ERA Members Offer DRTV Workshops

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Members of the Electronic Retailing Association will run a series of local workshops beginning April 28 to help small-scale independent inventors break into the direct response television market.

The eight-hour workshops will cover everything from funding direct response television campaigns to legal issues such as patent infringement and licensing products. The workshops will include a two-hour panel of experts to evaluate with the intent of prequalifying products for the Product Showcase Pavilion at the 11th Annual ERA Conference and Exposition in October.

"Up until now, the ERA has catered primarily to more established companies. We are trying to expand its reach and help out the little guy," said Ron Perlstein, host of the first workshop in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and executive producer at Concept Media, Boca Raton, FL. Perlstein emphasized the importance of maintaining the flow of new products into the DRTV industry.

"In our business, product is king. It is the lifeblood of the industry," he said.

The workshops also will enable the ERA to sort through products not yet qualified for television. Products without mass appeal or those that lack at least a potential four-to-one markup, he said, probably would not be suited for DRTV.

Wendi Cooper, chairwoman of the ERA Product Showcase Committee and president of C Spot Run Productions, El Segundo, CA, developed the concept behind the workshops. She privately hosted workshops for start-up inventors and marketers via The Learning Annex in Los Angeles last year, in which she educated them about the market and recruited for the Product Showcase Pavilion.

"Last year, about 80 percent of all inventors that I recruited struck deals at the [10th Annual ERA Conference and Exposition]," Cooper said. "We hope to offer them a mix of education and potential deal making at the end of the day."

The workshops, which are co-sponsored by ERA members, are scheduled for Fort Lauderdale, Seattle, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. While fees for attendance have not been finalized, Cooper said that the charge will be about $35.


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