Monday, August 1, 2011

Business Making Money

Rick Cesari (@cesaridrtv)  is a regular guy who did what every businessperson is supposed to do and talks about doing but rarely does.  He spotted a trend, turned it into an opportunity and created millions in sales.  And now, he’s sharing his stories, insights and experiences in his book, Buy Now: Creative Marketing That Gets Customers to Respond to You and Your Product.

I received a review copy from Rick’s team and also had the opportunity to chat with Rick and ask him a few behind the scenes questions.  I found him to be extremely engaging  and fun to talk to; he was full of ideas and stories that made it hard to hang up!

How Rick Cesari’s Story Changed Direct Marketing

Rick’s story begins like many of ours.  He went to college and got a summer job as a lifeguard.  One of the ways he could make extra cash as a lifeguard was to sell suntan lotion.  This is where he learned to use a winning formula to make extra money: Present a problem, offer a solution and then explain how his product was better than anything else out on the market today.  It wasn’t just a winning formula for selling suntan lotion, it was a winning formula for selling some of the most successful products of the last 30 years.

In the late 1970s, Cesari got involved with real estate.  Rick produced real estate seminars that ended up making more money for the real estate gurus than their real estate strategies ever did.  And when Ronald Reagan deregulated television in 1982, this changed everything.  Before 1982 advertisers could only purchase 8 minutes of advertising an hour.  But after deregulation, they could purchase an hour of advertising time!  Cesari knew he was on to something.  He would use the lessons he learned by selling suntan lotion and real estate to revolutionize direct response marketing.

Buy Now is a terrific combination of real life case studies and lessons in direct response marketing.   Just because you have no intention of creating an infomercial doesn’t mean that you have nothing to learn from this book.  In fact,  the core principles behind each and every example such as SoniCare Toothbrushes  or the OxyClean brand has something wonderful to offer for every entrepreneur, business owner or sales and marketing professional.

Take the Time to Test for Increased Profitability

Here is a terrific example from Chapter 14 titled, “The Offer Is King.”  If you think that the price level drives the offer, you would be wrong.  Selling product is more about the offer than the price.  Rick recommends having a variety of different offers to test.  “You will always be tempted to test an offer that makes YOU the most money upfront.  That’s not smart and it’s not accurate.”

Cesari goes on to share a powerful story of a piece of exercise equipment that was in the $200 price range.  Of course they had a payment plan.  First they tried three payments of $79.  They couldn’t break even.  Then they tried six payments of $39 – that did even worse.  Finally they did something completely different.  They offered a trial payment of $14.95 for the first 30 days.   They used the increased call volume to research other price points and actually settled on $700!

As it turned out, when the consumers saw the $200 price tag, they assumed the machine was low quality – and didn’t buy.  But once they had it in their home, they were able to justify a much higher price.

Another of my favorite sections is the discussion about why everything is priced at $19.95 and $39.95. Would you believe that this isn’t true – it just seems that way!

After running many tests, Cesari found that consumers see product price in terms of $20 increments;  $19.95, $39.95, $49.95 and $59.95.  In fact, when tested, consumers see very little difference between $29.95 and $39.95. The same is true at the $49.95 and $59.95 price points.  Consumers just didn’t see that much of a difference in price – but you bet your bottom line will.  This section alone can change your profitability almost immediately!

Who Should Read This Book

Buy Now is an ideal book for sales and marketing people, business owners and inventors.  This is a book you will want to read with pen and paper by your side.  My copy already has plenty of dog-eared highlights and underlines.  The Cesari Direct website contains a video with a quick introduction to the book by Rick himself.

Cesari’s focus on the basics of tripping customer emotions and focusing on benefits that resonate with customers will inspire you to look at your marketing a whole new way.

From Small Business TrendsRead Buy Now and Get Profit Making Tips From a Direct Response Marketing Master

Read more posts on Small Business Trends »

We’re in business, so we don’t get to sit the tough seasons out and come back when it’s all better. Despite the economy, the small business owner still has serious management issues to address.  We can tackle them head on,  grow our businesses and ourselves–or we can ignore them, but that could eventually put us out of business. Success is the goal, and the better the team, the better the business.

Here are three suggestions to help you take care of your team, so that they can take care of your clients.

1. Focus on the little steps and everyday strategies.

Your team is no good if you can’t keep them focused. And you can’t keep them focused if you can’t keep yourself on track. Have you ever tried to build a business with your eyes glued to the television? It doesn’t work. In the same vein, jumping from one task to the next without focus and an ongoing sense of completion is just as unproductive. You’re busy, but  so is a cat when he’s chasing his tail.

In “It’s All About the First Downs,” Diane Helbig gives some great tips to help you grow your business in “baby steps.” Instead of focusing on that big, amazing, and sometimes overwhelming plan, she has you shift your focus to the little steps.  If we address the day-to-day details consistently, then we will eventually arrive at our big goals.

Diane says, “I’ve been confronted with people who are having trouble focusing.” She believes the “root cause is…an inability to see a big idea in small pieces.” I like what she says, because I believe your company’s future rests in your ability to manage the details of the dream, the day-to-day elements. In fact, the more focus you have on the daily strategies of your company, the more focus you can expect from your team.

Making the shift from the big idea to a daily grind that will get you where you want to be isn’t always easy. But Diane’s advice will get you started.

As you focus your team—and reap the benefits from it—you’ll probably want to find a way to reward them.

2. Try a new kind of raise: performance-based pay rewards.

You can’t grow your business without your team. So how do you take care of them if you are in a situation where you have just enough cash flowing to keep the doors open? Anita Campbell discusses performance-based raises in  “Should You Pay for Employee Performance?”

You can’t give raises with money that you don’t have. So, if they make it, then you pay it. Anita explains, “A good pay-for-performance plan will focus on the aspects of employee performance that increase sales and profits. As a result, there will be more money available to pay  employees for their performance.”

In the article, Anita tells you the type of employees that are most likely to appreciate this plan, as well as suggestions on how to implement pay-for-performance, including the advisors that can help you set it up.

Anita says, “When handled properly, a pay-for-performance program can motivate employees,” and that can move your business forward.  Just keep in mind that your team needs to know the rules of engagement and it’s up to management to make that clear upfront and document it.

When it comes to performance, some people just don’t live up to it, and tough decisions have to be made. That brings us to point number three.

3. Fire what doesn’t work; hire what does.

In high school, college and the rest of life we try out for sports, audition for plays, interview for jobs, etc.  We have to qualify for what we want, and the older we get, the higher the standards. We aren’t babies anymore—so we’re also long past being rewarded for being cute and cuddly.  Everyone can’t or won’t perform at the level that your company needs and requires, and you have to do something about it.

In “3 Things to Consider When Hiring and Firing,” John Mariotti gives some well-balanced  advice on firing team members without disrespecting them or breaking their will.  He says, “Firing people is no fun at all—at least it shouldn’t be—but it is necessary.”  John also advises us to “Always remember that it takes two errors to create a failed employee:

  • an employee who doesn’t perform in the job, and

  • the supervisor who put them in a position to fail.”

I try to remember that making the tough decisions can set us up to succeed where others fail.

From Small Business TrendsManaging Staff in a Tough Economy: Who Do You Fire, Who Gets That Raise?

Read more posts on Small Business Trends »

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