(c) 2003 Market Launchers, Inc.


Editor: Paul Niemann



After taking several months off from writing THE ONLINE INVENTOR, we're back with another information-packed issue with 3 great articles for you. 

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann
President of MarketLaunchers.com



"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." 
-- Chinese Proverb

"Eureka! Eureka!" 
-- Archimedes, upon solving the dilemma of water displacement. ("Eureka" means "I have found it.")

"This is a beautiful instrument. I wish I had invented it myself." 
-- Vladimir Zworykin, when he saw Philo Pharnsworth's work on the invention of television


Article # 1:    "The Benefits of Catalog Sales For Your Business," by Jim Tilberry of Tilberry Direct Marketing

Article # 2:    "The Increasing Power of Publicity -- and How It Can Benefit Your Business," by Todd Brabender of Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.

Article # 3:    "2 Simple Questions," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com (reprinted from my most recent article in Inventors' Digest; reprinted with permission)


Article # 1: "The Benefits of Catalog Sales For Your Business," by Jim  
Tilberry of Tilberry Direct Marketing

Things to watch out for when selling your product in catalogs:

Giving away the farm:
Many catalogs will ask for a multitude of discounts and concessions before
they even place one order. You give them a set price for your product. But
they insist on a lower price. They expect you to pay freight. They want an
"advertising allowance." They ask for a volume discount, a catalog
allowance, and a photography fee. The requests for concessions go on and on.
But beware of this game. If a catalog truly likes your product, they will
usually pick it up without requiring a ton of concessions.

Being stung by mistakes:
Review a catalog's rules and shipping requirements closely. Mislabeling your
master cartons, shipping late, or failure to follow any of their vendor
requirements could cost you. Penalties are typically enforced through
deductions off invoices. A few deductions here, a few there, and you can
kiss your profit goodbye.

Falling behind with orders:
The only thing worse than having a product no one wants to buy, is having
one that so many people want you can't keep up with the deluge of orders. If
you've never had insomnia, this scenario is guaranteed to cause it. When
thinking about your production needs, think as optimistically as possible.
Make sure you're capable of handling production if the catalogs are
successful with your item. And always have backup suppliers lined up -- just
in case.

Products that boomerang:
Returns from catalogs are an inevitable part of the equation when figuring
out your profit. If you have a good, well-built product that delivers on its
promises, you have little to worry about. However, high returns are often
the first warning sign that there are problems with your product. It breaks
easily when shipped, customers think it's overpriced, or assembly
instructions are confusing. Any number of issues can be red-flagged by high

Placing your eggs in one basket:
Many catalogs ask for an "exclusive." This agreement guarantees that the
catalog will be the only one carrying your product for the length of the
exclusive. Generally this is not a good deal for your company. Naturally an
exclusive with one company locks you out of the rest of the market. If you
do grant an exclusive, keep it as short as possible. Six months is plenty of
time for an exclusive.

Doing business with deadbeats:
Let's face it, the main reason you do business with a catalog is so they
will pay you for your product. How frustrating it is then when they don't
live up to their end of the deal. And it happens. Like all businesses that
are strapped for cash, when a catalog is experiencing lean times, they will
delay payment to their vendors. So keep a close eye on when an invoice is
due, and don't let them slide too far past. Any invoice more than a month
past due could indicate trouble. Your best recourse is to hold up shipments
to that catalog until you get paid. You can even ask for payment up front on
new orders.

# # # #

Jim Tilberry is President of Tilberry Direct Marketing. His business
specializes in helping inventors and small companies sell their consumer
products through mail order catalogs.
www.catalogrep.com / [email protected] / 800-413-0679


Article # 2:    "The Increasing Power of Publicity -- and How It Can Benefit 
Your Business," by Todd Brabender of Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.

The call came into my office and the voice on the other end was very
energetic, almost giddy:

"I have finalized my marketing budget and need your help launching an
advertising campaign for my new product," he breathed. "Congratulations," I
replied, "but before we implement an ad campaign, I want to make sure you
have explored potential PUBLICITY opportunities that could generate some
cost-efficient media exposure first." Then, silence. "I never thought about
that," he sighed. "Frankly, I don't know much about it."

He is not alone. It's a common conversation. Although many entrepreneurs or
business people know a bit about publicity or media exposure, the majority
of them simply don't understand the full benefits of "publicity placements"
or how to go about generating them successfully. Publicity placements have
always been a cost-efficient way to market a product/business and generate
clients or customers, but because of lack of knowledge or a misunderstanding
of what publicity is and does, many entrepreneurs don't take full advantage
of publicity opportunities -- and that can lead to missed marketing chances.

I recently surveyed a few dozen business owners and entrepreneurs in some
newsgroups and business chat rooms about their knowledge of "publicity
placements" in the media. I found out that only 37% knew that a simple
"product profile" in a magazine was generated as a result of publicity
efforts. Most thought the company had paid the media outlet to run the
feature, much like an ad. And of that 37%, less than half of them knew HOW
to generate a similar placement.

Another interesting fact, because of the recent slowdown in the economy,
expensive advertising budgets have been slashed. As a result, many
businesses, like your competitors, are turning to publicity/PR campaigns as
a more affordable means of marketing to compete with other companies. Here
are some ways to use publicity placements to help your business:

Editorial Placements / Media Notification:
What some entrepreneurs might not realize is that we see editorial
placements from publicity efforts everyday in the media: product profiles,
feature articles and contributed by-lined articles in magazines, newspapers,
trade industry newsletters or on TV/radio/cable newscasts & shows. This is
not advertising, this is "EDITORIAL Placement" or "Media Notification" of a
product, business or industry expert. Notify the appropriate media that your
newsworthy product is on the market or your business is offering a unique
new service and let them run a feature placement that will spread that
message to your consumer market. These placements can detail your product or
business very effectively, giving consumers some objective, pertinent
information that may well entice them to become future customers.

These editorial placements are looked upon much more credibly than ad
placements. That is not a slam on advertising. Paying for advertising
placements is indeed an effective way to market your product. But the fact
is, a positive editorial placement such as a product profile in a magazine
or a newspaper can be much more persuasive than a glossy, over-hyped
advertisement - and a fraction of the cost. My point is that editorial
placements are an often time overlooked marketing vehicle for a business,
and that entrepreneurs should understand the full benefits of these
placements to make the most of their marketing efforts.

Editorial placements are a wonderfully reciprocal way for you and the media
to work together for the betterment of your business. The media needs to
fill its pages and airtime with interesting information -- and you need to
get the word out to your market. Research the media market to find those
media outlets and editorial contacts with which you can forge that mutually
beneficial relationship. But you have to do your part and do it right - or
the media will forge that relationship with your competitor. Make sure your
media message is solid, contains newsworthy angles and isn't disguised as
overly commercialized ad copy. Have high-quality photos and media samples
available and do all you can to make the media's job of featuring your
product as simple as possible. It also helps to have some sort of clipping
service in place to track your placements and get you copies so you can use
them in your secondary marketing programs.

Expert Branding:
This type of publicity placement generating takes advantage of the expert
knowledge within a particular business. It is an effective tool for
entrepreneurs whose businesses are more service related, like consultants or
specialists. Expert branding basically treats the expert like a product.
Alert the media as to your expertise on a specific topic and avail yourself
to serve as an expert interview resource for future articles or news feature
segments. Additionally, the expert should write a few brief articles on a
specialized topic and make them available to editors for review and possible
publication. The challenge of this type of publicity placement is the
tedious task of finding out which outlets accept "expert editorial
contributions" or contributed by-lined articles in their publications.
Again, it comes down to meticulously researching your media market to find
those media outlets that may be in need of the editorial content that you
can provide them.

With some creativity, expert branding can be effective for product-based
businesses as well. One client of mine runs a fresh wild salmon distribution
business in the Pacific Northwest and was looking to increase consumer
awareness of his products. Based on his more than 20 years of experience in
the wild salmon harvesting business, we are expert branding him as a viable
interview resource to health/food editors for features detailing the
differences and benefits of wild salmon over farm-raised fish, as well as
other related topics. In this case, my client (the expert) is identified and
quoted in features and the name of the business and even a link to a website
are often included for consumers to check out. This is great credibility
building exposure at little or no cost.

Overall, when using the media to help market your product or business, take
advantage of as many FREE media opportunities as you can. If you lack the
expertise or time, a PR agency or publicist can generate the editorial
placements for you. But the fee you pay them is a FRACTION of what it would
cost you to buy similar sized ad placements. And those publicity placements
typically lead to a much better consumer response right out of the gate -
which is just what you need to boost your business to the next level.

# # # #

Todd Brabender is the President of Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.
His business specializes in generating media exposure and publicity for
innovative products, businesses, experts and inventions.
mailto:[email protected]
(785) 842-8909


Article # 3:    "2 Simple Questions," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com (reprinted from my most recent article in Inventors' Digest; reprinted with permission)

Having worked with inventors for more than five years now, there are several questions that I'm often asked: 

1.    I'm looking for a company to take over my invention for me. Do you know of anybody who will do that?

There are very few companies that do this. There are even fewer companies that do this well. Since people tend to think of their invention as their "baby," asking someone to take over your invention is like asking someone to raise your kid for you. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is that we shouldn't rely on someone else to get our invention onto the market for us. 

There are several reasons why this is true: 

*    First, no one cares about your invention more than you do. 

*    Second, no one knows more about your invention than you do. 

*    Third, since you came up with the idea for your invention, you'll probably come up with another one somewhere down the road. If you turn the commercialization process over to someone else, then you'll have to rely on someone else for all of your future inventions. 

If you find a licensee, then they'll likely take over the marketing and manufacturing of your invention for you, but it's up to you to find that licensee in the first place. 

The great inventors -- the ones who make a living from inventing full-time - have learned how to commercialize their own inventions, whether that be through licensing or manufacturing and marketing the inventions themselves. The key word here is "learned" because this is something that can be learned. It's not an exact science, but there are certain principles that apply to the commercialization process. 

2. Do you know of any companies in XZY industry?

Regardless of the industry you're in, there are several things that each industry has: 

*    One or more trade publications: Trade publications contain information on companies in their industry. By reading the articles and browsing the ads, you can learn about the companies in your industry. 

*    One or more trade shows: Trade shows offer you several methods to help you commercialize your inventions. First, you can rent a booth at the trade show and display your invention to potential licensees as they pass by. A booth rental usually costs between $300 - 500, plus there's the disadvantage of having to be at your booth the whole time. For a listing of trade shows by industry, visit www.tsnn.com or you can do a search on a search engine by typing in "trade show + your industry." For example, if your invention is in the housewares category, then type in "trade show + housewares."

Another option is to attend without renting a booth. This allows you to walk around the trade show area to meet with representatives from as many companies as possible. Plus, it's less expensive than renting a booth. I did this recently while pitching my syndicated newspaper column to various newspaper editors and was able to meet 20 - 30 prospects at each trade show that I attended, while watching my competitors shell out hundreds of dollars for booths. Yet I achieved better results than they did. 

For a list of tips on how to get the most out of your trade show experience, e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll send you a copy.

*    A trade association: Join your industry's trade association. Most are not very expensive, especially if you join as an affiliate member. Not joining is even more expensive. A trade association has a directory of all of its members, and some trade associations will give you a copy if you're a member and you ask for one. To find a trade association in your industry, do a search on a search engine by typing in "trade association + your industry." For example, if your invention is in the housewares category, then type in "trade association + housewares."

If you're not online yet, then you can find a complete listing of trade associations in a book called "The Encyclopedia of Associations," which can be found in the reference section of most major libraries. 

One final note: Another way to research your industry is to talk to store managers where your product might be sold. If you have the proper patent protection, you can disclose your invention; without proper patent protection, you can only present the general idea but, either way, you can ask store managers for feedback on your invention / idea. Ask him if he's ever seen anything like it before in his store, if he thinks his customers would be likely to buy it if it was available at a fair price, what kind of package and promotion it needs, what price to charge, who the main companies in this industry are, etc. 

# # # #

Paul Niemann is president of MarketLaunchers.com, a company that specializes in building web pages for inventors, where they can be seen on his web site's Invention Database by companies who are looking for new products. To get your own web page, visit http://www.MarketLaunchers.com or call Paul Niemann at (800) 337-5758. Niemann also writes a weekly newspaper column about inventions, which you can see at http://www.InventionMysteries.com


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Until next month, Successful Inventing To You! 

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann -- http://www.marketlaunchers.com/customer-testimonials.html  
(800) 337-5758 (within the U.S. and Canada)
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

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