From Cool Idea to Marketable Item

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Consumers continue to be inundated with information on an abundance of gizmos and gadgets that hit the market every day, many of which are hyped as innovative and cutting edge. But, just how do companies like yours cut through that growing clutter to make products memorable and successful in the consumer marketplace?

First -- no surprise -- your product must deliver on all of the promises you make about it. Next, look at some strategies that companies like yours can weave into the marketing mix that can ultimately and positively affect the fate of your "next cool" product.

One of the biggest challenges is convincing customers that your product is both reliable and superior in some way to others on the market. Consumers determine how popular your product will be; so you must find a way to create a brand that will resonate with them and, in the process, create broad awareness of the product.

Create a sense of trust and value. Of course, a consumer is more likely to buy a product when he has a sense of trust about the purchase. This trust can come from recommendations via friends and associates about the product or your company. And, that trust typically flows from brand recognition. Ideally, you want consumers to associate your product with your company's name -- and you want a name that connects with something already in the collective consumer subconscious.

While creating your branding strategy, consider the feedback you receive from focus groups or customers that have used similar products in your line. Consumers can be valuable in helping you improve the quality of those products.

One tactic that works particularly well is to make a Web site or a toll-free hotline available for customers so that they can give not only praise, but also constructive criticism -- in real time. Listen to what these users have to say and incorporate that information into the product development cycle to enhance the performance and enjoyment of your product. In addition, a brainstorming session on the features that consumers have touted may prove useful.

Another tactic that may prove effective is to "value market" the product. Explain to consumers -- in your advertising, marketing collateral and public relations -- what edge they will gain from buying the product. For example, "the CD scratch repair device will pay for itself after repairing just two CDs." This approach can dramatically and immediately make consumers aware of the return on investment they will get by purchasing the product.

Ultimately, consumers must be persuaded to remember your brand name so that next time they purchase, they will buy your product rather than the competitors' product.

Role of Product Packaging

With so many products entering the fray, product packaging is critical to catching the attention of consumers. Product packaging must be appealing and informative while remaining simple and to the point. By using distinctive designs, consumers will be able to instantly identify with a line of products.

Gain credibility through packaging. One of the most important aspects in product packaging is to design a logo that can serve as the heart of the product. It should be a distinctive logo that not only is eye-catching but also connects the product to the company.

Certainly, the strategic use of customer case studies or celebrities with product packaging is another tactic that can help. You might also want to include a celebrity's photo along with the company's slogan or product tag line. Your budget will determine whether your organization can have an official celebrity spokesperson who could bring added credibility to your product.

Smaller companies also typically use product reviews to gain additional recognition with key buying audiences. If a positive review was written by an established publication, you may want to contact that publication for permission to use a quote from that review on a company brochure, product packaging, in advertisements or a company newsletter.

These testimonials or third-party comments, especially from recognizable sources, are often key in catching the attention of consumers and will prompt them to either buy or investigate the product further.

Tapping the Right Distribution Channels

Once you have devised your branding and packaging strategies, turn your attention to the distribution channels you plan to use to get the product to your target markets. For many companies, the retailers and online marketplaces are key.

Strategically distribute your product. One way to get a product on store shelves is to introduce a consumer promotion that would allow co-branding opportunities with current or potential retail partners. This type of promotion can offer mutual brand exposure at reduced costs.

An inexpensive way to promote such an effort would be through general public relations, online banner advertisements and radio airtime or industry news articles to gain awareness for both the promotion and your brand.

Consumer electronics are generally targeted at hundreds or thousands of retail outlets. It is key to supply salespeople in these outlets with valuable information that can be passed along to consumers.

Many great products out there are being marketed the wrong way. Using strategies and tactics like those discussed here, marketers can bring their products to market more quickly and profitably. But you must target the right consumer base that will, in turn, enable you to build sales for the long term.

By creatively branding products, using smartly designed packaging and carefully choosing distribution channels, companies can go a long way toward success and profitability in the highly competitive consumer electronics marketplace.


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