(C) 1998 Market Launchers, Inc. -- December, 1998


Editor:  Paul Niemann    

E-mail: [email protected]


In this issue: During the past month, I've been working on bringing my own new product to market. Rather than spending money on advertising, I put all of my marketing efforts into gaining free publicity from the media. Due to the nature and timing of the product, along with the fact that I sent out a number of press releases, the story has appeared in all 4 major forms of media over the last 2 weeks: TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet. This is the basis of our first story.

Here's some good news for those of you who have an invention listed on our Invention Database, or if you're planning to list one of your inventions on the Database soon: I'll soon be publicizing the Database in the same way that I'm publicizing my new product -- through press releases to various trade journals. What that means to you is that a greater number of manufacturers/potential licensees will see your product.

Article #1: "IMPEACHMENT: The Card Game," Launching a new product through the use of press releases.

Article #2: "A Poem about Thomas Edison," by Bob Weiler.

Article #3: "Rocks of Life"


Article #1: "IMPEACHMENT: The Card Game." Launching a new product through the use of press releases to the media.

"IMPEACHMENT: The Card Game" takes a light-hearted, humorous approach to the Impeachment ordeal. It's been a big hit with the media. In fact, the media has been publicizing it for me. At the end of this article, you'll find some helpful tips that could help you capitalize on some free publicity for your product, with the help of the media. Anybody can do this, as long as you develop a product that's timely and popular. If I can do it, then others can, too.

To begin with, here are some of the places in which the story of "IMPEACHMENT: The Card Game" has appeared:

*    TV -- The local (St. Louis) CBS news and ABC news. Both stations have made the story available to their other affiliates across the country. The local CBS station wanted to run the story before I even had the finished product made. All I had was a black & white prototype, but it still made for a good story.

*    Radio -- Numerous radio shows, especially morning drive-time shows, have had me on their shows to do live interviews. I've done seven so far, and I'm scheduled to be on another station next Tuesday morning.

*    Newspapers -- Numerous newspapers around the country have run the story. The Dallas Morning News is going to run the story in a day or two. I haven't tracked which other papers have run it other than the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but I know where my story is being told, whether by radio or newspaper, because orders start coming in from people in those cities. The newspapers, along with the names of the proper contact people and their fax numbers, are found at the library in a book called the "Bacon Book." The Bacon Book also has the listings for all the TV and radio stations in the country.

*    The Internet -- The search engine "Excite" ran the story on their news page, and I'm told that "Yahoo" did as well, although I haven't seen that one. If you want to see how the press release appeared on Excite, then go to: http://nt.excite.com/news/r/981216/16/odd-cards

The story really hit the big time as soon after it went out over the Reuters newswire, meaning that any radio station or newspaper that subscribes to Reuters' news service can pick up any stories that come across its newswire. I'm still working on getting the AP and UPI news services to run the story.

In addition, I faxed my press release yesterday to a reporter at U.S. News & World Report. About an hour later, he called back and said that they plan on running the story. As a result of the media telling my story to the public, it took less than one week to reach the break-even point. I had 110 orders before the product was even finished being manufactured. So far, I have not spent a dime on advertising or marketing. I've found that radio interviews and newspaper articles deliver better results than the TV stories do.

There are 4 main reasons why the media and the public has taken so well to this story:

*    The product deals with a very important story -- Impeachment -- that is of interest to just about everybody.

*    The product gets a laugh out of people as soon as they hear about it. It gets an even bigger laugh once you see it, because it has a cartoon caricature of a grinning President Clinton behind bars (jail bars). People love to laugh, and they'll open up to anything that makes them laugh during this long, drawn-out Impeachment investigation, as long as it's done in a tasteful way.

*    Those who dislike this President, dislike him with a passion. (Disclaimer: I'm not trying to make a political statement here, but this President has plenty of political enemies.) People will buy products that appeal to subjects which they feel passionately about. And this product has a very clearly-defined audience -- those who disapprove of this President.

*    The most important reason of all: I made the effort to send my story to enough media contacts, so they would (hopefully) write about it. Without getting the word out, nothing would have happened. This is worth repeating: Before the world will beat a path to your doorstep for that proverbial better mousetrap, you must get the word out.

This process has taught me some valuable lessons about developing ideas for new (consumer) products, and I wanted to pass along to you what I've learned, as it applies to inventors of any skill level. (I consider myself a rookie when it comes to inventing, as my area of expertise is in marketing.) These lessons include:

*    Keep your eyes and ears open for new product ideas that relate to current events. The next biggest current event that people will capitalize on is the Y2K problem, also known as the millenium bug. Also, products that are associated with the "Turn of the Century" or the phrase "20th century" have a chance of becoming successful products because they relate to important current events. The current issue of Inc. magazine (January, 1999, pages 17-18) has an article about entrepreneurs capitalizing on the Y2K problem.

What other major events can we, as inventors, capitalize on? In Europe, 11 countries are converting their currencies over to the Euro. The currency's launch at midnight December 31 in Brussels will make Europe an economic bloc that may rival the United States. The euro will start trading at about U.S. $1.17 when markets open Monday after the New Year's weekend. Euro cash will be issued to replace the old coins and banknotes in early 2002.

This may have a major economic (good or bad) on the citizens of these countries, and maybe even for Americans as well, as the Euro is predicted to compete with the U.S. Dollar as the world's major currency. Time magazine states that the euro's debut on Jan. 4th will weaken but won't crush the U.S. dollar. The "e" symbol may someday become as familiar as the dollar sign. Could the independent states of the former Soviet Union do the same with their currenceis, just as the 11 countries of the European Union did? This may be worth keeping an eye on. (America Online also has some interesting stories on the Euro.)

The Y2K bug and the introduction of the Euro are global events, but the same lessons apply to local events, just on a smaller scale. For example, the people here in St. Louis are preparing for the Pope's visit in January, and there are already people selling Pope memorabilia such as T-shirts and sweatshirts. T-shirts and sweatshirts aren't "new" products, but they can be adapted for any event.

*    Keep your eyes and ears open for new product ideas that could be considered newsworthy. If you create a newsworthy new product, you can expect to receive calls from the media wanting to interview you, IF you have already started to get the word out. For me, getting the word out involved sending press releases to the major newspapers and news services. When Reuters sent my story out across the news wire, the requests for radio interviews started pouring in. When the St. Louis paper ran my story, more radio requests started to pour in from the local radio stations. One thing worth noting, though, is that the different types of news media don't like to play follow the leader with their own kind. What I mean is that a TV station will run a story that it sees in the paper, but not one that they see on another TV station. They don't like to follow their own kind.

*    Keep your eyes and ears open for new product ideas which stir a passion in people. For example, people who disapprove of the President feel VERY passionately about that.

*    Keep your eyes and ears open for new product ideas that relate to anything which makes people laugh. People love to laugh. The cartoon caricature of a grinning President Clinton behind bars in "IMPEACHMENT: The Card Game" makes people laugh, and so does the product's title.

These are the reasons why "IMPEACHMENT: The Card Game" has done so well in generating free publicity in the media, which leads to plenty of sales among the public.

You can afford to make some mistakes along the way, too, so don't worry about being perfect. I made 2 noticeable mistakes in the process of creating this product and in bringing it to market. First, I sent the press releases to the political editors, when I should have been sending them to the features editors. I corrected this problem once I recognized it. Second, I originally failed to mention one of the biggest selling points when sending out press releases -- the fact that the back side of the cards contain a cartoon caricature of a grinning President Clinton behind bars. I changed this in my second round of press releases once I realized that I was leaving out an important point. Sometimes we tend to overlook the obvious when we're trying to do all the aspects of inventing and marketing a product by ourselves.

If your new product deals with politics, then it's important to know that your product will only appeal to one party. You can't please Democrats AND Republicans with the same product. The product can relate to Impeachment AND be a clean product -- my card game does not contain any of the disgusting details of the President's affair. In fact, it doesn't even mention 'that woman' by name. It doesn't have to.

I realize that all this publicity from the media will end one day soon, just as quickly as it all began last week. I'm prepared for that, when it happens. As for now, I'll be back on the phones again early next week, as the IMPEACHMENT debate moves to the Senate, to follow up with the editors who I sent press releases to (over 100 total).

As I mentioned earlier, I will also be promoting the Invention Database in the same way, in order to get more manufacturers/potential licensees to search it for new products. I'll do this by sending out press releases to various trade journals.

Finally, I'm considering publishing a booklet on this topic, and offering it for sale to inventors. In fact, I'd appreciate your feedback on this: Would you please take a minute after reading this newsletter, to send me an e-mail letting me know whether or not you would be likely to purchase a booklet that tells you how to gain publicity through the media for your invention. It would be titles something like, "How to Gain $75,000 Worth of Free Publicity without Paying a Dime for It" and it would cover this subject in greater detail than is described here, and the booklet would cost around $10. The number of positive responses will help me determine whether or not to write a booklet on this subject. Thanks for your help on this.

If you want to see what "IMPEACHMENT: The Card Game" looks like, then surf on over to: www.politicalgames.com

Special thanks goes out to Gary Kellmann, who has helped me tremendously in bringing this new product to market. We don't get there without the help of others, folks.


Article #2: "A poem about Thomas Edison," submitted by Bob Weiler.

The inventor spent many long years
At work in his laboratory,
But not everyone, it appears,
Knows the rest of the story.
For uncounted hours he toiled each night
As he struggled to invent an electric light.
But tonight, at last, as you may have guessed,
The time was right for its very first test!
He worked without ceasing or thought of a letup,
And with trembling fingers, he adjusted the setup.
Each step in his mind he calmly rehearsed
As he hoped for the best while fearing the worst.
'Twas the moment of truth as he turned the lamp on.
It burst into light - the darkness was gone.
The relief in his heart we can safely assume
As its glorious brilliance flooded the room.
While in the flush of triumph, he rested.
He found his patience sorely tested
As he heard the voice he had come to dread,
"Turn off that light and come to bed."

Thanks to Bob Weiler of Sarasota, FL for this poem, which appeared in the Ann Landers column last week. Mr. Weiler sent this to Ann Landers, and she printed it less than 2 weeks later. This stuff about sending press releases to the media really works.


Article #3: "Rocks of Life" -- Author Unknown

This next story helps put things in their proper perspective.


A while back I was reading about an expert on the subject of time management. One day this expert was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration I'm sure those students will never forget.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them,one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!" "No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all."

The title of this letter is The "Big Rocks" of Life. What are the big rocks in your life? A project that YOU want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring others? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all.

So, tonight or in the morning when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the "big rocks" in my life or business? Then, put those in your jar.

Thanks to Dennis Dohogne of MAMTC for sending this to me. One of the many benefits of e-mail.

One final thought:  In gambling, it is often said that you shouldn't bet more than you can afford to lose. In inventing, don't spend more than you can afford to lose because, after all, inventing is a gamble.


Copyright 1998
Market Launchers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the November 1998 issue.