Let's face it. If you're not Microsoft, a rock star, or a presidential candidate you can't afford to hire a public relations firm. And frankly, even if you could afford one, PR firms are not likely to do the down and dirty work you need.
While a stash of dough is always very nice, with or without it you'll need tons of energy, unfaltering passion for your product, and unrelenting perseverance to overcome any obstacles, to be a winner! Here are some things you can do yourself, without a big marketing budget.
1. Get your product ready.
Ha, you say. Well, du-uhhh...
You'd be amazed at how many newbies start marketing a product before all the glitches have been worked out. Fix them!
And then make sure you have a readily available supply of product before you start marketing. Nothing cools an attentive audience like no product.
2. Get top-notch photos of your market-ready product.
Unless you're a professional photographer, don't do this part yourself. Find a specialized product photographer to take a few shots of your invention, both in its package and in use. Get digital copies, so you can reproduce the shots yourself in print or digitally.
3. Set up a price list for retail, wholesale, and distributor levels.
Know every detail connected with your manufacturing costs. Even though you're not ordering thousands or millions of your product right now, you need to get manufacturing figures for those quantities ahead of time, including the costs associated with streamlining production, such as new manufacturing molds. Figure the cost per unit at different quantities and then add your amortized equipment outlay to each item. Once you know your cost, think your pricing through very carefully from one retail sale to whatever amount of product (100+, 1000+ or 1,000,000+) you can imagine a wholesale customer purchasing, set up a pricing structure.
Pricing is very important to the success of your product and you would be wise to read as much as you can about it before establishing your price list. Search product pricing.
4. Set up a website with easy ordering and tracking software.
Assuming you already have your web address (See 10 Top Tips For Branding Your Invention ), you can hire someone to design a web page for you, but personally, I would go with a free web page template. (See Google Apps, or Google Search.) You may have to pay for shopping cart and tracking software, but those fees are minimal compared to web design fees. Use your product shots, a simple description of your product including features and benefits, perhaps a short paragraph about the development of your invention, and pricing. Include contact email addresses, and a phone number, for more information. Ask friends and customers to make suggestions on how you might improve your site.
5. Print business cards.
Print at least 1,000 business cards... Have them professionally printed on good quality stock. The product's name (or logo) and perhaps a slogan (one or two descriptive words) should be the focus. Then your name, web site, email, and telephone number should be sufficient. Give your card to customers, suppliers, and anyone else that has a connection to your product... You never know where your best leads will come from.
6. Disseminate press announcements to print media.
Start with local newspapers as well as national and international publications in the area of your invention. Send your announcements with photos of your product to specific people --those with first and last names. Call them directly, if possible, to alert them that you are sending information and ask if they would prefer it mailed or e-mailed. Make sure your announcement includes a description of the product, its features and benefits, retail price, and your website address. (I'll show you how to write a good press release in next week's column.)
7. Demonstrate your product to broadcast media.
This is easier than you think, if you do it locally. Do you ever watch your local TV stations before 7:00 a.m., at noon, or on weekend mornings? Those are usually the times when they seek local "color." If it's not a local band, animal shelter, or restaurant the network is touting, it might as well be your product! (Caveat: I hesitate to send media packets and samples blind to TV product reviewers. Sometimes it's obvious that they never laid eyes on the products until air time... and, I painfully acknowledge that at least two of those times, they were my products.)
Local radio shows are fun. DJ's often do drive-time shows at locales such as shopping centers, restaurants, bars, promoting the locales as well as the station. Call the producers of these shows and introduce yourself as a local inventor who is now marketing your product. Volunteer to bring some products as prizes to event attendees and ask, in turn, that the DJ give your product on-air time. Make sure you provide written copy to the host or DJ to use when describing your product.
8. Get out and sell the product yourself.
Sitting in front of your computer waiting for orders to roll in is not where it's at! Find opportunities to showcase and sell your product. Well known products have often rolled out at street fairs, state fairs, and at trunk shows at major department stores. Even smaller shops are beginning to introduce new products through trunk shows. Summers and Christmas season are ideal times to do this.
Face-to-face selling is the best way to connect with your end-users and will provide you with loads of feedback about your product, so keep your eyes and ears open. (Be gratious about criticism; don't get defensive!)
9. Prepare a 3-5 minute video of customers buying your product.
If you're not great with a video camera, ask a friend with basic video and editing skills to help you tape some different events where the product is sold. Focus on customer responses to the product and on them purchasing it. Voice over a short introduction about your product and let the customers say the rest. No more than a 3-5 minute edit is helpful to show purchasing agents and sales personnel. You can even use YouTube or My Space to show the video and link it back to your web site.
After your product starts hopping, consider getting a professional video for your website.
10. Create a salesforce of enthusiastic customers.
Enthusiasm sells product and the more sincere that is, the more product you will sell. So let your customers get carried away and sell your product for you. Give them everything you can to help them succeed, and eventually they'll become your distributors.
Ok, here's one more for the road...
11. Attend Trade Shows
Trade shows are an excellent way of getting wholesale customers as well as distributor leads, but the shows are expensive. So, if you can't afford to attend one at the launch of your baby, don't fret.... If you follow the "upper 10" tips, you will have accomplished a very decent product rollout. Myra Per-Lee
Related ArticlesHow Do Inventors Go To Market? (Part 5) Become An Entrepreneur! How To Come Up With A Great Product IdeaGreat Product Idea: What To Do Next 10 Top Tips For Branding Your InventionMaking Your Pitch To A Company For The First Time
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