Top Business & Life Lessons Learned Part 4: How To Create More Fun in Your Business & Life
Happy New Year! And welcome to part 4 in this continuing series…
I’m a big believer in having a lot of fun in how you work and how you play.
Maverick Rule #31 says “Make your business AND doing business with you FUN!”
As a self-described “adventure junkie”, I’ve found that my own life-changing experiences (such as Running with the Bulls, Bungee Jumping, Sky diving, Exotic Car Rallies, Baja racing, Zero-Gravity flights, etc.) have not only brought a profound sense of accomplishment but also led to breakthroughs in ideas, focus and business thinking. Trust me, you don’t have to get as extreme as I do sometimes – but you do need to break out of your typical routine. Fresh thinking and big ideas come from new experiences away from the office! Plus, as you open yourself up to new adventures or experiences it opens up different ways of thinking about issues in your business (and life).
By and large, most people’s businesses are B-O-R-I-N-G! I’m talking Zzzzzzzzz city! Even the good sales letter sites do not use this technique to breathe life into their site beyond the typical benefit-driven headline, subheads, etc.
I’m talking about giving your site (and yourself) a unique personality in the marketplace. First, let’s talk about giving a site a personality. Here’s one of my favorite examples – www.Demotivation.com and www.Despair.com
The personality of being sarcastic, entertaining and against the grain comes out just about everywhere on the site. Here are a few examples, starting with Demotivation.com.
From the FAQs about their book “The Art of Demotivation”:
1. Is this book for real?
As sure as the ISBN is 1-892503-40-9, this book is for real. If you don’t believe us, order a copy and watch as our real financial department really charges your real credit card for thirty real dollars.
2. What is the overall message of The Art of Demotivation?
Here’s a message for you: Buy the book! You’re too old for Cliffs Notes, dude.
12. Will there be a paperback version of The Art of Demotivation?
A paperback version? Would you sell a 1997 Louis Roederer Cristal champagne in a Juicy Juice box? We’re about quality. If you want a paperback, go read the newest John Grisham book. I think it might have something to do with lawyers.
26. Is it possible to get Dr. Kersten’s autograph on my copy of the book?
Dr. Kersten autographs each and every Chairman Edition of The Art of Demotivation with a personal message. He can’t be bothered with Manager or Executive Editions. Money talks, yo.
This book comes in 3 editions – up to the $1,195.00 Executive version. Check out some of the copy from that page –
Now on Despair.com they sell some of my favorite prints which are the opposite of ‘Successories’. I bought some of my friends this year for the holidays. They are hilarious! This is the one I bought my buddy Bill Glazer:
Look at the navigation bar on the site – even the way the buttons are labeled gives you more of the site’s personality. There’s a button for “Spin”, in which people can view and sign up for audio & video podcasts. And then instead of “customer service” or support there is “disservice”.
Check out the “Contact” us link
As should be quite apparent, Despair takes great efforts to avoid contact with virtually everyone. However, we recognize that, from time to time, it becomes necessary for someone to reach us. (e.g. notifying Dr. Kersten of various nominations, particularly those with cash components)
(PLEASE NOTE: All order and product-related inquiries should be sent via our Troubled Ticket form.)
And when you click to contact them – they have a picture of their own poster about “Apathy: If we don’t take care of the customer, maybe they’ll stop bugging us”.
Now a true personality for your website has to be carried through in all the little communications with customers and prospects. To see how far they take their personality – here’s the response after you fill out a “troubled ticket”:
They really have this personality plugged into every nook and cranny of their website – I love it!
Now you might be thinking that you’ll repel some customers and people will get a little pissed off after this type of treatment. The answer is absolutely yes! And that’s a good thing because you don’t want to be plain vanilla if you are in heavily competitive marketplaces. Go ahead and polarize your prospects/customers to either love you or hate you. There’s no money to be made in the middle. Look at Howard Stern. There are people who absolutely love him and now pay Sirius radio a monthly subscription just to listen to their “god”. But on the other hand there are lot of people too who will tune in just to see what Howard says so they can hate him more.
Let me show you a few more examples of a site personality…
Here’s one: www.CordaRounds.com. It’s a site that sells horizontal corduroy pants (and shorts) instead of vertical. It sounds kind of stupid but this company has got a lot of mileage out it and their customers are really into it. The founder of CordaRounds, Christopher Lindlands, does a great job of bringing in the quirky, wacky and fun side of their product on the site. Take a look at their “motto”, in which they call themselves, very firmly tongue-in-check, an Evil Multinational Corporation:
What started out as a joke has become a real business. In 2005 they sold 3,000 pairs of courdarounds. The fun, quirky and wacky style comes across just about everywhere on the site. In fact, here’s the “technology” behind these remarkable breakthrough pants:
And once you get into the actual store – the same personality is evident. Check out this product photo:
Here’s another site to check out – www.CDBaby.com – that doesn’t quite go as far but it tells you in no uncertain terms you’re not dealing with a conglomerate. Check out the personality that comes through in their emails about when your CD ships:
Thanks for your order with CD Baby!
Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with
sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.
A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure
it was in the best possible condition before mailing.
Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money
We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved ‘Bon Voyage!’ to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Wednesday, August 7th.
I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as ‘Customer of the Year’. We’re all
exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!
Thank you once again,
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Themed Marketing for Mavericks
One of the biggest issues most businesses have is not being BORING!
You want your customers and prospects to be thinking “Wow! What’s this crazy guy (or gal) going to do next?”
It’s no secret that the majority of your customers/prospects live somewhat typical lives. So it’s not enough anymore just to present an offer filled with benefits but it’s also got to entertain them and keep it exciting.
I’m going to let you step behind some of my best-selling campaigns that involved “themes”. Now don’t think you need to create some sort of corny, fake image that’s not really you – you don’t. You want to keep it fun and keep the sales message in the forefront of your prospect’s mind.
Let’s start with my very first one – that was “Yanik’s 30th Birthday Bash!”
I decided I was going to hold a super blowout party for my 30th birthday and invite all my best customers/prospects to it.
Over 531 people came to my little birthday party (see the pic above) and it was the biggest Internet Marketing-only seminar at that time.
I brainstormed what a birthday party has and then planned my promotion – and the actual event – around it. People everywhere love to have fun! Entertainment is something people spend their last nickel on because everyone wants to have fun.
So here’s what I did…
First, starting with the promotion. Here’s the first page of the sales letter – notice me in the goofy birthday hat:
A few guys on my hockey team saw this picture and gave me a hell of a time at the next game we had. But the picture really fits perfectly. You may or may not want to be this “goofy”, but don’t throw away the idea of “Birthday Bash” in your honor as a perfect sales event. I know 2 other info marketers who took this concept, and one ended up doing multiple 6-figures from this event. (His was a 40th Bday Bash!)
I also tied my event into a charity – Make-A-Wish Foundation®. I worked with the Central FL chapter (instead of trying to contact National headquarters) and they were extremely accommodating . Here’s the paragraph describing the charity requirement and a second optional (FUN) gag gift contest:
There is one simple requirement for getting into the Birthday Bash:
1. There is a $50.00 charitable donation required to attend. The whole $50 will go to Make-a-Wish® of Central and Northern Florida. Your donation will help grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. I’ve personally donated thousands and thousands of dollars to the Make-a-Wish Foundation ® and I’m hoping that we’ll able to grant at least 2 or 3 wishes with the amount we raise. The $50.00 donation is paid now and is non-refundable to hold your spot — but there is no fee for the event.
The event is going on at Disney’s Coronado Spring Resorts. We have negotiated a special rate of only $131/night with the hotel for seminar attendees (During prime vacation time this is a real steal). Information for registering will be given to you (only) when you have confirmed seminar registration. Let me assure you, Disney’s Coronado Spring Resorts is a great resort that you’ll really enjoy! It’s close to all the Disney parks and other attractions.
And then there’s also a second OPTIONAL admission requirement that gets you entered into a fabulous contest!
2. (OPTIONAL) A gag gift for me. Show up with some sort of silly or funny gag gift for me and you’ll be entered into a contest for the “best gag gift”. The winner will be decided by an attendee vote. You might want to give this gift a bit of thought because the winner will receive either a half-day consultation with me (that’s s $2,000.00 value) or $500.00 in cash. And the runner-up will get their choice of one of our best-selling products or $200.00 in cash.
It was pretty cool that we were able to raise $25,000.00 for Make-A-Wish® and really make a difference in a lot of kid’s lives.
As far as the gag gift contest – that got pretty out of control during the event. I loved it! We got piles and piles of gifts. Some were definitely a bit off kilter. One guy from the UK thought it was a “stag” party and handed me a ream of porn magazines. Another guy brought over some endangered animal pelt that he smuggled into the country. Someone else gave me a family heirloom passed down through generations.
I mean, you name it – I got it. Fart machines, dancing birthday bears, a giant sack of fake money (I liked that one), a picture of me with Al Gore saying I invented the Internet, a blank book “written” by me called “Everything I know about the Internet”, etc, etc. We even had a beagle come out and bark “Happy Birthday” to me.
I bring all this up because it’s all part of the birthday party theme. If you are going to do a theme go for it all the way! We had confetti on the tables, balloons all over the seminar room, banners, etc. We even brought out cake (yes, very thin slices) for everyone, and Mickey Mouse even came out to lead the crowd in singing happy birthday.
All these little touches made it a lot of fun for everyone attending, even if each speaker was selling something. The whole attitude of most of the people there was that they’d never had such a great time and learned so much.
Okay let me showcase another theme you should be well versed in…my very own Underground Online Seminar®.
I’ve already shared the thinking behind the Underground and how it was meant to be a complete 180 degree shift from any other Internet event, since every speaker is a “real-world” doer and not someone who sells “How to Get Rich Online” as their main business. So at a brainstorming meeting with my own MasterMind group the theme become a SPY theme.
I really try to play up the theme in every communication and “touch” a prospect has from me relating to the Underground. It’s evolved a bit since the very first event and I’ll share with you some interesting examples along to way to show…
Here’s one of the first direct mail pieces that went out:
Instead of having speakers or presenters, we had “Rogue Agents” with their front and spy-profiles like they were “wanted”. I gave each speaker a distinct agent name. Here are a couple of the first graphics:
I truly tried to tie in everything into a full spy experience. The event was (and still is) held in Washington, DC because that’s the spy capital of the world. And once attendees got to the event they were immersed in the world of the Underground.
We had 2 checkpoints set-up to sign their NDA (called the “Cone of Silence” which nobody picked up on from Get Smart) and then they were handed their spy briefcase.
Now inside the briefcase was the attendee manual, a T-shirt (“Official Underground Agent”) and official Underground sunglasses.
The theming continued throughout the event with the VIP dinner being held at the Spy Museum in Washington, DC. We had a private dinner there and really played it up. To enter there were 2 Russian border patrol guards checking for passwords. And then Boris and Natasha showed up for a little entertainment. And finally, the whole group went on a private tour of the Spy Museum.
For the next year’s Underground® II – I went even further…
This time I used a specific spy theme – “Austin Powers” – instead of a combination of all spy themes. I wanted to keep it different enough that people who attended #1 would still be surprised and excited with #2. Underground® II sold-out even faster than the first one – and we added 100 more seats.
And going with the movie theme, here’s a little preview movie poster I had created before we announced the event:
I really got into ‘character’ for this one. Actually it wasn’t hard, because I love Austin Powers and that was one of my favorite Halloween costumes ever. And we decided to up the ante a lot and bring in professional entertainment for the VIP dinner. I hired an Improv troupe from Canada who were all “Second City” alum. They were awesome! We called it a ‘mystery spy whodunit dinner’ and everyone was roaring in their seats….especially when I was killed off. Somebody started yelling “Search the dead guy for drink tickets!”
I decided to go full tilt and hire a celebrity tied to the theme, so I booked “Mini Me” – AKA Verne Troyer – from the Austin Powers movies. Surprisingly it’s not as much as you’d think to book a celebrity (depending on their status) and it can really add a lot to your events. Here’s a picture of me, Verne and our “Roller Girls” (see, I told you I went all the way with the theme).
Having a celebrity there not only gives you excitement but provides additional reasons to contact your customers.
The next year for Underground® III I kept up the theme but this time it was a “Mission Profitable” theme and I brought in Peter Graves from the original TV series. And when I did the Underground® UK we had a James Bond theme with the prize being an Aston Martin race day experience. This year we’re doing “Get Smarter” so I’m sure there will be something with a shoe phone!
Using Holidays & Events
You don’t need to rack your brain for a theme or something to add fun into your business. Just use a calendar of holidays and events to find your perfect excuse.
A few Halloweens ago I released my “Ultimate At-Home Internet Copywriting Course”.
I planned the launch during Halloween and wanted to create a bit of a stir in the Internet marketing community to try to get some people talking about what I was doing. So my idea was to become “Count Yanik”. You see, the previous Halloween I dressed up as “The Count” from Sesame Street. Missy said I was the most annoying guest at the party because I went around counting everything…
“One, Two, Three beer bottles…..Ahhhhh…..Ahhhh!!!…..”
“One, Two, Three, Four, Five hot dogs…..Ahhhhh…..Ahhhh!!!…..”
Okay, so maybe I was annoying – but I had fun.
Regardless, I had one good photo of me in my purple make-up, monocular and black cape. That became a key part of my campaign. I sent our subscribers to this page with a message from the “Count” – http://www.UltimateCopywritingWorkshop.com/count/
It’s a flash animation file I had created where you see a purple bat fly into the screen and turn into a talking “Count Yanik”. Then I turn back into a bat and fly out of the screen. I paid $150 to have this created at www.Rentacoder.com – super cheap.
Then on the landing page there’s even more Halloween theme. I really got into it with the “bloody” text. Actually Missy told me I had to tone it down so people could read it better. I settled on just the headline in dripping blood.
And there were a couple sections of the letter where I mixed in more fun elements of Halloween:
I added a follow-up audio postcard – http://ultimatecopywritingworkshop.com/trickortreat/ (this was my Halloween costume pic from 2 years ago):
* * *
Okay now how about results?
This sold over six-figures of my copywriting course in the first week on the market. Actually more specifically 114 packages for a total of $145,350.00. So this stuff works!
Now there are a couple big points I really want to make sure you get before I go on with a other examples:
#1 – Make your marketing fun and have people wonder, “What is this guy/gal up to next?”
Fact is, most of your prospects and customers probably lead fairly normal and mundane lives. If you can give them something to get excited about or even live a little bit through what you do – you’ll have ‘hooked’ them in.
#2 – This is critical! Don’t make your theme or “fun” idea take away from the sales message. Big advertisers do this all the time and waste all their money. They try to use humor or something clever in their advertising but have no salesmanship. The fun or theme aspect of your promotion cannot stand on its own without the fundamentals of direct response (i.e. compelling offer, deadline, headlines, benefits, etc). Bottom line – don’t confuse this with being cute or clever and not actually selling. There is a big, BIG difference.
#3 – “Reason Why” copy works perfectly for most of the events or themes you create. As you know, most retailers will use some sort of event (i.e. Presidents Day) for a sale. Well that’s a pretty weak reason why, but most people will accept just about any excuse for a special deal. However, when you combine it with real meaningful reason why copy it works even better, even if the reason is a bit contrived. For example, I did a “Save Yanik’s Marriage” sale when I needed to clean out our stockroom because Missy was pissed off at me.
Using this psychological ‘hot button’ can massively increase your Marketing success.
Max Sackheim, famous for the long-running ad “Do You Make These Mistakes In English” and originator of the book-of-the-month concept, says this: “Whenever you make a claim or special offer in your advertising, come up with an honest reason why, and then state it sincerely. You’ll sell many more products this way.”
Adding More Fun to a Regular Business
I’m always interested in what companies do to add more fun to their business. Certainly booking a hotel room usually isn’t the most exciting thing in the world (well – I guess it can be if you’re going to a cool resort), but otherwise a room is pretty much a room. I’m a big fan of the “W” hotels.
Notice the copy – it ties into this theme, from the s’mores to bug juice. Good stuff and a little inspiration for you to think up something fun for your customers. Personally, I think simply delivering a straight product/service will only get you so far. The companies that will excel are the ones that deliver true experiences and entertainment for their customers. People are bored. People are busy. People are jaded. You need something to break through all of that.
Creating More Fun Away From Business
Okay, now let’s switch gears and talk about your personal life. I know for many entrepreneurs (including me) the default mode is work. There are always too many projects and too many to-do’s left undone. That’s why I firmly believe you need to have something else scheduled and on the calendar.
Think back to when you were a kid and what activities or interests got you really jazzed and excited. Somehow as ‘adults’ many of us have lost that sense of fun and inspiration. What did you like to do? For me, it was playing sports, drawing and making people laugh. That’s why I still play ice hockey and beach volleyball. It’s why I’ve taken art classes and stand-up comedy classes. I make sure to incorporate what gives me enjoyment into my life by actually making it a priority.
How many times have you heard yourself saying, “I’d love to ___ BUT I can’t because I’m too busy.” That’s total bullshit. What you’re really saying is that activity does not have enough priority in my life. Or I feel guilt around having fun.
Don’t just settle for enjoying life when you squeeze it in between your business. Here’s a great quote from Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, New-York Times Best-Seller “The Power of Full Engagement“:
“…the richer and deeper the source of emotional recovery, the more we refill our reserves and the more resilient we become.”
Put fun activities, rewarding experiences and exceptional adventures on your calendar and protect them like you would any ‘real’ appointment.
I’ve previously written a lot about this, so instead of just copying and pasting I want to link over to the posts. It’s well worth reading them!
I’ve always been a fan of lists and I know many other successful people share this notion. What better list can you create than a list for your most memorable and exciting life? I call this my “Ultimate BIG Life List”. (Btw – you see many of mine on this blog on the right-hand side.)
At this point a little voice inside your head might be whispering (or shouting) about all the reasons you can’t do this kind of fun stuff in your business or in your life. It’s these excuses that will sap the spirit and energy out of your life. As entrepreneurs, we’re naturally inclined to create so let’s smash these final excuses to create what you really want in your life & business.
You don’t have to wait for the EPIC over-the-top experiences to add more fun into your life; I’ve done something I call “tweaking the fun” with regular, everyday activities. See what you think.
I think we’re wrapping up with the next part – part 5 talking about ‘Giving More’. See you on the next installment.