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THE ONLINE INVENTOR -- March 2001

(c) 2001 Market Launchers, Inc.

http://www.marketlaunchers.com

Publisher: Paul Niemann

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Some FAMOUS / INFAMOUS Quotes

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic," Author unknown

"There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots." Author unknown 

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In this issue:

Article # 1: "INVENTOR PROFILE: John Wood of GrasslandBeef.com," by Paul Niemann

Article # 2: "Implementing A Successful PR Campaign: P.R. Does Not Stand For Press Release!" by Todd Brabender of Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.

Article # 3: "Some of Your Best Ideas Come from Other People," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com

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Article # 1: "INVENTOR PROFILE: John Wood of GrasslandBeef.com," by Paul Niemann

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR PRODUCT.

Premium-quality grass-fed cattle -- there are 4 main points here:

1.    With grass-fed cattle, the cattle are fed grass exclusively for at least the last 90 days before going to market, where most cattle have been fed a steady diet of grain during the last 120 days, in order to add weight. One of the differences between grass-finished beef vs. grain-finished beef is an ingredient called CLA, which stands for conjugated linoleic acid. CLA is a compound that was discovered at the University of Wisconsin in the mid-1980's. They found that something in hamburger was obstructing the growth of cancerous tumors in charbroiled hamburger research. Further research by Dr. Pariza discovered that the CLA compound was the cause.

2.    Further research indicated that the CLA compound is one of the best anti-carcinogens that people can consume. During the last 90 days of a bovine's life, grass-finished cattle produce high percentages of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are the good fatty acids. On the other hand, the level of Omega 6 fatty acids -- the bad ones -- decrease.

After the University of Wisconsin research, Purdue University did some research, and found that CLA would slow or stop the onset of diabetes in some people, if it is diagnosed early enough.

3.    CLA is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, and it's good for the circulatory system. It has the capability to dissolve the plaque, and it helps combat circulatory problems, such as high-blood pressure and cholesterol problems.

4.    CLA also helps people who have lost weight to keep those pounds off, due to the impact of CLA. Iowa State University conducted research trials with swine in the Winter of 1999 -- 2000, demonstrating 25% less back fat over the 10 rib and larger loin eyes with the group receiving CLA in the diet.

5. There are higher levels of beta carotene and Vitamin E levels in grass-finished beef than in grain-finished beef.

ARE THERE ANY OTHERS WORKING WITH YOU ON THIS? IF SO, HOW HAVE YOU DIVIDED UP THE ROLES?

There are 6 of us -- all are beef producers -- who formed the LLC (limited liability company) on September 1, 2000 -- 4 of us here in Northeast Missouri and the other 2 are from Western Illinois. Together, we have a combined 150 years of agricultural production experience. One of our principals is a licensed CPA and another is a biochemist.

I'm the chairman and I manage the Grassland Beef, LLC office which coordinates marketing and public relations.

WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA FOR RAISING BEEF THAT IS FINISHED ON GRASS? HOW IS IT ANY DIFFERENT OR BETTER THAN REGULAR BEEF? 

It started in 1994, as an attempt to capture more margin out of agriculture. Our goal was to get a net return of $500 per production acre (the average is $100; sometimes $200; but never $500).

We had all the technical knowledge, but did not know how to get that high of a margin per acre.

DOES THE "FOOT AND MOUTH" DISEASE HELP YOUR BUSINESS OR HURT IT? OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO TELL AT THIS POINT? 

It's actually been very helpful, but we hope that it NEVER comes to the U.S. It's raised consumer awareness tremendously. Consumers want to know where their beef was raised and by whom. We're able to have a relationship with
the end-users, as they know where their beef is coming from. The "Who We Are" section of our web site shows all of us who produce the beef.

HOW MUCH HAVE YOU SOLD SO FAR? 

20% of our late Fall harvest for 2000 has already been sold. We've sold 3,500 pounds so far, which serves 14,000 people in pound hamburger terms.

HOW DO YOU COMPENSATE FOR THE HIGHER PRICE? 

The health benefits make it very worthwhile to customers. And some people comment on its better taste and tenderness. Plus, grass-finished beef is in very limited supply. The beef supply from Argentina has been cut off by the U.S. government due to the Foot and Mouth disease. Our price is considered low on the East & West coasts, but about average for premium-quality beef in the Midwest.

YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU'VE DONE A FEW MEDIA INTERVIEWS. DID THESE MEDIA OUTLETS FIND YOU, OR DID YOU HAVE TO CONTACT THEM? 

Both -- we've contacted some of them, and they've contacted us as well. We've been interviewed by local publications, as well as doing some local radio interviews. An NBC affiliate in Columbia, MO is doing a regional story on us this Saturday.

WHAT KIND OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING HAVE YOU DONE?

Guerilla marketing -- on a shoestring budget; this is called bootstrapping.

AT WHAT STAGE DID YOU FILE FOR COPYRIGHTS?

Our logo is trademarked and in the process of being registered, as well as our slogan ("Our Beef Eat Right So You Can, Too") and company name.

WHAT KIND OF INDUSTRY RESEARCH DID YOU DO? OR DID YOU RELY ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES SINCE YOU KNEW A LOT ABOUT THIS FIELD? 

We did the research from a health perspective. We've just been approved for a feasibility study -- on the marketing of grass-finished beef.

WHAT OBSTACLES DID YOU ENCOUNTER ALONG THE WAY?

Dozens of them. If not for the fact that we've had 6 people working together, we wouldn't have made it this far. And we still have a ways to go before we'll know if we'll succeed or not.

Problems arose with the business plan development, web site design, state sales tax, meat production, portion sizes, boxing specs, shipping issues and federal labeling issues, among others.

HOW DID YOU FINANCE THE WHOLE PROCESS?

By equity contributions from members of the LLC, and a loan by the local bank.

DID YOU EVER FEEL LIKE GIVING UP ALONG THE WAY? 

There was always at least one of us who kept the optimism going.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO GET THIS GRASS-FINISHED BEEF INTO RETAIL OUTLETS? WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE HAVE YOU RECEIVED FROM RESTAURANTS?

We're approaching a specialty meat shop in Kansas City, MO, plus a 150-store nationwide chain, a small grocer in upstate Conneticut, and an upscale lead in Chesterfield, MO.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PRODUCTS THAT YOU'VE CREATED OR ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON?

No, we're focusing just on grass-fed beef right now, but maybe grass-fed lamb and grass-fed cheese later on.

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU WISH YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

Yes, we should have located a local web host closer to home, rather than relying on one that was in Atlanta, 600 miles away. There were customer relation difficulties with the first host. A host with an open-door policy is a key link in the chain.

Also, we did not do enough marketing at first.

WHAT HAVE YOUR CUSTOMERS SAID ABOUT THE PRODUCT?

We've received positive feedback from the beef industry, the health and medical community, and from the Direct Marketing industry.

ANY FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE OR SUGGESTIONS FOR OTHER INVENTORS?

If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. This has required a tremendous amount of planning.

ANY OTHER COMMENTS THAT YOU CARE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? 

Just go to http://www.GrasslandBeef.com and make an informed decision. Grass-finished beef should be the cornerstone of a well-balanced diet.

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John Wood is one of 6 owners of Grassland Beef LLC. Their web address is http://www.GrasslandBeef.com.

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Article # 2: "Implementing A Successful PR Campaign: P.R. Does Not Stand For Press Release!" by Todd Brabender of Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.: www.spreadthenewspr.com

There's no denying that the Internet is allowing more and more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and effectively market their new products. However, there seems to be an increasingly common misconception when these businesses try to generate media attention and publicity for their products. Over the past several years, I have had more than a few clients come to me seeking "a PR" to get people interested in their products/businesses. That's right, "a PR." Contrary to what some people think, PR is NOT an acronym for "Press Release." PR is much more than that and that distinction is very important to understand.

I often cringe when I see articles from well-intentioned "marketing" experts that say, in effect: "simply write a press release, pitch it to the media and just sit back and reap the benefits." Unfortunately, it is far from being that simple. That statement pre-supposes that the media release is written well -- containing all the right elements and newspegs to catch the media eye -- and that it is pitched and maintained in the correct media market, which is often the downfall of many amateur PR campaigns. By all means, a press release is an integral part of a PR campaign. But a press release alone does not a PR campaign make. A successful PR/publicity campaign for your business product, website or whatever should include many, if not all of the following:

* An interesting, quality, newsworthy product that the media (and its audience) will find merit in;

* A concise, articulate media release or story pitch -- not a glorified ad -- detailing the benefits of your product/business/website and what effect it will have for its users;

* A supply of media "supportives" -- product photos (digital & hard copy), possible review samples, etc.;

* An extensively researched media list detailing all applicable media outlets whose editorial profiles match your product/business profile. Here's an important detail -- the targets of your pitch should be "name-specific" not just "title-specific" media contacts. By that I mean the media market research you compile should give you particulars like Sally Jones -- Cooking Editor, not just Tribune Newsroom or Managing Editor;

* A solid, trustworthy media contact vehicle that gets your release/media kit directly into the hands of the appropriate reporter/editor/producer and allows them to respond easily to your pitch. (As always, beware of press release distribution services that often times indiscriminately spew your release to hundreds of untargeted media outlets with little or no results.) Research to find out the preferred method of receipt of your media targets -- don't just assume an email will suffice. Whether it's by snail mail, email, fax or phone calls, the media can't run your story if they don't hear about it. For one reason or another, some media may decide not to include your product/business in a placement -- but don't let them say they weren't made aware of it;

* Meticulous media relations to immediately fulfill media requests (photos/interviews/product samples) and extensive media contact follow-ups over several months to generate as many placements as possible. Many times, media outlets can't immediately respond to an initial pitch due to tight editorial deadlines and the time it takes to wade through a multitude of similar media pitches. I have found, without question, that the media interest continues to increase as you re-introduce the pitch and gently "rattle the media cage" over the course of the next several weeks/months;

* Some sort of media tracking capabilities -- whether it's your own media follow-ups, Internet research, or a professional broadcast/print clipping service. Having "hard copies" of the placements generated by your PR campaign can be invaluable in the further marketing of your business/product. Media placements are a unique validation of the market acceptance for your business/product and can help you convince new customers of that fact.

Think of launching a PR/publicity campaign like flying a kite. The press release (which aptly details your product/business) is the kite. But if your kite doesn't have the proper amount of string, a good tail, a strong wind and the expert manipulation of the kite flier -- it has very little chance of getting off the ground. But if all these elements are in place -- a PR/publicity campaign can send your business soaring like a kite on a breezy Spring afternoon.

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Todd F. Brabender
Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.
Generating publicity & media exposure for innovative
products/businesses/websites.
(785) 842-8909
[email protected]
http://www.spreadthenewspr.com

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Article # 3: "Some of Your Best Ideas Come from Other People," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com 

About 3 weeks ago, I received a call from a manufacturer in Florida who had been referred to MarketLaunchers.com from one of our customers. He gave me an idea that would benefit our site tremendously -- and in a way that I had never thought of before. His idea would benefit manufacturers and other service providers like him, and it consists of starting a new section on our web site for "Service Providers," which will allow companies like his (that cater to inventors) to advertise their services on our site for the first time. More details about this will come later in the month. 

About 3 months ago, I was working on getting the funding for a video project (similar to a documentary). It has nothing to do with MarketLaunchers.com, as it would require interviewing and filming a certain segment of society, found in all 6 inhabited continents. I felt as though I had the gameplan all figured out and that it was just a matter of connecting with the right funding sources as that point. 

But while I was explaining the situation to a potential retailer on the phone, she suggested a new source of funding that I had not even considered. What made that unusual is that she knew very little about this project -- she only knew what I had told her on the phone. 

What do both of these situations have in common? 

In both cases, it was someone else, not me, who came up with these 2 great ideas, for which I am very grateful. I'm too busy running MarketLaunchers.com and creating new ways to grow the business, while at the same time trying to get funding for the video project in order to make it succeed.

What made it possible to get such great ideas from people who knew very little about my situation? 

Both of these people were looking at things FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE than I was. As a result, they were able to see things that I hadn't even considered. 

So if you ever feel that you know all there is to know about building your latest invention a certain way, or if you think you know all there is to know about marketing your inventions, keep an open mind to new ideas from outside people, because you just might receive the perfect solution to something that you've been working on for a long time -- and it might just come from someone who you wouldn't expect would contribute anything new to you. Protect your ideas, but be willing to hear what other people have to say, because you just never know how their ideas might benefit you. 

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Copyright 1999 -- 2001
Market Launchers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

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Click here to read the February 2001 issue.