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Monday, June 25, 2007

Invention PR: Flying Solo Only Works But For So Long

I recently watched an episode of one my favorite business programs, "The Big Idea with Donny Deustch" on CNBC ( which featured inventors and their inventions. Some of the inventions were quite innovative such as "Klik Flops" interchangable thong flip flops; hearing safe earphones called " ihearsafe" and a purse-sized wrap called "Chilly Jilly." All of the inventions were terrific and they have done pretty well until now. But there was one recommendation Mr. Deutsch had for all of the inventors - "Get PR... Do some advertising."

The internet has allowed smart people to do great things with their inventions. It has empowered entrepreneurs to make their dreams come true. But these inventors do a great job that gets them but so far. So they come to fork a in the road.

Quite frankly, the Klik Flops could be a smash hit with the right marketing machine behind them. I mean they could be the next Crocs. But the inventor behind them has no idea how to get to the next step and perhaps had not considered hiring a public relations adviser. I am sure that many of the budding inventors received a few phone calls after their appearance on "The Big Idea." Let's hope they took folks up on any offers that were made.

But if you are an inventor with a viable product on the market, you should be spending SOME money on public relations, marketing and/or advertising. I am not suggesting you spend $100,000; however, I do believe that entrepreneurs should invest some of their profits to making their business more profitable. It sounds so simple, but many entrepreneurs are not doing this.

Three Public Relations Tips for Inventors:

Write Articles - Show you are an expert write articles and submit them to appropriate websites or trade publications

Pitch Editorial Calendars - Look up editorial calendars and find out when they are covering something that makes sense for your product or service.

Buy Cheap Ad Space - You know those coupon packs that come in the mail? You would be surprised how well those could work for the right product. What about supermarket shopping carts? Yes, people see those ads and patronize. Buy search engine ad space based on keywords.

Don't know where to begin? Retain the help of a public relations or marketing professional that caters to entrepreneurs and inventors.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Industry Standard vs. Customer Service

Wouldn’t it be great if we all could operate a business that provided clients with goods or services that are unsatisfactory under the premise that it is “industry standard” to do so. Well I if you want such a business, enter the world of selling promotional items.

I have found some of the biggest players in the marketing promotional item industry use the term “industry standard” when clients are dissatisfied with their order. Recently, I ordered promotional items from a known customized promotional company with the initials “B&B”. I received a deep red pen as a sample to consider. I liked this pen so I ordered it imprinted with a logo. To prevent receiving a wrong item, I paid to receive a preproduction sample. This is an exact sample of what I ordered with the actual logo imprinted. I received the pre-pro sample and it was what I wanted – a red pen with a silver imprinted logo.

Two weeks later I received the full order of 400 pens. I opened the box and immediately noticed that the pens were not the color I approved. The pen was not red – it was a purple/pink in tone. I also noticed the imprint was not as silver as the pre-pro sample. I called the B&B rep. to complain. She asked me to send the pre-pro sample and a sample of the purple pen. She received both two days later and suggested I had issues seeing colors. I was horrified.

After examining the pen herself, she said that the color was only a little off and that is “industry standard” with regard to the color match. The fact is I ordered a red pen – which the manufacturer stated that they only make red, black and blue pens – but somehow produced a purple pen. Even the pre-production sample was red.

If a company provides you an exact sample of what you have ordered – shouldn’t the final order look like the sample? Of course it should. But manufacturers get away with bad customer service by using “industry standard” as an excuse for their bad workmanship.

I sent the case of 400 purple pens back to B&B to deal with. Don’t accept industry standard if it is not what you ordered.

Shakira M. Brown