How To Make $100 Million Selling A Blanket With Sleeves

I love my Snuggie!

Seriously. It's really comfortable. If you don't have one, I highly recommend it.

But what's more interesting to me is the fact that it has sold more than $100 million since launching nearly three years ago.

This begs a simple question: what are they doing right?

The Product

The Snuggie is actually a pretty good product. It delivers on what it promises: a simple, comfortable blanket in which you can easily walk around. Moreover, it made from a very soft material that's easy to keep clean. 

But here's the thing: It's not that hard to manufacture a Snuggie. It's basically a very high-margin blanket with sleeves. So clearly, there is more to this, which brings us to…

The Name

Calling the product a "Snuggie" was a stroke of genius. It brands the Snuggie as a "confort object," almost like an adult version of a stuffed animal.

Contrast this to the "Slanket," which is basically an identical product, but hasn't sold nearly as many units. The name "Slanket" does not roll off the tongue. It definitely doesn't sound like something comfortable.

The lesson here: a great name counts for a LOT. Invest the time and money needed to make the right choice. Otherwise, you're just leaving money on the table.

The Marketing

When the Snuggie was first released, they launched it via direct marketing channels and infomercials. The original video was a cheesy two-minute clip showing the versatility of the product

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When I first saw this, I thought it was really stupid. Boy, was I wrong!

Here's what happened: the "cheesiness" of the commercial led to tremendous mockery. Numerous comedians including Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and Whoopi Goldberg started making fun of the Snuggie and it's ridiculous commercial. Of course, this was basically free marketing for the product, and led to enormous sales.

In addition to this mainstream coverage, the Snuggie commercial led to hundreds of parodies on Youtube. Many of these parodies went viral, including the WTF Blanket, which received more than 14 million hits.

Genius.

The Expansion

The executives in charge of the Snuggie quickly realized that they were sitting on a goldmine. The product was original a "direct marketing" play; the idea here was to advertise on television and have people call in to order. But as demand skyrocketed, they realized they actually had a brandable offering.

A few months after things started taking off, the executives cut a deal to sell Snuggies in traditional retail stores. They also mentioned this new availability in their ads. The result? Sales skyrocketed. Wal-Mart and other retailers were thrilled, and quickly renewed their distribution deals.

The Snuggie execs also saw a creative new channel: pets! If people would wear Snuggies, why couldn't dogs? They designed a new Snuggie specifically for dogs, which itself generated millions of dollars in additional margins.

For me, the biggest lesson is not to write off products that aren't going to change the world. They may not make a huge long-term impact, but they are still good ways to make lots of money.

Many people assume that Snuggies (and similar products) are nothing but a fad. This might be true, but so what? Over its lifetime, the Snuggie has generated more than $100 million dollars in total sales…with little more than a simple product and a killer marketing campaign. It's not the next Google, but it's still a great result.

 

How To Make Money By Being Impatient

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week” – George Patton

We have always been told to think through our decisions. Now don’t get me wrong, planning is important…to a point.

But a perfect plan means nothing if you don’t move fast.

There are two reasons why quick action is important: results and new information. No one has ever accomplished a goal without taking action.

This is why being impatient can sometimes be a good thing. If you’re in a hurry to get moving, chances are you’ll actually start something rather than spend too much time thinking about it.

Start Early

Pat Flynn over at Smart Passive Income is a tremendous entrepreneur and a great guy, but he has one main regret. He wishes that he had started his business even earlier…and he’s only 28 years old!

This makes sense, because every day that you don’t have a product out is a day of lost profits.

Today, Pat makes tens of thousands of dollars each month. But he could have been making far more if he’d just started a few years earlier.

Slow and Steady Does NOT Win the Race

More often than not, it’s a good idea to be the first mover in something.

For example, Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Work Week fame was certainly not the ultimate businessman. Sure, he was earning a great living from his health food supplements company, but there were many people who were doing far better financially.

But Tim distinguished himself by inventing a whole new idea of “Lifestyle Design.” Others had been following these principles for years, but by acting fast, Tim quickly established himself as the leading authority on the subject.

Today, the Four Hour Workweek is a best-seller, and Tim travels around the world speaking at conferences and investing in exciting new companies.

And it was all because he moved quickly.

Make Deadlines

Having a dream is easy. We all want to achieve things, but most of us never get around to doing anything about it.

Instead, leverage your impatience by creating short-term deadlines for yourself. Aim to achieve each deadline as soon as you possibly can.

For example, if you want to get to $100,000 in revenue within 1 year, give yourself six months. Then, create milestones for how you’re going to achieve this goal.

The more specific you get, the more likely you are to get to where you want to be.

How has your impatience helped you?

How To Build Viral Content: Interview With The Blog Tyrant

Want to know how you can build a huge following for your blog or website within just a few months? I recently had the privilege of interviewing The Blog Tyrant, who owns a successful network of blogs and websites that make him a full-time income. 

Unlike most bloggers, The Blog Tyrant keeps his own identity a mystery. This has actually helped him generate a lot of buzz in the internet marketing world, and I'm excited to see how this experiment turns out. In this interview, he talks about his start in internet marketing, how to sell a blog, and some of the most important keys to his business success.

When did you first get started with internet marketing? Was it accidental or deliberate?

Picture a 16 year old kid addicted to fitness sitting in a high school computing class bored out of his mind. That was me. While other kids were learning HTML and completing projects I decided to write an eBook about bodybuilding and see if I could build a website to sell it. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing – I didn't even know what an eBook was. I sold one copy for $60. That was the beginning of it all. That was when I realized that I could make money online.

How do you stay motivated?

As for staying motivated I have to confess I am really interested in the Buddhist idea of Bodhicitta. I learned about it on a trip to India. It means that everything you think, do or say should be done with the motivation to help other people. My goal for making money is to be able to do something useful with the opportunity – help out if I can. When you make work less about yourself and more about helping others it is easier to stay motivated. I'm still not very good at it though.

Your blog is filled with valuable information about blogging and internet marketing, but features very little about you personally. What is the main reason for keeping this low profile?

This is a question I get asked quite often. Pat from Smart Passive Income actually pulled me up on it in my post about how I got 11,908 visitors in three weeks. The reason is simple: I'm releasing my identity on a strategic date. Part experiment, part marketing decision. That's all I will say for now.

Blogging is typically a VERY hard method to make money online, but you've clearly had a lot of success. What are some of your short-term and long-term goals with the blog? Are you interested in product creation, book-writing, etc?

Blog Tyrant is only one of my projects. I always make a point to have several ventures on the go in case one dries up. But 2011 is going to be a very exciting year for readers of Blog Tyrant. I am releasing something that is going to help a lot of people take their blogging and income levels to the next stage.

How do you "sell" a blog? Aren't the subscribers there to hear your voice? How do you find the right buyer, and ensure a seamless transition?

This is a very good question and something that is relevant to many bloggers. When I first decided to sell a blog in college I thought this might be an issue. Someone paid $20,000 for my content and I thought the readers might be upset. In truth they didn't even notice. It depends entirely on the style of blog you write. For example, a lot of the bigger blogs like Problogger and Copyblogger are now mostly guest posts. If Darren Rowse or Brian Clark decided to sell them I don't think most people would notice, especially if they stopped in once a week or once a month to do a post or a video. But if your blog is really about you and your take on things I think the new owner would struggle.

As for the right buyer, part of me wants to say "anyone who will pay for it" but its not true. You want someone who will carry on the goals of the blog. When I sold my blogs I made in a condition of the sale that they would not use the site for spam or anything unethical. If they did I had the power to take them to court. I think this is important for your readers.

You get a lot of comments on your blog, and you make a point of responding to every single one. While this is good engagement, it also consumes a lot of time. How do you know that it is paying off?

Great question. When it comes to business it is very important to measure your results. Blogging is no different. You need to split test ads, tweak designs and make sure your strategies are working. How do I know that replying to every comment is paying off? Because I am getting more comments, more subscribers and a deeper level of interaction from my readers.

To be honest though, it doesn't take that long. I work from home full time so when I get a new comment I just write a reply. If they had the time to write it, I feel I should make the time to reply to them. It might not always be this way though. Especially seeing as the community at Blog Tyrant seems to be so packed full of wonderful people. This post on increasing conversions got over 250 comments, most of them from amazing readers helping each other out. In this respect I am very lucky because I know there are people reading who can take care of the new readers while I am asleep or away.

Building an audience quickly is a challenge for any blogger, but you seem to have been more successful than most in just a few months. What are the three most effective sources of traffic for you?

Problogger, Problogger and Problogger. I made a point to get as many guest posts there as possible because the traffic is high and responsive and Darren's reputation is so good that it helps you land other guest posts. I spent a long time making sure my Problogger guest posts were as good as I could write and the result was a lot of traffic, links, chatter and other high profile guest posts. Find the three big players in your niche and give them your best stuff. That is a good starting point. 7)

What is the single most important thing that someone should consider when building their brand online?

What is the end result? What are you going to sell and to whom? That should be the starting point for developing a brand. Some people start a business or a blog and make things up as they go. It is a very clumsy way to proceed. If you start with the end result and work backwards you have a focus and you can make your brand fit the needs and wants of your target audience. It needs to be about them, not you.

________________

For more great articles on blogging and internet marketing, check out http://www.blogtyrant.com.

 

Three Ways To Gather Valuable Feedback

No one likes hearing reasons why they should change. Let’s be honest: criticism blows.

That’s exactly why the people who do listen usually make the most money.

Constructive feedback is one of the best ways to grow and earn more, but it’s also tough to come by. Here are three techniques that will help maximize the amount of constructive feedback you receive:

Continue reading Three Ways To Gather Valuable Feedback →

Living and Dying On Third Base

Tomorrow's my 26th birthday, and in the spirit of growing up, I'd like to share a little story about how a recent conversation changed my life for the better.

I was talking to an old college buddy last week. This guy is one of the smartest people I know; he recently left his lucrative finance job to join a prestigious doctoral program in economics.

I knew my friend was passionate about the economy. Moreover, he has a very genuine desire to change the world for the better. Nevertheless, I was a little curious.

“Look buddy, I know you want to create an impact, and that’s great. But what about all the financial upside you’ll be giving up. Going the academic route is a tough gig…and there’s no guarantee of any reward at the end of the tunnel.”

My friend paused for a moment, and then replied:

Continue reading Living and Dying On Third Base →

Dean Graziosi and the Power of the Infomercial

(note: I do not receive any money from Dean Graziosi as a result of this post)

A few nights ago, I was flipping channels on my television when I stumbled upon an “informational program” about how to make money from real estate investing.

The “show” was hosted by Dean Graziosi, a self-made millionaire who has create a whole suite of information products (videos, books, tapes, and membership programs) on how to profit from purchasing and flipping homes.

My first instinct was to turn off the TV, but then I had a thought: this guy is obviously successful. He’s making a ton of money by selling people on informational products and can even afford to promote them with these 30-minute infomercials.

So what is he doing right? I need to find out, and the best way to do that is to keep watching…

I grabbed a notebook and started writing down everything I noticed. Thirty minutes later, I had come to several interesting conclusions.

Continue reading Dean Graziosi and the Power of the Infomercial →

TME Podcast 004: Outsourcing and Personal Branding With Tyrone Shum

In today's episode of the TME Podcast, I am pleased to have Tyrone Shum from Mass Outsource. Tyrone is an up-and-coming blogger, internet marketer, and all-around cool guy. Like Chris Ducker, who was a guest on a previous episode, Tyrone is also an expert and leading authority on effective outsourcing practices. 

As I show in my own monthly reports, outsourcing really is one of the best ways to quickly and affordably scale your business, no matter what your industry or focus, and Tyrone has a lot of great insights on how to successfully build your own operation.

But Tyrone also has some very interesting thoughts on personal branding. In just the last couple of years, Tyrone has quickly gone from an unknown to a leading expert within his niche. He has gotten to the point where people are willing to pay him lots of money for his expertise, and I was intrigued on how he built the right relationships to get him to this point so quickly.

In this episode, Tyrone and I talk about:

  • How to develop, manage, and retain a great outsourcing team
  • The techniques Tyrone used to cultivate his personal online brand
  • Some of the projects Tyrone has going forward in building diversified streams of income.

 

Untitled from Vik Tantry on Vimeo.

The Difference: Success and Significance

It was the summer of 2003, a few months before I started my first semester of college. I was an energetic but confused eighteen year old kid. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew that being “successful” was definitely a part of it.

One night, I watched a movie called the Emperor’s Club. It is a story about a history teacher, Will Hundert, and his students at an elite prep school. On the first day of class, Hundert points up to a plaque on his wall, and asks his students to read it:

I am Shutruk-Nahunte [sic], King of Anshan and Susa, sovereign of the land of Elam. By the command of Inshushinak, I destroyed Sippar and took the stele of Niran-Sin and brought it back to Elam, where I erected it as an offering to my god, Inshushinak.

- Shutruk-Nahunte 1158 BC

Hundert then asks his class whether any of them have heard of Shutruk-Nahunte before. He is met with silence.

How is it that one of the most dominant kings in ancient history is virtually unknown? According to Mr. Hundert, this is because “great ambition and conquest, without contribution, is without significance.”

He then turns to his class and asks a simple question:

What will your contribution be?

Fast forward to 2006. I was at a technology conference featuring some of the smartest businesspeople in the world. The keynote panelist was John Doerr, a legendary investor who has made billions of dollars betting on companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon.

Doerr spent a good amount of time discussing his methods for being successful. But he shifted gears towards the end of his talk. Instead of simply focusing on success, he decided to emphasize the importance of significance.

“We live in a world that focuses on success. But while success is important, it means nothing without significance. Significance is the ability to make an impact beyond yourself, something for the greater good. Success makes a good investor, but significance is what makes a good person.”

My mind suddenly flashed back to the Emperor’s club. Sure, I had goals of being successful, but how was I going to become significant? How could I make a truly positive impact that will benefit others in a significant, meaningful way?

This realization is what drove me to pursue more entrepreneurial endeavors. I started my career at a bank, moving money from Point A to Point B. I was on track to being successful, but I wasn’t doing anything significant. As an entrepreneur, I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m constantly striving to provide products and services that will help people…while simultaneously putting money in my pocket.

In fact, the idea of long-term significance was a big motivator for me to start blogging. Ultimately, my goal is to build a powerful platform for impacting, motivating, and connecting with the world.

Business should be a win-win, and that’s what the combination of success and significance is all about. Just remember that they aren’t always one and the same.

How do you plan to be successful…and significant? Please share in the comments

Avoiding The Downward Spiral

Back in college, I was working on a group project. Everyone in the group had different ideas on how to solve a problem, and for some reason the discussion got very personal and heated. A couple of us lost our cool and said some things that shouldn’t have been said. I ended up storming out of the meeting in disgust.

I was still in a bad mood when I met my girlfriend for dinner. “Those guys are the biggest @#$@ I’ve ever worked with! It’s impossible…” My girlfriend listened patiently as I ranted on and she made an effort to calm me down.

The problem was that I didn’t feel like calming down; I was still looking for a fight. My girlfriend and I ended up having a huge argument over something silly and irrelevant.

Later that night, I was trying to study for an exam, but I felt exhausted. I was emotionally drained. I had calmed down at this point, but couldn’t stop thinking about trying to reconcile things with my girlfriend and group project team. I couldn’t focus and ended up doing poorly on my exam the next day.

Continue reading Avoiding The Downward Spiral →

How MedHelp Attracts 11 Million Visitors Each Month

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to interview John DeSouza, CEO of online health community Medhelp. Medhelp is an amazing online success story; with more than 11,000,000 unique visitors per month, it is one of the most visited sites on the internet and a powerhouse in the medical answers space. It also generates millions of dollars each year in revenue through its unique and effective advertising model. 

Here are some of the lessons I learnt:

Back To Basics

I like John because he's a very practical guy. In a day and age where people start and run businesses on crazy ideas, John has managed to keep a level head. He focuses all his business decisions around two simple questions – is there a real need, and is there a business model. Everything that Medhelp does is focused around answering these questions effectively. 

This may sound obvious, but it's amazing how many silly business mistakes can be avoided by just asking these questions before jumping into a new project.

Growing The Traffic

John takes a very disciplined approach to growing traffic at MedHelp. The key is engagement. You want to create a community that provides valuable content to the community, while encouraging the community to provide as much information as possible.

To this end, John has rolled out a suite of tools that allow visitors to learn more about their health. He determined which tools to design by asking both patients and doctors what they wanted most. This way, he'd cater to the community's needs more effectively.

MedHelp also has a rigorous process in place to enforce good behavior within the community. Spam and offensive language are quickly detected and removed using automated software. Medhelp also employs a team of 10 people to manually monitor the community 24 hours per day.

John stresses that this oversight is necessary in order to maintain the brand and credibility of the site – this is NOT an area where you want to cut resources. 

The Importance of Segmentation

As a community grows larger, it attracts numerous visitors with very different needs. What works for one type of visitor may not work for others. Therefore, it's important to segment visitors and quickly direct them to areas on the site that will benefit them the most.

Remember, it is trivially easy to leave a website, and adding value from the start is the only way to maximize retention.

This is also true for advertising. Medhelp sells all of its ads in-house, and emphasizes the importance of targeted, interactive ads. Engaged users are much more likely to produce referrals for doctors, which is a major source of revenue for the site. 

What Goes Around…Comes Around

One of the nice thing about the internet is that it rewards people for adding value. If you create good content and let people know about it, they’ll share it with others who might also benefit. This “word-of-mouth” marketing is far more powerful than any spammy advertising could ever be.

This, more than anything else, is the mentality that has made Medhelp successful since Day 1. Give the people what they want, and they will give you a wonderful, thriving business.

It’s that simple.