August 30, 2004

Ultra Niche Product Marketing

I read probably 50 blogs on a regular basis. I’m an info junky, mainly because the more info I get into my brain, the more business concepts and ideas I can generate from all the info.

Today I was reading instapundit. Glenn Reynold’s (Mr. Instapundit) link to fundrace.org’s map of contributions, mapping out what counties gave how much to which candidate. The map alone is worth a look-see. (I’m a map fanatic… had them all over my walls when I was a kid. My wife won’t go for it now, though!)

But they also allow you to search in a neighborhood or even by name for who has given to a candidate (or party) and how much they gave. What amazed me was the fact that they list the ENTIRE name and address of the donor.

OH MY GOD!

This is a dream come true for an entrepreneur with an eye towards micro-niche marketing.

I’m sure you can find a way to capitalize on this (since my readers are so adept at entrepreneurial thinking.) But here’s one I immediately came up with.

First, pick a last name that will return hundreds of results. Have someone program an automated address grabbing piece of software (designed specifically for fundrace.org) by posting your need at Elance Online. Once you have a last name, post another project on Elance Online for a graphic artist to design a Bush/Cheney 2004 logo (like the real one) but with Cheney’s last name removed and this last name you’ve chosen put in its place. So, in my case, the logo would read Bush/Sherman 2004 or whatever. (Of course, you could do the same for the John/John ticket, as well. But I’ll be using my side of the aisle for this example, if you don’t mind.)

Then go to cafepress or Zazzle and create a t-shirt with this new image placed on it. Get the artist to make it so its compatible with their graphic requirements. Also, get a print version of the graphic (pictured on a t-shirt) for your postcard.

Then send a postcard with this image on it to all those people on the list with the last name of “Sherman” (or whatever name you’ve chosen). Cafepress will also allow you to sell other items with that same logo on it. You can price them at whatever price you want to sell them at and you get the difference between their minimum price and what you price it at. Since it’s a niche item, people will gladly pay a premium for the item.

This is such a unique product I believe it’ll get a GREAT response rate. Do it once and if it’s profitable, pick another name and do it again. Before November comes along, you could make quite a bit of money. Once the graphic is made, it’s just a matter of inputing a new name in the “vice president” slot and reuse the image over and over and over.

If you use Zazzle, be sure to join their affiliate program so you can get an even bigger return when the visitor arrives there for a purchase. You’ll want to purchase a domain to list on the postcard (redirected to the t-shirt sales page) so they can go directly to the t-shirt page without having to type the entire URL to the sales page.

What idea can you come up with the capitalize on the election season (fired up one at that) and this awesome source of customers?

August 29, 2004

Tax Cut Truth

Finally, a media outlet is brave enough to go against the mainstream media and publish the truth (without trying to slant it their way somehow) about just exactly who benefited and by how much from the Bush tax cuts.

I was listening to “Air Hate America” last night for the 5 minutes that I could get through without vomitting. They were doing the liberal dance which has been the mantra of the left since the dawn of man, that the rich are getting bigger cuts in taxes and paying less of their “fair” share… blah, blah, blah.

So, here ya go Mr. Franken. I’m sure you can put your hate spin on that official, non-partisan report, somehow, someway.

August 28, 2004

Make a Scary Fortune… Literally!

I just love this idea. It’s actually one of my old favorites. I came up with this idea years ago and it’s one that I enjoy revisiting in my mind every now and then.

You’ll need a good video camera (good in normal lighting), and couple hours of blood sucking lawyer time and an ad in the paper.

Here’s the idea. Put an ad in the paper looking for people to be a part of a reality show that focuses on being scared. (People will automatically think you’re talking about Fear Factor, which can work to your benefit without actually saying it.)

You rent a hotel conference room and when people call from the ad, set up appointments for interviews at the hotel conference room.

Meanwhile, you have set up the “waiting” room with cameras. You can either have them hidden or explain that they aren’t running right now or something like that. But you’ll need cameras trained on the seat you’ve set up to sit each interviewee when they come in. You greet them, have them sit in a seat (the hot seat) and give them some forms to fill out. Point to a closed door somewhere and tell them that as soon as the current person in the actual interview room is finished they’ll be called in for the interview. But they need to read and sign the release and some fake info sheet. The release should be real. In it, you should have your blood sucking lawyer put together a good release that informs them that they will be subjected to being VERY scared in the course of filming for this show…. etc. As soon as they sign it, you’re good to go. On the next “fake” sheet, you should ask them all kinds of questions, but the only one you are interested in (and you should have a camera trained on them from above so you can see what they mark) are the questions related to what scares them the most.

On the sheet, you’ll have “snakes”, “spiders” and being “quickly surprised” on the sheet. Depending on what they mark as being the one they are most afraid of, that’s the one you spring on them as they sit there. You have a spider set up somehow (fake one, but big and hairy) to come near them as they sit there. If they mark “snakes”, the same thing. Have a good fake snake somewhere to scare them with as they sit there filling out the paperwork. If they mark “startled” you have someone lying in wait to make a huge noise or come up from behind and do a cymbal crash… or something like that.

The point is, you want to catch as many people on tape as possible getting scared out of their wits. If you can get a hundred people on tape, getting VERY scared, you can sell that tape on the internet, even without any offline advertising, all day long, for years and years and make steady money off of it. Then, once you have a good database of people who have purchased, do it again, with some other angle, then market the new tape to all your existing customers.

Gravy train, people. Gravy train.

You’ll want to put in the contract they sign prior to getting the bejesus scared out of themselves that they will be paid $20 if their part in the show gets aired. Then after you scare them, hand them $20. So, they’ve basically come in and spent 15 minutes for $20. Can’t beat that with a stick. Hopefully, they’ll be good-natured about it. But if they aren’t, you got their signature on the dotted line already.

Sure, you’ll need to spend some money on the room rental, about $2000 to pay your scaredy cats and then whatever it takes to get the footage edited and duped onto multiple DVDs. But then after that, you’re talking money, my friend. Each DVD will cost you in hard costs, about $1.50 including good art for the case…etc. But you can sell them for $19.95. You can get it listed on Amazon.com and all the other online booksellers, as well. Heck, if you took out a late night commercial campaign (like the ones you see all the time for “Girls Gone Wild”) you’d probably make a fortune and a half in no time.

Remember my stipulation! Kick me some greenbacks if you get rich off my idea. :-)

August 26, 2004

Blackjack and No Limit Texas Hold’em Parties

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but No Limit Texas Hold’em poker has become HUGE. If you don’t have an interest in gambling you probably can’t understand. But No Limit Texas Hold’em is the biggest “thing” since the Macarena.

Of course, as entrepreneurs, whenever there’e a fad or huge interest swelling for a particular thing, we can capitalize.

Call a local games rental place in your local area and get the cost of renting gambling tables. You’ll need to pick your game. You could do this idea with Blackjack or No Limit Texas Hold’em.

Rent a small conference room at a local hotel or perhaps at a college… any place you can get a 50′ x 50′ room or so as cheaply as possible. Bring in 10 or 20 tables, hire a waiter and dealers for each table (the game rental place can help you there as well.) Then advertise a Blackjack (or Texas Hold’em) raffle night. Basically, people pay $25 at the door to get in (or whatever you have to get to make it a profitable night) then everyone gets a certain amount of chips. The contest starts at 8pm or whatever and goes until midnight. At the stroke of midnight, everyone counts their chips. For each $100 (or whatever, again) a person has, they get one raffle ticket. Then you do a raffle of a 1st prize, 2nd prize and 3rd prize…. etc. Of course, you can make money on the snack bar as well. Serving alcohol will most likely be prohibited unless you go through the licensing… etc. However, there’s too much liability, so I wouldn’t even attempt it unless you outsource it to a catering company.

This is a legal way (please consult your local blood sucking Barrister to see if it’s 100% legal where you live) for people to have fun playing their favorite gambling games without losing all kinds of money in the process. You’ll get a lot of people who are new to the game and use your raffle night for practice in a less pressured environment.

The key to this idea is you MUST keep your expenses VERY low. The dealers will cost about $10 an hour and the tables rent for about $50 each a night (more or less). Plus the cost of the room and the advertisement in the local paper… it all adds up. You have to either rent chips or buy them, as well. Each table will hold 7 people (Blackjack) and perhaps 10 people for Texas Hold’em. So, if you got 10 tables, you would only have room for 70 people for Blackjack and 100 for Texas Hold’em. So be sure to do the math. Your first couple of gambling nights might lose money but if you hold them once a week and people get to talking about them, you’ll start to sell out each night. You might even consider only taking pre-paid appointments. That way, a seat is paid for regardless if they actually show up or not. Heck, if it goes well enough you can buy your own equipment and rent a place in a strip mall and capitalize on the driveby traffic for advertising.

I’d come to EVERY gambling night if it were in my town and I know 5 people off the top of my head that would come to most of them as well.

Huge, I tell you, HUGE!!!! And it’s only getting bigger and bigger.

August 24, 2004

Nifty Search Tool - But No Monetization? Duh!

I just came across a nifty search tool via SEOBook.com.

It’s called “Toogle.” Essentially, what it does is use Google’s image search engine and search for the first image that comes up for the search term you input into Toogle and renders it on your screen using very small numbers and punctuation characters. You’ve seen posters like this where it uses really small images to make a big image. Same concept.

Here is what it comes up with when you search for “Jesus.”

Okay… nifty, right? The person who came up with this has created value of some kind, but they aren’t monetizing the traffic in any way. There’s not ONE ad or any “upgrade” link of any kind on their page.

I know the internet snobs out there will say, “but that’s in the true spirit of the internet.” To which I say, “poppycock.” I’m sure when the person who developed Toogle goes to the grocery store, he can’t pay for this groceries by saying to the clerk, “I developed a really cool online tool for rendering images and I offer it for free… so do you think I can just take these groceries home without paying… well, you know… real money?”

Everything costs SOMEBODY something. I’m definitely not one for cluttering a screen with flashing ads, but why not put an ad on the page using the same method he’s using to render the search images? It would be unique and the advertiser would get a TREMENDOUS clickthrough ratio.

All I ask is that people get rewarded for their efforts. Especially when their effort is particularly clever.

August 23, 2004

Entrepreneurs Create Value, NOT Duplicate It!

It’s 10:30pm and the Olympics are on but I’ve watched them up to this point through my personal video recorder (ReplayTV) which allows me to fast forward through the crap. But I’ve caught up with the live broadcast, so I thought I would freeze it where it is now, let the recorder record some more, come and blog and then go back and continue to watch where I left off and be able to skip the crap again. (Lesson… ReplayTV or TiVo are great ways to save lots of time. No man or woman should be without one, period!)

Anyway, back to the topic. I’ve touched on this before, but I think it bears clarification. Being an entrepreneur isn’t just owning your own business. Although, pathetically, by literal Webster definition, it’s basically anyone who assumes the risk of operating their own business. But I don’t think that goes far enough. I don’t consider someone who purchases a McDonalds franchise a true entrepreneur. They’re not creating value, they’re duplicating value. The person who originally concocted the fast food hamburger was the entrepreneur. The franchisee is basically an investor. Sure, there’s still risk involved in owning a franchise, but who really created the value in what you’re doing there?

If we stuck to the dictionary on the definition of entrepreneur, a person who buys and sells stocks for a living (their own or even for someone else) would be considered an entrepreneur. But they really aren’t. They’re risking money, sure. But they aren’t creating value where none existed before by coming up with a product or service that fulfills a need or desire. There’s a distinct difference.

Let me interject here. I’m not saying people that AREN’T entrepreneurs are of any less value in the business world. Not so. I just want the labels to be correct, that’s all.

Allow me to go one step further in my definition and clarify that an entrepreneur isn’t necessarily the person who invents the service or product that is so revolutionary. He/she could be, but not necessarily. For instance, Xerox ParcPlace invented the mouse and GUI interface that everyone on earth now uses in their more advanced form (the mouse and Windows.) But it was Steven Jobs that toured their facility and saw what they were doing and took the concept and ran with it. Thereby CREATING VALUE in the invention. In this case, Steven Jobs was the entrepreneur (and ONE of the most successfull ones in American history.)

So why do I even have to point this out? Why does it matter? Because I feel entrepreneurs are the ones responsible for our entire world as we know it. We create value where nothing existed prior. Every massive leap in technology can be traced back to an entrepreneur with a vision of just how it can change our world. We are the ones that fuel the economy by moving forward in our quest to bring to the world more and more value. We should basically be the most celebrated class of people that has ever existed. We should have a freaking monument in Washington DC, commemorating the entrepreneur. With Jobs, Gates, Dell, Croc, Bell, Turner, Hughes and a slew of others all in statue form lining the marble halls of this monument.

Instead, we have a French word as our moniker (anything French, bites!), we are maligned by friends and family as silly risk-takers because sometimes it takes 500 failed ideas until something takes off. To add insult to injury, we’re always scrapping for money to fund our ideas, hoping someone with money will share our vision when they probably can’t even recognize a good idea if it hit them in the head with a 2×4. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur, but then again, if it were that easy, we wouldn’t be such a special breed.

Which brings me back to the Olympics… if everyone could run 100M in under 10 seconds, the people who CAN do it wouldn’t be immortalized in the history books.

As an entrepreneur, if you’re not striving to be immortalized with the implementation of your wonderful ideas, you’re not doing us justice. Most people are satisfied with a base hit in life, just so they can get on base. But we should ONLY be satisfied with a home run.

Swing for the fences, entrepreneurs! It’s our destiny.

Earn $100K a Year for ONLY $27 a Month!

Don’t you just love statements like that? I just don’t get it. Who falls for crap like that? I just came across an “opportunity” called “The Six Figure Secret“. Being the curious entrepreneur I am, I had to take a look-see.

Wow. I just shake my head each time I see stuff like this. I was told about it from someone in their newsletter to me. I’ve been on his list for a while. He sells cheapo ads through a network of ezines. I’ve never used his service, but I certainly won’t now.

If you go to the “Six Figure Secret” site, you’ll come across the same tired sales copy… big statements, testimonials… no links to anything… just sales copy. This should be your first tip off that you are about to be swallowed whole by a “genius” copy writer.

But, alas, there are legitimate opps or info downloads, or whatever, that still use that type of long, one page, high impact sales copy. So, I gave it some time.

Not ONCE, during the entire sales copy did I read EXACTLY how I would be making a six figure income except the all important, “just give us $27 a month” (lowered from $47 for some reason… oh, that makes me want it even more).

If you’re reading this, and you’ve signed up for this program, please email me and let me know, first, what it ended up being that you are doing to make all that money and second, what exactly it was that made you sign up? Lastly, just how much money have you EARNED since signing up?

Bottom line, folks. If they are too ashamed or embarrased or reluctant to tell you what it is you’ll be doing to make all the money they claim you can make, it’s either immoral, unethical or downright too difficult to do. Run like the wind the other way.

August 20, 2004

Selling Oil Changes Door-to-Door

One of the things I’ve done for money in the past is work with this local entrepreneur guru I met quite by accident. (I was cold calling his business back when I was selling pre-paid legal… oh, those were the days!)

He had put together a biz opp package to show people how to sell ten oil changes (or a number close to that) for $59. We were selling this biz opp package (or “how-to” kit) for $500 or so. He had ads running in USA Today for the kit and I was one of the sales people selling it.

We sold lots of kits because the proof was in the pudding. He was actually doing what he was showing other people to do via the kit. Our office had telephone sales people (like me) who were selling the biz opp kit and we had door-to-door sales people working out of the same office, selling the oil change coupons. He was bringing in about $500 to $1000 a day just selling the coupons door-to-door.

This is how it worked, in a nut shell. He went around to some local car maintenance garages and got them to agree to give a free oil change to anyone presenting his coupons. (Limited to one, per customer, per month or something like that.) When he got 10 or so garages to agree to this, he had professional coupons made up that gave the bearer 10 free oil changes, spelling out the redemption terms… etc.

He sold these coupons for $60 to people door-to-door. The customers were getting a great deal since 10 oil changes will cost you at least $250 in most places. He got to pocket this entire amount. His only overhead was the cost of printing the coupons and paying his sales people that went door-to-door for him.

The garages got a cheap way to get people into their garages. Once the customers came in to the garage, it gave them the opportunity to establish a trusting relationship and hopefully the customer would come in for other maintenance needs in the future. It would be the same as the garage taking an ad out in the local paper for $500, offering a free oil change (or 50% off… or whatever) but in this case, the garage didn’t have to pay anything until a customer actually came in to their garage.

This is an idea that anyone can do with very little money. As with anything, there are details that are important to know… legal issues with going door-to-door and coupon laws… etc. But that’s why he was selling his biz opp kit telling people how to do it.

I loved the idea when I was working there. Although, my door-to-door days are long gone (unless I own the company… then I’d do pretty much anything to further the cause.)

He’s still doing the coupon sales, as far as I know. I think he gave up on the biz opp sales. Too many people expecting to get rich and when they didn’t after 2 weeks, they were too insistent in getting their money back. Lazy farts. :-)

August 19, 2004

Nuclear Attack Anticipated on 4/15/05 in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, NYC and St. Louis

Before you panic, the subject line of this blog entry is completely false. I made it up to illustrate a point which I will get to shortly.

First off, please excuse me. This blog entry is off my normal topic. However, this will be the single most important blog post of my life and I hope it will change your outlook on what it means to live in America today. Please stick with me here.

I’m only 40 years old, so my first real memory of a presidential election was Ford/Carter (for which my family voted Carter.) But this is by far the most contentious election I’ve ever seen.

But it should be the least contentious one in history.

So, we need to have clarity here. With both sides saying outlandish, misleading and sometimes downright lies, it’s difficult for the average joe to know what to think.

Let’s be honest. I’m sure Senator Kerry is an honest man with honest intentions. He loves his country as much as the next person. He’s stiff and doesn’t come across as “warm” as the President, but he’s smart and I’m sure he could run a country with the staff of thousands that it takes to do so.

Conversely, President Bush is not the bold face liar that the left hopes you latch onto. He didn’t intentionally mislead anyone for oil or to make his “cronies” rich.. etc. Let’s just please get a grip on reality regarding this. Yes, the President can seem a bit too “down home” for the uptown NYC crowd, but he’s from Texas. What do you expect?

So, please, just for a moment, can we all agree that each other’s candidates are genuine people, who don’t intentionally lie, and who truly have the best interests of this nation at heart? Nevermind all the issues. Let’s just agree on this simple statement. Okay, we can now go on to my next point. (If you CAN’T bring yourself to agree with my conclusions, just pretend for now.)

When you go to the polls this November, I want you to remember the subject of this blog post. I don’t want you to think of abortion, I don’t want you to think about the economy, I don’t want you to think of gay marriage… NOTHING, except:

Nuclear Attack Anticipated on 4/15/05 in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, NYC and St. Louis

Seriously, I want you to act as if we are absolutely positive that terrorists are planning to level 5 of our major cities. They are training for it as we speak. They have chosen the locations where the bombs will reside, they’ve chosen the containers that they’ll be in… whatever. They are well on their way to accomplishing their task. Now all they must do is get the materials, and they are close to doing it. I want you to think about this in great detail. Imagine that it’s actually coming to fruition.

It’s important to think in this vein because it’s only when you think like this that you start to understand just how vital it is that they be stopped. If you were sent a letter by Osama himself, telling you that your city was going to be nuked on April 15th, 2005, well, you’d move.. but my point is, we’d be ALL OVER THE PRESIDENT to find them and their sources for weapons and disregard anything the UN or anyone else in the world says, because it’s not THEIR town that’s going to be leveled.

But why imagine this scenario in such great detail? Because I can assure you that if left to their own timeline, THIS WILL HAPPEN. We don’t know the dates, or the cities, but they are planning this just as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow. Bottom line… September 11th was a cat fight compared to what our enemies want to do to us.

In the years of the cold war, we were “fighting” an enemy that at least had a vested interest in surviving. This is why detente worked. For all their downfalls, the Soviets were still a culture and society that loved life and kind of wanted to stay around for it.

Today, we are fighting an enemy that worships death. They would just as soon die as touch an infindel. That’s the first problem. The second problem is they don’t have a bordered, official nation. We can’t just go to Terroristland and take care of them. These two attributes make it the most difficult war we will EVER fight and it makes us fight on battlefields that we would never have fought on before 9/11. This means we MUST remove nuclear/chemical and biological weaponry from EVERY nation that has demonstrated their willingness to use it against us, either directly or through terrorists. We don’t have a choice, folks. I want my daughter to live to see her 90th birthday.

Facsist Islam’s ultimate aim is to destroy us, at all costs. I know it’s difficult to imagine this in our sheltered world of 24 hour shopping and water parks. But left to their own time, THEY WILL DESTROY US! This is not a thesis, this is not theory, this is what will happen if we don’t stop them first.

The timing is critical. At no time in history has the technology to harm millions been as accessible to non-governmental institutiuons as they are today. Each day that goes by that we don’t take pre-emptive action to stop evil people from getting these weapons, is a day lost to history. I fear it’s a history wherein we may find America severely brutalized by terrorist, to the point of economic ruin (and by extension, worldwide economic ruin) and millions dead.

If we don’t do everything in our power to prevent these animals from getting WMDs, I predict we will suffer unimagineable casualties and unprecedented economic catastrophe within the next 4 years.

You’ll notice that I’m not telling you who specifically to vote for. I’m pleading with you to put aside every other issue that faces America and vote for the person who you think will put America’s safety ABOVE ALL ELSE. Because if we lose 10 million people to a nuclear strike, or our economy is laid to ruins, all those other issues you were so high and mighty about, will cease to even matter anymore. Let’s make America safe from thugs abroad, at all costs, and THEN get back to bickering about whether a woman should have a right to abort an unborn fetus.

When you’re in the voting poll, looking at the two names, remember… NOTHING ELSE MATTERS! It’s our safety.. that’s it! Who is going to be the guy who will place our safety above world opinion, above domestic bickering… above everything? The next presidential term, I believe, will be the most crucial American presidency since we became a nation. I want it to stay the great nation it is. How ’bout you?

So, remember:

Nuclear Attack Anticipated on 4/15/05 in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle, NYC and St. Louis

Now vote!

BTW: Please educate yourself. Don’t vote before knowing the historical significance of where we are today and how it fits into our tomorrow. This is an absolute must read for all Americans before voting:

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/podhoretz.htm

August 16, 2004

New Method of Making Money with your Blog

My latest project is coming to fruition finally. It’s a blog booklet printing service. You can see it in action in the “P.S” part of each of my blog posts down below. It’s in beta right now and my blog is the only one currently using it.

Essentially, my new service gives bloggers a new way of monetizing their content. Assuming you are a blogger, how many of your readers do you think have taken the time to read your entire blog from the first entry to the last? You could probably count them on one hand.

But if you gave them the option of reading it offline, at their own leisure, you are delivering much more value to your readers then you would be without the printout feature.

Offering your entire blog from first entry to last entry, in booklet format, is a natural evolution of the blogging world. As bloggers, we have plenty of content, but hardly anyone is reading ALL of it because of the way blogs are setup to just show the latest entry. There are plenty of blogs I would LOVE to read from beginning to end, but not on my computer. I’d rather snuggle up to it in bed before going to sleep. Or in my easy chair in between playing “kitty” with my daughter and refilling my kool-aid glass.

Here’s the low down. When you sign your blog up with the service, you are given a shopping cart link specific to your blog. It links to our payment processing cart directly. No fuss, no muss. Just advertise the link on your site and call it a day.

The customer clicks on the link and is taken through a simple order form process. We get the order, print your blog (in reverse blog order) using a proprietary XML feed I’ve developed, and we send it out via media mail to your customer. (They can upgrade to Priority shipping during the order process. Otherwise, shipping is built into the price.)

We take the payment and pay you periodic royalties.

I know what you’re thinking already. “What about all the links in my blog? How do you handle the fact that my reader will probably want to click on those links?”

Yes, that’s true. And for blogs that ONLY link to outside sources, without writing much content of their own, our service probably isn’t for them. But if you have lots of content on your own and linking out is only complimentary to your posts, I’ve developed a system to take care of this. Whenever there is a link in the text of your blog, we insert a number next to it in paranthesis. This is what the following link would look like in the printout of your blog:

… and so Kerry looking like Herman the Munster (23) should not effect, in any way, his chances of losing the election.

When your readers see the number and the different color or underlined “Herman the Munster” in the text of your blog, they’ll know that is a link. All they have to do is go to the following URL and it’ll forward them directly to the underlying link:

http://www.blogbooklet.com/yourblogname/23

“Yourblogname” being the username or handle that we refer to your blog with.

These instructions are printed on the front of your blog’s booklet, so your reader knows exactly how to access all the links in your blog without making them go look for them in your online blog.

More features will be coming out down the road. We’ll be building into the system a way for you to sign up affiliates to promote your blog wherein they get paid a commission on each printout sold… etc.

I’m also working on another project having to do with blogs that I think will really set the blog world on its ear. (Okay… I’ve never professed to be humble! HA!)

If you are a blogger, and want to check out the service in more depth, visit printmyblog.com. We’ll be needing more beta testers shortly.

Taking Pictures of Homes in Your Town - Another Idea

A while back, I posted an idea for making money by taking a picture of each house in your town. At the end of that post, I promised to write about a piggy back idea related to it.

First, read that other post again or for the first time. Then come back to this post.

So, you’re already out getting pictures, filling out the form you’ve designed to get pertinent info that marketers would love to know. As long as you’re out, you might as well add another revenue stream to the process.

Leave a flyer on the doorknob of each home. On the flyer, you have a sample photo of a house with Santa standing on the front lawn. In the text of the flyer, offer a service for parents that would allow them to go to your website, enter their address and then type a “you need to be good” type of message to their kids (mentioning their names… etc). You can even have sample messages already made up that they can just edit to input the names of their own kids, things they know they want for Christmas…etc. They edit the letter and fill out a form to pay for the service. What they are purchasing is a letter from Santa sent to their home (in fancy lettering, colorful… etc). But the kicker, and what will really sell the service is your ability to draw from your database of house pictures and insert a picture of their home into the letter WITH SANTA STANDING ON THEIR FRONT LAWN!

Essentially, when you get an order, you open the picture file of their home, drop a picture of Santa onto their front lawn using any image editor and insert it into the text of the letter, and send it out.

The letter should mention that Santa has made a mid-year visit to their home just to check up on the kids to see if they are being naughty or nice.

Once you have a family on the hook for this service, you can market to them each year with an updated pic of their house. You can even market to them multiple times throughout the year, if they need to “motivate” their more naughty kids more than once.

Bottom line, as long as you are out taking pics, you should maximize all the ways you can make money from the taking of those pictures. Build into it as many profit streams as you can think to build.

I would imagine you could make a good living JUST from the Santa letter idea, nevermind all the other ways to market the pictures of all the houses in your town. Of course, you’d have to have a professional website built to handle the Santa letter business end of it. But elance.com makes that quite easy and VERY cheap.

August 15, 2004

Combating the Drudge Report’s Highly Annoying Ads

Warning! Off topic post.

If you rely on the Drudge Report like I do, for your daily headline news, but hate their HIGHLY annoying pop under ads, here’s a tip. Download the Firefox browser then set the home page of the browser to the Drudge Report. Then use Firefox for your Drudge Report reading only. Of course, you can use it for your other browsing needs, but I wouldn’t. It’s slower than IE and much less compatible with online activities. But, at least for now, the Drudge Report’s pop-under advertisers haven’t been able to come up with a work around for Firefox’s pop-up killer like they have for all the other ones I’ve tried to use.

I’ve sent email after email to Drudge PLEADING with him to kill those pop unders. It just gives his site a bad reputation for annoying ads. He finally put a display ad down the left side of the page, but he should be doing his own text ad area. Uh, HELLO! Your site is known for TEXT and people come to expect to read each text entry. Text ads would be MUCH more effective for his advertisers and 1000% better for his readers than a pop under.

Not sure what his logic is but there’s a lesson here. If you rely on traffic to pay your bills, don’t beat them over the head when they enter the door. It’s like having someone with a big sign stand at the front of your store and when someone walks in, they make the customer slow down ever so slightly and shove a sign advertising someone but your store in your face for 5 seconds before letting them pass (which is how long the pop under ad slows down your browser while loading it before you can take control of browsing again.)

For someone who appears to be as smart as Drudge, it just doesn’t make sense.

August 12, 2004

Maximizing the Utlization of the Underutilized

Gotta love that title, hey? :-)

I was driving home today and saw something that I just LOVED. It was a Jiffy Lube implementing guerilla marketing tactics. I was so tickled I almost went in to try to talk to the franchise owner, if he/she were there, to congratulate them.

They had an employee out on the major street (the store itself is about a half block OFF the street, so it wasn’t like he was in front of their store) holding a sign that said something to the effect of:

We Have an Empty Bay
Premium Oil Change
Only $20
BUT ONLY RIGHT NOW!

It was something like that. In other words, instead of having 5 guys sitting around talking about last night’s episode of Paris Hilton’s show, Simple Life, the owner or manager had someone out drumming up business.

I don’t know about you, but a $20 oil change and one that I don’t have to wait in line for, is hard deal to beat. I just had an oil change a few days ago, or it would have been me filling that empty bay.

This brings up a good business lesson. Although you never want to cheapen the value of your product or service, you can create revenue where it would never have been if you’re not afraid to think outside the box. In this case, the bay is empty and there’s NO money coming in and $10 an hour (x however many employees were on at the moment) going out. It seems to me that $20 is better than $0. You multiply that by however many times the bay is empty… that adds up. Let’s say the bay(s) go empty 5 times a day (probably a lot more) and you have 2 bays. If you go out and get that sign up and immediately get 2 people to fill those bays, 5 times a day… that’s roughly $4K to $5K a month in added revenue that would have been non-existent had you let your employees sit around and talk about Paris Hilton.

Heck, for that matter, you could have your idle employees calling local businesses when they’re not busy and offering the employees discount oil changes if they’d book their oil changes to be done during your known slow periods.

How can you apply this proactive way to maximize the utlization of your product or service in your business? Or in your company if you are one of those readers still working for someone else? Hmmm…..

August 11, 2004

Door-to-Door TIVO Sales

If you have a DVR (digital video recorder) like ReplayTV or TIVO, you’ll understand that I’m not exaggerating when I say that I have no idea how I had time to watch any TV before my ReplayTV came into my life. I would almost dispense with a minor extremity than give up my ReplayTV. (NOT a major one, just a minor one!)

So, how can something that can so change someone’s life only be in about 2% of all households?

Ignorance essentially.

People are just not aware of how using a DVR can impact their lives. I liken it to email. I remember my mother-in-law nearly refusing to get a computer… going on about how she has no use for a thing called “email” if she could still pick up a pen and a piece of paper. That was in 1998 or so. Now, she calls me if her computer or email goes down for more than a few minutes, wondering if there’s something I can do to get things back to normal.

The same is true for the DVR. If you haven’t sat down in front of the TV at, let’s say, 11pm, after a long day, scrolled through a list of all your programs you like watching and hit play and skip all the commercials on top of that… well, you just haven’t experienced home entertainment at its finest. Not to mention AMAZINGLY efficient time management.

The ignorance is a perfect opportunity for the right person. This idea has its flaws (WHAT? you say, no way!) but the overall concept is workable I think.

Start out by purchasing a TIVO or ReplayTV unit and activating it. Then go door-to-door in a middle class neighborhood, explaining to people what you do. You’re a DVR rep or specialist and you’re out providing free DVR introductions to people who haven’t yet discovered this wonderous item… etc. You may want to carry a clipboard and take down “census” data. (Do you record show, daily, weekly or never at all… etc?)

The goal is to get them interested in seeing a DVR demonstation in their home. Tell them you will set it up and leave the unit in their home for 3 days (or whatever) to test it out. If they like it, they simply pay you for the unit and you switch the service to their name, if they don’t, you’ll come pick it up and no hard feelings.

In the sales world, this is called the “puppy dog” approach. You leave the cute puppy dog with them for a few days, they fall in love, then they can’t imagine giving it back to you. This doesn’t work for a LOT of things, but I would venture to guess that if you leave their home with their favorite programs for the next 3 days set to record and leave them explicit instructions on how to watch those programs (and your phone number in case they have any questions), you’re going to make a sale 9 out of 10 times.

For the most part, if someone lets you leave it, they are already 75% on their way to purchasing because they have probably heard someone else talk about it or have been curious anyway. They just never got the nerve to actually go out, get one, bring it home, install it, figure it out… etc. If you remove all those barriers, you’re going to be leaving lots of units because many people are already sold on the concept anyway, from their friends and family, they are just happy to have someone do all the dirty work for them. I would venture to guess it would take you MAYBE 30 minutes to set it up in the house and go over just the basics with the owner. The manual you’ll leave will do most of the work. The installation is the big thing.

Now, for getting paid. You could definitely charge at least $50 over what the retail price of the unit is. I think the people who would appreciate your services would feel that’s quite worth it because they didn’t have to go through the hassle of going to get one themselves.

Once you’ve sold a few units and have the process down-pat, I would bet you lots of money that if you called TIVO or ReplayTV and talked to their business development department and shared with them what you’ve done so far and give them some preliminary numbers of what you can do if you hire some people and do this on a mass scale, you will find a VERY attentive company rep and will most definitely consider setting you up as a wholesaler and maybe even give you a better price than wholesale since you are not only selling the units but marketing them as well.

You have to remember that door-to-door sales has been a VERY profitable and viable way of selling things for over 100 years in the USA. It’s not done much anymore because, frankly, we’re not as open to it as we’ve been in the past, as a consumer. That’s not to say you can’t still make a good pile of money doing it still. Actually, simply because no one else is doing it very effectively. Plus, you’re selling something very unique and not in an “in your face” pressured way, either.

You’ll want to get a door-to-door license for your community and wear a badge issued by the city or town. Even if they don’t issue one, make one that says you are licensed to go door-to-door…etc. It helps tremendously in credibility.

You may have to make an appointment for the install, too. Depending on the community, you may not be initially welcome in the household on the first visit. Have a website where people can check you out and feel more comfortable before your actual visit. This would allow you to maximize your time, as well, by lumping installs on the same day in the same neighborhood… etc. So you could book the appointment on the first visit and then just leave some literature. BUT NEVER pass up an opportunity to do the install RIGHT THEN. The one call close is what you optimally want.

Once you have one household in a particular neighborhood, it’s easier when going to other houses because you can say, “We just installed one of your neighbors and they can’t believe how it’s changed their TV viewing habits… etc.”

Once you’ve got someone’s TIVO business, you can then market to them for other things. Long distance, 800 service, dish tv, VOIP, calling cards… the list goes on and on. After the TIVO install, you are a trusted “techie” in their eyes. They will trust your opinion on other tech related things going into the future. Partner with computer techs so if you get a call about their computer, you can know immediately who to recommend… of course, getting a finders fee from the computer tech you recommended.

Oh, when you talk with TIVO or ReplayTV, play them against one another until you get the best deal then stick with one or the other. Try to get a residual deal out of it, as well. Monthly residuals is definitely what you want in the long run.

You could have a fleet of TIVO door-to-door salespeople at some point, spreading the gospel of on-demand tv viewing. What a worthy endeavor!

August 10, 2004

Effective Advertising SNATCHES Your Attention

I saw this over at Greedy Girl’s blog. Now this is something that snatches the attention of anyone who is even remotely looking your way.

When you first look at this (the guy on the toilet), you immediately think, “well, that’s fine for a plumber, but I could never do that for my business.”

Poppycock!

The goal is to grab the attention of the jaded public. I don’t care what business you’re in. You can either tie in your ad copy on the auto to somehow reference someone sitting on the toilet, or you can have it just remain a mystery as to how that ties in with your company. In some respects, having that on your vehicle with no apparent connection to your business makes it even MORE effective. The person looking at it will look and remember it even longer because for 10 minutes after seeing the image of the guy on the toilet and the other info about your business on the side of the auto, they’ll be scratching their heads trying to think of the connection. Meanwhile, you’ve already succeeded in imprinting your company’s name and what you do into the mind of the consumer.

It doesn’t have to be a man sitting on a toilet. You could use a LOT of similarly creative images on your auto to grab someone’s attention.

Your goal isn’t necessarily to make sense in your advertising… it’s to make a lasting impression and if possible, induce the viewer to remember it so vividly that they tell someone else about what they saw later in the day or week. Heck, if it doesn’t make sense, you may have people calling you to ask how the image of the guy on the toilet is related to your business. Who cares why they are calling, they are calling. Turn the call into a positive contact and you are one further step towards more revenue down the road.

August 9, 2004

Cartoon Entrepreneur

Couple of years ago, I commissioned someone through elance.com to animate three cartoons for me using Flash technology. I came up with the overall concept of each cartoon and then the guy who did it for me fleshed it out into cartoon form. Each one cost me about $350 or so. They are hosted at one of my many domains… dog9.com. (If you’re a true blue liberal, you might want to just bypass visiting the site. It’ll only get you all worked up! Haha)

My intention was to drive traffic to the site using the topics that are covered and then sell advertising on the site. There are plenty of cartoon/joke sites out there that make lots of money from their traffic.

Well, I never really did anything with it. Even without doing anything, I still get about 25 to 50 visits a day and make about $20 a month through the affiliate links I have on the site. Can you imagine where I would be today if I had actually worked at getting some traffic?

If you were to pick topics that are related to popular keywords in the search engines and build some clever cartoons, you could build a bit of a following. I’m sure if I had kept adding cartoons, word would have spread eventually through the conservative world (target of my cartoons) and I’d be getting much more traffic than I get today.

If you haven’t seen the jibjab cartoon, you need to. This is a perfect example of cartoons driving traffic to a site. They’ve been featured all over the news and have gotten millions of hits. If they played their cards right, they would have made LOTS of money on advertising… etc.

My cartoon site is still there, however. I could focus on the traffic generation at any time. Just there waiting for me to do something with it.

Time is such a luxury. I wish I had more of it.

August 6, 2004

UFO Pod Dealer - Cool Stuff!

I came across this ebay store that sells what they call above ground bunkers. But it looks basically like a UFO came down and the hatch popped open.

I’ll bet you can parlay this into a money making operation. Just go door to door in an upper scale neighborhood and drop off nice flyers advertising them. You could have enough markup that you could probably run ads in the paper as well. This is just unique enough and functional enough to be something you could actually sell and make money from. They sell for $37,500. If you arrange for the entire package for the customer including delivery and installation, you could charge your profit into it without competing with their website.

It’d be a great seller in the tornado areas. I’m thinking with those concrete pillars and the sturdy constuction, these would be great fun fort types of things but can used as a storm shelter when the weather warrants it. Dual uses.

Plus, they’re just cool looking! :-)

Online Auto Sales Up - Creates Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

Take a look at all the statistics on auto sales. Wow… online sales of cars is growing by LEAPS and bounds.

If you’re a traditional car lot and you’re not interested in changing your business plan to morph with people’s shopping methods, you might as well stick a fork in yourself… you’re done!

This gradual migration away from the car lots to the internet is a perfect time for an entrepreneur to seize on this change and predict the direction this industry is going.

Okay… you go to a car lot, you start looking around, someone who may or may not have been introduced to an iron in his/her entire life walks up to you and asks you the inevitable question, “May I help you?”

You say, “just looking.” Of course, that’s not good enough for him so he keeps tagging along… etc.

You ask a question and before you know it, he’s trying to get you to sign a document TONIGHT because this color is going to be discontinued and there’s only one more like it on the west coast… etc, etc, etc. Oh, and don’t get me started on the trade-in theatrics.

Bottom line… it’s a painful experience and one in which you will waste a good 4 hours of your life on and you’ll do it several times in your life.

Compare that pain to online shopping. You get a search engine or ebay to give you an indicator of what you’re desired auto goes for, you fill out a form and viola!, you’re a proud owner.

What’s the missing step in the online scenario? When this one step is solved, online purchasing will become the norm and not the exception.

Test drives.

Who wants to purchase a car sight unseen or undriven at least? This is where us entrepreneurs come to the rescue. Open a test drive company. All you do is provide people with the make and model of vehicle they are looking to purchase, to test drive. You rent it to them for $20 per half hour. They get 30 minutes of time alone with the car of their choice without a salesperson yammering on in the backseat, asking questions about your job in a lame attempt at prequalifying you financially before you get in to talk about pricing.

They get no pressure “look” time and you get what could amount to $100 a day in rental fees, per car.

Yes, this could take some capital if you were to want to get a lot of cars at once. But you could specialize in the most popular brands first. Heck, buy a Honda Accord yourself and keep it in excellent condition. Do some advertising alongside the car dealerships in the paper for your “Honda Accord Test Drive” service and start small. $100 a day is $3000 a month. That can definitely lead you into getting a Camry for your service. Just grow from there. You could eventually have a car lot that has 50 different brand new autos on it, all different, in which you charge people to test drive them for 30 minutes. I would GLADLY pay that much to test drive the vehicle I’m looking for just so I wouldn’t have to go through the car sales gauntlet.

Can you imagine how wonderful that would be? Go test drive the car you want (they can show you anything you want to know about the car, just like a salesperson could, but without the pressure of a salesperson) and then go back home online and purchase it from my computer. As the owner of this service, you could even give them recommendations of places to go online and then perhaps get a small commission from that outfit if the customer uses them.

Providing test drive services with a fleet of just 25 cars (just the most popular makes and models) could gross $1 million a year.

Of course, you’d have to live with the guilt of assisting in putting all the car dealerships in your area out of business. But heck, ummm, I can live with that.

I can see a day when we just buy our cars (whatever make and model you want) from Walmart at about $100 above the REAL manufacturer’s price. Essentially, purchasing it directly from the manufacturer, only Walmart is used as the delivery point because they’re everywhere. Then the only local presence a company like Mercedes would have is a service shop. But in this scenario, there would be a HUGE demand for test drive services.

You heard it here first, folks. :-)

35 Questions - Dan Sherman

Michael Totten is doing this over at his blog and I thought it would be fun and slightly excrutiating to fill out. But that’s my problem, I guess. :-)

So, in case you care in the slightest bit:

Dan Sherman’s Response to 35 Questions

1) WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR BEDROOM WALLS?

White

2) WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?

Just finished “Angels and Demons” by the DaVinci Code guy.

3) WHAT’S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?

Nothing. It’s leather.

4) FAVORITE BOARD GAME?

RISK!

5) FAVORITE MAGAZINE?

Business 2.0

6) FAVORITE SMELL?

Coffee

7) FAVORITE COLOR?

Purple

8) LEAST FAVORITE COLOR?

Brown

9) HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOUR ANSWERING MACHINE PICKS UP?

Don’t have an answering machine. If someone wants me, they know my cell #.

10) MOST IMPORTANT MATERIAL THING IN MY LIFE?

Pictures, I guess. Everything else has the same value…. replaceable.

11) FAVORITE FLAVOR OF ICE CREAM?

Baskin & Robbins Mint Chocolate Chip

12) DO YOU BREAK THE SPEED LIMIT DAILY?

No, I break it hourly.

13) DO YOU HAVE A STUFFED ANIMAL IN YOUR ROOM SOMEWHERE?

Depends if my 2.5 year old has just been there or not.

14) STORMS - COOL OR SCARY?

Extra, extra cool. I did some storm chasing in Nebraska/Iowa for a few seasons.

15) FAVORITE DRINK?

Cherry Sugar Free Kool Aid

16) WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY?

April 1st, 1964

17) FAVORITE VEGETABLES?

Corn. If it’s green it’s tossed… in the trash.

18) IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

This shouldn’t be on a remarkable entreprenuer’s question list. It’s like asking Superman, “If you could live next to any permutation of krypton, which would it be?”

19) IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY COLOR HAIR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

My own color… reddish, greyish, brownish, blond.

20) HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LOVE?

Uhhh. yeah! Her name is Allison and I’m married to her.

21) TOP THREE FAVORITE MOVIES (IN ORDER)?

Grease, The Lost Boys, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

22) DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS?

Yep.

23) WHAT’S UNDER YOUR BED?

Containers of my wife’s crap… um, I mean, stuff. (Love you, Sweetie!)

24) WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NUMBER?

1

25) FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH ON TV & IN PERSON?

Golf

26) WHAT IS YOUR SINGLE BIGGEST FEAR?

Losing my ability to think. (Not so much a fear as it is a mild concern for the next 50 years or so.)

27) FAVORITE CD OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW?

Tie
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon
Janet Jackson, Rhythm Nation 1814
Elton John, Sleeping With the Past

28) FAVORITE TV SHOW OF ALL TIME & RIGHT NOW?

All Time: Northern Exposure
Now: King of Queens

29) HAMBURGERS OR HOT DOGS?

Hot Dogs

30) THE COOLEST PLACES YOU’VE EVER BEEN?

Sleeping on the ground next to the little chapel on the very top of Mt Sinai in Egypt.

31) WHAT WALLPAPER AND/OR SCREENSAVER IS ON YOUR COMPUTER RIGHT NOW?

Standard Dark Blue background. No screensaver.

32) DOES MCDONALD’S SKIMP ON YOUR FRIES & DO YOU CARE?

They shouldn’t give me any… YOWZA, the carbs!

33) FAVORITE CHAIN RESTAURANT?

Ruby Tuesdays

34) IF YOU HAVE A BOY (OR HAVE ANOTHER BOY) WHAT WOULD YOU NAME HIM?

My wife HATES this name but I like Daxton. We only have a girl though, for now.

35) IF YOU COULD LEARN TO PLAY ONE INSTRUMENT OVERNIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Most definitely the piano.
—————————–

There you have it. :-)

August 3, 2004

Incredible Advertising Technology

Thanks to Dane for pointing me to this movie. It’s absolutely incredible technology… yet so simple. Who would have thunk it? :-)

It’s pretty much a bike mounted sidewalk printing machine. We’ll be seeing the effects this for years to come, I’m sure.

Watch the movie to see what I mean.

August 2, 2004

Where to Find Entrepreneurial Inspirations

There are three magazines that I absolutely can’t wait for each month (well, one is 5 times a year, but you get the drift.) They are, in no particular order, Business 2.0, Wired and Revenue.

I can’t really say which is my favorite because they are all pretty much incredible. Each of them are MANDATORY reading for entrepreneurs. The one thing that entrepreneurs need is exposure to information. When you are a reader of the right things, you are in a much better position to think about something in a totally different way.

But you not only have to READ magazines, you have to read them with a goal in mind. Each article you come across, let your mind focus on the subject and then think on the fringes of the subject matter. Try to figure out how you can improve upon or completely revolutionize whatever it is that’s being discussed. Apply what it is you’re reading about to things you already know and have stored in the back of your mind. Mix and match, apply it to things you work with on a daily basis… do it in seemingly odd ways. Think in the extreme. Sometimes your thoughts will lead you to something completely unrelated. That’s fine. It’s an exercise of the entrepreneurial mind. But you must always be IN that frame of mind. I’ve talked about this before. You must ALWAYS be thinking of better and different ways and methods and directions to take things. These are where nuggets can be found.

The easiest way to take your mind in these new found directions (and be entertained and informed at the same) is through these types of magazines.

So, subscribe to all three of these magazines TODAY. If you read them in the way I’ve described here, you will be astounded at all the ideas that will pop up in your head. Oh… and you’ll have mundane trivia about the latest advance in nanotechnology or a house that urinates or 100 other nifty topics to bore your spouse with over dinner. You end up being a much more knowledgeabe person AND you just may get rich at the same time.