Interview by Mike Sullivan
Everyone knows that direct marketing is effective. The problem is not many know how to do it effectively. This is where John Schulte, President of the National Mail Order Association comes in. The NMOA provides information, education and business contacts to those involved in direct marketing and mail order selling, and those that wish to be.
NMOA was founded in 1972 and, in their 39th year of business is still dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to find another way to reach consumers. Their website offers an entire resource library at no cost, a free basic membership in their network with weekly news and tips to reap even more benefits!
Your entrepreneurial passion started early selling in grade school and selling flowers after high school. You are now in your 39th year of business, can you talk about what you learned as a young entrepreneur that has helped you succeed in business to this day?
The first thing I guess is just doing something. You have to take some action and get into the game. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or even what you may want to do for the rest of your life, you have to start playing. If you simply sit by waiting for ‘just the right thing or idea’ it may never come. By being in the game other things come your way. Action attracts opportunity and draws others to you.
I also learned that things don’t come as quickly and easily as you may want. The life of an entrepreneur is dependent on perseverance. The ability to get up and start over. One example I give is that of an Olympic ice skater; do you think that ice skater got there by skating for just a few years, practicing whenever they felt like it? Of course not, it took years of hard work and dedication. How can you expect to make a business and be financially independent without the same effort? You can’t.
I follow up that with the lyrics from the AC/DC song; it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.
NMOA.org has a ton of valuable information, from the list of new products you can sell, to tips to information in the Direct Marketing toolkit. What do you believe is the single most valuable aspect of your business?
I think what is most valuable is a tossup depending on the person. A person just entering the game of self employment needs to become a marketer/promoter. They need this skill to be able to distinguish between (or recognize) opportunities that will make them money, and those that won’t. In other words, things that can be marketed easily and those that can’t. Marketing skills are also needed to move good opportunities forward; you need to be able to pick the right marketing tools to do it. So for people newer to business, our Direct Marketing Toolkit (http://www.nmoa.org/directmarketingtoolkit/) has the most value up front, it covers the strategic thinking skills and marketing tactics you must get your arms around.
On the other hand, if a person is already street-smart on marketing and promotion, I would say the new product department offers the best value over time. In this department you find new products to sell. The manufacturers and wholesale distributors featured here offer our network members tremendous money making opportunities to people that can sell product. We have all types of direct marketing merchants finding successful selling products here. It truly is a goldmine for those that sell (or want to sell) products.
You know a lot of information about affiliate marketing. Can give a brief summary for our readers of what affiliate marketing is and how they can use it for their own businesses?
We do have a special report on this that is more detailed, but in a nutshell Affiliate marketing is a new term given to an old practice called a referral fee. i.e. You send me a potential customer, if he buys my product or orders my service I will pay you money for it. Affiliate marketing is just that, except now you can refer people to others using a link on a website, in a blog, in an email, or really in print for that matter using a special coded URL. It’s a wonderful tool that everyone should be able to make some money from…as long as you’re in the game. Even the NMOA has an affiliate program that people can take advantage of, if they ask us.
When people here the name National Mail Order Association, and direct marketing they often do not consider this company being involved with the web. Can you describe the internet side of direct marketing?
This misunderstanding mostly comes from those that are relatively new to marketing. First, the term direct marketing encompasses many types of tools/mediums for marketing. i.e. catalogs and direct mail, email, DRTV/Infomercials, advertisements in magazines and newspapers that ask for an order, radio ads that give an ordering phone number, mobile messages to your phone, social media, pay-per-click, etc. The common denominator of direct marketing methods is you are reaching out with (sending) your message directly to a targeted audience with a specific ‘and measurable’ call to action. Data is captured for future marketing, sales strategy and creative tactics are tested and effectiveness/results are measured. Success is expanded upon; failure is noted quickly and eliminated.
So, web marketing is mail order marketing. You are selling at a distance; only the medium you are using is new. Your online store is really an electronic catalog, the words you write about your product or service is your salesman. Just like a print catalog you are selling with pictures and words. You still take orders remotely and you still deliver products through common carrier, or electronically. If you don’t learn mail order marketing you will not be successful selling on the internet or web store. The web is simply a new medium for delivering your sales message.
Many of our readers are individuals looking to start out small as a one-person business. Do you have to have a large corporation to benefit from your membership programs?
No. Our main focus is the small guy. Larger companies use us mainly for market data and research and finding new products.
NMOA was founded in 1972 and has definitely gone through changes to adapt to the changing marketplace. What has been your most recent challenge in adapting to the changing consumer?
People wanting to go into business for themselves, to be financially independent, has not changed that much over the years. It’s still for the same reasons; extra money, not getting laid off, not dealing with crappy bosses, the potential to make more money or even get lucky and make a million, more time with family, be in control of one’s destiny, etc. These are things that I believe are built in human nature, just like being free. Everybody thinks about being their own boss at least once in a while.
What I have found more difficult in the last 10 years is getting through to budding entrepreneurs amongst all the clutter and baloney that is flooding the Internet. Everyone promotes themselves as an expert with some special money making opportunity that’s going to make you rich. When in fact, 99% is pure horse manure.
Don’t get me wrong, con artists were out there when I was just a kid, but their reach was much smaller, and it was more expensive to promote the cons. The Internet allows con people to push anything for free without repercussion. Of course, the Get Rich Quick mentality of some make them easy targets, they just cannot understand that there is no reality of something for nothing, or quick and easy money.
I’ve seen people spend thousands of dollars buying into some money making scheme, yet they won’t spend a couple hundred bucks and some time educating themselves on being a good marketer and money manager.
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