Securing Professional Help – How to Market a New Consumer Product Idea

The last article in this series considered the mindset and attitudes required to be a successful marketer of consumer products and services. We discussed whether to utilize professional Consulting firms or to take the plunge and self-market your project. Here are some ideas on securing talent on a local, regional, and possibly pro-bono basis.

Professional Marketing Consulting and Product Development firms are hired on a contractual basis. They will offer a menu of services, everything from Brand Development, constructing a customized Marketing Strategy, managing Graphic Arts for packaging and Sales Collateral, Trade Show participation, Sales coverage and web-site construction. Some firms offer comprehensive services, other are highly specialized.

A Professional Marketing Consulting and Product Development firm should be able to offer a strong value proposition. Savings in time, money and mistakes should be the benefit received from contracting service from these Companies.

There are other options to consider.

Local Universities
Colleges and Business Schools have become very involved in entrepreneurial activity. Some schools are immersed in this area and their Business Schools offer majors and minors in entrepreneurial studies. Students can be assigned to work on independent projects for extra class credit and will assist in writing business plans, research, demographic studies, discovering vendors and sources of offshore supply and brand development. Contact the Dean of the local business school for entrée to a student to be assigned to your project.

SCORE
This is the Service Core of Retired Executives, a group related to the Federal Government’s Small Business Administration. There is, as always with the government, a process to be followed before being assigned to a mentor in this program. SCORE is national and can be useful for simple, mainstream projects.

Trade Groups
Many industry specific trade groups offer mentoring programs that will benefit start-up companies and entrepreneurs with projects of interest. Be careful here! You will want to have appropriate intellectual property protections in place (Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets, etc.) in place before you detail your product or service.

Business Incubators
Many Chambers of Commerce promote small Business Incubators precisely to discover, nurture and grow local small businesses. The primary goal of these programs is to create employment opportunities. They will have a Venture Capital ethos and require a level of sophistication and detail that many early stage concepts will not possess.

Government
Many cities, counties and regional state associations have been formed precisely to encourage and mobilize small business growth. Once again, when dealing with the government, be prepared for a phalanx of bureaucracy to navigate.

Networking
This might be the best way to overcome the earliest, most formidable obstacle to getting started. I know it was for me, it was for Aristotle Onassis, and it can be for you. You have to be in position to meet people that can help. It can be through a relative who belongs to a club where the members are in related businesses to your opportunity. It might be at the Lions, Rotary or local Chamber of Commerce meetings. Maybe you need to spend some time volunteering at local corporate sponsored charity events such as golf or tennis tournaments and 5K races. Sometimes just asking a friend to organize a luncheon or coffee meeting can open the door enough to get your smallest toe in the door.

The key to success for every entrepreneur I have known, and there are a bunch of them has been to talk to everyone they can about their product, idea or concept. People love to help other, truly ambitious, honest, hard-striving people. It makes them feel good and valued to be able to help others to succeed. If you are driven you will be able to secure professional guidance whether you decide to hire experience consultants or choose alternative resources.