Advertising And Publicity

Lee says that MBS has focused its past publicity efforts on magazines for bikers, surfers, skateboarders and snowboarders. Most inventors have difficulty getting advertising to pay off because they have to advertise to a broad market to reach a group of prospects. For example, an inventor of a product for keeping gutters clear will advertise in home and garden magazines, where only 5 to 10 percent of the readers may be interested. That's not a problem with MBS. At least 50 percent of the readers of these magazines will be interested in a new extreme sport.

Lee and McConnell had a clearly defined target group, which allowed them to target retailers and other businesses that catered to the same group. That group also shared several other important characteristics that improved MBS' chances of success. First of all, they were easy to identify-through the products they bought, the events they attended and the magazines they read. But perhaps more important was this group's overwhelming desire to participate in extreme sports-every retailer in the market was ready to feed that need as the group had proved its purchasing power through the sales of snowboards, surfboards and skateboards. Retailers wanted MBS' products because they knew the sales potential if the market adopted them. Put these factors together, and you have ideal conditions for an inventor's success-conditions that Lee and McConnell took advantage of.

Steal The Shows

Lee and McConnell found specialty retailers willing to give their product a try-not all inventors are so lucky. One way to build retailer support is to attend consumer shows such as ski demonstrations, sportsmen shows, home and garden shows, bridal shows or any event that includes your target audience. Approach your potential retail customers before the show, and tell them you'll pass out fliers and other information about their stores at the show as long as they stock your product. Retailers are usually willing to do this if they feel the inventor will create a demand for it. Inventors may lose a percentage of their profits if the sale goes through a retailer, but they'll be better off in the long run establishing that their product is a winner on retailers' shelves. Trade show directories at your local library will often list consumer shows, or you can go to any of these Web sites: www.tsnn.com, www.scheduleearth.com and www.entrepreneur.com.

Don Debelak is a new-business marketing consultant who has been introducing new products for more than 20 years. He is the author of Bringing Your Product to Market (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95, 800-225-5945).

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This article was originally published in the July 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bull's-Eye!.

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