Pete Williams was described in the media as a “Budding Richard Branson,” when he “sold the MCG for under $500.” After reading The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen which tells the story of Paul Hartunian who had the insight to salvage the valuable timber of the Brooklyn Bridge while it was being redeveloped Pete thought about how he could do the same.
In 2003 when Australia’s MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) was being redeveloped it only took Pete a few phone calls to track down the company which had demolished the Ponsford stand who told him not only that they had a significant amount of timber from the seating but that they also had a considerable amount of the famous MCC Crested Carpet..
After buying those supplies for a ‘pleasing’ price Pete developed a series of limited edition sports memorabilia pieces which sold from $395 – $1495. The press release that was created with the headline ‘21 Year Old Sells MCG For Under $500’ generated over $50,000 of FREE advertising and publicity in media via Channel 7 news, Herald Sun articles, AM and FM Radio interviews and trade magazine articles – which generated a huge proportion of sales at no cost.Pete has now worked on a few ventures including Preneur Marketing, On Hold Advertising and publishing his own book.
You’ve sold Melbourne’s Cricket Ground (without owning it to begin with), but that wasn’t your first venture?
Not exactly, I’ve always been entrepreneurial. My first ‘real business’ was a website design company I launched whilst still in high school – IMPACT PLUS. I was able to get a few clients simply through relationships I had – schools, sporting clubs etc etc.That “entrepreneurial bent” is just as strong as ever, I’ve currently got interests in 4 or 5 different businesses.
How do you come up with ideas for ventures?
I always try to adopt a market first approach…. That is, try and find a market that has a “need” that’s either not being filled at all, or can be filled in a more effective manner. A lot of people approach business the wrong way, which is why so many small businesses fail – they come up with an all new ‘mouse trap’ first.In a successful business, it’s never “really” the product itself, it’s the market and the marketing that makes a winner.
In your book you talk about the importance you place on automating businesses – can you explain how that works?
I think the easiest way to explain it is through the McDonalds analogy – everything in the burger making process at Mickey D’s is automated… and as a business owner automating the processes in your organisation allows you to work ON your business not IN it.
What’s the smartest bit of marketing you’ve ever done?
It’s hard to say, some online things I’m doing at the moment are pretty exciting, but I ain’t going to let that IP out to soon…Selling the MCG was a hugely successful venture that simply grew off one marketing effort – a press release. I launched the entire venture off a single press release which had the headline “21 Year Old Sells MCG For Under $500”. The release cost about $5 to send out via fax to various journalists and it generates well over $50,000 in free exposure across Australia.I’ve actually just launched a site designed to help other entrepreneurs learn the secrets behind ‘the power of publicity’ – www.RenegadePublicist.comI think the smartest thing in the area of marketing I’ve ever done (read: learnt) is to always TEST… Something things that I’ve tried, thinking it’s a sure thing, failed miserably… So the mantra is test, test and test some more. But to be able to test, you have to measure EVERYTHING….
You joined Ed Dale and Co’s 30 Day Challenge. What did you learn from the process? Did it go as expected?
Well firstly, Ed (and Dan Raine) are two of the smartest and most effective marketers operating online. Over the years, I’ve learnt a lot from them – which I’ve not only applied to some ‘100% online nice-businesses” but to also market my “real-world’ businesses online.This is probably the big (hidden) take-away of the 30DC – Most people don’t look at the process from a simple marketing perspective – the vast majority of participants look at ’the challenge’ in it’s entirety (that is to start and market an online business from scratch in 30 days) – Very few people take the lessons and then apply them elsewhere.
What would you say to a person who is about to finish High School, if they asked whether they should go to University or not?
If you enjoy a drink or three, Uni is a must. If you want to get a job working for the man, Uni is a must. If you want to become an entrepreneur, Uni is a waste. If you want to become an entrepreneur, network & seminars!
What is your idea and definition of success in life?
That’s a deep question… I feel like I should be lying down to answer this one. To me, success is simply fulfilling ones goals, no matter what they are.
What is the average persons biggest misconception about entrepreneurship?
“That is can’t be me” Everyone has had a million dollar idea, but very few take the action to make it happen because they think you need to possess some ‘special skill’ – The only difference between an employee and entrepreneur is “self belief” – not smarts.
What do you tell your friends that you do?
A: Marketer B: Professional Sperm Donor C: Business Owner D: All of the above
What will you be doing in 5 years time?
Hopefully the same thing I’m doing now… just from a comfier chair