Dialing For Dollars

Think Backward

Market your product before it hits the shelves

By Laura Tiffany

Sometimes those guys in marketing come up with a campaign that's meant to sound upscale and gourmet, but comes off as a little bit goofy. Like dry beer. Steve Brown said no way. That's not gonna work. Beer is tasty, refreshing and thirst-quenching. Beer is 95 percent water. Beer is wet.

So Brown, 35, tossed his bottle of dry beer and kicked off his own marketing campaign for Wetbeer Inc., a company that sells shirts, mugs and caps with a splashy blue logo declaring beer to be the wettest thing since, well, beer. He launched the promotional products via his Web site (http://www.wetbeer.com) last summer, and within two months, a few hundred visitors had asked him, "Where's the beer?"

Where was the beer? Brown didn't have any--yet. But with a successful market test under his belt, he found a brewery, garnered distribution deals and now sells Wetbeer in six states. Why the backward beginning? "I knew [the beer] had potential, but I dangled the idea out there to see what the demand would be," says Brown. A former marketing and public relations director, Brown knew no one does better than beer companies at creating a stir with catchy campaigns. Take some clues from Brown and you, too, can brew up demand before (and after) your product hits the shelves:

  • Take your Web traffic into boardrooms. "The Web site was integral in showing [potential distributors] there was a demand for this product."
  • Advertise your URL. Everywhere you see the Wetbeer logo, you see the URL. "It's your best pipeline for information, merchandise and sales to customers."
  • Cross-promote. There's a phone number on the Wetbeer label to call for a free merchandise catalog, and the merchandise spreads the Wetbeer name outside of bars and stores. "The merchandise is a great way to promote the beer, and the beer is a great way to promote the merchandise. They go hand-in-hand."
  • Make yourself accessible. The hotline for Wetbeer's merchandise catalog is (888) 4-WETBEER. Easy to remember, no?
  • Be irreverent. It's hard to resist a T-shirt that says "Wet Yourself."

Kim T. Gordon is a national speaker, the author of Growing Your Home-based Business ($12.95) and president of National Marketing Federation Inc., which provides marketing guidance by telephone to small and homebased businesses nationwide. For information and books, call (800) 2-SOLVE-IT.

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Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.
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