Here are some of the more popular tactics for getting prospects to notice you:
1. An unexpected name. Names like Brainwash and HorseShampoo add a little fun to people's lives. Other products or businesses that have used this technique are the Weed Weasel and Hard Rock Cafe.
2. An unusual product configuration. Albert's Bug Button was a completely different way to present bug repellent. The success of Palm Pilot is partly due to people's surprise at its small size.
3. A unique design. Mini-disc players and the iMac colored computers both had surprising designs that caught people's attention. One reason behind the success of the Sony Walkman was that its small headphone design quickly captured the affection of its target teen market.
4. A task made easy. Downloading new music off the Internet with MP3 players is a snap, as compared to taping from radio to a cassette tape. Food processors, snow blowers and closet organizers were also products that made mundane tasks simple.
5. Catchy ad campaigns. Clean Shower was introduced by radio talk show hosts discussing how they kept their bathrooms clean. What made this campaign stand out? The deejays didn't work off a prepared script but instead said whatever they wanted to about the product.
6. Bold, different, dangerous and fun. Snowboards, in-line skates, windsurfing boards and skateboards all proved that big changes in equipment are easier to sell than small improvements to existing products.
7. Status. SUVs, Starbucks coffee, Tommy Hilfiger clothes, cell phones, pagers and Oakley sunglasses all succeeded because people initially identified them as status symbols.
8. An unmet need. Minivans succeeded due to the need for family vehicles. Big Bertha golf clubs sold well because they helped older golfers keep their distance on drives. Single-portion gourmet dinners addressed the market reality that families often don't eat meals together. Gardener's Secret hand lotion has great potential because gardening is very tough on hands, and no one else has a lotion that is specially formulated to compensate for the effects gardening has on hands.
Rob Albert of Evergreen Research and Marketing LLC has found that many inexperienced entrepreneurs depend too much on advertising and not enough on free PR and proper product packaging. His Web site, www.pressguru.com, shows entrepreneurs and inventors some tactics for success. It covers two topics inventors should find interesting: how to make a product interesting to the media by writing great press releases, and how to get your product noticed by choosing the right color, shape and size of its package.