June 30, 2004

Feelings Closes the Sale

I read a book a few years ago that really changed my outlook on advertising and branding. It is an absolutely amazing book. If you spend just one dime on advertising, you absolutely have to read this book.

I’d like to share one of the stories in it though, as a lesson on customer perception and how to look at things in a different way.

First, let me say, I started this blog under the name of Biz Ideas. But after the third or fourth post, the story I’m about to relate to you came back to me and I realized I need to promote my name so I can establish myself as someone you can trust for good entrepreneur info.

The story is so much better in the book, but I’ll give you the gist.

The residents of a county (somewhere in the US) started seeing the name “Russell Smith” (can’t remember the actual name so I’ll make one up) everywhere in the county. They’d see a roadside sign here and there with his name on it. It would say, “Russell Smith cares about Bergen County.” (Again, county name is made up.) Then they’d see a car parked on the side of the road out in the middle of nowhere with that saying painted on the side. Funny thing was, no one knew who this Russell Smith was. But for 2 years, everywhere they looked, they’d see the name Russell Smith. It got to the point that everyone in town was talking about it.

All the signs with his name on them all conveyed the message that he cared for people or were positive in some way.

Then the signs stopped. Bam.. no more Russell Smith. Then a year later, in November, 3 years after the name started appearing and 1 year after it stopped… low and behold, the name of Russell Smith was on the ballot for the town commissioner’s office.

Guess who won town commissioner by a landslide?

Russell made his name known but not at the expense of your vote. At the time, it was just a friendly… “hey, how ya doing… I care for this town.” He associated his name with feelings of trust and honesty without an apparent motive. (”Russell Smith is an honest person” said one of the signs.) You see, when you try to get your name known by people because you’re running for office (or you’re selling them something) they KNOW you have an ulterior motive so whatever you might say is automatically suspect. If you’re running for President and you put a sign out that says “John Blow is an honest person” they know you’re just putting that out to win an election.

I find this a very interesting concept. Make your name known apart from what you sell, associating it with something good, and it’ll eventually help you down the road when it comes time for someone to buy from you. I challenge you to figure out a way to do that in your own situation.

I’ve always been of the opinion that facts are good when leading up to the sale, but feelings are what closes it. If you already have won over their feelings (they feel good about you) then you’re sale is closed if the person needs/wants the product.

Definitely read the book.

June 28, 2004

Make Money Taking Out the Garbage

This idea is one that I came up with years ago, but only recently was I reminded of it.

Start a service for apartment dwellers. For $10 a month (or whatever you can get), the apartment dweller can just leave their garbage outside their door and you’ll come around and pick it up for them and take it to the apartment complex’s big garbage bin.

Now, some apartment complexes have their garbage areas so close to the apartments that you won’t be able to get any business. But there are many out there where the closest garbage bin is a little too far for comfort and you could probably find a lot of takers for your convenient service. Enough to make a business of it, anyway.

You could establish your pick-up times on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in one area (with several complexes in that area) and then Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the other area. That way you can manage your time better and be more efficient. If you have 500 customers paying $10 a month, you’d be making $5000 a month. You could do 250 apartments in one of your areas (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and 250 customers in the other area (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.) You’d be working 6 days a week, but you could hire someone at some point to do your Saturday gig for you. Heck, if you continued to expand, you could have employees doing all the work for you when you got big enough.

You could even partner with the complex office to give them your literature when someone moves in. It’s a nice feature the office can offer to their new tenants and a great way for you to market without spending a dime on marketing. Some complexes might even contract with you and offer it as a standard feature for their residences. You could offer a discount because you’d have all your customers in one area and it would take you less time to do the work.

Send me a few bucks when you grow this into an empire, hey? :-)

June 25, 2004

Sell Speeding Ticket Protection

I touched on this at the bottom of my last post. I recently came across a nifty product. It’s a spray that you can use to coat your license plate and from that point on, your license plate will be 95% immune from being pictured by those cameras they have now at stop lights.

So, of course, this got me to thinking. I recently had to go to court to pay a traffic fine (which was dismissed by the kindly judge because I had the tags, just didn’t have them on the car yet.) While I was waiting to be heard by the judge, I must have seen 20 people go before him. That was just in the span of about 20 minutes or so. So, apply those numbers to an 8 hour day, and you got a whole heck of a lot of traffic violators going through court in one day.

Why not make up a flyer (they may even have one already at the site that sells this stuff) and hand it out as people come out of the courthouse? The majority of those coming out will have just paid $X for a traffic fine. If you hand them a sheet of paper that tells them they can avoid any and all camera related tickets using this product, you’re sure to get some sales.

Not sure if this is possible, but if you can purchase a list somewhere of traffic violators/offenders, you could do up a direct mail piece and send it out.

Each can of this stuff costs $30 and does about 4 plates. The commission is up to 50%, depending on the volume of sales. (They have an affiliate program.) So, you might be able to make $100 a day just by handing out flyers in front of the courthouse. You’d have to look into the legality of handing out flyers in front of the courthouse, but it’s public property, so I would imagine it’s just a permit of some sort you need.

Heck, the general populace would be interested in this as well. You could use my post-it note idea and put a catchy line on a sticky with a website address and bring people to the site. On the site you can offer to apply the spray to their plates for them and make money from the service or just offer the product, or both.

You could also retail this stuff by buying it wholesale. This would be a perfect demo type of product for one of those retail shows in the convention center, where you go and look at stuff in booths. (Big around Christmas.) You’d just have to make sure no one else is registered doing the same thing at the show you plan on doing.

The flyer thing would have to be tested, but the retail show idea… that’s money in the bank. These types of shows are PERFECT for this type of product. Show pictures of how effective it is and perhaps have a video of the testing that’s been done on the product…etc. You’d sell HUNDREDS of cans of spray at one of these shows.

Here is the product site again.

June 24, 2004

Furniture Store & Gift Shop

As you may know, my main business is a collectible manufacturing company. We sell our collectibles through stores across the country.

We moved our manufacturing facilities to a new location last year in preparation to sell our collectibles through our own storefront. Well, it didn’t do as well as I had anticipated.

So, I’ve decided to add another component to the mix. We’re going to sell hand crafted (high end) furniture on a consignment basis. Our store is on a highway in a town known in Oregon for its antique shops. So, I think this will be a good fit and we can use the furniture to display our collectibles, as well.

I’ll give reports as time goes on as to how we’re doing with this knew turn of events. Should be fun and challenging as well.

I may dabble with listing some of the stuff on ebay as well. We’ll see. (Hate shipping big stuff… pain in the butt.)

P.S. I just counted 4 uses of the term “as well” in the above post. I guess I need to work on that. Nothing like a typing impediment to break up the flow, hey? Although, I guess it’s just as well. :-)

June 21, 2004

Walmart Communications - A Look Into the Future

I’m not sure if you’re interested in the wireless world like I am. It’s an avid hobby of mine, since I was a kid really. (See my Wi-Fi post on June 7th.) It’s really getting to be exciting, however.

There are two technologies that are going to take the wireless world into a whole different realm.

They are Ultra Wideband and WiMax. I’ll talk about Ultra Wideband in some other post. (The possibilities of Ultra Wideband are even more outrageous than WiMax, but it deserves a post all by itself.)

WiMax is a Wi-Fi standard that’s being developed by a consortium of companies, chiefly spearheaded by Intel at this point. What it will do is allow for any Tom, Dick or Harry podunk company to buy a T-1 and basically feed a whole town internet access and other wireless services, on the cheap, bypassing the telecoms. Don’t think the telecoms aren’t biting their nails over this one.

But I’d like to touch on a very real possibility. Wi-Max has an effective NON-line-of-sight (crucial feature) radius of around 30 miles from the source transmission. It can deliver of 100 MB/sec at these distances (your mileage may vary, according to terrain…etc.)

These stats led me down a “plausible scenario” road (which happens to me 100 times a day it seems). What company has hugely deep pockets and owns real estate (a building) every 20 or 30 miles in major cities (and small ones) all across America?

Walmart.

Imagine this scenario… Walmart adds capacity to their already notorious bandwidth coming into their stores (that they use for their data links) and sets up Wi-Max points of presence at each of their stores. Because they would be buying all this bandwidth in bulk (every Walmart in America) they could get the best bandwidth price than anyone else in the US and then hook people up via Wi-Max to these point’s of presence.

Also, because they would be buying so many, they could get the modems that their customers would need for DIRT cheap and basically give them away with a purchase of over $200. They could feasibly (profitably) sell ultra high speed internet access to the masses (and I mean the masses) for $20 a month, or less. One would essentially never have to buy a modem or change service again. Because when you move, the chances of you being within 20 or 30 miles of a Walmart are VERY likely.

As the technology improves and it becomes a mobile service as well, you could basically receive high speed internet access anywhere in America (within 30 miles of a Walmart) by using the same account you use at home but through your laptop or PDA.

Take this a step further… it won’t be long before the quality of voice over wireless IP will be at the same quality as regular phone service. Walmart could route all your calls through their network, via your $20 a month internet account, with no additional costs or minimal additional costs. So, you wouldn’t need a cell phone except under rare conditions that you’re out of range from a Walmart. For most of us, that’s never.

Go even further. The technology will get so good, they’ll be able to deliver video over the same wireless access.

Walmart, within 10 years or sooner, could be a one stop shop for your data, video and telecommunications service… all bundled under one account, using the same wireless feed. They could feasibly do this without even TOUCHING a local telephone company’s facilities. That means cheaper service for everyone. Imagine having your laptop with you on the bus to work and being able to watch HBO or any other station via your wireless cable TV link through your wireless Walmart WiMax connection.

It also means HUGE consolidation in the telecom industry. It’s coming, mark my words. WiMax is going to put lots of companies out of business or make them evolve. There will always be a few other choices, but only the strong ones will survive. My money is on Verizon in the cell space and Comcast in the video/broadband space.

If Walmart doesn’t do this, someone will. It will need to be someone with huge pockets, closely spaced existing real estate and the technological foresight to make it happen.

My money is on Walmart.

An executive from Walmart was once asked what markets they plan on moving into over time.

The executive said, “What markets are we currently NOT in?”

Meaning, they are going to get into every retail space that exists.

That’s a company with goals!

The lesson for entrepreneurs is… stay out of the telecom business unless you have a specific strategy that compliments this future I’ve laid out before you. When Walmart makes something a commodity, you might as well give up the ghost and move on to something they can’t make a commodity.

Like collectible artwork. :-)

June 19, 2004

Business-Opportunities.biz Rocks

Okay, so I’m doing a little sucking up. My good friend (whom I’ve never met, talked with or even communicated with in any way… yet) has made it known that he will be giving away a Gmail account, randomly. His requirement is that we post in our blogs something about him. Then he’ll choose someone from that group.

So, here goes…

Dane Carlson, blogger at business-opportunities.biz, is not only an officer, he’s a gentleman. When he walks into a room, his presence is immediately sensed by all because he exudes a confidence and demeanor unheralded in modern times. :-)

Not only that, he’s mentioned me a couple times in his blog and for that I’m appreciative.

So, in summary, Dane Carlson is an amazing man and I read his blog, Business-Opportunities.biz, every single day.

How’s that, Dane? :-)

In case that wasn’t enough….. PLLLLLLEEEEEEEEAAAAASSSSSSEEEEEE!! I get 1000 emails a day and I can’t wait to use google’s filter, to see if it helps out.

PLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSEEEE!

June 18, 2004

Profit by Knowing Bed Store’s Dirty Secrets

Among the 1,352 things that I’ve done in my life for money, selling beds happens to be one of them.

I actually didn’t do it for very long because I felt so dirty after work each day, I was tired of taking so many showers.

And you thought used car salespeople play games with their customers. They have nothing on bed salespeople.

(NOTE: I’m going to point out the problems with this industry and THEN point out the opportunity for those that feel inclined to use the bed industry’s dirty secrets against them.)

Let’s delve into the underworld that is selling beds. First, you must understand that it’s a fraternity. They all do the same things to close the sale and so they would never rat out each other. That’s why you really don’t hear about their “methods” of closing a sale.

When I was selling beds back in 1997 or thereabouts, the top salespeople were making close to $100,000 a year. Even the worse salesperson would make about $36K a year. Can you believe that? For selling beds? It’s true.

The main reason is the margins. Now, I’m all for making a profit and I really don’t even mind bed stores charging whatever the market will bear. Fine and dandy. It’s their marketing and closing practices that I don’t agree with. You see, when you walk into a bed store (just like a car dealership) they know you’ll be purchasing a bed somewhere. If you leave their store without purchasing, it means someone else is going to get your business. Statistically, if you’re “shopping” around, it means you’re going to buy at the very last store you’re “shopping” around in. It is every bedseller’s goal to make sure they are the last store on your list. Regardless whether they are actually the last one on your physical list.

They do this using all kinds of methods. I can’t remember them all since we went to a week long school to learn all of them… but I do remember some of the more popular ones. The price you see on the bed is a hyperinflated price (in most cases) and is only the starting point for the bed seller. This gives them room to drop the price but only to the level at which they sense you are biting. In order to get to these price drops, they need to have a reason to drop the price. They can’t just say, “Ah, okay, I’ll drop it by $200. Is that a good enough price for you?” As the customer, you’d be onto them. You’d think… oh, so they have plenty of room here and the price is just arbitrary, so I’m going to bleed them dry.

So, what they do is train all their salespeople on how to drop the price without letting the customer know that they are dropping it just to get to your comfortable point.

The #1 method they use to drop the price is the “last year’s cover” ploy. It goes like this, “I can see that $1200 is pretty steep for you folks. Let me check on something really quick.” The salesperson goes to the counter and pretends to be checking on something. He may be looking at his shopping list… whatever. He comes back and says, “If you don’t care what color the mattress is, I’ve got a few of last year’s models in stock for $1000 each. The only difference is the cover is a different color than the one you see here.” The customer doesn’t care what color the mattress is and the salesperson knows it. But this gives him a “reason” to drop the price without letting the customer know that’s what he’s doing. In actuality, the bed manufacturers change material all the time and there is no material pattern or color for any particular year. They just buy material and when that material is used up, they use another color… etc. They also use different colors to differentiate between stores they sell to. You see, the manufacturers are in collusion with the bed stores for the most part. Bed stores don’t want you to be able to shop for price between different stores, so the manufacturers will make the same exact bed look different by putting whatever name that store wants on that bed’s label and use a different color material. That way, you can’t go to Store A, see the price for a particular bed and then go to Store B and see if it’s cheaper. There’s no reference points between the two.

Also, each time the salesperson goes back to check on something, they are actually checking to see where they are on margin for that particular bed. They must be at a certain margin overall for all their sales. Most times, if they go below a 55% margin, they get a talking to by the owner/manager.

Another popular reason they use to test your comfortability level with the price (by dropping it again) is the mismatched box spring and mattress. This is such bunk. When the store orders beds, they don’t order by the set. They order a certain number of box springs (in varying qualities to match with varying qualities of the mattress) and a certain number of mattresses.

So, let’s say you’re still balking at $1000. The salesperson gets you as sold as he can on the $1000 so when he goes and drops it again, you think you’re getting the steal of your life and he’s got you reeled in. So, he says, “You know what… there’s one more thing I can check on… just a second.” He goes back and finishes his shopping list or checks on the margin numbers… etc. Comes back to you and says, “You know… we have an extra box spring from another bed set because someone bought just the mattress for that set. If you don’t mind the fact that the box spring’s color won’t match the mattress, I can knock off another $200.” Now you’re thinking, WOW… we’re getting a $1200 mattress set for $800. I’m sold. In most cases, all it takes is two price drops and the customer is hooked and he reels them in.

There are others… but bottom line is this… whenever a mattress salesperson drops the price on you, it’s MOST LIKELY they are doing it because they need you to buy and so they’re testing your continued resistance at lower prices. It’s not because of the reason they give you for it. The best test as to whether they are at the lowest price they can really go is if you say, “it’s just a bit too much for me. I’m going to have to think this over.” Then you leave. If they don’t block your way and offer one more drop or come out to the parking lot and offer one more drop, they are most likely at the lowest price they can go.

So, here’s an opportunity of a lifetime. Operate on the up and up. Set up a showroom that doesn’t need a salesperson to “educate” the consumer. This can be done with big placards hanging over each bed. People, now-a-days, like to help themselves. They don’t want a salesperson breathing down their neck. Put all the information they need to make a decision on big posters hanging over each bed. Have a big poster at the front of the store when they walk in that reveals how you operate and how others operate. The price you see on the mattress is our lowest price and it’s the cheapest price you’re going to find on any comparable mattress. Because we don’t employ 7 salespeople all making $70K a year. It’s all self serve. All the information you need is right at the mattress set. If you do have questions, ask the desk clerk and he can answer it.

Cutting out the highly paid con-artist (I mean, salespeople) and charging less for the goods is something the market will respond to. You could make a good living off of 30% margins and kill the competition, without much advertising at all. Plus, you could operate the store with just you and perhaps a couple other (lower paid) people.

Go one step further and make it a theme store with a restaurant or some other nifty add-on.

Use the troubles current industries have with credibility and turn those negatives around and make an opportunity out of it.

June 15, 2004

Panhandling Update…

I did some panhandling today as mentioned in a previous post. I sent a press release out via PRWeb.com and sent it via email to some of the business editors of the Oregonian (our local paper.)

A reporter called me today and did a phone interview and said she was going to pitch it to her editor and see where it goes.

I went to one of our busy intersections today for my first day of panhandling, but realized it wasn’t going to be safe doing it there because it was a 4 way stop and very busy, so I risked averting someone’s attention from going when they shouldn’t and/or vice-versa.

So, I went to a major intersection just off I-5 and stood at the light. I was dressed nicely and I smiled to everyone and held up the sign that is linked on the previous post.

I only stood there for an hour or so. I’ve determined I’m a fair weather beggar. :-) It was getting a bit too warm for my tastes (79 degrees.) Okay, so I’m a wimp.

It’s weird standing on the same corner that I’ve seen vagrants standing, begging for money. Sure, I was dressed nicely and I drove to the spot in a 1994 Lexus LS400. I also had a cell phone hanging on my belt and my sign was professionally done and I was asking for substantially more than your average vagrant. But for all intents and purposes, we were there for the same reason. We needed money.

The most striking thing about holding a sign for money is watching people’s reaction to your entreaties. Some don’t have any qualms looking at you and yoru sign and in some cases smiling at you. You can tell that others would rather lick a cow’s tailend than look at you. Most were pretty much indifferent. I expected many more “oh-my-God” smiles and pointing. I did get lots of “thumbs up” as if to say, “I know how you feel and good luck.”

Out of the 1000 or so cars that went by me, though, only ONE person gave me a “you’re disgusting for doing this” look. Only one. I was kind of surprised. But then again, I really didn’t expect it since my sign was obviously not asking for money like normal panhandlers do. Maybe she didn’t assume it was a request for an actual loan. But, dirty look, I got anyway. (As Yoda would say it.)

Two people actually beckoned me to their window and asked quickly what kind of business I was needing money for. I politely told them the 10 second synopsis and then pointed at the sign when time was short and suggested they visit the website.

This was about 4 hours ago, as I write this. No one has contacted me yet from today’s begging session. I’ll keep at it, if for no other reason than just the experience of it. If you’ve never done something like this, I highly recommend doing it. Perhaps just hold up a sign advertising your business, or some other message. It’s a great way to watch mankind at its best and worst.

More updates forthcoming as this project unfolds. (It’s supposed to be getting into the high 80s and low 90s the rest of this week. I might put it off until next week. Not sure yet.)

Meanwhile, my Post-It idea is taking on a life of its own.

I love America.

Luxury Cinema Business

There may be someone doing this somewhere in the US, I don’t know. But I’ve not seen it if there is.

Why not create a cinema experience for the well-to-do? Build a one screen theater (or renovate one of the old downtown style theaters), put luxurious leather, reclining seats in it that are spaced nicely so you’re not sharing elbow room with a pathetic, smelly guy next to you. Then charge a flat fee per person and all refreshments are free. If you charged $25, $30, $35 a head (whatever the market would bear), you could make out like a bandit because your overhead would be much smaller (don’t need 16 year olds with an attitude getting people their $7 Reeces bags). Just have a very classy (and immaculately clean) self serve refreshment bar where your customers can grab some candy, popcorn, coke… whatever they need for the show.

Yeah, you’d have to monitor for idiots taking more than they need for the show, but that would be a small task.

Again… the recurring theme here, left over from my last post, is specialization. Niches is where it’s at. Particularly when it comes to catering to the upper 20% of earners.

If you think about it, people pay darn near that much now when they go to the show when you factor in all the refreshments… etc and get treated like cattle in the process. I’d pay $25 for a ticket to an upper scale theater just so I wouldn’t have to put up with sticky floors and people’s elbows on my armrest.

Minor problem… figuring out the box office. You wouldn’t want the owner of the film you’re showing to get 40% (or whatever their take of box office is) of $25. You’d want them to get their cut off the normal ticket price of $8 or whatever. But I’m sure you could figure that out somehow.

Update: A reader (T Bryce Yehl) pointed me to Muvico, a theater company in Florida. They have “premium” seats in their balconeys that are higher priced, with free popcorn. They look really comfortable too. This is along the lines of what I’m talking about, only taking it a LOT further. He said once you spring for these seats, it’s hard to imagine going back to the “regular” seats.

June 14, 2004

Revolutionize Professional Photography

There are a lot of industries that will be going by the wayside in the next 10 years because of technology.

Professional photography studios is one of them. Or at least, studios that charge you for each picture and retain the copyright to the picture in perpetuity.

We recently had our annual family portraits done at JC Penney, like every year. But this year will be our last year there. These places will be out of business in no time. Why? Because they think that because they took the picture, they own the copyright and can charge you a premium for each picture.

Do they have ANY clue as to how annoying that is to the customer? I tried to go to Walmart and use their scanner to scan one of the pictures so I could get it in electronic format to use for posting on one of my websites. They said they couldn’t do it because I didn’t own the copyright. This is absolutely incredulous.

This “hostage taking” way of doing business could be done without impunity because the photographer traditionally, through alliances with developers, owned the system by which people received their photographs and made such a big deal of the whole process. Even today, JC Penney takes almost 3 weeks to get you your pictures back. Can you believe that?

So, I want to assist in this industry’s demise as it operates today by sharing with you the idea that will change the face of professional photography as we know it.

If you have a flair for photography, hang a shingle and make a million off this idea. First mover on this will become quite wealthy.

Set up a traditional studio, with all the traditional backdrop gear and trained photographers… etc. But instead of using a camera that uses film requiring “developing”, use high res digital cameras. They are cheap enough and high res enough now a days to be more than sufficient to do the job. Then charge people per hour in the studio and when they are done with the shoot, all the pics that were just taken can be put onto a disk or several disks, depending on how many shots there were, and presented to the customer as they leave. In, out, no “consultation” (fancy term for selling you shots) and they’re done.

In this day and age of digital photography, the two tasks should be completely separate. The picture taking and the developing should be two completely separate operations.

Now, if you want to get a piece of the developing, that’s fine. Include info with the disk that shows them exactly how to get the shots developed and even partner with a developing company like ofoto.com to get a kickback each time a customer of yours uses their service. But don’t hold their pictures hostage as if you hold the golden key. This is so pathetic and hostile to your customer.

You could even have wardrobes for people to put on for the pics so you can facilitate impulse shoppers in a mall setting and charge extra for use of the clothes.

As for tracking the time, you could give them a slip at the door and when they enter the camera room, the slip is punched by a machine that keeps track of time. Then, when they emerge, their ticket is punched again and then you charge them for the total time that was spent in the camera room. I don’t know what that would be as it would depend on your expenses and what you have to make in order to earn a profit. But I can guarantee you’d have much happier customers because they can take their disk home and mull over which shot they want to use for what purpose and then have all kinds of options for printing them using a place like ofoto.com to develop them.

Specialization is the future of services. This has been known for a long time.

So either be a photographer or be a developer. PLLLEEEAAASSSEEE drop the scam of being both. It’s infuriating.

Mark my words, as soon as companies crop up that do what I propose in this post, you’ll see what I call the “hostage taking” studios drop like flies. Sooner the better.

Oh, and if you happen to be in this industry and you’re guilty of holding pictures for ransom, don’t be offended. Consider yourself lucky to have come across someone willing to tell you the truth and show you the way to survival in your own business. :-)

June 11, 2004

Panhandling for Business Capital

I strive to be very honest and up front in my blog. There are many things that people go through in life that they’d just as soon not let ANYONE know about, let alone put it on the internet via a blog.

But I’ve always wanted this blog to be a transparent (as possible) lens through which people can see the struggles of an entrepreneur.

I started my road to self-employment back on February, 2001. I quit my job (which was paying me handsomely) to make Santas, of all things. (Read whole story here.) Since then, Great American has been my main focus and my entrepreneurial side has been nourished through that and a smattering of other projects when I had time for them.

Just recently, as is normal for this time of year, the Santa business is slower. So, I’ve had time to devote to other projects some of which have been touched on in the blog and are coming along nicely.

Although I’m slowly seeing some results from my other endeavors, the Santa business is really hanging by a thread. In years past, we’ve had enough of our own resources to carry us through (and a loan from Grandpa which was paid back promptly, with interest) but this year it’s much tighter.

So, I’m going to do something to raise cash that appeals to my sense of being a “remarkable” entrepreneur. I’m going to stand on a street corner here in our local area and hold a sign that says, “Business Needs $10,000″ and then it’ll have a website address to go to for more info. Here is graphic of the sign. Here is the site that is advertised on the sign.

I’ve used PRWeb to do a press release on the event. There’s a link on the need10k.com website to the press release if you’re interested in what it says.

So, here we go. The press release comes out on Monday. I’ve sent the release to our local paper’s proper editors (The Oregonian) and now we’ll see what happens. As always, you’ll hear about it through the blog. Hopefully, holding the sign coupled with the media coverage (if any) will propel us to a successful outcome.

When you get your back up to a wall and it seems there’s no way out, you gotta think of ways that you wouldn’t normally think of. Kind of like the movies… the hero is trapped and you think, there’s NO POSSIBLE way this guy’s going to get out of this fix. Suddenly, the impossible happens and the hero is saved.

I’m looking around, desperately trying to find that remarkable thing to happen. But you gotta do remarkable things to make remarkable things happen.

So, I’ve got my spot picked out on a corner of a local street that sees much of our state’s most wealthiest people drive by. I’ll be doing something remarkable, however unpleasant it might be to do.

What remarkable thing will you do next week to further your dreams?

June 10, 2004

Profit from Post-It Notes

What’s the first thing you do when someone leaves you a post-it on your desk? Read it, right? What if you came home and saw a post-it stuck to your door? What would you think? You’d probably think someone you knew stopped by and left you a note, right?

So why not use post-it notes to advertise your business?

I’ve come up with an incredibly efficient method of putting whatever black and white message you want on a post-it note. This is a picture of a post-it advertisement that I’ll be launching shortly related to my collectible business. (The flatys.com site isn’t fully functional yet. So if you visit it, take that into consideration.)

Here’s another one that I’m working on for a local business.

The nice thing about my method of putting a message onto a post-it note is that it can be a duplication of something written by hand. Like the first example, above. I was able to duplicate my own writing of “Collect Flatys.com” onto the post-it note. When someone sees this, they are MUCH more likely to follow the directions because they think a friend or someone they know is telling them to visit the site.

This method of advertising can be used by yourself for your own business or you can actually make a business of it by providing a way for local businesses to get their ad out to the local public but in a personal way.

You could charge your local hair salon, auto garage, restaurant, gift store (the list goes on) to put their message in front of 5000 local residents around their store for $500. That’s MUCH cheaper than advertising in the paper or radio or just about any other method. But not only is it cheaper, it’s MUCH more effective. You can pretty much assure them that someone will physically LOOK and READ their ad and it will be someone physically living within a 1/2 mile (whatever you want) radius of their store. Newspapers can’t do that. Even with newspaper inserts, most of them get tossed without reading them and the cost is about the same (if they can find a really cheap printer). On top of that, they have to do much more work in getting 5000 flyers to the newspaper… etc.

With this method, you can walk into a beauty salon and show them a mockup of what you’ll be sticking to the front doors of 5000 residents within 1/2 mile of their store, ask them what special they want to run to get people in and all they need to do is give you a check for $500 and they are done.

It’s easier for the business owner, cheaper in most cases, and on top of that, it’s much more effective.

Your costs… 5000 Super Sticky 3M Post-It Notes will cost you about $60 and my ingenius way of getting the message onto the sticky will cost you about $50. Then all you have to worry about is getting 5000 stickys on to people’s front doors. You could do this yourself (if you like exercising) or you can pay some neighborhood kids to do it and pocket the difference.

In the average smaller lot neighborhoods it takes APPROXIMATELY 33 hours or so to stick 5000 stickys to 5000 front doors. Your mileage may vary. But if you look at the numbers on that…

$110 in overhead
$390 in profit
33 hours divided into $390 is nearly $12/hr.
You could make it your daily slog (slow jog) and bring it up to maybe $15/hr.

That’s not a bad job and you get lots of exercise in the process.

This could be expanded accordingly, if you were to hire lots of help to do the door to door stuff. Imagine how many local shops there are that could use this type of localized advertising. If I JUST concetrated on hair salons in the Portland metro area, I could do one a day and for 3 months without repeating any of them. That’s JUST hair places. If I could find enough people to do the passing out, this could be quite lucrative in a big way.

There are SOOOOO many businesses out there that are starved for effective advertising. You could even give the business 1000 free if they are skeptical just to get their business. They will be absolutely amazed at how effective this will be for them if they give a good deal in their ad. It’s also nice for tracking since they need to bring the ad in to get the discount. So, the business owner can really keep track of just how well the campaign is working.

So, how do I do it? Ah… well… the secret is in the sauce. Information is the most valuable thing on planet earth, isn’t it? Even after sharing all this with you, without that key ingredient, it’s all moot. :-)

Much of what I write about here in my blog is free of charge and I wish everyone the best at implemeting the ideas herein. However, in this particular case, I’m actually DOING this, so I have to keep the methodology under wraps.

I will, however, sell the information to certain people. You will need to tell me what part of the country you live in and where you will be doing this. That way I can make sure I don’t sell the info to someone else in your (or my) particular area. The less people know this secret, the better, from a competitive standpoint.

Or, if you don’t want to pay for the knowledge of the printing method, you can have us do it for you and you and you can concentrate on the physical delivery of the stickys with the remaining $300 you’ll have after paying us for the sticky printing.

Cost is $200 (+$10 shipping) per 5000 post-its. (You can see what my profit is from the above figures… where else can you make a purchase and know exactly what the person’s profit is? Haha) This goes for all of you who may want to get some stickys to advertise your own business.

So email me at myself @ dansherman.com if you’re interested in either purchasing knowledge of the printing method or getting your post-its done by my office. Cost of the post-it printing information is $50 but I’m only going to sell it to the right people.

Couple more things… the post-its NEED to be the super sticky kind. If you use the regular kind, you can get your cost for the stickys down to about $30 for 5000 but you don’t want to risk the sticky blowing away. Also, the sticky’s I’m talking about are the yellow, 3″ by 3″ variety.

Update: You can get stickys professionally printed, in full color, for about 4 cents per sticky but you have to order 12,500 minimum per design ($265). You’d have to sell a business on 12,500 (which you could do, no problem.) The biggest drawback to this, however, is they use the normal stickys and not the super stickys. Believe me… you NEED the super stickys.

Coming Soon… super non-traditional way of raising funds for your business. This one will really make your head shake (in pity, awe or just downright laughter.) :-)

June 9, 2004

Always a Market for the Ridiculously Expensive

This was a fortuitous find because I was just thinking I wanted to blog my thoughts on selling things that cater to people that need to have something better than the average folks.

Then this came along over at Gizmodo. Can you believe someone would pay $500 for a power cord for their computer?

I do. People who have some money to burn want to set themselves apart from the average joe and they do this in many ways. (BTW: I have no problems with this… it’s what drives the American financial engine of ingenuity. If I want to earn more money to buy a $500 power cord, I have to create some value somewhere for people to want to spend that kind of money… hence, our society benefits from this drive to create value.)

So, if you can think of a way to justify a $150 t-shirt, someone will purchase it. If you can think of a way to justify a $1000 computer keyboard, someone will purchase it.

Look around you. Can you think of way to increase the perceived (and actual) value of something around you and sell it for a higher price?

Read Seth Godin’s Free Prize Inside and you’ll be thinking of all kinds of things.

BTW: Stay tuned… I’ll be selling $150 t-shirts in the future. It’s one of my projects in the pipeline. I’ll give you all the meat of this idea as it unfolds and you can watch step by step on how I do it.

June 8, 2004

Take Pride in Your Blogroll

If you maintain a blog, take pride in your blogroll. The links you provide to other sites for your visitors should be protected and maintained like they were valuable China plateware in a shop full of rampaging bulls.

When people visit your blog, you start with pretty much no trust. The first thing they notice is the overall design. If it’s good and clean, the trust factor goes up a notch. Then they start reading what you have to say. If they like what they read, the trust factor goes up another notch.

Then they see you have provided them a list of other sites that seem to be related to the subject that brought them to your site. They say to themselves, “Well, that’s mighty nice of him to do that for me.”

They click on a link and an error screen comes up. Okay… I guess the guy I’ve trusted here doesn’t maintain a good list of people. Well, maybe that was a fluke. I’ll try this one.

The blog hasn’t been updated for 3 months.

Hit back button again. Wow. This is frustrating. Let me try another one.

Oh my God! How can anyone even think of sitting at this site for more than a few seconds? It’s hideously ugly and there’s all kinds of flashy stuff going off and freezing my screen… etc.

Back button again.

Hmmm…

BTW: I promise there’s an entrepreneurial angle to this… keep reading.

So what am I getting at here? First, having a million links from your blog to other people’s blogs is just darn right overwhelming to your visitor. Cut it back a bit. Second, link to sites that you KNOW are blogging regularly and that have a good, clean uncluttered design that’s not going to irritate your viewer.

Your blogroll is essentially your introduction to someone else. Would you introduce your business associate or friend to a scruffy homeless guy with no teeth? Would you take your business associate or friend over to someone’s house to introduce them to someone only to see that they’re not home or worse yet, they’ve moved?

So how does this tie into being an entrepreneur? This is a perfect example of what I said a few posts ago. A true entrepreneur assesses just about everything they come across each day for its value creating potential. Whether that be solving a problem or changing an existing solution to solve another problem… the permutations are endless. But the entrepreneur is CONSTANTLY on the lookout.

This blogroll problem is a perfect example. Anyone could go to elance.com and get a developer to create a script built to sell to bloggers. The script would give bloggers a web-based system that they could use to maintain their blogrolls properly. They would insert some javascript where their blogroll is and then have a screen only they can access on their website where they can input the URL and a title of the blog they want to add to their blogroll and the system would automatically list it. But then it would visit the site each day and see if there is a new post and that the link is working. You could set it to drop the link from your blogroll if there aren’t any new posts in X number of days. You could also set it to notify you if the HTML has changed signficantly so you can review it to make sure it still has a look and feel you can continue to endorse.

Once you have the script built, sell it for a nominal fee and make money.

I know there are services out there that will automate your blogroll but none that I’ve seen that will do quite what I have described here. If there is, kudos to the maker. YOU are an entrepreneur and I salute you.

Business Quote from President Reagan

I had heard this one before, but while reading The Entrepreneurial Mind I was reminded of it and I thought it was worth repeating here:

President Reagan was once asked the difference between a big business and a small business. He said that a big business is what a small business wants to become if the government would just get out of the way.

Does anyone wonder why this man was so loved with quips like this?

June 7, 2004

Ground Floor Wireless/Wi-Fi Business

I was in the USAF for 12 years and worked as an electronic intelligence analyst. Which meant I analyzed electromagnetic energy for its intelligence value. (The official, unclassified, job description.)

Before that, going back to around 1977 or so, I have been fascinated with any antenna I could find or see. We lived out in the country too far from civilization to get cable tv (very few people even in town had it) so EVERYONE had a tv antenna of some sort or another.

We lived about 10 miles out of town and I knew what kind of antenna each house between us and town had. I had them all memorized. I also knew what kind of tower they had and whether they had one of those automatic antenna rotating contraptions that I thought only the rich people could afford. I myself had no less than 4 or 5 antennae mounted to a sad looking mast, clinging to the gutter above my bedroom window. Oh, and the radio shack catalog was near and dear to my heart. In particular, pages 72 through 76 (outdoor antennas.)

It doesn’t stop there. I actually worked for an MMDS (microwave wireless) company back in the late 90’s selling wireless cable tv at first and then we were at the forefront of wireless broadband which we couldn’t hardly GIVE away for some reason. We were too far ahead of our time.

So, suffice to say, I keep up on the wireless industry as a whole. (Cell phone industry is actually boring, so I’m more into the MMDS/Wi-Fi/UWB world of wireless.)

Based on that background, and my entrepreneurial mindset, I want to share with you an INCREDIBLE idea. If you have about $100K to put into something, think SERIOUSLY about this idea.

I’m sure some ma/pa shop is doing it somewhere in the USA. But it needs a “radio shack” treatment where it’s franchised and spread throughout the US. The idea is a wireless store. The store would JUST sell wireless gear. I’m not talking about cell phones (although you could sell those too.) I’m talking about carrying every wireless doohicky in existence. Everything from walkie talkies, ham radio to Wi-Fi routers and antennas to bluetooth dongles and wi-fi VOIP phones that are just starting to come to the market.

This is a HUGE industry even today and it’s poised to become WAY bigger in the next 10 years. But in my town, there’s no one particular place you can go to get advice on what to buy for your set-up… etc. The best place to go here in the Portland area is Frys but they have the absolute WORSE customer service in the universe. And that’s in the computer department where a ton of CS reps are standing. NO ONE is standing over by the wireless data wall. And try asking someone if a piece of equipment can be hooked wirelessly into your ethernet network without drivers and you’ll get a glassy eyed stare except if you get someone who thinks they know what they’re doing and gives you the wrong answer.

There’s another standard coming out within the next couple of years called Ultra Wideband. When this comes out, the whole world of wireless is just going to go absolutely bonkers. The company that has already established a beachhead on the wireless gear front is going to cash in big. Especially when grandma wants to hook her digital camera to her computer without configuring anything.

10 years from now hardly anyone’s speakers will have a wire going to their home stereo. The only wires that will exist is electrical wires. That’s it. Who’s going to hold the hand of all those potential customers? Certainly not Frys.

There’s even more to this idea. Wireless internet access is poised to really over take traditional delivery methods if someone does it right. Famous telecommunications pioneer, Craig McCaw, has the best plan so far with Clearwire. But imagine what kind of wireless data business your wireless store could do? Each store could run a T1 or T3 or whatever they need into the store then sell that bandwidth out to every one of their customers within a 10-20 mile radius wirelessly (through WiMax.) Who would you rather have your wireless data through, the corner store where you can go and talk to a knowledgeable rep, or Verizon? That’s a no brainer. Especially when that store will sell it to you cheaper than Verizon. Imagine how much service business you could get if someone came in looking for some wireless doohicky and you queried them on what type of broadband connection they have and you find out they are using Verizon for $40 a month. Then you hand them a plug and play wireless modem and say, go plug this into your USB and try out our FASTER service for $30 a month. If you like it, just keep the modem and we’ll start billing you. If you DON’T like it, bring it back. BTW: You can also use our service through your laptop, wherever you are in the metro area, even while riding the bus. At some point, you’ll most likely be able to strike up deals with the music industry and because of your pervasive coverage, be able to instantly deliver music to people’s MP3 players, wherever they are at the moment. Same with movies. The opportunities are truly limitless, but you have to there to capitalize on them when the technology allows. Riding the wireless equipment supplier wave will allow you to do that.

Then as you grow the operation, spreading out stores some 40 miles apart, you could start creating a mesh network using your stores as the nodes of that network. As technology advances, your ability to serve masses of customers advances at the same time. But the nice thing is, you are already in place, just waiting to pounce on the latest advances. Selling wireless gear is good money, but then selling services to your hardware customers on top of that, now THAT’S even better.

Then you get into selling voip, then cable tv over your network. Because of your pervasive “local” offices everywhere, you could feasibly, at some point, become the one stop electronic delivery company for your customer.

Possible name… The WiStore.

This is a multi-billion dollar idea and you got it for nada. That’s just the kinda guy I am. (Haha!)

Entrepreneur’s Lesson from President Reagan…

So many eulogies and tributes can be found everywhere you look on the internet right now. He deserves all of them. But I want to zero in on a lesson Reagan taught our nation’s entrepreneurs.

Before I go into that lesson, however, I’d like to say something about this great man. I came “of age” during President Reagan’s terms in office. I was in the US Air Force during the vast majority of his two terms. He single-handedly shaped my can-do attitude regarding America. This nation was completely and utterly demoralized under Carter’s presidency. I remember coming out of the movie Top Gun when I was stationed in Holland and thinking to myself that I was so glad to be an American and that pride came directly through President Reagan and his principled resolve to do the right thing here and abroad. It had nothing to do with Top Gun the movie… but everything to do with Top Gun, the country. At the time, I remember Americans had a pride that no one else in the world had of their own country. I got in an argument (friendly one) with a dutch guy when I was travelling in Israel about national pride. He couldn’t understand why someone would be particularly proud of one’s nation like Americans were of theirs. He didn’t understand, I concluded, because he wasn’t an American. You got to feel it to believe it.

Anyway, when I heard of his passing, my wife said she knew that I had admired him and she knew I would be upset. (I cried for what seemed like hours… it was just that difficult for me to accept.) I quickly corrected her and said, I didn’t “admire” President Reagan… you admire someone who jumps into a fire to save someone’s life. You admire someone who has scaled Mt. Everest. No… I genuinely, without shame, LOVED that man. I loved him probably more than I love many people in my own family. I would have given my life for him and his Presidency (our nation) if called upon. He was someone that inspired others to be inspiring. You only find people like that once a generation… and ours is gone now. I will miss him with all my heart and soul.

So what did he teach us entrepreneurs? He taught us the value in paying less taxes so we can spend it on expanding our businesses. Whatever negative things you read about supply side economics… you need to read them then laugh at them. The negatives are written by people who would rather spend our money the way THEY see fit than the way WE want to.

The facts are in black and white. During his presidency, tax burden went down on all income brackets yet the individual federal income tax revenues coming into the federal coffers grew from $286 billion in 1981 to $446 billion in 1989. Yes, the deficits went up dramatically, but that’s because the spending outgrew the receipts. But, if supply side economics are faulty, how can you REDUCE everyone’s tax brackets, yet collect MORE revenue?

I’ll tell you… cutting taxes allows for more money to be spent into the economy and thereby creates economic growth. More jobs, more income, more tax revenue. It’s so simple, yet no one had run our government like that since John Kennedy. He did the same thing during the beginning of his presidency and because of that, we had a balanced budget in 1969.

Now, President Bush did the same thing and look at how the economy is taking off.

If President Reagan hadn’t cut taxes, we wouldn’t have had an economic boom and funding the military build-up thereby scaring off communism might not have occured. It’s really easy to draw parallels to our economic prosperity and the Soviet Union not being able to keep up militarily and collapsing under the financial weight. Which in turn ushered in democracy where communism once stood firm.

I can’t tell you how important Ronald Reagan was to the history of this nation. It can’t be stressed enough. Now, I believe what Ronald Reagan did to defeat communism, George Bush is trying to accomplish against radical facism across this globe. We need to support him not only in spirit but also in backing policies that will allow our country to finance this mission for the long haul. This means lower taxes.

Bottom line… if America wins, the world wins. Regardless of where the President feels the fight needs to occur, we need to put 100% of America behind it. Only then will we follow through on our historical destiny of keeping the world safe from tyranny.

June 4, 2004

Renaming the Blog in Preparation for the Remarkable

I’ve decided to rebrand this blog under my own name instead of Biz Ideas. My direction for this blog is to document my successes as an entrepreneur as well as continue to share ideas that I come up with that I just don’t have time to implement.

My overriding goal is to create content that will educate and motivate others to take the next step and become not only a full time entrepreneur (if that’s who you are or want to be) but to become a remarkable entrepreneur.

If you took my advice in my last posting and ordered Free Prize Inside you’ll soon know what I mean by “remarkable.”

We use that term so nonchalantly that it’s lost its core meaning. When you say something is “remarkable,” it literally means that it was so incredible or different that it’s worth remarking about to others.

That’s who I am and what I strive to continue to be. I want to turn your mind upside down and inside out so you can see the world in a completely different way. I’m going to make sure you don’t rest on your laurels and I’m going to challenge you to step up to the plate, if you think you’re truly an entrepreneur, and whack homeruns or swing hard trying and savor the next time at bat while you’re in the dugout.

So, remember the change… we’re now at my own personal name… DanSherman.com. What better way to launch this journey? I hope you’re along for the ride. I’ve got soooooo many wonderful things planned.

During this ride I implore you to be remarkable in everything you do. Because when we’re at the end of this life of ours, we’re only going to regret the mundane, not the remarkable things we’ve done.

Free Prize Inside - MANDATORY Reading

If you consider yourself an entrepreneur, I KNOW you are reading books that are designed to improve your entrepreneurial mindset.

Right?

The entrepreneurial talent I’m going to touch on today is marketing.

Read Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin.

Don’t pass go, do not collect $200… don’t go to jail first… just go buy this book.

Seth is pretty much a master at self-promotion and as far as I’m concerned, if you can promote yourself as well as he has, listen up when he gives advice.

I’ve read three of his books, now. The first one I read was Unleashing the Idea Virus and then he came out with Purple Cow and now Free Prize Inside.

All of these are great books and if you can swing the cost, you should get all of them. But my favorites are the last two… Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside. Purple Cow because it’ll show you how to think differently when it comes to marketing and then Free Prize Inside will encourage you to come up with business ideas you never dreamed of.

After reading Free Prize Inside, I came up with an absolutely incredible idea that I am in the middle of implementing and I’ll report about it later here in the blog. But they are incredible books, all of them.

Anyone can make something or buy something wholesale and try to sell it. Anyone can write something and make an ebook and try to sell it. Anyone can buy a business license and hang a shingle. But it’s the remarkable marketer that makes all those things profitable.

If you’re not a remarkable marketer, or don’t even know how to think like one yet, you should be reading books on it. You should do that before you do ANYTHING else in your entrepreneurial life.

Go get some marketing books… now!

Now go get bizzy!

June 3, 2004

Are You An Entrepreneur… Really?

I was meandering along in a salvage/thrift store last month and came across an end-cap stacked high with stencils. There were about 65 stencil images inside an 8.5″ b 11″ envelope. They had hundreds of these envelopes. They were going for .50 cents each (for an envelope of 65 stencils.)

Now, MOST people would just look at that and say to themselves, “Who would want to buy those stencils even at .50 cents each,” and walk on by.

Being the entrepreneur that I am that looks at just about EVERYTHING with an eye to make money, I said, “I wonder how much I can get for those on ebay?”

So I bought a few of them to take home, get a picture of them, and post on ebay to see how it would fly.

Within 2 hours of posting it, someone “Bought it Now” at my set price of $9.

Okay. I have something. Posted it again. Someone “Bought it Now” again.

So, I bought more and continued to place them. They continue to sell. So, now I’m going down to buy all of them at hopefully a price of .40 cents per set since I’ll complain I’m buying them in bulk.

So, I’m going to sell one stencil set per day until I run out. I should make about $1500 off this, give or take a few hundred, before I deplete my supply.

Here’s one of the auctions

The point here is, contrary to popular myth, being an entrepreneur is more than just having your own business. Anyone can establish a small business. All it takes is a license and a passion for a particular thing.

But an entrepreneur looks at EVERYTHING in his/her daily life and quickly assesses whether it can be improved or changed or manipulated in such a way to create value in exchange for money differently than it already is.

When you meet someone for the first time and find out what he/she does… do you just say, “that’s nice” and move to another topic? I don’t. I immediately assess his industry, his role in it and whether I can use (to our mutual benefit) this in any of my ideas that I have bouncing around in my head at that moment.

Do you watch TV and just relax and enjoy it, not thinking about anything else but the program’s plot… etc? I don’t. In every action that is going on within the framework of the show (or commercials during the rare times I watch one now-a-days), I’m looking for inspiration for a creative idea to implement with one of my own ideas. Or a new spin on something I’ve already thought about.

This is why very few people are ACTUALLY entrepreneurs (in my never-so-humble opinion). There are a lot of business people, a lot of employees, a lot of employers and a ton of lazy people. But there are very few entrepreneurs. What are you? Except for the lazy guy, all of these people are needed for the world to work correctly. But just don’t label yourself an entrepreneur unless that’s, indeed, what you are.

Now go get bizzy!

June 2, 2004

Increasing Your Revenue with Audio

So, you have this nifty new website and you’re raring to go and start making some moolah. Great. I’m sure you’ve done all the things you need to in order to get traffic, right? (Biggest reason for failure… bar none.)

So, let’s assume you have people coming. Should you put audio on your site?

I’ll answer that without fanfare…

If it’s purposeful. Don’t put audio on your site just to put audio on your site. Don’t use it to say, “Hi, my name is Dufus Doinkenburger and as you can see I can copy some code and paste it into my website for the express purpose of wasting your time and quite possibly annoy you in the process.”

Or something like that.

In other words (pun intended), don’t waste your visitor’s time. If you ACTUALLY have something to say that your audience will appreciate hearing instead of reading, then by all means.

It can be used to describe things. It’s particularly great for auctions. People are inherently distrustful when it comes to auctions. A friendly voice, describing the article being auctioned, can be the difference between a bid and no bid.

If you absolutely MUST use audio because you simply can’t control yourself and you can’t really figure out a place to use it, a good rule of thumb is to use it on your order page. This is where people have to make the crucial decision as to whether to give you their gold bricks, or to leave your site, never to set foot in your webhouse again. This is where putting a personality to the site can help. Of course, it can hurt, too, if you sound like a weasel. So, have someone give you their unbiased opinion as to whether they would just as soon trust their money to a tax and spend liberal than that funny voice coming through their speakers. Honesty is good. If your voice (like mine) scares young children and old people who can still hear, then fortunately, there’s an alternative for you. There’s a site (voice123.com) where you can hire someone to read your copy and send you the mp3 file and just use that instead of recording your own.

So, how do you do it? Putting audio on your site has become very easy. I use a monthly hosted service that gives me all kinds of statistics about the usage which comes in handy for figuring out whether you’re doing the right thing. If people are stopping the audio after 10 seconds and it’s a 45 second file, you’ve got some problems. So, it’s good to know those things.

I’ve recorded a sample for you, my all important readers, so you can not only hear my award winning voice, but see what I’m talking about in general. Of course, if you click on the image, you’ll be taken to their site. And being the great online entrepreneur I am, that link is also an affiliate link, wherein I’ll own 33% of your money upon signing up. If you can swing two accounts, that’d be much appreciated. :-)



Nifty, hey? So, go and purchase one of these accounts. It’s cheap and if used properly, it WILL increase your business. Be sure to read about all the uses you can put audio files to on the byoaudio.com website. I didn’t figure it’d be worth it to repeat it all here since they do such a great job explaining it on their site.

And if you think you want to explore all the other audio options, here are the major players (NO pun intended that time):

My Web Site Talks
Audio Maker Pro
Instant Audio

One more thing… I will be posting (at some point in the future) an interesting way to make money with the audio itself apart from using it to sell something else. So, be sure to get on my email list so you don’t forget to come back and read more of my genius ideas.

Now go get bizzy!

June 1, 2004

Story About the Founder of IKEA

Check out this article. It’s a great one for us entrepreneurs.