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Archive for September 4th, 2009

10 Reasons to Be Passionate About Your New Business Concept

Friday, September 4th, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

One of the qualities that we look for when evaluating prospective clients for our consumer product marketing consulting firm is PASSION. If an entrepreneur is not passionate about the product or business idea they are attempting to commercialize we cannot help them. Passion is palpable, easily identifiable and crucial to success.

The following are 10 benefits that every inventor or entrepreneur should consider when evaluating the passion they bring to their project. These items justify the passion that is necessary to drive the project through the difficult maze of hurdles that will inevitably be faced on the path to marketing a new product.

1. Product Benefits
My product will provide consumers real BENEFITS that improve their commercial or personal life.

2. Economic Benefits
My new product will create expanded economic opportunity for suppliers, vendors, employees and retailers.

3. Societal Benefits
The wealth and economic benefits created by my success will be spread across society in the form of expanded local, state and federal government revenues and opportunities for others.

4. Psychic Benefits
Seeing your product on store shelves ranks second, after only the birth of a child, in providing psychic satisfaction.

5. Inspirational Benefits
If I can do it, anyone can do it! Others can learn from your hard work, industry and risk taking.

6. Family Benefits
My success will enable me to provide a more comfortable life for my family, and friends.

7. Charitable benefits
With my family’s situation secured, I can support my church, associations and charities in my community.

8. Freedom Benefit
Now a successful entrepreneur, I work for myself and my time, energy and creativity benefits me and my enterprise and not an employer.

9. Creative Benefit
My creativity is confirmed by my success in the highly competitive world of private enterprise.

10. Financial Benefits
I can earn as much money as my drive, intellect and creativity allow.

If this list of 10 Benefits does not inspire Passion then the entrepreneur will surely fail. If the opportunity to improve society, benefit consumers and enrich myself, my family and my community does not motivate then I will be no different than the masses of underemployed, underpaid, unmotivated workers across the world who dread going to work every day.
Passion is inherent in the pursuit of success.

If you would like to discuss your product concept or idea and how to turn your idea into a commercial opportunity, contact Geoff Ficke at 859-567-1609 and/or visit our website at www.duquesamarketing.com.

New Projects Require a Crisply Polished Elevator Pitch

Friday, September 4th, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

Each week we receive a number of unsolicited business proposals in our marketing consulting business. Some are submitted by mail, some by e-mail and a number are the result of phone contacts. We have developed a methodology of quickly weighing the commercial viability of each. This is important as we strive to manage our time, and potential clients can receive proper initial guidance from us as they pursue their goals and dreams.

The key initial indicator we evaluate when weighing a newly presented Business Plan is the Executive Summary. This is typically the very first section of a Business Plan and provides the reader a focused snapshot of the proposition that is being offered. It is crucial that the Executive Summary be pithy, exciting but believable, and drives the reader’s curiosity to delve into the interior of the Business Plan. The Executive Summary’s that we typically review do not usually do this. They all too often do not reflect the actual quality of the product, new service or business concept that is being described. This is opportunity lost.

Many of our initial contacts come via telephone. Remember, we almost never have met the caller reaching out by phone to introduce their proposition. This verbal presentation, in order to create and maintain interest, must also contain an Executive Summary. On the telephone, however, this crucial summary takes the form of an Elevator Speech.

What is an Elevator Speech? Simply put, an Elevator Speech is a condensed, on point verbal description of your concept, your background and your goals for the project. It is historically called an Elevator Speech because it should always be assumed that the delivery will occur in a tight space or time frame. The ability to convey the importance of an ideas potential must be able to be presented coherently, concisely, clearly and with professional elan by the presenter.

Much like written Executive Summaries, the Elevator Speeches we hear are almost always delivered in a halting, bumbling, rambling, incoherent manner. Entrepreneurs have often invested considerable time, energy, and often monies in their concept. It is an interesting reality that so many do not take the time to properly craft and perfect the delivery of their Elevator Speech, the all important verbal Executive Summary for their opportunity.

There are many reasons that prospective inventors and entrepreneurs should have a powerful Elevator Speech. Remember, you only get one chance to make a great first impression! Make it count. The telephone is more personal than mail or e-mail. A well delivered Elevator Speech is a positive eye opener for decision makers. The listener will gain a stronger, more defined mental impression of the presenter and the business proposition on offer.

Here is another reason the Elevator Speech is crucial. There is a huge universe of products and business ideas chasing a finite amount of funding, licensing, partnering, strategic alliance and placement opportunities. When the chance arises to present your idea, you must be ready and able to deliver the details and leave “a great first impression”. You never know where or when this situation to introduce yourself and your concept to a decision maker will occur.

All successful entrepreneurs are always SELLING. On an elevator, at a ballgame, at a trade show, at a shopping mall or networking at a business function, you never know when you might meet someone who can change the trajectory of your life. Practicing and perfecting a brief, exciting Elevator Speech could be the key to unlocking a great commercial opportunity. Do not waste the possibility.

Measurement of Time Is One Of History’s Important Achievements

Friday, September 4th, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

In the modern world we take for granted the availability of innumerable sources providing accurate measurements of time. Telling current time is so readily available that we have lost sight of the profound importance of knowing time, to the hour and minute. For most of human history accurately measuring time was irrelevant. There was no need for watches; clocks, clock radios or digital time reads on car dashboards.

Until the flowering of the industrial age in the second half of the 19th century most people worked in small plot agriculture. All over the world people scratched out a living farming and herding small plots and flocks. Very few people ventured more than several miles from their place of birth in their whole lifetimes. Time was told by the change of seasons and the planting and harvest cycles. Nothing else was needed to provide measurements of time.

The ancients used sundials in numerous forms for crude time measurement. Shade, rain, and cloudy days made the sundial unreliable. The Egyptians invented an advanced Water Clock. The device used a drip system that raised a float tied to a pointer. This system was relatively accurate in measuring hours, but not minutes.

The clock as we know it first appeared in Europe in the 14th century. The clock was made operable by the creation of the “verge escapement”. This gear engaged a set of teeth that powered an hour hand. There was no measurement of seconds or minutes. The hour hand was accurate within one to two hours each day. The inventor of this initial timepiece is unknown.

Something more precise was essential if technology was to advance. In 1657 a Dutch astronomer, Christiaan Huygens was credited with inventing the first accurate time keeping device that included the credible measurement of time by the minute. This advance was crucial in many fields. Navigators required accurate time measurement to compute longitude. All scientific experimentation requires accurate measurement of time.

For the common man, working on a farm, or as a village cobbler, or baker, accurate measurement of time was still of little importance. The railroad, more than any other advancement, was responsible for the rapid introduction and implementation of a universally recognized schedule of times. This schedule required accurate devices to register local time.

Railroads needed to load and offload passengers and freight at pre-appointed times and places along their lengthy route systems. Travelers and shippers needed to accurately know when trains would arrive and depart in order to be ready to board passenger cars and load shipping cars with goods. Before the growth of railroads there was little necessity for the measurement of time in minutes. It was enough for almost any human to simply know that it was 3:00 PM, plus or minus any number of minutes. However, if the train was scheduled to arrive at 3:10 PM in Leeds, England, or Dodge City, Kansas, and depart at 3:35 PM, the public needed to be able to connect within that precise window of time if they were to be able to utilize the trains many services. This required the mass production of clocks and personal timepieces.

Today we are fully wired by time. Our lives are an endless series of activities attuned to specific times. Our Saturday tennis match, doctor appointments, restaurant reservations, conference calls and NFL games are occurrences that we participate in at specific times. We need to know time to the minute and our modern environment has time accurately on display virtually every where we look. We take this simplest of conveniences for granted.

The settling of the International Time Line at Greenwich, England (Greenwich Mean Time) enables to world to be divided into time zones. We know that different parts of the world are in one of 24 separate time zones and all commercial activity finds rhythm from this practical division of geography into these agreed time zones. The rubber plantation foreman in Nigeria knows exactly when the product manager will be available in Akron, Ohio because of this internationally employed system of measuring time. The modern world could not efficiently operate if the ancients had not begun the quest for accurately measuring the hours of each day.

My marketing consulting company, Duquesa Marketing, reviews hundreds of inventions, product concepts and ideas every year from entrepreneurs and inventors. If you would like to discuss how to turn your idea into a product or commercial opportunity contact Geoff Ficke at 859-567-1609.

Essential Lessons for Today From a 13th Century Friar

Friday, September 4th, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

One of the greatest literary and science works of the ancient world, rarely studied today, was the Opus Majus. The amazingly futuristic content of the Opus Majus was virtually a modern tutorial, written in the 13th century, on an array of literary, scientific and philosophical topics. The writer was the eclectic, brilliant Franciscan friar, Roger Bacon.

Bacon was born to a prosperous English family in the 13th century, attended Oxford University at the age of 13 and soon commenced a career as a teacher at Britain’s most famous university. He lectured on Aristotle and a wide range of philosophical and theological topics. He became a Franciscan friar late in life and a confidant of Pope Clement IV.

His study and observations on astrology, science, alchemy and medicine were advanced for the age, controversial and dangerous. It is widely believed that he was imprisoned for his presumed heresies while in Paris. His discovery of the “visible spectrum”, obtained while viewing a sitting glass of water preceded the discovery and observations of the same by Sir Isaac Newton by some four centuries.

During a long and varied life of study, observation and experimentation Roger Bacon was both adored and pilloried. His work was often under attack from Catholic Church theologians and competitive thinkers vying to supercede his growing reputation for modern, innovative thought. Nevertheless, his writings, lectures and theorems were widely studied and many became the under pilings for more advanced scientific and practical science that would evolve in the future in a more modern world.

If Roger Bacon has produced nothing else, the Opus Majus would have secured his legacy for all time as an innovative, exciting thinker. The work is still considered a primer for inquiring minds seeking guidance in the vast galaxy of experimental science.

For many years we have been reading and hearing that the United States is not producing enough scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technicians. We live in a technological age. These work skills are needed by any economy hoping to stay cutting edge, grow rapidly and provide better living circumstances for all. Certainly the United States requires copious quantities of such skilled workers to maintain our economical edge.

And yet, our educational system is not producing technologically advanced graduates at a rate anywhere near our industrial requirements. Managers at tech giants MicroSoft, Dell, Hewlitt-Packard and Oracle complain loudly, and publicly, that they are hamstrung by the serious decline in the ability of our educational system to train and produce enough engineers to satisfy the demands of a technologically based economy. They must seek candidates for high paying tech centered jobs from India, China and Korea; all countries where mathematics and science courses are pre-eminent in their educational curriculum.

Roger Bacon was predictive of the consequences of a lack of concentration on mathematics and sciences. The following is one of the most famous quotations from Opus Majus:
“Mathematics is the gate and key of the sciences. Neglect of
mathematics works injury to all knowledge, and he who is
ignorant of it cannot know the other sciences or things of this world”.

Roger Bacon was a 13th century visionary whose observations are most prescient today. The United States has lost a generation of potential talent in the scientific fields by watering down the curriculum and minimizing the importance of chemistry, calculus, algebra, physics and trigonometry. Our security, both militarily and economically is being imperiled by the lack of importance placed on these essential building blocks of scientific knowledge.

Knowledge of mathematics disciplines is color-blind. Understanding the Pythagorean Theorem is not politically correct or incorrect. It is the same proof in Zimbabwe as in Sacramento, Athens or Beijing. Roger Bacon offers a wonderful reference to one of history’s truisms: He who does not learn the mistakes of history is doomed to repeat those mistakes. Will we learn?

How To Invent A Billion Dollar Product and Personally Gain Very Little

Friday, September 4th, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

In 1930, a young engineer was sent by his supervisor to spend time working on the floor of a Minneapolis auto body shop. The reason for the working visit was to review the performance of his employer’s principal product, industrial grade sandpaper, in actual use as a car door was being sanded. The young mans name was Richard Drew.

While in the repair shop, young Mr. Drew was exposed to a rougher work environment than he was used to. The floor of the shop was loud, dirty, and, well, quite profane. A good deal of the profanity was related to the difficulty the repairmen experienced while attempting to perfectly match paint panels and striping to auto bodies. They quite simply had no rudimentary tool, other than a steady hand and line of sight to make perfectly smooth straight lines that did not overlap.

Richard Drew was curious and began to consider options to simplify the process of crisply painting multiple color paint to auto bodies. His invention was ingenious, elegantly simple, and is a standard in every “do-it-yourselfer’s” toolbox to this day. He created “masking tape”. There is almost no paint job done in a home or business that does not employ masking tape to protect and finish edges.

Arthur Fry was also seeking a simple answer to a personally vexing problem. Mr. Fry was continually losing his place in his church hymnal when he attended Sunday services at his church. He hated bending, or “dog earing” pages. He did not want to mark or damage the hymnal in any way. Book-mark’s would simply fall out of the hymnal.

He was also, a Minneapolis area resident, and decided to seek a solution in his place of employment. Mr. Fry went to a colleague, Spencer Silver, who was working on a type of new glue with minimal adhesion properties. He borrowed a bit of Spencer’s prototype glue and applied a bit to the edge of a small square of paper. When applied to paper, the glued square attached snuggly, but was easily removed without damaging the host paper.

In the 1970’s, Fry and Spencer’s employer, trademarked their invention and began attempting to market the product. At first there was little consumer interest. Then in 1979, almost ready to give up, the Company decided to widely sample the product in office supply stores. The response was overwhelming. The Post It Note was born.

Masking tape and Post It Note were commercialized internationally by the giant (today) 3M Company of Minneapolis. Employees Richard Drew, Arthur Fry and Spencer Silver had invented much needed and valued consumer products that have generated billions of sales and profits for 3M. However, all three were all simply employees of 3M.

In most Company’s, certainly mature ones, employees sign releases that assign all rights to their work product to the employing Company. Drew, Fry and Silver had signed such releases and were rewarded accordingly by 3M. However, they were rewarded as employees, not entrepreneurial inventors. A bonus and a raise will always be appreciated, but there was no profit participation available for their great advances.

These men were working and creating on the Company’s time, using Company resources and had released all rights to their work to 3M. They had good jobs, working for a great Company – but – had no further claim on the profits generated by their creativity.

Imagine the wealth and fame that these inventors might have enjoyed if they had commercialized these products themselves. Not every one has an entrepreneurial constitution. In fact, most people should not leave gainful employment to pursuit the chimera of launching a product or business. However, the opportunity to create the next masking tape, or Post It Note is seized everyday, here in America, by someone.

As an entrepreneur you totally expose yourself to the vagaries of the market. As an employee you enjoy a corporate cocoon with protective layers of resources and assets readily at hand. But think about it. If you could invent the next new product advance, with hope of commercial success, would you be pleased with a bonus and a raise – or – seek the opportunity to fully harvest and control your product and your destiny? I know what I would do.

Willis Carrier Enabled Arizona To Develop, Expand and Prosper

Friday, September 4th, 2009

by: Geoff Ficke

In 1902, Willis H. Carrier, a recent Cornell University graduate began work in a New York print shop for the princely salary of $10.00 per week. Bright, eager, ambitious and curious, Mr. Carrier fully immersed himself in all aspects of the burgeoning American printing industry. His interest in printing, and solving problems endemic to the industry, inadvertently have resulted in the population boom in states like Florida and Arizona.

Mr. Carrier’s boss, the owner of the printing shop, was constantly lamenting the difficulty he experienced with stabilizing ink, paper formatting and application of typeface to paper based on temperature and humidity swings. The printing factory of the day was innately a warm, muggy environment as the machines were large, dirty and generated immense amounts of heat. Humid summer days further extrapolated the difficulties of the printing process. The result was inconsistent print quality and many jobs had to be redone at loss of profit.

Mr. Carrier was vexed by these problems and began to reflect on potential solutions. One evening, while waiting in the fog for the train to commute home, he had, as he described, “a mental vision” of how to solve the problem of heavy, moist, humid air which hampered the printing process and made life miserable for people during humid, torpid summer days.

Mr. Carrier’s solution was based on a simple realization and study of weather patterns: cool, wind, water, fog and seasonal adjustments that Mother Nature seemed to make on cue. His theorem, which was presented to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1906 in his patent filing, narrative and art, contained the first description of a workable prototype for a spatial air conditioner.

The original “centrifugal chiller” was not called air conditioning for several years. Mr. Carrier worked for several more years to commercialize his invention, and in 1915, with several investors having contributed $35,000, he started the Carrier Corporation. 2007 sales were in excess of $5 billion.

Willis H. Carrier created the air conditioning system with intended applications for wide industrial placement and usage. Medical products, food preparation, cosmetics, transport of spoilable products and finely calibrated machinery were a few of the markets and industries that Carrier initially targeted. The idea of using the new air conditioning system for personal comfort did not take hold until 1924. In that year, the original J.L. Hudson Department Store in Detroit installed the system and shoppers flocked to the store.

In the early 20th century Henry Flagler was building the first railroad system through Florida. At the time Florida was a relative backwater, sparsely populated, remote, with little industry other than citrus groves. The heat and humidity in most of the state was oppressive for most of east year. Mosquito’s and insects were oppressive. Windows had to be kept open to circulate the vapid, humid air.

Mr. Flager dreamt that some day Florida, Palm Beach, the Keys and Naples, would become world class resort destinations. He just needed to be able to safely; and comfortably transport visitors to the resorts he was building, and have them enjoy the wonders of Florida sunshine while the rest of the country was suffering from the winter blues. What to do about the bugs and humidity?

Arizona, much of Texas, New Mexico and Nevada were climatically challenged in different ways than Florida. Oppressive heat, no or little humidity and vast arid plains and desert made these states very difficult places to comfortably live for all but the heartiest few. Industry, technology, population growth and tourism were not likely to occur in such uninviting environments.

Henry Flager saw his opportunity to pioneer the rapid development of Florida immensely enhanced by the invention of the “centrifugal chiller”.
Finally, his vacationers could spend their days in his tourist palaces in splendor and total comfort. The air conditioner enabled people to visit and enjoy Florida, and, upon returning home, spread the word about the beaches and opportunities to live in such a place. The stampede to relocate to such a suddenly inviting locale would have been unthinkable without the invention, commercialization and mass availability of air conditioning.

Arizona and much of the southwest would still be Indian reservations, cactus and scrub ranches without Mr. Carrier’s invention. The mass migration of population to these states in the second half of the 20th century would have never been possible. Can you imaging Las Vegas without air conditioning.

Willis H. Carrier invented his air conditioning system to enable industry and manufacturers to function more efficiently. As so often happens, however, the device was adapted in ways that benefited the population in many alternative uses. Cars, planes, and trains were air-conditioned and the result was that long distance travel could be comfortably enjoyed for the first time in history. Arid and tropical environments around the world became hospitable.

Industries that we take for granted today could never have evolved without the ability to control excessive heat and climate. A silicon computer chip manufacturing facility creates huge amounts of heat that must be controlled. There could be no modern computer industry without air conditioning. The bio-technology, nano-technology, pharmaceutical and laser industries would not exist with Willis Carrier’s invention.

My marketing, consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, reviews hundreds of new product and invention submissions each year. Most of course, do not possess the wonderful utility of a product such as air conditioning. Nevertheless there are wonderful lessons for product developers to learn from stories such as Willis Carrier’s. The road first taken is usually not the route we wind up taking to success. Many products meander to successful mass-market commercialization.

The next time you walk inside on a hot summer day, remember that the blast of comforting cool air you feel was originally meant to enable printers to more productively place ink on paper. Keep your mind open and eyes focused for alternative, hidden opportunities to commercialize and maximum your ideas, concepts and inventions. They are all around you.