A short course in the world’s
single most profitable profession
Dear Business Builder,
In the 1860s, Nathaniel Hawthorne said The Willard Hotel " … more justly could be called the center of Washington than either the Capitol or the White House or the State Department" …
Washington D.C.’s historic Willard Hotel – birthplace of The Battle Hymn of The Republic … and The Total Package, too!
Julia Ward Howe penned The Battle Hymn of the Republic there …
Abraham Lincoln lived at The Willard before moving into the White House for his first term …
Ulysses S. Grant, frequented The Willard’s lobby bar for cigars and brandy – and coined the word "lobbyist" to describe the wheeler-dealers who loitered there in hopes of meeting and influencing him …
… And two years ago next Monday, The Total Package was born there, too!
In President Grant’s time, so many political deal-makers met in The Willard’s Lobby, he began calling them "Lobbyists" … and the name stuck!
Now, I’m not so deluded as to imply the birth of our little e-letter ranks right up there with the accomplishments of Ms. Howe and Messrs. Lincoln and Grant …
But I have been feeling a little nostalgic lately – and for good reason: Next Monday (June 25), The Total Package is having its second birthday – and it’s cool to think we’ll always be able to trace our roots back to such an historic old place.
A closed mouth gathers no foot …
So there we were – Wendy, Carline Anglade-Cole and I – in my suite chatting about business, family, friendship and life …
Carline, one of my former copy cubs, was doing great (still is!) – sitting on top of several red-hot controls, making gazillions for her clients and raking in hundreds-of-thousands of dollars for herself every 12 months.
I remember saying something like, "I’m so proud of you! Just knowing I had some little part in helping you to the top is one of the greatest joys of my life."
… Whereupon Carline said something like, "If helping people is so rewarding for you, why don’t you publish an e-letter on copywriting and marketing? That way you could help thousands of folks!"
The Willard’s world-famous Oval Bar – one of my favorite spots on the planet.
That’s the moment everything changed for me. If I had just smiled and nodded and kept my big mouth shut, I’d still be the footloose-and-fancy-free freelance copywriter I’d been for more than three decades.
I’d still be working when and where I wanted to. My schedule and my time would still be my own. I could take months or even a year off anytime I felt like it while the royalties just kept pouring in – just like I used to.
But I didn’t smile and nod and keep my mouth shut.
Instead, I said "I’d think about it." And the rest as they say, is history.
These are MY "Terrible Twos," Too!
You know those contradictory feelings you get on your wedding anniversary?
When you ruminate on all the things you’ve done together, it feels like you’ve been together since before God invented air …
… But when you reflect on the moment you first met, it seems like yesterday?
That’s precisely how I’m feeling at this very moment.
On the one hand, it feels like that meeting in my suite at The Willard was only yesterday.
But it feels like decades when I consider how much work – hundreds and hundreds of hours – we’ve poured into this e-zine, this website and our products since then.
And when I think about how many lessons we’ve learned – how far Wendy and I have come in our understanding of how to manage and grow an online business – it feels like centuries.
In June, 2005, I had written dozens of wildly profitable e-mail blasts for a client – but hey – writing is writing – and I’d been doing that for decades. Beyond that, I didn’t know HTML from horsepucky; applets from horseapples.
Wendy? Well, let’s just say that compared to her, I was a friggin’ Internet Einstein!
I’m hoping – whether you’re a business owner, a marketing exec or a copywriter or any other kind of direct response animal, for that matter – what we’ve learned by painful trial and error over the last 24 months could help accelerate your success and ramp up your income …
The Most Valuable Skill on Earth
On the Web as in life, you need more than a better mousetrap to get the world to beat a path to your door.
You can have the best product ever invented … the most brilliant product ladder every structured … the most compelling sales copy ever written … the most inviting sales pages ever designed … and the slickest shopping cart ever engineered …
… But nothing will happen until someone clicks a link and winds up on your website.
No doubt about it: For entrepreneurs and business owners, knowing how to drive copious numbers of prospects to your website is like having the combination to the richest bank vault on the planet.
And if you’re a copywriter or marketing pro, knowing how to drive traffic can make you worth your weight in gold.
Why? Because having the skill set to drive traffic is like owning your own tollbooth on the Web – you can just sit there and collect money for every click and conversion you create.
How much can you make? A LOT! Right now, Yahoo! and Google are the Internet’s two largest toll booths and it’s no coincidence that they’re also two of the richest businesses anywhere.
Want proof? Take a gander at this: In September, 2004, you could have bought all the Google stock you wanted for just $100 a share. Today, that same stock is worth more than FIVE TIMES more!
Why? Because every 12 months, Google rakes in a staggering $10.6 billion (nearly eleven thousand million dollars!) – mostly for sending traffic to other people’s websites!
So if you want your stock to rise … if you want to rake in huge bucks … the best thing you can possibly do today is this: Learn how to drive traffic!
The Wide End of the Funnel
I figure at least 30 million folks should be reading The Total Package every day. Heck. There are 25 million small businesses in the U.S. alone. Throw in a few million more marketing folk, copywriters and designers – and a few more million business opportunity seekers – and that 30 million’s a slam dunk.
Furthermore, I calculate that if I could just get all 30 million of the folks who would profit from The Total Package to read our opt-in page just once, at least half would sign up. I mean, why not – it’s free, right?
That would give us 15 million subscribers. And since the average Total Package reader spends $6 with us every month, that would make us nearly a $1 billion company.
Now this may surprise you; but even though we’ve been doing this for two whole years now, we do NOT have 15 million subscribers.
In truth, the vast majority of our target market still doesn’t have a clue we’re here for them.
It’s my fault. I insisted that we spend the last 24 months focusing almost exclusively on the back end: Building our site and online store, adding reams of valuable content and creating world-class products to help you get bigger winners, more often.
Lucky for us, thousands of good folks found us anyway. Most by word of mouth, a handful through various affiliate and joint venture arrangements and a tiny trickle through some pay-per-click stuff we did (badly) back in 2005.
But now that we’ve built our house and have tidied up, it’s time to begin inviting those 30 million prospects over to check the place out.
And so in July, we were going to begin filling "the wide end of the funnel" with thousands of new Total Package readers. And to do that, we need to begin attracting BIG traffic – and to begin investing BIG money to do it.
Because one of the most valuable things we’ve learned over the past two years is that when it comes to traffic, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
I know – there are gaggles of Internet gurus claiming you can make instant millions on the Internet with almost no out-of-pocket investment.
Maybe that was actually true once. But today, even the traffic-building strategies that everyone tells you are "free" require a substantial investment of skull sweat, time and money.
Nevertheless, it still makes sense
to do the cheapest stuff first …
1. Structure lucrative arrangements with affiliates and joint venture partners, and they’ll drive tens-of-thousands of new leads and customers to you.
Our recent Confessions of the Info-Publishing Superstars teleseminar series brought us hundreds of new subscribers at a tidy profit: Not only did we make money selling the live call series, we’ll continue selling the recordings in our online store.
We simply recruited nine information publishers who themselves have substantial subscriber and customer lists … featured each of them on one teleconference call and had them share their most profitable ideas for building a successful information publishing business … and gave them a chunk of the sales from the live event which incentivized them to promote it to their house files.
In fact, this event was so successful, we’re already planning a second series on a different subject – and one of my major clients is also borrowing this idea to build his own file!
2. Search engine optimize your Web pages and thousands of leads and customers will find you organically.
Make no mistake: Even if you become an SEO professional, making your Web pages impossible for the search engines to miss will take oodles of one of your scarcest resources: Time. You’ll need reams of content – each page featuring the optimal URL, Meta-description, Meta-tag and of course, text that’s lousy with the keywords you’re trying to win on.
Plus, SEO isn’t a destination – it’s a process. An ENDLESS process that requires you to stay on top of what the search engines are looking for and how they’re changing their parameters – and then making the timely adjustments necessary to stay in the spiders’ sights.
Imagine doing all that every day for every one of the 300-plus pages on this site. That’s not just a full-time job – it’s a full-time job a whole battalion of SEO experts could work on until Judgment Day and never complete.
And even if you could get it all right, it generally takes months for the search engines to begin finding you consistently.
… BUT YOU GOTTA DO IT!
If you’re looking to sharpen your SEO skills, a great place to begin would be by taking a look at the interview I did with Ken Evoy several months ago. Ken is one of the most successful search engine guys on the Web. And be sure to watch coming issues of The Total Package for more on this all-important subject!
3. Become a master of co-registration and you’ll attract more traffic than you’ll know what to do with. Co-registration (Co-Reg) is a deal where you get someone else to offer a free subscription to your e-zine when folks are signing up for their e-zine.
Sign up for The Wall Street Journal Online, for example, and you’ll be presented with a page inviting you to sign up for a gaggle of other free e-letters – some financial in nature, some not so much.
Now, Co-Reg is not free – you have to pay up to $1 or more for each new subscriber you get. That means bribing them with valuable free reports is likely to break the bank – so it’s smart to keep the description of your e-zine or product fairly low-key.
Plus, you need to know that there’s no guarantee those new subscribers will be qualified to purchase your products.
One study I saw online indicated that 68% of marketers surveyed say Co-Reg names are less responsive than subscribers gathered through other channels. So whatever you do, DO NOT assume that Co-Reg names will make as many purchases from you as your current leads and customers do.
4. Stick your content on all the social and business networking sites and they’ll drive armies of new leads and customers to you for free.
… Maybe this would work great for you – if you’re selling zit cream – but the vast majority of the folks who visit YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Friendster and the rest of these sites tend to be considerably younger than our prospects are.
And judging from the kind of content I see on those sites, seeding them with our content may not be the best use of our time and money right now.
On the other hand, there are all those forums and blogs about small business, copywriting and direct response all over the Web – and for us at least, they’ve sent us armies of new subscribers over the past 24 months.
So, if you have an e-zine or a product that has potential on these kinds of social and business networking sites, a great first step would be to check them out … see what kinds of things your competitors are doing there.
Seeding these sites with links to your website will not bring you a million leads or sell a million dollars-worth of product for you. But they can bring you a steady trickle and depending on what you’re selling, that could make it worthwhile for you.
(NOTE: There are other ways to attract traffic for little or no cash outlays, of course: You could use one of the many Web’s PR sites to issue a press release each time you post a new article online … or make your content available to other sites through a content-sharing broker.
We’ve tried both with limited success – for us at least, it was hardly worth the effort.)
Need More Traffic?
Get Ready to Unlimber Your Checkbook!
The problem with the low-cost or free traffic drivers above is that every one of them is passive. Every one of them asks you to count on someone else – affiliates, JV partners, the spiders, Co-Reg users and others – to bring you leads.
Worse, every one of them asks you to invest tangible, quantifiable assets – your employees’ time and your company’s money – in the hope that you’ll reap some kind of vague, unmeasurable, ethereal reward somewhere down the line … maybe … if everything goes according to plan and you hold your mouth right.
Me? I’m an old direct mail guy. I want to look at every dollar I invest in list-building and know – to the penny – how much that investment earned me in new subscribers, new customers and new sales revenues.
That means I want to test a promotion for a few bucks, then leverage the homestead to roll it out big-time … and FAST. That’s how I’ve sold 100,000 newsletter subscriptions for $169 each in a single year – and it’s how I want to build The Total Package!
Now, if you want to do that on the Web, you’re pretty much talking about four kinds of campaigns – each of which we’ll cover in detail in the next few editions of this column:
- Offline Campaigns (TV, radio, print, direct mail) à la Geico.com and others:
PLUSSES: Capable of driving massive traffic fast …
MINUSES: Less than ideal for niche marketers … national campaigns can cost big bucks … on TV, spot availability can be … er … "spotty" … a rapid, relatively high-ticket sale required to offset media expense.
- Renting e-mail lists and sending an offer to them:
PLUSSES: Massive numbers of names available … selectivity allows you to target your niches accurately … rental fees have become more reasonable in recent years.
MINUSES: List quality is often spotty at best … prospects’ inboxes are stuffed and e-mails from people they don’t know are the first to be deleted … response can be abysmal.
- Placing banner ads on sites in your market niche:
PLUSSES: Huge numbers of people visit the larger sites … banner placements not prohibitive … animated banners can work well …
MINUSES: Competition from every other banner on the page … prospects are there to get that page’s content – NOT necessarily looking for what you have to offer.
- Placing ads in e-zines subscribed to by folks within your market niche:
PLUSSES: Ads are cheap and easy to create … placement is fairly simple and not too expensive … some have worked quite well for our clients …
MINUSES: Limited numbers of relevant e-zines, most with relatively small subscriber lists …
- Pay-Per-Click campaigns:
PLUSSES: You control how much you spend … you can test your wazzoo off and shift your budget to keywords and landing pages that produce the greatest ROI …
MINUSES: The price you pay for some popular keywords can be excessive … requires constant monitoring and ingenious application of PPC strategies.
What You Must Know Before You Spend a Penny Online
Make no mistake: Buying eyeballs – driving traffic – is an investment. And the secret to smart investing is knowing the numbers.
FIRST, if you’re doing a straight lead-producing campaign – a campaign in which no product is offered for sale – it’s essential to know what a lead (an inquiry or a subscriber to a free e-zine, for example) is worth to you. And to know that, you need to know how much your average lead winds up spending with you each month, each year, and over his or her lifetime.
Now, as I said earlier, each Total Package subscriber spends an average of $6 per month with us. Of that $6, the cost of delivering a product runs about $1 (at the most). That leaves me with a $5 net per month, per subscriber.
Now that I know what a qualified lead is worth to me, I get to decide how aggressive I want to be:
- If I want to recoup the money I pay for a lead in one month, I can pay up to $5 …
- If I’m a little more patient and can wait 60 days, I can be more aggressive and generate more leads by paying $10 apiece …
- And if I’m really patient – and really want to crank up the number of leads I generate – I could pay $15 per lead and look to recoup my investment in three months.
SECOND, you need to know how much you’re willing to pay to acquire a new, paying customer.
This is where calculating your Return on Investment – ROI – comes in.
- You place banner ads on several sites for $2,000.
- Your banners lead prospects to a landing page that sells your product.
- The traffic those banners send you winds up buying $4,000 – worth of your product.
- It costs you $1,000 to deliver your product, leaving you with net revenues of $3,000.
- Your ROI is 150% ($3,000 net revenues divided by $2,000 banner ad costs)
Once again, there are three basic ways to go here – and which one you choose will be determined by how quickly you want to grow your customer file …
- Slow Growth: If you don’t have a gaggle of secondary products to sell – or if your customers are unlikely to make many repeat purchases from you – you can decide to make a profit on each new customer.
Just invest ONLY in media (banners, e-lists, etc.) that your testing indicates will produce new customers at the level of profit you’re looking for.
- Average Growth: If you do expect significant on-going revenues from new customers, you can choose to break even on each new customer – continue with media that generate as much in net revenues as they cost you.
- Fast Growth: If you expect substantial on-going revenues and if your goal is to grow your company as quickly as possible, you can decide to “buy” each new customer.
Just continue with media generates a 90% ROI … or an 80% ROI … or even a 70% ROI.
So whether you’re a business owner or marketing pro – or a copywriter/marketing advisor who’s helping a company grow – here’s your assignment for the week:
- Decide how much you’re willing to pay for a qualified but non-buying lead, and …
- Determine how much you’re willing to pay to acquire a new, paying customer.
Next time, we’ll take it to the next level!
Hope this helps …
Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,
Publisher & Editor
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
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