Professional Research Saves Thousands of Dollars

December 9, 2011

Just finished an extensive research project for a client to determine feasibility of proceeding with the product commercialization including recommended next steps. Like most inventors, he went to a patent attorney first. After spending thousands on filing for his utility patent, our research found many competitive products that will greatly hinder both his ability to get the patent and his ability to successfully commercialize it. We have recommended a viable direction but he admits that had he contracted for the research before going so far with the patent, he would have saved himself a lot of money and put more effort into another product on the drawing board. Another lesson learned the hard way.

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Independent Inventors Stop Filing Patents

February 17, 2011

The number of patents filed by independent inventors in 2010, according to David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), has dropped by about 50%. In my opinion, this is a direct result of the following:

1. The majority of US citizens have less discretionary income due to the economy

2. The length of time it takes to get a patent through the system is often longer than the life cycle of products today

3. Inventors are becoming more educated by the United Inventors Association (www.uiausa.org) and reputable inventor organizations like the Rocky Mountain Inventors Association (http://www.RMinventor.org) and the Kansas City Inventors Club (http://www.inventorsclubofkc.org/).

4. The word is spreading by inventors who have learned the hard way that securing funding and licensing for early stage products is about as unlikely as selling snowballs to Eskimos.

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Funding for Inventions

February 3, 2011

Get real!!! Unless you have some “skin in the game”, there is no funding available for inventions. It is not going to happen. Once you have patent pending (provisional application on file is OK), professional preliminary marketing opinion/research, and a working prototype to prove the concept, even your own family and friends will not invest. Get out your checkbook and start making things happen!

After you have paid for professional services (patent attorney/agent, functioning prototype, and marketing research) and verified that you have a viable product, you may be ready to approach friends and family for additional funds. At that point, you will need a polished and very persuasive presentation outlining why it is reasonable to assume that the product will generate revenue sufficient to pay the investors back, plus give them an appropriate return on your high risk investment.  Another word of advice, don’t waste your time and money on expensive business plans at this early stage….too much smoke and mirrors.

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Are You Avoiding Social Media?

February 3, 2011

Avoidance can be a big mistake. If you don’t understand how social media can help your business, find out quickly. If you are not on board soon, you will be left in your competitors’ dust. Companies that get started with social media are experiencing results in terms of increased sales and visits to their websites. You don’t have to know everything about social media to get started….just GET STARTED!!!

If you don’t have a Facebook page, sign up immediately at www.facebook.com. If you don’t think your customers and associates are there, take a few minutes to read these statistics:  http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics. You may even want to look up your employees and present customers. We also highly recommend http://www.LinkedIn.com for your business. This is one of the best business-to-business social media sites.

When we receive calls from prospects for Innovative Consulting Group’s marketing services, the callers have usually searched for information about us prior to the call. It saves time explaining our services over and over and gives them confidence to pick up the phone. It is not enough to have a website anymore. Your customers and potential customers want to know more about you. Social media is where they learn to trust that you care about their needs, have experience, and are knowledgeable.

The more a company uses social media and sees the results, especially in terms of increased revenue, the more time they spend using it. You too will find that it pays to get involved.

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Customer Friendly Web Site Lands National Account

April 9, 2010

Jerry had a tight marketing budget for his company but knew he had to do something different. He had struggled like so many other business owners with the economy downturn. He wanted to leverage what he could afford for optimal results. A new Web site was desperately in order. Though he was getting good traffic on his old domain name, the traffic was not turning into paying B2B customers.

All that changed when two weeks after a site revamp was done by Innovative Consulting Group’s team of E-marketing experts. The site, developed to convey value in seconds, brought a national company straight to him. The company executive who called Jerry, said he was impressed that the Web site gave him everything he needed to make an immediate decision to send all their Colorado business to Jerry’s company starting immediately. That’s business marketing at its best!!! Who needs a salesperson when VALUE screams from your Web site?

To see Jerry’s business Web site, visit: www.fastrepairsguaranteed.com

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Why Don’t Women Wear Pantyhose Anymore?

January 5, 2010

This is an excellent example of what constitutes an opportunity just waiting for companies like yours to leverage e-marketing for your own promotion and marketing. If Hanes Alive or any other hosiery company was following this forum, they would find the information extremely valuable. Then again, someone in marketing for the company may have posted this topic for discussion in the forum. The hosiery business has been struggling in recent years. The best part of this kind of industry and product feedback is that the information is free for the looking. Think about how you might use this type of information for your own company.

Check it out at:

Amazon.com Community Discussions
www.amazon.com/tag/fashion/forum

If you are reading this blog post and do not understand the difference between forums and blogs, a forum is an on-going two-way discussion. A topic is posted there and anyone who chooses to log into the site can participate as long as they follow the guidelines for the forum. On the other hand, a blog is a monologue that may or may not allow the reader to comment on what was posted by the owner of that blog.

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Seven Questions for 2010 E-Marketing

January 4, 2010

To keep up with or surpass your competitors, your company’s marketing plan for 2010 must include social media, improving your Web site’s traffic, starting a blog or forum, getting articles published by you or on your behalf about your industry from your perspective, and e-mail marketing to current or potential customers. Your customers must perceive you as offering more value than your competition if you want to survive in 2010.

In order to move forward with your 2010 marketing, it is best to get a clear understanding of what the results were from your marketing efforts in 2009. If 2009’s marketing did not include e-marketing, you will have a lot of catching up to do. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. How many first time visitors came to your Web site each month in 2009?
2. How many of those turned into customers?
3. How often did you make updates to your site?
4. What did you do that was most effective for securing new customers?
5. If you used new e-marketing methods in 2009, what worked and what did not? And, do you know why?
6. Did you have the knowledge to implement the newer and more effective methods of marketing last year?
7. What action do you plan to take to improve your e-marketing and social media marketing for 2010? Classes? Bring in a consultant? Use more trial and error?

Next, put together a set of goals for integrating e-marketing with your traditional marketing. Be sure to make them SMART goals…Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Responsible party for implementation assigned, and include a Timeline. If you are not sure where to begin, call in an expert for some guidance. In a recent survey, we found that less than 4% of businesses even know the difference between a blog and a forum. The average age of those surveyed was 35-40, not above 50 as one would expect. How can anyone expect to be knowledgeable about the more advanced uses of e-marketing, much less, how to select what is most likely to give the results their company wants and how to transfer that to the bottom line?

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Marketing 2010…What now?

November 30, 2009

So many companies will go back to the old methods of advertising their products or services because that is all they know. We are already seeing an increase in TV ads which have had less than stellar responses for years. Is this because they are becoming more effective? Not likely! It is always easier to do what we have always done as business owners rather than explore new, better and more effective methods of marketing. Is it time for you to rethink your marketing? If so, where do you begin?

Everyone is a specialist now days. This can be good or bad. What it does do is make it even more difficult for business owners, who often don’t know the right questions to ask in order to determine if a particular service or method is really the best for their company or industry. Don’t assume that because no competitor is using a particular marketing method that you shouldn’t. Maybe that is exactly what you need to do to stand out from the crowd. Take for example the creation of a Web site or updating your existing Web site. Where would you likely start?

1. Graphic designer: Makes the site look good and coordinates your visual brand. Tend to be artistic.

2. Developer: Creates the functional aspects of a site. Tell them what you want it to do and they will make it work. Tend to be technically oriented.

3. Writers: Create the verbiage with your input. Usually write for grammar, spelling and content flow. Tend to be word smart, not marketing smart. May or may not be experienced in writing style for the Internet.

4. Consultants: Advise based on their background, knowledge and expertise. Tend to tell you what you need to do but don’t usually get involved in the implementation phase. The best consultants listen more than they talk. They need to understand where you have been, what you want to accomplish and how they can assist. Choose your consultant well. Make sure they have a solid marketing background and are knowledgeable about current marketing methodology.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Use a variety of methods to get your site seen on the Internet. This service is often used when a site is not creating the results you were hoping for when you created your site originally. SEO is a very vague term that is used for doing many activities that may or may not be what you need from a marketing perspective; creating meta tags for your site, submitting it to search engines, setting up and analyzing the analytical reports, creating links, and even regularly writing articles and blog postings for you or with you.

Now that you have an understanding of the complexity of marketing today, is it really your area of expertise? If not, I would recommend beginning with an analysis of your current marketing methods and what has worked and what is not now working well. It is often best to seek outside consulting assistance that understands the importance of integrating everything you do and how critical it is to create a perception of value for your goods and services. Make sure that the consultant of choice is up-to-date and stays up-to-date with the many options available for action and results oriented marketing. Just remember, if you don’t do this first, and your competition does, they will have the advantage. Next year may be too late.

Most companies make the mistake of calling in a specialist first. Those that do are more likely to start out in the wrong direction, waste time and money, and be less effective.

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ICG Client Featured on CNN

November 27, 2009

Talk about exposure! ICG client Mike Tracy was recently featured in a news segment on CNN. Mike, a restauranteur, came to ICG for help with a new business concept.
While working with ICG, Mike was contacted and featured on the CNN television spot regarding small business loans.
There are many benefits to working with ICG, and every client gets special treatment. Work with us and expect the unexpected.

http://money.cnn.com/video/smallbusiness/2009/10/27/smb.karen.mills.katwalk.cnnmoney

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Working More and Enjoying it Less

November 18, 2009

It is difficult for most business owners to delegate, especially when the company is in crisis. The continuing thought is that the owner or manager has to do it because if he or she delegates the task, it will not get done or he or she will spend more time fixing errors. Instead, what often happens is that the task does not get done and hangs around haunting the owner/manager in the pile of TO DOs. Try delegating internally if you have competent staff, if not, you will get through this economic crisis better and faster by subcontracting for what you need done that require a different skill set or knowledge base immediately.

It is time to adjust your thinking if you want to survive as a business today. What worked in the past, no longer is effective. You have probably already discovered that you cannot do it all. Instead of staring at your computer screen, stressed with everything on your list that is not getting done, take action and delegate. You will be amazed at how much faster you will be back in control.

Bonnie Griffin Kaake

ICG President

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