Friday, September 10, 2010

Your ETR Insider

Early To Rise Insider
From The Desk of Laura Rodini Volume 1  |  Issue 30   |  September 10, 2010

Dear ETR Insider,

Are you fish or fowl?

No, I haven't lost my marbles. That was a question Michael Masterson asked a group of executives at a high-level ETR Business Retreat.

And it made one of those execs (one our longtime readers), Diego Saenz, change the entire way he thought about his business.

To the tune of 704% growth!

What do I mean? Let me explain.

| From $0-$1 million in less than 12 months |

Diego Saenz

The year was 2007. Diego and his business partner, Dr. Jon Rappaport, had just relaunched their company website,

Petplace is an info-publishing company. And its mission is twofold: (1) to provide the most up-to-date library of pet information on the Internet, and (2) to bring together pet owners from around the world to share their photos, videos, and love for their pets.

"I liked Dr. Jon from the very first moment I met him," Diego told me."He was different from most corporate executives I had gotten used to working with. Dr. Jon was more of an entrepreneur."

Dr. Jon and his team wrote the newsletter and e-mail messages that went to the PetPlace list. (And if you haven't read it, you should definitely check it out – it's a real treat - I look forward to the copy in my inbox every morning.)

Diego's job was to monetize that list - in other words, to figure out how to make money with it. At the time it was 300,000 readers strong.

"We were following the direct response model of marketing. We made sure the website had a marketing engine, a place to capture names. And we were selling advertising on the site."

They were sitting on gross sales of about $300k.

But they wanted more.

"We were looking for the homerun," Diego said. He wanted to get PetPlace to the next level. And in order to do that, he needed to go beyond the ad business they had established.

So Diego embarked on a search that would take him across the country and back. His mission?

"I wanted to find people who were actually making money online," Diego said.

So he traveled from New York to San Francisco, looking for what he called the"consummate entrepreneur."

"I was looking for people whose own, personal money was on the line," said Diego."These people tend to be more pragmatic and results-oriented. In a nutshell, they understand a business opportunity. And they're not afraid to write a $200,000 check to get the job done."

That's when Diego found Michael Masterson.

| The Moment That Changed Diego's Career |

ETR's Business Retreat was all about turning good ideas into cash machines.

"Even though it was expensive - $10,000 - to attend, I just had a feeling I had to be there," said Diego.

It was four intense days long. Just 25 people in a room at the Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, coached by Michael Masterson.

"I had wanted to meet Michael. I knew Agora had the reputation for being the best in class. I knew they were a $100 million dollar plus successful business, and I knew Michael Masterson was behind it all."

At the conference, Michael asked Diego the simple question – 'Are you fish or fowl?'

"In other words," said Diego, "what business are you really in?"

The revelation is this.

If you are just a marketer of anything then you have to run your business one way... churning customers... let's call that fish.

But if you are a producer of quality product then you must run your business another way... since you are fowl.

| Diego needed the right product. |

"This was my A-Ha! moment. We were selling advertising, but were missing a BIG opportunity. We knew the list was very responsive to advertisers but did not have our own products to sell them. What we needed were real, quality products."

Someone in the group suggested the name of an organic pet food distributor.

"I'll admit, at first I was skeptical about pet food as a product for us," Diego admitted."How could we differentiate ours from others?" (He had seen a company like his go belly-up over an unsuccessful product venture.)

But Diego did his homework - a quick test of a dog food made from organic chicken and catfish that they sent to a segment of their list.

They sold out so quickly, the manufacturer said it would take a month before they could produce more!

"Once I saw the results, I realized we had a clear opportunity here," Diego said, "This was the beginning of a second revenue stream for our company - selling products through direct response methods."

Encouraged, Diego decided to try cat litter.

He flew to Dallas to meet with a distributor of organic cat products.

Diego bought 1,000 units of organic kitty litter with the understanding that he could market it however he wanted.

And to find out what their subscribers looked for in a kitty litter, Dr. Jon simply added a note to the end of one of his daily e-mails asking them for their number one complaint about cat litter.

They got hundreds of responses. Their readers were concerned with such things as tracking, dust, odor control, cost, scent, and disposal.

So Diego's team created this landing page, which covered their readers' concerns in order of importance:

And then they tested a special offer for the organic kitty litter.

"I could tell we were on to something big when my marketing assistant yelled 'Holy Cow!' the next morning," said Diego.

They had sold 1,200 units!

They had gotten a resounding YES from their market. And it happened again and again, with product after product."We became known as the 'Sharper Image' of specialty pet products," said Diego,"products that were hand-picked by vets. Products people could trust."

Eventually, they launched an entire website just for pet products - Revenues went from $0-$1 million in less than 12 months.

In 3 years, they grew 704%!

And in August, put PetPlace at #421 on their list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in America in 2010! See the full list here.

"One of the major turning points in our business was that meeting with Michael Masterson," Diego said."He gave us a strategic direction."

Today, is about to launch its third business – a website that will be called "Pet Crazy People." This will feature photos, stories and all sorts of interactive reader features that focus on their best friends, their pets.

"We don't want to rest on our laurels," Diego said. "My friend's name is Mo – that's short for 'Momentum' – because once you have Mo, you don't want to lose it!"

I couldn't agree more. We're proud to know you Diego! And I'm really looking forward to your new website.

| Michael can help you, too |

If you spend time creating quality content for your readers, you're effectively building a trusted relationship with them. But, as Diego discovered, you can't take your online business to the next level unless you have your own products to sell.

The good news is, you don't need to spend $10,000 to get Michael Masterson's business advice. You can hear directly from him at this year's Info-Marketing Bootcamp.

Keep in mind that he's been involved in the start-up of dozens of multimillion-dollar businesses, including one that topped $100 million and one that is at $300 million plus and still growing.

He's developed a loyal following of more than half a million ETR readers.

He's author of Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat, a Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Business Week, and Amazon bestseller. His other books include Automatic Wealth, Seven Years to Seven Figures, Automatic Wealth for Grads, Power and Persuasion, and Confessions of a Self-Made Multimillionaire.

And now, Michael can help you. At Bootcamp, he will reveal the most powerful wealth-building secret he knows... and how to apply it to your own Internet business.

"It is a secret you can take advantage of immediately," he says."Learn it today and by tomorrow you will be a distinctly more powerful person. Apply it to your financial goals and you will acquire a substantial net worth."

Find out more about our Info-Marketing Bootcamp here.

| Goin' to the Heartland |

One more thing before I sign off this week...

While you're reading this message, I'll be driving a pickup truck through the rolling cornfields of Iowa.

It's one of my "just because" trips (the kind that drive my Mom crazy).

I've never been to Iowa, but I heard it's lovely in September, and that the people are really friendly.

I hope to see lots of red barns and eat good German food…

And while I'm there, I'll be lucky enough to meet up with Joshua Boswell, a master product developer and one of the speakers at this year's Info-Marketing Bootcamp.

Joshua lives on a farm just over the Missouri border. It's his own little slice of paradise. He'll tell me how he was able to leave the 9-5 grind behind and work his own hours, and spend quality time with his wife and children.

I can't wait to bring you the report! And in the meantime, if you've been to Iowa, send me a line and tell me what you liked best about it. I love hearing from you.

Until next week,

Laura Sig

Laura Rodini
COO, Early to Rise

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