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Archive for February, 2012

Duquesa Marketing Newsletter – February 2012

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
DUQUESA MARKETING NEWSLETTER               February 2012

 
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There Is Always Money to Fund Start-ups Just Be Focused and Creative – It’s Never Easy

  

Where Does the Money Come From?

Do Not Shortchange Funding Needs – Too Little is Worse Than Too Much

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Duquesa Quote of the Month:
 ”A bad workman blames his tools”,

13th century French proverb

Tip of the Month:
Taking shortcuts is to entreprneurship as the asp was to Cleopatra
 

Recently I reviewed a Business Plan that was submitted with a goal of raising a $2 million angel funding round. The product was a Hair Care Accessory that had real commercial potential. If I were grading the plan in one of my classes I would have given it a solid B. I was smitten with most of the assumptions that the document detailed to support the projects viability, except one. 

There was only one very major red flag that any Venture Capital investor would seize upon and consider a disqualifier; the $2 million angel funding round. The question that is always asked when a prospective Entrepreneur presents to Venture Capitalists (VC) is this: “How much have you invested of your personal capital into this project”. In some way, shape or form this question always pops up. It is usually not well answered. 

In this case the Inventor wanted the $2 million for salaries, a manufacturing facility, travel, staff and offices as well as for inventory build and Marketing. My job is to prepare Entrepreneurs for the rigid cross-examination they will surely receive from the VC panel that examines investment opportunity. I quickly had to refocus my prospective client that funding sources want to know what you are going to do with their money, as well as what you are not going to do with it. Building fixed overhead falls into the category of what you are not going to do with investment monies. 

Ask yourself, “Would you invest in you”? If you will not invest monies and assets that you own in your project why would anyone else. For decades banks required a significant down payment before loaning money to buy a house. Housing was considered a great investment for those who had equity in the property. About 20 years ago underwriting standards were loosened and today we see what having no skin in the game has done to housing and the economy. 

(Please click here to read the entire article)

 

10 Bullet Point Options for Bootstrapping Your Small Business or Consumer Product Opportunity

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

by: Geoff Ficke

10 Bullet Point Options for Bootstrapping Your Small Business or Consumer Product Opportunity

Almost every small or micro-business, entrepreneur or inventor faces a harsh financial reality when starting out. They have little or no access to venture capital, financing or grant money. The funding source that is realistically available to them is family, friends and their own ability to bootstrap their business.

Bootstrapping a business is not glamorous, but it is the most useful, and practical method to grow a new business or product that is available to any driven entrepreneur. This is the technique I utilized to start my first business many years ago. If the strategy is successfully executed it can quickly lead to doors opening to investors and funding options.

In my Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm I review hundreds of new business and product concepts every year. Only a tiny fraction has full funding out of the gate. The vast majority spend a great deal of time and energy seeking investment tranches which will never develop. I am always amazed that they do not bootstrap their ideas in order to gain early sales traction.

The following are 10 Bullet Point Option tips that can be utilized to Bootstrap a new business or self-employment opportunity. They can be adapted and customized to fit a vast array of circumstances, consumer products and services.

1. Turn your hobby or passion into a business. If you love to bake, or sew, for instance, customize products for local church events, fund raisers, special events (retirements, jubilees, weddings, etc.).

2. Bring the product or service to the client/consumer. People are busy. Offer convenience and a quality product or service delivered to the client’s place of work or home. A man with a pick-up truck, a tool box and a ladder is a potential successful small businessman.

3. Support each successful step forward with free, local Publicity. Use a PR template (there are hundreds of samples on my website www.DuquesaMarketing.com). Circulate the releases to local media, weekly papers, social groups and churches. This is FREE!

4. Use local fairs, home shows, festivals and civic events to sell and showcase your products. A woman we worked with started in this manner selling her line of organic Bath, Body Care and Aromatherapy products. Within 30 months her line was carried by a regional department store.

5. Mall kiosks are an amazing, affordable vehicle to expose and leverage sales of your Consumer Product or Business Service. We have seen clients start by offering a line of Gift items on one cart, expand to more and then jump into traditional retail distribution.

6. Personalize products: In a world of impersonal mass production, people enjoy goods or services that offer intimacy, uniqueness. A past client built a wonderful income by creating personalized Baby and Infant items like bags, blankets, sleepers, etc.

7. Sample, sample, sample! If your product is good, and you believe in the item and yourself, demonstrate and sample relentlessly. A couple we consulted for were passionate about their Gourmet Sauces and Marinades. They built their business by attending every art and foodie event possible and constantly sampling their products while generating sales with value packs and on-site sale coupons.

8. Pre-sell. This is a technique we use every year to launch under-funded clients. Build prototypes or production quality samples, fully packaged and take orders before you build expensive inventory.  Big box retailers have the ability to buy on the local level and love to do so, if you offer a well-conceived prototype for them to review.

9. Make yourself the “authority” on the space you want to enter. Properly managed social media, publicity, small print advertorials and compelling web-sites are only a few tools available to create stronger bona-fides.

10. Network, Network, Network! Every person you know or meet is a potential client for a good or service you might be able to produce. Brand yourself and your product and professionally let others know about your business, and ask about theirs.

We have Bootstrapped businesses in Cosmetics, Fragrance, Toys, Oral Care, Fashion, Jewelry, Juvenile Products, Hardware, Gifts, Foods and Drinks, Sporting Goods, Pet Products and many more categories. A number of these businesses were able to gain sales traction and leverage into traditional retail distribution. Consider this technique as the realistic and
practical way to be the tortoise and win success slowly.

Words Used to Present Your Business Proposition Must be Carefully Chosen

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

by: Geoff Ficke

Words Used to Present Your Business Proposition Must be Carefully Chosen

This week I was forwarded a Business Plan from a Venture Capital principal for whom I perform consulting services. This gentleman had read the elevator pitch for the product and had initial interest in the proposition. He requested that I review the document in detail and mark up the key points that would be of much, or of no interest to his firm and make a recommendation as to the viability of the project.

The plan was dedicated to a funding effort for a new line of cell phone accessories. The concept and early stage physical execution was in good order and would seem to have much upside potential. The commercial attractiveness of the products was apparent and there seemed to be a nice Unique Selling Proposition available for the taking if all elements of the plan could be executed properly.

Something vexed me, however, as I began to re-read and markup the Business Plan. I was uncomfortable with phrases that were used to describe the line of products. And, because I became sidetracked by the grammar and phrasing I was reading, I began to question the plan’s assumptions much more critically.

Words matter and they can be helpful, or hurtful in any situation, whether in life, romantically, or professionally in business. In this case the terms used to describe what seemed like a nice opportunity for Venture Capital investment lifted a cloud over the enterprise in my mind.

A word that is a negative in many business contexts is “cheap”. Cheap denotes inferior. Cheap implies poorly made. The word cheap was used numeroustimes in the Business Plan I was reviewing. A far better word than cheap is inexpensive, or affordable. Another word with baggage is “buy”. It is always deemed better to make a purchase than to buy an item or service.

“Offer” is a better word choice than “sell”. The 40 foot Hatteras Yacht is offered at $75,000 is so much more resonant to the eye and ear than the 75 foot Hatteras Yacht is for sale at $75,000. People like to purchase. They resent being sold.

There are numerous examples of words that can be substituted for terms such as cheap, sell, or buy and thus confer a more positive commercial  experience. The way words are used is indicative of the level of professionalism that a party brings to a transaction.

Often, owing to distance, or time constraints, or purposefully placed professional barriers, the two or more parties participating in business collaborations do not physically meet, at least initially. Words used in e-mails, phone calls, Business Plans or correspondence are all that each party has to take the measure of each other. Choose words carefully. They can make, or break, your opportunity.

Duquesa Marketing Announces Unveiling of Pedi-Protexx Web-Site to Support International Brand Introduction

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

www.duquesamarketing.com

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Duquesa Marketing Announces Unveiling of Pedi-Protexx Web-Site to Support International Brand Introduction

Pedicure Accessory URL www.Pedi-Protexx.com to Be Launched at Prestigious COSMOPROF Bologna Beauty Industry Expo March 9-13

Florence, KY Geoff Ficke, President of international award winning Consumer Product Development and Branding firm Duquesa Marketing announced today that his firm will unveil the new web-site www.Pedi-Protexx.com on March 8 to coincide with the retail launch of Pedi-Protexx™ at COSMOPROF Bologna, March 9-13.

“Pedi-Protexx™ is an elegantly simple accessory that insures perfect pedicure protection”, said Mr. Ficke. “The product presents a wonderful up-sell opportunity for every salon in the world that offers pedicure services. The design and performance features are novel and we are thrilled to unveil the Pedi-Protexx line and web-site at COSMOPROF Bologna”.

“The URL www.Pedi-Protexx.com will go on-line on Thursday March 8, timed to coincide with the lines unveiling at COSMOPROF”, said Nancy Ficke, General Manager of Duquesa Marketing, managing consultants for the Pedi-Protexx project. “The evolution of this product from idea through concept and prototype to perfected market ready beauty accessory
has been so rewarding for our team”.

We have already begun negotiating with certain distributors for exclusive country rights assignments”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Product Development for Duquesa Marketing. Interest has been strong and we hope to announce a full slate of distribution relationships for Pedi-Protexx after COSMOPROF”.

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on Sirius Satellite Radio The Good Life Show (Dial LIME Ch. 1) on February 22nd at 10:30am PT 1:30pm ET

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

www.duquesamarketing.com

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on Sirius Satellite Radio The Good Life Show (Dial LIME Ch. 1) on February 22nd at 10:30am PT 1:30pm ET

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 Sirius Satellite Radio (Dial LIME Ch. 1) The Good Life Show with Host Jesse Dylan February 22nd at 10:30am pacific time / 1:30pm 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.

 

Pedi-Protexx™ Web-site to Be Unveiled in Conjunction With International Retail Brand Introduction in March

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

www.duquesamarketing.com

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Pedi-Protexx™ Web-site to Be Unveiled in Conjunction With International Retail Brand Introduction in March

www.Pedi-Protexx.com Will Go On-Line March 8 as Pedicure Accessory Products Launched at Prestigious COSMOPROF Bologna

Alexandria, VA Dr. Barbara von Mettenheim, creator of Pedi-Protexx and President of BvonM LLC, announced today that her firm will unveil their web-site www.Pedi-Protexx.com, March 8, 2012.   The URL will support the international retail introduction of the patented, novel line of Pedi-Protexx pedicure accessory products at the premiere Cosmetic Expo, COSMOPROF Bologna, March 9-13.

“The URL www.Pedi-Protexx.com was crafted to convey maximum detail about the unusual design and advanced features of Pedi-Protexx”, said Dr. von Mettenheim. “Pedi-Protexx is created to provide perfect pedicure protection for consumers of professionally applied pedicures. The service is not inexpensive, and as a luxury pamper, my product is built to maximize the experience”.

“Pedi-Protexx is a wonderful up-sell opportunity for every salon in the world that provides pedicure services”, said Nancy Ficke, General Manager of Florence, KY based Duquesa Marketing, managing consultants for the Pedi-Protexx project. “COSMOPROF Bologna is the premiere Cosmetic and Beauty Industry trade show and it is the perfect venue to introduce Pedi-Protexx to the widest possible international audience of salons, retailers and distributors”.

“Duquesa Marketing is already in discussions with a number of country specific distributors about organizing exclusive licensed territories to represent Pedi-Protexx”, said Dr. von Mettenheim. “We will announce the full lineup of distributors after COSMOPROF as well as North American sales channels”.

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on WLW 700 AM The Afternoon Show on February 8th at 4:45pm ET

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

www.DuquesaMarketing.com

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Geoff Ficke to Be Interviewed on WLW 700 AM The Afternoon Show on February 8th at 4:45pm ET

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 WLW The Afternoon Show with Hosts Eddie and Tracy Jones  February 8th at 4:45pm 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”.

Dr. Nemi Rx™ Bio-Hydrolyzed Anti-Aging and Under Eye Skin Care to Unveil Website for Retail Launch

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

www.duquesamarketing.com

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Dr. Nemi Rx™ Bio-Hydrolyzed Anti-Aging and Under Eye Skin Care to Unveil Website for Retail Launch

www.drnemirx.com Will Be Online March 8 to Support Brand Introduction at COSMOPROF Bologna March 9-12, 2012

Atlanta, GA, USA  – Dr. Ajit Nemi, President of Nemi Capital LLC and developer of Dr. Nemi Rx™ Bio-Hydrolyzed Anti-Aging and Under Eye Skin Care, announced that his Company will unveil its new website (www.drnemirx.com) to support the brand’s introduction at the international Beauty retail trade show, COSMOPROF Bologna, the world’s most prestigious Cosmetic Industry trade expo.

“The website has been designed to provide visitors with comprehensive information on the cutting edge science and natural organic elements that have been built into our Medical Aesthetic formulae,” said Dr. Nemi. “The provenance for this regimen is the hundreds of successful treatment applications on patients of my medical practice in Atlanta, GA.”

“Dr. Nemi Rx™ is unusual in the over-hyped, placebo-laden Cosmetic Skin Care field,” said Geoff Ficke, President of Florence, KY based Duquesa Marketing, managing consultants for the Dr. Nemi Rx™ project.  “Dr. Nemi developed this regimen specifically to address severe under eye and skin maladies he confronts every day in his practice. These products must work for his patients.”

“The website contains actual imaging results from patients and Focus Group participants which confirm the benefits patients, and now discerning consumers, enjoy when exposed to Dr. Nemi Rx™ Bio-Hydrolyzed Skin Care,” said Dr. Nemi.  “We will announce retail pricing at COSMOPROF Bologna and on www.drnemirx.com.

Duquesa Marketing Unveils Medical Aesthetic Skin Care Web-Site to Support Brand Launch at Cosmoprof Bologna

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Duquesa Marketing

www.duquesamarketing.com

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Geoff Ficke

859-567-1609

gficke@msn.com

Duquesa Marketing Unveils Medical Aesthetic Skin Care Web-Site to Support Brand Launch at Cosmoprof Bologna

www.DrNemiRx On-Line March 8 As this Bio-Hydrolyzed Anti-Aging and Under Eye Treatment Introduced to International Beauty Trade

Florence, KY, USA Nancy Ficke, General Manager of international award winning Consumer Product consulting group Duquesa Marketing announced today that her firm will unveil their client, Dr. Nemi Rx™, web-site to coincide with the international retail launch of their eponymous line of Medical Aesthetic Skin Care.

“Dr. Nemi Rx has been perfected after testing, research and extensive use to treat and manage serious skin and under eye maladies on hundreds of patients in Dr. Nemi’s Atlanta medical practice”, said Mrs. Ficke. “We are very excited to be Managing Consultants for the Dr. Nemi Rx project. The introduction of this unique Brand to the international retail marketplace at COSMOPROF Bologna is a thrilling opportunity”.

“We created the elements for www.DrNemiRx.com to encapsulate the unique Medical pedigree of this Bio-Hydrolyzed range”, said Alexis Bruning, V.P. of New Product development for Duquesa Marketing. “Dr. Nemi Rx is the opposite of the glitzy packaged department stores brands that are mostly placebos. The range is a marriage of cutting edge science and organic botanicals that really work”.

“We will unveil specific pricing and distribution strategies at COSMOPROF Bologna”, said Mrs. Ficke. “Dr. Nemi Rx will be in limited distribution and pricing will be moderate, as the Doctor wants the line to be affordable to the widest possible clientele”.

Business Plan Mills Turn Out Documents That Are Expensive–and—Mostly Useless to Entrepreneurs!

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

by: Geoff Ficke

Business Plan Mills Turn Out Documents That Are Expensive–and—Mostly Useless to Entrepreneurs!

The Business Plan, and the process involved in crafting these essential documents, is one of the most maligned areas in all of small business. Many start-up firms and entrepreneurs reflexively believe that a plan of some sort is crucial to developing their project. They proceed to download internet templates and fill in the blanks with half vetted due diligence and guesstimates. Others retain reputed business plan writers to craft their documents from incomplete guidance they provide. In both cases, the plans are useless at best, and often harmful to the project.

In its simplest definition a Business Plan is a series of assumptions that are well qualified, well quantified and well narrated. No more. No less.

Assumptions are the skeleton of the plan. Realistic assumptions that can support revenue and financial projections are mandatory. The only way to verify your assumptions is by doing the best possible job of researching every element of the product category, competition and trends in the space you seek to enter. This can be easily accomplished but not by taking the shortcuts we see in almost every amateur plan new review. The homework, preparation and detail that professionals provide is what makes a quality Business Plan work and drives the reader at investment and funding sources to want to read and learn more about an opportunity.

Well qualified assumptions are supported by hard data that can withstand the harshest scrutiny. How did you support the market penetration for year one, two and three that you project? How did you project annual sales turnover? What schedule are you using to define expenses? These are just a few of the assumptions that must be made, then qualified in order to present an exciting, well supported strategy.

The ability to quantify numerical projections is another chasm that most amateur plan writers cannot overcome. Investors are number skeptics. They will hold the most brutal light to the assumptions used to create the income statements, cash flows and balance sheets provided to support the financial underpinnings of the plan. The key to quantifying a Business Plan starts with knowing (really knowing, not guessing) the dead net cost of the good or service you are seeking to offer. We almost never see this type of specificity in amateur plans and this sinks the whole edifice.

In order to produce a well narrated plan you will need excellent writing and communication skills. There are many excellent copy writers that purport to produce professional Business Plans. Unless they understand the process involved in crafting a series of assumptions that can be well qualified, quantified and narrated, they will most assuredly produce a document that falls short of the needed mark. Good writing as opposed to good Business Plan writing is as similar as Karl Marx and Ayn Rand. Your product story should be brisk, interesting (without gratuitous cheerleading) and make the reader want to learn more.

Just this week I was presented a Business Plan by a very enthusiastic entrepreneur. He had developed a vanity organizer product that almost every woman would find useful. I was keen on the product. Then I read the Business Plan.

The document was 77 pages (before exhibits). Too long! The assumptions seemed shaky. I quizzed the gentleman and he advised that he had paid $3500 to have the plan professionally written. I advised that it was very well written from a grammatical standpoint. It just would not stand investment scrutiny.

For instance, the Cost of Goods number was not realistic. I asked how they had agreed on the stated number. Had the author created a Bill of Materials? The owner did not know what a Bill of Materials was. Had the author organized 3D CAD art? Release Packets? Contacted a number of factories? Gotten mass production costing? Figured freight, customs, duties and local in-country freight? None of these queries could be answered. Their Cost of Goods was a guess.

When Cost of Goods is not known to the fifth decimal point for each penny of materiel involved in producing a product every single number beneath this line is wrong. The Business Plan is of no use. This entrepreneurs $3500 had been wasted.

Do not take shortcuts. Perform more, not less due diligence. If your project has value, and you believe it is worth investment consideration, give it the support it deserves. You would not buy a house with a leaky foundation. Likewise, investors, licensors, venture capital and strategic alliances will not touch leaky Business Plan propositions.