From the February 1996 issue of Entrepreneur

You know your product is the coolest thing since sliced bread, but how do you convince consumers? In your efforts to get exposure, don't overlook the power of infomercials and TV shopping programs.

You may assume it's impossible to get your product on one of these high-profile shows. But now there's a new way to dramatically increase your chances. Last November, Response TV, a trade magazine in Santa Ana, California, debuted TV Products Showcase, a publication that features advertorials on new products and is read by about 10,000 infomercial and home shopping industry buyers, merchandisers and marketers.

Appearing in TV Products Showcase "will put entrepreneurs' products in front of the major marketing decision makers who get products on TV," says the magazine's publisher, Jack Schember. "This may be their launch pad."

Schember says some of the publication's readers peruse it looking for products to finance. TV Products Showcase advertorials-which include a 125-word writeup, a photo and contact information-cost $300.

Going My Way?

Joseph Crilley didn't mean to kick off a blockbuster marketing campaign in 1990. It was an accident. The owner of Crilley's Circle Tavern, a Bringantine, New Jersey, bar, Crilley was concerned about customers drinking and driving, so he renovated a beat-up junkyard bus and began offering a free shuttle service to his customers. Since then, the bus has done a lot more than protect his clients from collisions-it's boosted his business, as well.

What began as an attempt to be socially responsible turned out to have great advertising benefits for the bar. "It's a good-sized bus, and people see it parked outside the tavern all the time," says Crilley. Of course, the bus also gets its share of exposure cruising the streets of Brigantine.

The bus will even pick up customers at the beginning of the evening and take them to the bar, then drop them off at home, at the movies or wherever they want to go next. During the day, Crilley has also been known to shuttle local school kids to and from sporting events and senior citizens around town, all of which help beef up the business's word-of-mouth advertising.

Is there a lesson in all this for other entrepreneurs, no matter what the business? Take Crilley's advice: "Provide for your customers one way or another. You've got to see what their needs are and accommodate them."

What A Card

Sure, an ordinary business card might do the trick, but one that's bursting with radiant color and eye-catching images is bound to get people's attention. To help entrepreneurs make a lasting impression on potential clients, companies like Future Imaging Systems in Richmond, California, produce surreal-looking, full-color business cards with dazzling artwork and classy photography.

These aren't your average business cards sporting a splash of color here and there. To the contrary, the trend could easily be called virtual reality meets business cards. Printed on glossy stock-similar to a photograph-the calling cards making waves these days resemble 3-D images, except that they carry your company's vital statistics on them.

Why all the emphasis on a tiny piece of paper? Future Imaging Systems' Kook Kim says your business card may be your best opportunity to constantly remind prospects of your company. "Big businesses have name recognition," says Kim, "but small businesses can use these really amazing cards to show that they, too, have style."

Contact Sources

Crilley's Circle Tavern, 3313 Brigantine Blvd., Brigantine, NJ 08203, (609) 266-8655;

Future Imaging Systems, 3214 B San Mateo St., Richmond, CA 94804, (510) 525-6022;

Response TV, 201 E. Sandpointe Ave., #600, Santa Ana, CA 92707-5761, (714) 513-8400.