Originally created 05/06/02

Promoting your product

If you have been watching all the consumer and industry goods hitting the market these days you may wonder what their marketing departments know that you don't know.

You have a better product than the XYZ firm, so why can't you get the same level of sales, or at least your share of the sales? You can. As an entrepreneur you probably have a better handle on your market than BigGuySales will ever have. All you have to do is put that entrepreneurial mind of yours to work on the project.

And chances are you have everything at your fingertips, just waiting for something to click into place. You've probably already discovered that inventing a better mousetrap doesn't lead to instant riches. So, what does lead to success? The answer is a complete and comprehensive understanding of the four P's: price, place, promotion and product.

Since you have your product, it may be time to work on promotion. As always, I urge you to obtain outside help as a guide to keep you on track.

But let's begin with the assumption that your product is not just excellent, but superior to anything else out there. In your eagerness to get your product in the hands of users you may have neglected some of the marketing planning you really need for success. Don't feel bad about missing the mark this first time. You're in good company. Many large firms still haven't learned the lessons of marketing. The question you need to address is, "What do I need to know that I don't already know?" Here are four areas any entrepreneur should have under full command:

- Product name and logo: When developing a new product, save half (yes, half) of your research money to develop a descriptive name and logo. This is not advertising, it's product. Don't get the two mixed up. A name and logo are as important to sales as a product that works.

For a name, you want something that a buyer can pronounce, understand and relate to instantly. For example, Burger King's "Whopper" or McDonald's "Big Mac" instantly brings up a picture of the product. This is your strive point, a picture description in one to three words that everyone will instantly translate into your product. In your search for the perfect words, avoid cute or tricky names that require thought on the part of your buyer. You don't want thought, you want instant recognition.

Once you have the name, go for a logo that complements and reinforces the impact of the name. Product name and logo are so important to sales that some firms spend millions on just these two items. You don't have millions, but you have an entrepreneurial bent that allows you to think way outside the box, so use it! Find the name and logo that will be the talk of the industry.

- Symbol: Next consider using a symbol to create a setting for your product. Think of McDonald's Golden Arches. Your symbol should be an instant visual representation of your product. No, you can't afford Britany Spears as your symbol, but you do need to let your imagination roam in your search for the perfect symbol.

- Slogan: A slogan adds value to a product and gives the buyer a feeling of confidence. Probably one of the better slogans was the now-outdated Winston cigarette jingle: "Winston tastes good (clap clap) like a cigarette should." Another was Toyota's "Oh, What a Feeling" and a third was Wendy's "Where's The Beef?" Your slogan should make the prospective buyer feel confident he or she has picked the right product and that there is an added value to your product not present in similar products. Tough? Sure, but it's necessary and important if you intend to make money.

- Packaging: Your product can come in a fancy bubble pack or a plain brown wrapper. Either way, the packaging should be distinctive. Use your newly developed slogan, name, logo and symbol to develop a package size and shape that is instantly identifiable. The ideal situation would be for a buyer to spot your product from across a room. Select a distinctive color style and combination that fits.

(Paul Tulenko is a small business consultant based in New Mexico. Additional tips and suggestions are available online at www.tulenko.com or by calling 1-866-TULENKO.)