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Archive for October, 2011

The Old Adage “You Get What You Pay For” Is Especially Important to Service Providers in Today’s Economy

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

by: Geoff Ficke

The Old Adage “You Get What You Pay For” Is Especially Important to Service Providers in Today’s Economy

The 19th century British essayist John Ruskin once presciently stated, “There is scarcely a thing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey”. Great wordsmith that he was, Mr. Ruskin’s stylish prose has been re-engineered in more modern form to become the universal adage “You get what you pay for”. People universally understand this to be true, even if they do not always practice the rule in their own dealings.

I earn my living as a Consumer Product Marketing Consultant. My firm sells a full menu of services. We use a variety of associated independent vendors who sell their services in specific areas to our clients. Patent Attorneys, Product Development Engineers, Graphic Artists, Chemists, Nutritionists, Manufacturers, Display Designers, Prototype Builders, Pattern Makers, Lithographers, Packaging Engineers and dozens of other specialists collaborate with us to provide a turn-key Product Development service.

My job is to save clients time, mistakes and money. We are good and very successful, having been doing this type of work for over 40 years. The specialists we involve in each project are hand chosen for their expertise, past successes and the value they bring to our clients. I have never chosen a vendor because they are cheapest, but because they offer an excellent service at a fair price.

It is true that economic times are difficult. Many people have been neutralized by the economic chaos they see occurring around them. Some fear plunging into a new business venture until things calm down. Others use the uncertainty as an excuse for not moving ahead at all. Some attempt to leverage the pullback to negotiate reductions in fees, costs and development work provided by skilled professionals that may have suffered a loss of work over the past three years.

Here is a caution. It is very unwise to compete for project work by selling service at discounted prices or fees. There are still plenty of qualified clients seeking the best possible outcomes for their projects. They understand that it is silly to try to cut corners on quality and creativity to save a bit of money when they really want the best possible product to sell to consumers. If you discount your fees, and the perceived value of your service, you will only diminish your reputation for top quality work now, and when the economy rebounds.

We review hundreds of products and projects each year. This has been consistent during the recession, as it was before. We have never had to discount a fee to secure a client project. Once we describe our work template, experience and the unique concierge one-stop Product Development service we provide it is unnecessary to barter away a fair remuneration for the valuable work product we produce and our clients ultimately enjoy.

Several months ago we were approached by a pediatric nurse with an interesting Wellness Product. She had discovered an opportunity niche in her work with small children. The Juvenile Product she had conceived possessed all of the elements necessary to achieve commercial success. We walked the nurse though each step necessary to convert her concept to a market ready Consumer Product.

As we discussed Gantt Chart work items and the timeline involved we quoted fee ranges for each component. As the meeting concluded, the nurse asked if we would defer fees. We advised why we could not. Our suggestion was that she interview at least three other firms, listen to their ideas for the project and negotiate fees with them. If she wanted to go with another firm we would wish her good luck. If not, we would love to work with her to make the product real.

This week she called and asked if we had space available for her project. She advised that she had spent a good bit of time interviewing other firms and always came back to the fact that we offered the best combination of experience, convenience, creativity and value. The nurse was also impressed that we did not press or hard-sell her, and actually suggested that she speak with competitors. We have a new client. She has a good deal. A good deal is one where both parties receive benefits.

Whether you are an independent contractor, a real estate agent, engineer, designer, an artisan or any of hundreds of other occupations where you sell your service we encourage you to ask a fair compensation for your professional experience. If you are good at what you do you should be properly remunerated.

Discounting payment of fees is an indicator of weakness. As John Ruskin said, “The person who buys on price alone is the “seller’s lawful prey”. Sell quality work and be paid accordingly. Your work is worth it.

Duquesa Marketing Newsletter – October 2011

Monday, October 24th, 2011
DUQUESA MARKETING NEWSLETTER                October 2011

Bootstrapping Your Way to Success

 
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Duquesa Quote of the Month:
 

“What  poor education I have received has been gained in the University of Life”  

 

 - Horatio Bottomley, 
 
    British financier  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no more accurate American descriptive phrase of the rags to riches success then: “He pulled himself up by his bootstraps”. The pioneers, backwoodsmen, cowboys, whalers and other prototypical American hero classes all possessed an air of courage, self-reliance, and belief that they could beat the odds. They are wonderful samples of entrepreneurs at the most elemental level.

My favorite method of starting a business, launching a product or service is the old fashioned, do it myself, Bootstrapping. The ability to bootstrap a startup eliminates so many of the hurdles normally confronting the entrepreneur. Raising money, building inventory, dependence on support from others and assembling fixed overheads is mitigated when you bootstrap your new venture.

My first two startups were both completely bootstrapped. I had no outside investors, no on hand inventory: my home was my office, factory and warehouse. I made a product prototype, only one. That was all I could afford, but I made sure it was production quality.

Then I hit the road. I made presentations to department store buyers, non-stop in geographic loops from my home in Cincinnati. After four weeks of presentations and living in cheap motels, and a few nights sleeping in the car, I returned with a fist full of purchase orders. I then took the orders to New York, along with my business plan: everything buttoned down and detailed, for presentation to factors.

(Please click here to read more from this article)

 

 

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

Armenicus Life, Inc. Appoints Harrington Product Development to Act as Project Design Engineer

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

October 20, 2011

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Armenicus Life, Inc. Appoints Harrington Product Development to Act as Project Design Engineer

Firm to Manage Prototype Creation and Manufacturing Elements For Spring-2012 Market Launch of New Jewelry Accessory Product Line

White Plains, NY  Anna Kazanchyan M.D. founder, CEO and inventor/designer of lifestyle simplifying Consumer Products for her company, Armenicus Life, announced today that she has engaged the services of Cincinnati, OH based Harrington Product Development to manage manufacturing of her new line of Jewelry Accessory Products.   

“We reviewed all options with our Managing Consultants at Duquesa Marketing”, said Dr. Kazanchyan. “After interviewing Rick Harrington, and seeing his work archive, we knew he was well suited for the many tasks we need to accomplish in order to be ready for the launch date Geoff Ficke of Duquesa Marketing has targeted”.  I am building Armenicus Life to provide a line of Consumer Products that address everyday problems  that vex people. The line of Jewelry Accessory Products we will launch in Spring-2012 is the “alpha” project but will be quickly followed by others”.

“Anna Kazanchyan is very professional and disciplined in her approach to the project”, said Rick Harrington, President of Harrington Product Development. “And, of course, I have worked with Geoff and Nancy Ficke and the Duquesa Marketing team on a number of fashion projects, so there is excellent synergy to unleach our collective creative energy”.

WSJ Opinion Page October 14, 2011 “Profits First Enable All The Giving Back”

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Profits First Enable All The Giving Back

by: Geoff Ficke

Andy Kessler’s excellent column (How Wilson Greatbatch ‘Gave Back”, WSJ Sept. 30) does a splendid job of countering the Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and the left in general, argument that success is a collaborative effort and giving back is a moral imperative. The very idea that the existence of public schools, highways, public transport and government programs produce prosperity is the equivalent of placing the caboose at the front of the train.
 
Adam Smith,  considered the godfather of free markets and liberty, wrote the classic Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759 which memorialized the concept of “the Invisible Hand”, the cornerstone of our modern capitalist system. This was followed in in 1776 by the more famous Wealth of Nations. These books, and the theories espoused by Mr. Smith greatly influenced the Founding Fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton. They represent the foundation of the economic system which has produced the greatest prosperity the world has ever experienced, based on self-interest and a profit motive.
 
Not until  the mid-19th century did Horace Mann begin his quest for a public school system. All colleges of the time were private or religious institutions. There was no national highway system, Pell Grants, HUD, AMTRAK or large public works. The growth of government at all levels has occured as a result of the success of individuals creating opportunities that generate profits first.
 
Every teacher, politician, bureaucrat or Harvard professor owes their professional existence to entrepreneurs who generate the profits that produce tax revenue. Not the other way around.

10 Items That Will Insure Your Business Plan Is “Not” Considered or Seriously Read by Investors

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

by: Geoff Ficke

10 Items That Will Insure Your Business Plan Is “Not” Considered or Seriously Read by Investors 

I read business plans as a major part of my Consumer Product and Marketing Consulting business. I act as project consultant for several Venture capital firms. I am a Fellow and lecture at the Miami University, Farmer Business School Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. I teach students to write Business Plans. My consulting duties include preparing Business Plans for clients as they seek funding opportunities. 

There is no definitive, 100% detailed methodology to construct these crucial documents. The internet, book stores and home study courses are full of turnkey templates that claim to lead to successful outcomes for projects. They do not.

In its simplest form a Business Plan is a document that quantifies (numbers, costs, financials), qualifies (due diligence, research) and narrates (tells an exciting opportunity story) a series of assumptions about the project on offer. The plans submitted for my consideration invariably do not meet the level of professionalism required to be considered for funding. Even if the product or project possesses real utility and commercial value, if the document is faulty it will not be fully read or considered. 

There are many items that investors consider when reviewing a new Business Plan submission. Often the first read is handled by a junior partner whose only duty is to cull the herd, markup and forward only plans that meet firm standards. This means that about 98% of all newly presented Business Plans are never read or even touched by key decision makers. You do not want to be part of the culled herd. 

Here are 10 items that are among the most crucial elements to avoid in preparing a Business Plan that will merit a thorough read, markup and full consideration by your investing targets.

  1. Do not prepare a plan by following a standard download template. When I am approached by an Entrepreneur with a Business Plan I always asked if they prepared the plan and if they have ever written a Business Plan before. If the answer is yes I prepared the document and no I have never done one before I can rest assured that a form template has been followed.

A quick scan of such a document always indicates a fill-in-the-blanks approach. This screams lack of due diligence, thus lack of commitment. If you want the proper consideration your work deserves customize the plan and present it in professional form.

2.  The Executive Summary MUST present a vivid, compelling, complete overview of the project. The first few pages of a John LaCarre or Vince Flynn novel grip the reader. The opening scenes in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie thriller absorb the viewer. Similarly, the Executive Summary is the window to the rest of the plan. If it excites the analyst it will prompt them to read on with relish.

3.  Do not guess at financial elements. For a Consumer Product plan, which is my area of expertise, the most important number to nail is the dead net Cost of Goods to produce and land a product. Every other income and expense line item in the Financial Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow (3 year NOT 5year) projections will be false if the true cost basis is not fully vetted. 

4. If you cannot provide a management team, fully organized and committed, the project will go nowhere. We review too many plans that are presented by an entrepreneur who has no management experience in the space they are seeking to enter. No investor will commit funds to a project that is not staffed by experienced managers. People count as much as a product or concept.

5. What is the Unique Selling Proposition that your product or service will provide to retail stores, international distributors and consumers? In a cluttered, chaotic marketplace how will your offering cut through the maze and create demand? You must be able to detail and obvious point(s) of difference between your product and the raft of competitors you will face off against. You do not have to reinvent the wheel, but you must be able to improve or embellish the wheel.

6. Avoid bombastic pronouncements. This always results in a quick “deep 6”. Whenever we see outlandish claims we recoil. Whether in the financial projections, product performance claims or share of market detailed if the project is not supported with realistic due diligence it will go nowhere.

7. You are not fundable if your project does not provide a Return on Investment of a minimum of 30% per annum beginning between month 24 and 36 of full- operational activity.

8. You do not have a first mover advantage, but think you have a better mousetrap. Recently we reviewed a Skin Care and Cosmetic project. The owner claimed that his first mover advantage was a new ingredient story. He could not detail a product feature or benefit that was not already being addressed in the marketplace. The product will have to be the first to offer a niche application in its space.

9. Never confuse a large document with a thorough plan. A great Business Plan, unless there is a novel divergent technology or science involved, rarely exceeds 25 pages. Add as many supporting exhibits, competitive analysis, research documents, studies, etc. as possible. The main body of the document must be focused like a laser on providing answers to the many questions that investors always present. Keep it tight and moving.

10. If your Business Plan is built on false assumptions it will not withstand scrutiny. Remember you must be able to fully support every assumption you make about Cost of Goods, Marketing Strategy, Sales Models, Competition, Expenses, Financial projections, etc. This requires research and due diligence that will be apparent, or not, to the potential investor.

A great Executive Summary will contain referrals to almost all of the elements detailed in this article. It will be pithy, interesting, grounded and written with professional zeal, not bombast. If this two-page introduction is crafted properly your Business Plan will have a real opportunity to receive a serious read from your real target audience: Venture Capital, Investment Bankers, Strategic Alliance partners and Licensees.

dP Design Engaged by Armenicus Life, Inc. to Create Graphic Art Visuals for Spring-2012 Product Launch

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

October 20, 2011

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

dP Design Engaged by Armenicus Life, Inc. to Create Graphic Art Visuals for Spring-2012 Product Launch

Novel Line of Jewelry Accessory Products to Be Introduced to Retailers in United States and International Markets

White Plains, NY  Armenicus Life, Inc., a Consumer Product consortium, announced today that is has retained the services of Cincinnati, OH based dP Design to create a full package of custom Graphic Art elements for the Spring-2012 retail introduction of its Jewelry Accessory line.   

“Our Managing Consultants for the project, Duquesa Marketing, have used dP Design for a number of upscale fashion projects”, said Dr. Anna Kazanchyan, founder and CEO of Armenicus Life. “We needed a Graphic Arts firm that could provide a full menu of services, have strong creative instincts and be able to maintain the launch timeline that we have set. dP Design is a great fit on all fronts”. 

“I have worked on a number of fashion projects with Nancy and Geoff Ficke and their Duquesa Marketing team”, said Diana Puppin, President of dP Design. “They are very enthusiastic about the Armenicus Life project and Anna has given me  solid direction to take in creating the Branding visuals”. 

“The purpose of every Consumer Product that Armenicus Life introduces is to address simple problems people face in everyday life”, said Dr. Kazanchyan. “We have an aggressive schedule of follow-up launches that will roll-out over the next 18 months”.

BvonM llc Appoints Harrington Product Development To Manage Manufacturing of New Pedicure Accessory

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

October 20, 2011

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

BvonM llc Appoints Harrington Product Development To Manage Manufacturing of New Pedicure Accessory 

Cosmetic Accessory Brand to Launch in Spring-2012 To International Retail, Salon and Day Spa Market

Alexandria, VA  Dr. Barbara von Mettenheim, Founder and Designer at BvonM llc announced today that her cosmetic accessory design atelier has engaged the services of Cincinnati, OH based Harrington Product Development to manage the Manufacturing and Logistics for the Spring-2012 launch of her line of Pedicure products. 

“My project’s Managing Consultants at Duquesa Marketing have worked with Rick Harrington for years and enjoyed great results”, said Dr. von Mettenheim. “After I reviewed many options, I realized that Harrington Product Development had the experience and savvy to do the best job of handling the production and packaging of my pedicure accessory products”. 

“My firm has handled engineering and manufacturing for many projects managed by Nancy and Geoff Ficke at Duquesa Marketing”, said Rick Harrington, President of Harrington Product Development. “They are so excited about BvonM’s line of pedicure accessories that it was easy for us to jump on board after seeing the novelty that Dr. von Mettenheim has built into the products”. 

BvonM will announce all details of the Pedicure product lines United States and international launch in early 2012. Branding, sales promotion, distribution and pricing are being developed by Duquesa Marketing. The Brand will be introduced at a major trade show.

Trying to Win on Low Price Is Always a Losing Proposition for Small Consumer Product Marketers

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

by: Geoff Ficke

Trying to Win on Low Price Is Always a Losing Proposition for Small Consumer Product Marketers 

Last week my Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm reviewed a multi-use child safety line of merchandise targeting the Juvenile/Infant category. This was a start-up Company with modest sales. The products were well engineered, nicely packaged and offered consumers fine features and utility.

The ownership group partners were keen on selling Wal-Mart and other big box stores. They had undergone a long, slow kabuki dance with the Bentonville giant for months. The hang-up, as always, was pricing. The merchandise staff at Wal-Mart wanted significant packaging changes, AND, significant price reductions.

If their demands were to be met, the product margins would be deflated to the point of no profitability. 

We see this situation all too frequently. There is an understandable lust on the part of new Companies, start-ups and Entrepreneurs to push their goods into national chains as quickly as possible. The law of large numbers would seem to insure that this is the quickest path to gaining deep market penetration and profits. Alas, for small businesses, this is almost always not a successful strategy. 

By the time we met with this Juvenile Product manufacturer they had exhausted much of their available resources and were not close to receiving the hoped for purchase orders from any of the big box stores they had approached. A decision they had taken to try to compete on a low price Sales Model was boomeranging on them. They simply could not compete with high volume producers on price. Having a better mouse trap is great if the item is positioned where quality, product performance and Unique Selling Proposition can be beneficial. This is typically in specialty stores, independent and service oriented retailers where product can be well displayed and detailed to consumers by knowledgeable staff. 

The opportunity to grow a Brand and penetrate a market category first locally, then regionally and finally nationally is usually the safest, most prudent strategy for new Consumer Product Marketers to utilize. Unless Sales Promotional Budgets are large, and they rarely are for start-ups, the turtle will beat the hare in this type of race. Marshall your resources! Maintain your margins! Allow for needed Sales Promotion, Marketing and Branding support that will be required to support your products. 

We work with many small and micro-brands and start-up Companies. Focus and discipline are often the most difficult traits for these anxious, ambitious Entrepreneurs to harness. Advising them to avoid a low price strategy seems to go against the grain of accepted business orthodoxy. However, unless large scale production volumes can be employed to drive down costs, do not get involved in selling on low price alone. 

Many multinational Consumer Product Brands sell by initially employing an Exclusivity Strategy. They will introduce a line in limited distribution at high price points. As Sales traction takes hold, the product is introduced in different mass market Branding concepts at lower price points in broader distribution. It is always easier to come down in price than to go up. The Exclusivity Strategy creates consumer desirability for a product. Calvin Klein, Liz Claiborne, Estee Lauder, General Motors, Nine West, Diageo, Fortune Brands, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and many other great Consumer Product Marketing giants repeatedly use this technique. 

Being small actually offers the advantage of nimbleness. Large enterprises do not move fast. No matter how successful, when bureaucracies grow they become sclerotic. Use agility, quickness and energy to your advantage. “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”, as Muhammad Ali so famously chirped when describing his boxing style. Do not allow large Companies production scale and low pricing to dictate your margins. It is suicidal to attempt to compete on their field of play.

BvonM llc Announces the Appointment of Duquesa Marketing to Act as Managing Project Consultants

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

October 18, 2011

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

BvonM llc Announces the Appointment of Duquesa Marketing to Act as Managing Project Consultants 

Product Development, Branding, Sales and Marketing to Be Executed to Prepare for Spring 2012 Market Launch 

Alexandria, VA   Dr. Barbara von Mettenheim, Founder of cosmetic accessory design firm BvonM llc announced today that her firm has engaged the services of Florence, KY based Duquesa Marketing to act as Managing Consultants for the development and market launch of her novel line of Pedicure Accessory products

“I had cast a wide net for a consulting firm that could free my time to enable me to solely concentrate on creating products”, said Dr. von Mettenheim. “When I met the group from Duquesa Marketing I immediately knew I was in the right place, with a team with the right beauty industry experience and vision to take my product though the birthing and launch process to market success”. 

“We met Dr.Barbara von Mettenheim and were struck by her drive, passion and enthusiasm for the creations she presented”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Product Development for Duquesa Marketing. “Her pedicure accessories are the types of products that offer real solutions to common problems in a simply elegant format that makes our job so exciting”.

“We will be announcing shortly a schedule of events that will support the launch of the products,” said Dr. von Mettenheim. “Branding, sales promotion, pricing and distribution will be developed by Duquesa Marketing in the next few months. The line will be available for shipment in early Spring-2012”.

Duquesa Marketing to Act as Managing Consultants for Development of New Jewelry Accessory Product Line

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Duquesa Marketing, Inc.

www.duquesamarketing.com

 

Press Release

For Immediate Release

October 17, 2011

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

Duquesa Marketing to Act as Managing Consultants for Development of New Jewelry Accessory Product Line 

Firm to Handle Product Development, Branding, Marketing and Spring-2012 Retail Market Launch for Armenicus Life, Inc. Creations 

Florence, KY   Nancy Ficke, General Manager of award winning international Consumer Product and Branding firm Duquesa Marketing announced today that her group has been contracted to act as Managing Consultants for the new line of jewelry accessory products created by Armenicus Life, Inc. of White Plains, NY. 

“Dr. Anna Kazanchyan, founder of Armenicus Life and inventor/designer of its products, approached us with her simple, elegant solutions for problems every woman with a wide assortment of jewelry confronts”, said Mrs. Ficke. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to manage the development and launch of this useful, fashion forward line”. 

“The Armenicus team develops concepts that provide “Solutions that Simplify”, said Geoff Ficke, President of Duquesa Marketing. “The jewelry accessory products are only the first in a robust pipeline of products on which we will collaborate to bring to market”. 

Duquesa Marketing is a one-stop, turnkey service provider for Inventors, Entrepreneurs, Small and Micro-Businesses and Multi-Nationals that market Consumer Products. For over 40 years the Company has worked with clients from around the world to bring their ideas to retail markets and consumers.