.

(This guarantee helped THE CLUB become the #1-selling mechanical automobile anti-theft device in the world.)

110% guaranteed to work within 60 minutes of the first dose.

(This was for BodyQUICK and a first among sports nutrition products. I offered to not only refund customers the price of the product if it didn’t work within 60 minutes of the first dose, but also to send them a check for 10% more.) The lose-win guarantee might seem like a big risk, especially when someone can abuse it for profit like in the BodyQUICK example, but it isn’t … if your product delivers. Most people are honest.

Let’s look at some actual numbers.

Returns for BodyQUICK, even with a 60-day return period (and partially because of it57), are less than 3% in an industry in which the average is 12–15% for a normal 30-day 100% money-back guarantee. Sales increased more than 300% within four weeks of introducing the 110% guarantee, and returns decreased overall.

Johanna adopted this lose-win offer and came up with “Increase sport-specific flexibility 40% in two weeks or return it for a full refund (including shipping) and keep the 20-minute bonus DVD as our gift.” Sherwood found his guarantee as well: “If these shirts are not the most comfortable you’ve ever worn, return them and get 2-times your purchase price back. Each shirt is also guaranteed for life—if it gets threadbare, send it back and we’ll replace it free of charge.” Both of them increased sales more than 200% in the first two months. Return percentage remained the same for Johanna and increased 50% for Sherwood, from 2 to 3%. Disaster? Far from it. Instead of selling 50 and getting one back with a 100% guarantee [(50 x $100) – $100 = $4,900 in revenue], he sold 200 and got six back with the 200% guarantee [(200 x $100) – (6 x $200) = $18,800 in revenue]. I’ll take the latter.

Lose-win is the new win-win. Stand out and reap the rewards.

Little Blue Chip: How to Look Fortune 500 in 45 Minutes

Are you tired of sand being kicked in your face? I promise you new muscles in days!

—CHARLES ATLAS, strongman who sold more than $30 million worth of “dynamic-tension” muscle courses through comic books

If approaching large resellers or potential partners, small company size will be an obstacle. This discrimination is often as insurmountable as it is unfounded. Fortunately, a few simple steps can dramatically upgrade your budding Fortune 500 image and take your muse from coffee shop to boardroom in 45 minutes or less.

  1. Don’t be the CEO or founder.

Being the “CEO” or “Founder” screams start-up. Give yourself the mid-level title of “vice president” (VP), “director,” or something similar that can be added to depending on the occasion (Director of Sales, Director of Business Development, etc.). For negotiation purposes as well, remember that it is best not to appear to be the ultimate decision-maker.

  1. Put multiple e-mail and phone contacts on the website.

Put various e-mail addresses on the “contact us” page for different departments, such as “human resources,” “sales,” “general inquiries,” “wholesale distribution,” “media/PR,” “investors,” “web comments,” “order status,” and so on. In the beginning, these will all forward to your e-mail address. In Phase III, most will forward to the appropriate outsourcers. Multiple toll-free numbers can be used in the same fashion.

  1. Set up an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) remote receptionist.

It is possible to sound like a blue chip for less than $30. In fewer than ten minutes on a site such as www.angel.com, which boasts clients such as Reebok and Kellog’s, it is possible to set up an 800 number that greets callers with a voice prompt such as, “Thank you for calling [business name]. Please say the name of the person or department you would like to reach or just hold on for a list of options.” Upon speaking your name or selecting the appropriate department, the caller is forwarded to your preferred phone or the appropriate outsourcer—with on-hold music and all.

  1. Do not provide home addresses.

Do not use your home address or you will get visitors. Prior to securing an end-to-end fulfillment house that can handle checks and money orders—if you decide to accept them—use a post office box but leave out the “PO Box” and include the street address of the post office itself. Thus “PO Box 555, Nowhere, US 11936” becomes “Suite 555, 1234 Downtown Ave., US 11936.” Go forth and project professionalism with a well-designed image. Perceived size does matter.

COMFORT CHALLENGE

Relax in Public (2 days)

This is the last Comfort Challenge, placed prior to the chapter that tackles the most uncomfortable turning point for most office dwellers: negotiating remote work agreements. This challenge is intended to be fun while showing—in no uncertain terms—that the rules most follow are nothing more than social conventions. There are no legal boundaries stopping you from creating an ideal life … or just being self-entertained and causing mass confusion.

So, relaxing in public. Sounds easy, right? I’m somewhat famous for relaxing in style to get a laugh out of friends. Here is the deal, and I don’t care if you’re male or female, 20 or 60, Mongolian or Martian. I call the following a “time-out.” Once per day for two days, simply lie down in the middle of a crowded public place at some point. Lunchtime is ideal. It can be a well-trafficked sidewalk, the middle of a popular Starbucks, or a popular bar. There is no real technique involved. Just lie down and remain silent on the ground for about ten seconds, and then get up and continue on with whatever you were doing before. I used to do this at nightclubs to clear space for break-dancing circles. No one responded to pleading, but going catatonic on the ground did the trick.

Don’t explain it at all. If someone asks about it after the fact (he or she will be too confused to ask you while you’re doing it for 10 seconds), just respond, “I just felt like lying down for a second.” The less you say, the funnier and more gratifying this will be. Do it on solo missions for the first two days, and then feel free to do it when with a group of friends. It’s a riot.

It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.

TOOLS AND TRICKS

Looking Huge—Virtual Receptionist and IVR

Angel (www.angel.com)

Get an 800 number with professional voice menu (voice recognition departments, extensions, etc.) in five minutes. Incredible.

Ring Central (www.ringcentral.com)

Offers toll-free numbers, call screening and forwarding, voicemail, fax send and receive, and message alerts, all online.

CD/DVD Duplication, Printing, and Product Packaging

AVC Corporation (www.avccorp.com)

SF Video (www.sfvideo.com)

Local Fulfillment (fewer than 20 units shipped per week)

Mailing Fulfillment Service Association (www.mfsanet.org)

End-to-End Fulfillment Companies (more than 20 units shipped per week, $500+ setup)

Motivational Fulfillment (www.mfpsinc.com)

The secret backend to campaigns from HBO, PBS, Comic Relief, Body by Jake, and more.

Innotrac (www.innotrac.com)

They are currently one of the largest DR marking companies.

Moulton Fulfillment (www.moultonfulfillment.com)

200,000-square-foot facility with real-time online inventory reports.

Call Centers (per-minute and/or per-sale fees)

There are generally two classes of call centers: order takers and commissioned reps. Interview each provider you consider to understand the options and costs involved.

The former is a good option if you give the product price in an advertisement (hard offer), are offering free information (lead generation), or don’t need trained salespeople who can overcome objections. In other words, your ad or website is pre-qualifying prospects.

The latter would more appropriately be called “sales centers.” Operators are commissioned and trained “closers” whose sole goal is to convert callers to buyers. These calls are often in response to “call for information/ trial/sample” ads that don’t feature a price (soft offers). Expect higher costs per sale.

LiveOps (www.liveops.com)

Pioneer in home-based reps, which often ensures more calls are answered. Provides comprehensive service with agents, IVR, and Spanish. Often used for one-step order taking instead of soft offers.

West Teleservices (www.west.com)

29,000 employees worldwide, processes billions of minutes per year. All the high-volume and low-price players use them for lower-priced products or higher-end products with free trials and installment plans.

NexRep (www.nexrep.com)

Highly skilled home-based sales agents that specialize in B2C and B2B, inbound and outbound programs. If performance, speed to respond, Internet integration, and quality customer experience are your priorities, this is a strong option to consider.

Triton Technology (www.tritontechnology.com)

Commission-only sales center know for incredible closing abilities (see the movie Boiler Room and Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry, Glen Ross). Don’t call unless your product sells for at least $100.

CenterPoint Teleservices (http://www.centerpointllc.com)

This sales force has experience to convert sales from hard offers, soft offers, and multiple offers (upselling additional products after a caller agrees to purchase the advertised product) originating from radio, TV, print, or the web.

Stewart Response Group (www.stewartresponsegroup.com)

Sales-driven call center leveraging the home-agent model for both inbound and outbound programs. Another high-touch boutique center.

Credit Card Processors (merchant account through your bank necessary)

These companies, unlike options in the last chapter, specialize in not only processing credit cards but interacting with fulfillment on your behalf, removing you from the flowchart.

TransFirst Payment Processing (www.transfirst.com)

Chase Paymentech (www.paymentech.com)

Trust Commerce (www.trustcommerce.com)

PowerPay (www.powerpay.biz)

One of the Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies. Process credit cards from your iPhone and more.

Affiliate Program Software

My Affiliate Program (www.myaffiliateprogram.com)

Also see the affiliate programs listed in the “Tools and Tricks” at the end of Chapter 9.

Discount Media Buying Agencies

If you go to a magazine, radio station, or TV channel and pay rate card—the “retail” pricing first given—you will never make it big. To save a lot of headache and expense, consider using ad agencies that negotiate discounts of up to 90% in their chosen media.

Manhattan Media (Print) (www.manhmedia.com)

Great agency with fast turnaround. I’ve used them since the beginning.

Novus Media (Print) (www.novusprintmedia.com)

Relationships with 1,400+ magazine and newspaper publishers with an average of 80% of rate card. Clients include Sharper Image and Office Depot.

Mercury Media (TV) (www.mercurymedia.com)

Largest private DR media agency in the U.S. Specialists in TV but can also handle radio and print. Offer full tracking and reporting to determine ROI.

Euro RSCG (Cross Media) (http://www.eurorscgedge.com/)

One of the worldwide leaders in DRTV media across all platforms.

Canella Media Response Television (TV) (http://www.drtv.com)

Uses the innovative P/I (per inquiry) model for compensation, where you split order profits instead of paying for time upfront. This is more expensive per order if you have a successful campaign, but it lowers upfront investment in media.

Marketing Architects (Radio) (www.marketingarchitects.com)

The de facto leaders in radio DR but a bit on the expensive side. Almost all of the most successful DR products—Carlton Sheets No Money Down, Tony Robbins, etc.—have used them.

Radio Direct Response (Radio) (www.radiodirect.com)

Mark Lipsky has put together a great firm, with clients ranging from small direct marketers to Travel Channel and Wells Fargo.

Online Marketing and Research Firms (PPC campaign management, etc.)

Starting Small—Find a Local Individual to Help

SEMPO (www.sempo.org; see the member directory)

Excellent Mid-Size Firms

Clicks 2 Customers (www.clicks2customers.com)

Working Planet (www.workingplanet.com)

The Hard-Hitting Pros—Small Campaigns Start at Several Thousand Dollars

Marketing Experiments (www.marketingexperiments.com) This is my team.

Did It (www.did-it.com)

ROIRevolution (www.roirevolution.com)

Cost is determined by a percentage above monthly PPC spend.

iProspect (www.iprospect.com)

Full-Service Infomercial Producers

These are the companies that made Oreck Direct, Nutrisystem, Nordic-Track, and Hooked on Phonics household names. The first has an excellent DRTV glossary and both sites offer excellent resources. Don’t call unless you can budget at least $15,000 for a short-form commercial or $50,000+ for a long-form infomercial.

Cesari Direct (http://www.cesaridirect.com/)

Hawthorne Direct (www.hawthornedirect.com)

Script-to-Screen (www.scripttoscreen.com)

Retail and International Product Distribution

Want to get your product on the shelves of Wal-Mart, Costco, Nordstrom, or the leading department store in Japan? Sometimes it pays to have experts with relationships get you there.

Tristar Products (http://www.tristarproductsinc.com)

Behind the PowerJuicer and other hits. Tristar also owns their own production studio and can therefore offer end-to-end services in addition to retail distribution.

BJ Direct (International) (www.bjgd.com)

Celebrity Brokers

Want a celebrity to endorse your product or be a spokesperson? It can cost a lot less than you think, if you do it right. I know of one clothing endorsement deal with the best pitcher in Major League Baseball that cost just $20,000 per year. Here are the brokers who can make it happen: Celeb Brokers (www.celebbrokers.com)

President Jack King was the one who first turned me on to this fascinating world. He knows it all inside and out.

Celebrity Endorsement Network (www.celebrityendorsement.com)

Celebrity Finding

Contact Any Celebrity (www.contactanycelebrity.com)

It is possible to do it yourself, as I have done many times. This online directory and its helpful staff will help you find any celebrity in the world.

LIFESTYLE DESIGN IN ACTION

After I read the section on outsourcing, I thought it sounded like a novel idea but would never work for me. However, since the rest of the book was “spot on,” I decided to try it. Rather than ship my money overseas, I opted to keep it in the U.S. and use my niece in college, with skills on computers I can’t even fathom, to test the theory. Turns out it has been a great experience and timesaver for me, as well as moneymaker for her. It seems I have all of the positives of out sourcing but none of the hassles of language and such…. Being able to mold a young mind for the better ties in well with the rest of your book … —KEN D.

Hey Tim, You mentioned www.weebly.com a few months ago, and I’ve been using that to build all my muse sites and think it’s great! Also, Facebook groups has (almost) every niche imaginable. So what I have found success in doing is: (1) Finding a niche group that would buy my muse, (2) sending a message to each admin telling them how my muse will help their group members. Then politely asking them to put a blurb in the “Recent News” section of the group. This makes it more trustworthy than a wall post, and it stays up there (free advertising) until the admin removes it. One hundred times better than a wall post. In one case, the admin purchased my muse, posted my note for me on the groups’ “Recent News” section, then e-mailed the entire group telling them they have to check out my site.

—GAVIN

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