Don't Stay in the Dark!

Magic Formula

Lots of ingredients went into making Tekno Bubbles such a big hit, but the Swetlands were successful mostly because they followed a three-step formula that has always worked for inventors:

1. Know your customers. Black lights became popular at dance clubs and raves and then caught the interest of high school and college students. The Swetlands have always tried to stay true to that market. "We realize that we have an underground product," says Byron, "and we have only sold through the Internet and to specialty shops like Spencer Gifts. We feel our product would lose its appeal to our target customer if it was in mainstream retailers."

2. Sell in a hot new product category. This minimized the necessary sales footwork for the Swetlands, as retailers were the ones calling on them. This isn't uncommon when a new product category gets hot. Retailers are always aggressively looking for innovative products they can sell. Once a market matures, retailers have plenty of products to pick from-and inventors with run-of-the-mill products often have a much tougher time getting them onto retail store shelves.

3. Be easy to find. The Swetlands didn't advertise, and their Web site was really their only promotion. But people came to their site anyway. That won't happen, though, unless you can determine the most popular search terms people will use to find your site. The Swetlands' Web site had about 10 meta tags, those text clues seen by search engines but not visible to visitors. "The most common search terms people use to find our Internet site are 'black light' or 'UV bubbles,'" says Byron.

You don't want to just show up on search engine results; you want your site to appear near the top of the list. For example, in the case of Tekno Bubbles, typing in "black lights" brings Tekno Bubbles up right away because there aren't too many sites categorized under that search term. For more information on getting your site listed (and listed often) on search engines, refer to the book Increase Your Web Traffic in a Weekend (Prima Tech) by William R. Stanek.

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This article was originally published in the September 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Don't Stay in the Dark!.

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