Robert Skrob started his first business when he was 23 years old. He's a "serial entrepreneur" who has owned businesses with as many as 21 employees. Today, while his company Membership Services Inc. employs six, he also owns several businesses that he operates without any employees.
After struggling to make his business work, Robert discovered direct marketing. Fed up with advertising to "get your name out there," Robert began creating marketing systems that allowed him to track results. He used direct mail as well as magazine and newspaper advertising that had tracking numbers, so he knew where every new customer came from. This allowed Robert to invest more money in marketing that works and less in strategies that don't. His success has become well known, and dozens of other businesspeople regularly invest from $15,000.00 to as much as $45,000.00 for Robert to create direct marketing systems for them.
Robert knows that marketing is only part of the battle; as a business owner, you still have to get the work done. Overloaded with work, Robert studied businesses like McDonald's and H&R Block that quickly train employees to fulfill customers' needs. That, plus his background as a CPA, helped Robert create systems that allow employees to become successful without daily handholding and oversight. A side benefit, employees enjoy the autonomy and structure that business systems provide them.
As the co-author of the book The Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing; Build a Million Dollar Business in 12 Months, Robert teaches entrepreneurs how to take what they've learned and teach it to others. By creating home study courses, coaching programs and newsletters, business owners can teach what they have learned in business to help others and make additional money for themselves. Robert currently serves as president of the trade association for the industry, the Information Marketing Association.
At Florida State University, Robert pursued a career in accounting. He graduated with a master's degree in accountancy and passed the CPA exam. Robert maintains his Florida CPA license to stay in touch with the "in the trenches" perspective of effective business processes and profits.
Robert is husband to Kory and father to one daughter and one son. Weekends are spent running around town to activities, parties, sleepovers, parks, theaters and everywhere else.
Robert's company, Membership Services Inc., is an association management company. Associations are organizations in which groups of people with a similar interest combine resources for research, communication and advocacy. These organizations print newsletters, host meetings and contact lawmakers on behalf of their members.
When an association decides it needs a headquarters with a staff, it has to rent office space, buy furniture and computers, recruit an executive director and hire employees. Or the association can hire an association management company and obtain everything it needs on a contractual basis. Robert's company, Membership Services Inc., does just that.
Associations hire Membership Services Inc. to handle their membership records and billing, plan meetings, publish newsletters and oversee governmental affairs. Established in 1979 as Harris Management Group, Membership Services Inc. is a full-service trade association management company. Membership Services Inc. is the only association management company that specializes in membership marketing, recruitment and retention.
Thanks to a program by Dan Kennedy (www.DanKennedy.com), Robert learned about the Parado Principle, commonly known as the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of your profits come from 20% of your clients. A review of the financial reports proved this to be true for Robert's company. In fact, several clients were extremely unprofitable.
In July 2001, Robert chose to work with only the 20% of the clients that were generating a fair return for his company's investment of time. He transitioned the company from 25 clients to eight and from 20 employees to two. While this was an extremely stressful time for many, in the end, everyone found opportunities that rewarded them for their efforts. For Robert, this meant a lot less time in the office, in airports and at hotels. In fact, in 2002, he received a letter from US Airways that he went from Chairman's Preferred (more than 100 flights per year) to no preferred status (fewer than 30 flights). Plus, his company was a lot more profitable.
Currently, 8 associations engage Membership Services Inc. These include:
Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers
Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations
Florida Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
Florida Association of Professional Employer Organizations
Florida Harley Davidson Dealers Association
Florida Motorcycle Dealers Association
Florida Movers and Warehousemen's Association
Professional Insurance Agents of Florida
Membership Services Inc. is a closed end association management company. It no longer accepts new clients unless a current client agrees to give up its slot.
Marketing Through Associations
Robert sees it all the time. Marketers with good products, great relationships with their customers, and a huge opportunity, but they are sitting on the sidelines of one of the biggest games in their industry: associations. Or worse, they are spending a ton of money and getting little to show for their efforts.
Robert authored Your Association Shortcut, a book revealing how anyone can generate more customers through associations. This book includes the answers to the 75 key questions Robert receives about getting customers through associations. In addition to the book, Robert also publishes the Association Marketing Insider's Circle Newsletter and an advanced short-cut program called the Association Partnership and Profits System.
In 1998, Robert discovered Dan Kennedy. Dan has written several books, but the first Robert read was No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs. This led Robert to several other books by Dan Kennedy, including Ultimate Sales Letter and Ultimate Marketing Plan.
When Robert started managing associations, he thought he only needed to provide terrific service and a great product to members for the associations to grow. However, the associations weren't growing. The Dan Kennedy books taught Robert that he also had to learn how to continually sell members the belief that their association was the most important investment a member could make.
Robert's first sales letter was written by following along, chapter by chapter, Dan's Ultimate Sales Letter. This sales letter went into the mail in 1999 and generated respectable results. New members joined the association. This led Robert to invest more money to learn how to improve his writing, so he could recruit more members for his association clients.
His association management company clients became the perfect laboratory for Robert to learn direct response marketing. With 25 clients, there were 25 member recruitment campaigns. Also, there were opportunities to create meeting marketing campaigns, exhibit marketing and sponsorship marketing programs. It became common to generate a $15,000.00 check from a single sales letter.
These membership marketing efforts led to an important discovery. Most problems that associations face can be fixed with more members. Money low, recruit more members; industry facing a crisis, recruit more members; want more attendees at meetings, recruit more members; or want to create a non-dues revenue program, recruit more members.
The skill of writing letters that make members eagerly write checks translated into Robert's ability to create customers for his other businesses.
While Robert studied association membership marketing, he discovered there were some for-profit companies providing many of the same services that associations provide to their members.
* Associations provide newsletters; there are for-profit publishers of newsletters and trade journals.
* Associations provide meetings; there are for-profit training companies.
* Associations provide manuals; for-profit companies provide home study courses.
* Associations host networking events; for-profit companies provide coaching programs.
This led Robert to an important breakthrough. Associations often try to justify their dues investment to their members by citing their legislative activities and advocacy. However, members are often content to allow others within the industry to fund those programs. At the same time, there are for-profit providers that don't do any of the legislative advocacy, that are attracting members based only on the quality of the content they provide.
Robert aggressively studied these businesses. He attended several events, purchased products from them to learn about the companies and eventually discovered that companies that integrate all of the services that associations provide call themselves information marketers.
Robert began using information marketer tactics create newsletters, hold seminars and sell subscriptions with his association clients. This change generated a flood of results. One association grew to represent more than 90% of its industry when it previously had less than 35%. Another grew to represent all but two members of its industry. In addition, all of Robert's associations began having more people at their events and more revenue in their bank accounts. This focus allowed these associations to accomplish their legislative goals because members were willing to pay for newsletters and events that gave them the products, information and meetings they wanted.
Associations for Information Marketers
After participating in several Dan Kennedy events and a Kennedy mastermind program, Dan suggested that Robert teach information marketers how they can create associations to conduct their own marketing. Because Robert had used information marketing to build associations, he was the best one to teach information marketers how to use associations to build information marketing companies.
Robert worked personally with 18 information marketers to create associations for their businesses. Many began using these associations as their main entities to build businesses within their niches. Others created associations as separate add-on's to their existing businesses.
After several requests, in January 2008, Robert released a comprehensive guide to association marketing for associations and info-marketers. For more information, visit www.AssociationsforInfoMarketers.com
Information Marketing Association
The grandfather of the modern information marketing industry, Dan Kennedy, suggested to Robert that he create an association to teach info-marketers the business side of the business. While there were dozens of people teaching techniques to acquire customers, no one taught info-marketers the administrative, compliance and business issues they needed to know to run the multimillion-dollar businesses they were growing.
The Information Marketing Association was born on March 1, 2006. The association has grown steadily ever since.
Information Marketing is responsive to and fueled by the ever-increasing pressure on peoples' time. Businesspeople and consumers alike need information provided to them in convenient forms, and in some cases need an extension of it; methods and strategies that might merely have been taught to them 10 years ago are now done for them. The Information Industry encompasses products like traditional books, audio programs, videos or DVD's that you might buy in a store, from a catalog or online; magazines; newsletters; e-books; membership websites; teleseminars and webinars; telecoaching programs; seminars and conferences; and combinations thereof. The possible topics are almost endless. People are buying information on every imaginable topic, from better sex, to teaching parrots to talk, to gardening, to investing in real estate foreclosures, to running businesses. Information marketing, then, is about identifying a responsive market with high interest in a particular group of topics and expertise, packaging information products and services matching that interest (written/assembled by you or by others or both) and devising ways to sell and deliver it. If you can name it, somebody is packaging and profitably selling information about it.
While there were already associations for newsletter publishers, professional speakers, trade journal publishers, associations and consultants, there weren't any associations that addressed an integrated approach that combines all of these disciplines. That's what the Information Marketing Association provides.
In the years since establishing the Information Marketing Association, Robert authored the book The Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing (www.InfoMarketingBook.com) to provide a comprehensive start-up guide for anyone looking to create his or her own info-marketing business. During this process,
The Official Guides are becoming a series of books. The first book in the series will focus on Internet marketing, teaching info-marketers the advanced details they should include in their websites. This book will provide them the elements to create even if they don't have any technical knowledge or interest in programming the site themselves. This book is due out October 2008. Robert's next books will feature seminars, newsletter publishing and organizational management.
Robert spends as much time as possible with his family. Robert and his wife have 2 kids, Samantha (95) and Robert William (99) and live in Tallahassee, Florida.
He met his wife, Kory on May 28, 2004 after meeting her on November 20, 1993 at the North Carolina State versus Florida State foot ball game. Kory sat in front of Robert at the game. As a NC State alum, Kory was excited when the Wolfpack scored first with a field goal. Unfortunately, the Wolfpack lost the game 62 to 3.