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Archive for September, 2011

Want to Kill a New Business Opportunity? Avoid These 5 Often Repeated Mistakes

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

by: Geoff Ficke

Want to Kill a New Business Opportunity? Avoid These 5 Often Repeated Mistakes 

I review new Business Opportunities for a living. My Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm is besieged with presentations, Executive Summaries, product prototypes and Business Plans. It is a tribute to the ingenuity and creativity of people that the urge to invent is so common. Unfortunately, very few of the projects we review will ever see a retail store shelf.

The reasons for this dismal rate of project demise are broad and endless. However, there are a few mistakes that we see repeated over and over as small businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors seek to secure limited investment and product placement opportunities. Social media sites are replete with examples of innovators handicapping their efforts and hard work because they do not properly present their work. 

The following are five of the most vivid and commonly repeated mistakes that entrepreneurs commit when approaching investors or potential project collaborators:

  1. The Web-Site is up, but I do not have a product yet!

This has become a golden oldie since setting up a web-site has become so easy. If you have a truly commercial product idea, but the idea is still a concept only, why would you telegraph the idea to competitors? There are corporate trolls that do nothing but search the internet looking for ideas and interesting but underfunded products to rip off. It pays to be a bit paranoid. Having a web-site with nothing behind it is a signal that a non-professional is managing the project.

      2.    Stating a specific investment need before completing all due diligence! 

When my Venture Capital and Investment Banking associates see a Business Plan that requests a specific, round figure funding tranche their hackles go up. These round number requests always indicate a lack of depth in performing essential due diligence. I write Business Plans for my clients and would never waste a sources time by submitting any document that was not fully documented and supported with assumptions that could be fully qualified, quantified and excitingly narrated. 

      3.    I have been working on this project for 8 years!

Say no more. Successful entrepreneurs are doers. Unless you are attempting to cure breast cancer, or put a mouse on Venus, a long running Consumer Product Development is indicative of a lack of commitment. No one will want to become involved in a project that is going to meander along, rudderless and without the passion and drive required to achieve success. 

     4.     I have a billion dollar idea and no money! 

Many people dream about achieving success and enjoying the freedom and success that entrepreneurship can provide. If you truly have a great concept or product there are ways to bootstrap the idea. The “billion dollar” idea comment is a “tell” that you are dreaming and unrealistic. Many people have little or no monies to invest. Just do not lead off your dance card by telling the pretty girl that you are broke. 

      5.    Investors love my idea but won’t invest! 

No, they do not love your idea. Maybe they do not love you. Many first time entrepreneurs hear what they want to hear. The hunt for resources is intense and incredibly competitive. Venture Capital, Investment Capital, Merchant Bankers, Angels and blind pools consist of people who are successful and know potential success when they see it. If you have the right stuff you will be recognized and supported, but it will not be easy or a straight line. 

We see these defects displayed every day when being approached by prospective entrepreneurs. On social media sites we see the same people continually stumbling about, blindly hoping lightning strikes. Lightning strikes the earth every minute of every day. I have just never been able to know exactly where and when the strike will occur so that I could corral it.

Geoff’s Podcast- 08-04-2011

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Coming Soon

Duquesa Marketing Newsletter – September 2011

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
 
 

A Simple 20-Step Test That Will Confirm Whether or Not a Product Development Project Is Market-Ready

 
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How to Self-Analyze Your Consumer Product Idea to Facilitate Bringing it to Life 

 

 10 Comandments You Must Follow to Define a Novel Product Marketing Niche

 

Identifying Marketing Niches In the Broadest Product Categories

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For almost four decades my Consulting firm has worked with entrepreneur’s to design, develop, package, Brand, Market and Sell a vast range of Consumer Products. Our job is to save clients time, money and mistakes. This goal is best achieved when we are involved in a nascent project from inception. Unfortunately this is not always the case. 

Many prospective entrepreneurs decide to self-market their “alpha” product launch. This can certainly be done, though it requires a very high level of due diligence and trial and error. Unfortunately we are approached all too often by a rookie product developer who has exhausted their funds, mis-marketed the product or not been able to penetrate the target market at the most fundamental level.

The following is a series of questions, a test, that can be used as a guide in deciding if you have the capacity to self-market a new product, service or business strategy. This test is general in nature and you can fine tune the questions to more closely apply to a specific product you are developing.

  1. Have you filed for Intellectual Property protection (patent, trademark, copy right, trade secret, etc.)? Yes___ No___
  2. Do you have a detailed Gantt Chart? Yes___ No ___
  3. Have you chosen Engineer, Designer, Lab (depending on product type)? Yes___No___ 
  4. Do you have Production Quality Prototypes (or formula, or recipe, etc. depending on product type)? Yes___  No___
  5. Have you conducted deep competitive product research (pricing, distribution, etc.)?  Yes___ No ___

 

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Duquesa Quote of the Month - September 2011

“Truth lies within a little and certain compass, but error is immense”

 - Lord Bollingbroke, 18th century british politician

Domestic and International, startup or growth company, Duquesa Marketing  creates unique product development strategies , on time and on budget, that achieves success. There are many different marketing consultant services we offer to insure clients have the greatest opportunity for success with product development and marketing.

 

Check our our website, www.duquesamarketing.com , for more information about product development, marketing strategies and how to start your own business. Call (859) 567-1609 and let us help you get your product ideas to market.

Sincerely,

Duquesa Marketing

Duquesa Marketing Newsletter – August 2011

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

 

10 Essential Traits for the Successful Entrepreneur

 
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10 Commandments for Entrepreneurs

 

Is It Possible For Anyone To Be A Successful Entrepreneur?

Alternative Marketing Strategies Successful Entrepreneurs Should Consider

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 What Makes an Entrepreneur Different? 

Studies indicate that entrepreneurs are born, not made. As a serial entrepreneur myself, having worked with dozens of successful entrepreneurs, I can confirm that this is a truism. No two are exactly alike, but they are different from those who fail, or worse, never try.

I am often asked what makes an entrepreneur. In answering, I use the quote made by Supreme Court Justice Harlan when asked how he defined pornography. “I know it when I see it”. Entrepreneurs have a demeanor that separates them from the herd. They are different. Ready to take risks, fearless, passionate, problem solvers, positive and focused: entrepreneurs are the power that runs the engine of any capitalist economy.

I have assembled 10 traits that all successful entrepreneurs seem to acquire during their life’s experience. Some are stronger in one area or another, but the basics are covered here and represent qualities and beliefs that are remarkably consistent in successful entrepreneurs.

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Duquesa Quote of the Month - August 2011

“We may become the makers of our fate when we have ceased to pose as its prophets”

 - Karl Popper, Austrian Philosopher

 

Domestic and International, startup or growth company, Duquesa Marketing  creates unique product development strategies , on time and on budget, that achieves success. There are many different marketing consultant services we offer to insure clients have the greatest opportunity for success with product development and marketing.

 

Check our our website, www.duquesamarketing.com , for more information about product development, marketing strategies and how to start your own business. Call (859) 567-1609 and let us help you get your product ideas to market.

Sincerely,

Duquesa Marketing

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on WTBQ 1110 AM Radio Shannon’s Corner on September 28, 3:15

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

September 22, 2011

Contact:  Alexis Bruning

513-602-9040

alexisbruning@gmail.com 

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on WTBQ 1110 AM Radio Shannon’s Corner on September 28, 3:15   

Duquesa Marketing Founder and Expert to Discuss How to Create Entrepreneurial Opportunities During a Tough Economy 

Florence, KY  Nancy Ficke, General Manager, announced today that her Branding and Product Development firm Duquesa Marketing has scheduled another in a series of national radio interviews for Company President and Founder Geoff Ficke. 

“Geoff Ficke will appear on WTBQ 1110 AM radio with Host Shannon Deveraux Sanford of Shannon’s Corner September 28th at 3:15″, said Mrs. Ficke. “The discussion will be about the opportunity to take hold of your life and career options by exploring Entrepreneurial opportunities that people find around themselves in their hobbies, homes or jobs”.

“We work with hundreds of inventors, small and micro-businesses and entrepreneurs every year”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Business Development at Duquesa Marketing. “Many of these people carve out successful enterprises by capitalizing on things they experience in their environment. This is a topic that Geoff is passionate about and is always happy to share with an audience”. 

Duquesa Marketing has assisted numerous individuals and enterprises start and expand Consumer Product opportunities over the past four decades. The award winning firm has vast experience in all Sales and distribution channels in the United States and internationally.

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on WBT 1110 AM Radio Charlotte’s Morning News on September 24, 7:20 AM

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

September 22, 2011

Contact:  Alexis Bruning

513-602-9040

alexisbruning@gmail.com 

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on WBT 1110 AM Radio Charlotte’s Morning News on September 24, 7:20 AM

Duquesa Marketing Founder and Expert to Discuss How to Create Entrepreneurial Opportunities During a Tough Economy 

Florence, KY  Nancy Ficke, General Manager, announced today that her Branding and Product Development firm Duquesa Marketing has scheduled another in a series of national radio interviews for Company President and Founder Geoff Ficke. 

“Geoff Ficke will appear on WBT 1110 AM radio Charlotte’s Morning News with Don Russell September 24th at 7:20 AM”, said Mrs Ficke. “The discussion will be about the opportunity to take hold of your life and career options by exploring Entrepreneurial opportunities that people find around themselves in their hobbies, homes or jobs”.

“We work with hundreds of inventors, small and micro-businesses and entrepreneurs every year”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Business Development at Duquesa Marketing. “Many of these people carve out successful enterprises by capitalizing on things they experience in their environment. This is a topic that Geoff is passionate about and is always happy to share with an

You don’t need to be on Shark Tank to make your product or business idea successful!

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

September 22, 2011

Contact:  Alexis Bruning

513-602-9040

alexisbruning@gmail.com

You don’t need to be on Shark Tank  to make your product or business idea successful!                            

Do you have a product idea but just aren’t sure where to start?  Is your business ready to move to the next level, but you don’t have the connections to make that happen? Geoff Ficke has been helping hundreds of people make their business dreams come true! 

 Through his 40 years of practical experience Geoff has been  mentoring, teaching and consulting with small and micro-businesses, entrepreneurs and inventors to enable them to turn dreams and ideas into products and successful commercial opportunities. Some of his Consumer Product Clients include Estee Lauder, Sara Lee, Victoria Secret, and Stealth Hunting Boot.  He’s worked with products from skin care to cupcakes to health supplements and more. And he’ll share his wisdom with your listeners!

Phones will light up about with listeners calling in with their questions on this hot topic!

Let Geoff Ficke answer their questions about how to get their business idea to market

Suggested Show Topics for Geoff Ficke:

  • How to get funding for your business idea
  • What makes a product or business idea successful
  • How to get your product or business idea to market

 Questions for Geoff Ficke: 

1.   Is now the best time to start a new business?

2.   How do I find funding?

3.   Do I really need a business plan?

4.   Where do I go to get a prototype of my product made?

5.   Can I sell or license my business idea?

6.   Should I go to one of those invention services advertised on television?

7.   Where can I find manufacturers for my product?

8.   Do I have to patent my idea? How much does that cost and what do I do?

9.   What 5 persona traits are essential for achieving entrepreneurial success?

10. Can I bootstrap my way to success?

11. Tell us some of your success stories.

12. I’m ready! How do I get a hold of you to help me make my business idea happen?! 

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing,  (www.duquesamarketing.com) has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors,  students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. 

Send your listeners to www.NewBen.net

To book Geoff Ficke, please call 513-602-9040 or email alexisbruning@gmail.com 

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on WEGP 1390 AM Radio It’s Your Life Show on October 3rd, 11:00 AM ET

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

September, 21, 2011

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on WEGP 1390 AM Radio It’s Your Life Show on October 3rd, 11:00 AM E

Duquesa Marketing Founder and Expert to Discuss How to Create Entrepreneurial Opportunities During a Tough Economy 

Florence, KY  Nancy Ficke, General Manager, announced today that her Branding and Product Development firm Duquesa Marketing has scheduled another in a series of national radio interviews for Company President and Founder Geoff Ficke. 

“Geoff Ficke will appear on WEGP 1390 AM radio It’s Your Life Show with Host Tami Kilcollins October 3rd at 11:00 AM Eastern time”, said Mrs Ficke. “The discussion will be about the opportunity to take hold of your life and career options by exploring Entrepreneurial opportunities that people find around themselves in their hobbies, homes or jobs”. 

“We work with hundreds of inventors, small and micro-businesses and entrepreneurs every year”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Business Development at Duquesa Marketing. “Many of these people carve out successful enterprises by capitalizing on things they experience in their environment. This is a topic that Geoff is passionate about and is always happy to share with an audience”.

 Duquesa Marketing has assisted numerous individuals and enterprises start and expand Consumer Product opportunities over the past four decades. The award winning firm has vast experience in all Sales and distribution channels in the United States and internationally.

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on KORN 1490 AM Radio The Morning Show with Clay Mick on September 30, 10:30 AM CT

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release                                                                            

For Immediate Release

September 21, 2011                                                                                                                                                                                        

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

 859-567-1609

 gficke@msn.com

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on KORN 1490 AM Radio The Morning Show with Clay Mick on September 30, 10:30 AM CT 

Duquesa Marketing Founder and Expert to Discuss How to Create Entrepreneurial Opportunities During a Tough Economy 

Florence, KY  Nancy Ficke, General Manager, announced today that her Branding and Product Development firm Duquesa Marketing has scheduled another in a series of national radio interviews for Company President and Founder Geoff Ficke. 

“Geoff Ficke will appear on KORN 1490 AM radio Clay Mick Morning Show September 30th at 10:30 AM Central time”, said Mrs Ficke. “The discussion will be about the opportunity to take hold of your life and career options by exploring Entrepreneurial opportunities that people find around themselves in their hobbies, homes or jobs”. 

“We work with hundreds of inventors, small and micro-businesses and entrepreneurs every year”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Business Development at Duquesa Marketing. “Many of these people carve out successful enterprises by capitalizing on things they experience in their environment. This is a topic that Geoff is passionate about and is always happy to share with an audience”. 

Duquesa Marketing has assisted numerous individuals and enterprises start and expand Consumer Product opportunities over the past four decades. The award winning firm has vast experience in all Sales and distribution channels in the

The Importance of Focus Groups and Their Alternatives To Consumer Product Marketers and Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

by: Geoff Ficke

The Importance of Focus Groups and Their Alternatives To Consumer Product Marketers and Entrepreneurs

My Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm offers a variety of services to clients. One that we frequently utilize, and is often misunderstood is the creation and management of Focus Groups. What is a Focus Group? What is the real purpose of a Focus Group? How much do they cost to organize? Can a novice Marketer organize a worthwhile Focus Group?

There are numerous evaluation metrics that Marketing professionals utilize to measure Focus Group results. A Focus Group should ideally consist of randomly chosen, anonymous participants that are selected for participation in the class because they have proven a need for the product being tested. Typically we utilize a small call-to-action newspaper advertisement to announce the formation of a Focus Group, the purpose of the Focus Group and how to become a class member. 

As prospective participants phone to seek information and express interest, we ask pre-written questions to screen for suitability. If we are running a Focus Group on a Hair Care product we will not need the participation of bald people. We create an ideal demographic profile to be utilized when screening potential participants in the class. If the phone interview is positive, we invite the caller to meet at a specified time and place. 

The initial meeting provides a final opportunity to confirm that the applicant is a suitable class participant. There are always a small percentage of prospects that simply are not right for inclusion and the reasons run the gamut. This screening is more art than science.

The Focus Group managers will be seeking a certain class size to confirm product assumptions. Once that population is in hand the actual test can begin. Remember, there will always be a number of members of the starting class that will drop participation for various reasons so allow for this reality when assembling the group. 

The Questionnaire is crucial to managing a successful Focus Group. It should serve to guide the class to provide accurate, truthful answers about their experience with the subject product. The document should contain a variety of questions that may address product features and benefits, competition, shopping channels, pricing, likes/dislikes, etc. If the Focus Group will require product usage over time, say 30 days, there will be an entry and exit Questionnaire. 

After the initial questionnaire is completed the product is demonstrated and usage training provided if required. If we are managing a Focus Group on a Skin Care Regimen, and the program has unique application features, we will train the participants in a rote manner. Remember, any attempt to pre-ordain the outcome will invalidate the goal of achieving an unbiased product evaluation. After training and product application, the class members are given the necessary supply of the product being tested for home usage. 

The product sample itself should be as unadorned as possible. If we are studying the play features of a Board Game, obviously the game elements must be complete. For most consumable consumer products we will provide samples in plain lab sample bottles. 

When the Focus Group chronology has been completed, and the exit interviews and final questionnaires collated, we analyze the results. Our questionnaires typically ask for a waiver so that we may use positive comments from class participants as testimonials in Sales Collateral, Point-of-Purchase Display, Publicity Releases and Web-sites.

What is the purpose of the Focus Group? There are courses and books written on this subject. Simply put, Focus Group managers are seeking the affirmation—OR—the disavowal of the assumptions that the product concept is built upon. The reality of proceeding to launch a Consumer Product with either faulty or overly affirmative consumer responses can, and usually does, lead to product failure in the marketplace. 

What will a Focus Group cost? There are testing firms that conduct Focus groups on a grand scale for multi-national companies. These tests can run well into six figures. Depending on the size of the class, the intricacy of the product, availability of class space, advertising costs in a market and whether an incentive gift is given to participants the cost of a test can vary from $2000 up. 

Can a self-marketer manage a Focus group? Yes, but only if they can be truly agnostic in assembling the class and the test structure. This is usually too difficult for the originator of a product or concept as they are too emotionally tied to their idea. 

There is a good bit of mythology about Focus Groups and their outcomes. Most major Consumer Product manufacturers utilize Focus Groups before spending millions of dollars to perfect, Market, Brand, promote and launch a new item. Many of these products still fail or enjoy a short shelf life. Some of these failures are titanic. 

Are there alternatives to Focus Group testing? Yes! I self-marketed products for many years without ever utilizing a Focus Group. Sam Walton, Charles Revson, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Robert Loewy, Herbert Lay and many other entrepreneurial giants utilized only their instincts to create novel, ground breaking Consumer Products and services. An informal group of trusted friends, family members and co-workers, if asked the right questions, can obviate the need for a formal Focus Group. 

A successful Focus Group can often be an important underwriting element for obtaining Venture Capital investment. A well written Business Plan with strong Financials, an exciting Executive Summary, strong Branding and customized Marketing Strategy is absolutely essential when seeking investors. The inclusion of a properly organized Focus Group report with a positive result in the Exhibits section is often the cherry on the investment sundae. 

If there are any Entrepreneurs, Inventors or small businesses wishing to attempt to organize a self-managed Focus Group please contact us at www.DuquesaMarketing.com. We will be glad to forward a sample questionnaire that they can utilize as a template to customize as needed for their project.