Part 2 – From Sketch to International Distribution… in 5 months!


So the concept, designs and costs were all in, but the next stage was to conduct the market research that would indicate if this could sell or not.

Over many years I have learnt that one persons view on style, design or concept is not proof alone, on the failure or success of a concept.

If my wife listened only to my views she might never buy animal print clothing!

When I asked friends and family about The Pen Rest …. well … frankly they laughed!

So there had to be a better way to establish the following;

  • if people wanted the product without manufacturing it
  • I needed to reach a mass audience on a low budget
  • I would need to use every conceivable free bit of marketing in my test
  • my budget was limited so testing had to be exceptionally sharp

The answer had to be crowd funding.

If you’re not familiar with crowd funding then you’ve been living under a rock! This is the latest new wave of marketing and developing a concept to reality.

Here you set a funding goal, work out what you are asking people to back and then promote like crazy to reach the target for your project.

So I set about writing up all the project details on two crowd funding sites. I chose two of the biggest… Indiego and Kickstarter.

My funding goal had to be based on manufacturing 1000 Pen Rests, covering costs incurred, packaging, carrier and postal charges, etc.

I needed £12,500 for my funding goal… All or nothing… that’s how it works.

Both campaigns ready… I submitted them for approval.

Sadly they were not granted 🙁 There was problem with the images… No photorealistic images were allowed!

I needed prototypes making, if this was to get approval and get it off the ground.

See how I get on in Part 3.. Getting Prototypes.

Part 1 – From Sketch to International Distribution.. in 5 months!


I specialise in marketing… internet marketing to be exact and my company PIMdesign is now some 19 plus years old according to my LinkedIn profile.

Often in chatting with all sectors of commerce I am told how tough business is or how difficult it is to get the next sale.

Now that’s interesting.. We all know that when everyone sells the same products and services, prices are competitive and you have to fight for every bit of business.

In my discussions with many clients we discuss the merits, often, of social media, adwords, SEO, PR and other manners of marketing a business, its services and products.

However, often I am confronted with a challenge of a new product or service .. totally unheard of and asked the best method of marketing.

So one day in December 2014 I decided it was time to test what worked when marketing a niche unheard of product. To do this… I created one!

So I set about inventing a place to put my pen. All too often I would lose it under a pile of paper, leave it in a bag or jacket pocket and faced with the fact that I actually like my fountain pen I decided to set about designing a Pen Rest. This was so obscure, marmite, niche that this would make an excellent test.

So before I could get to the marketing stages what follows is a series of articles that will take you through the entire concept to consumer and businesses.

My first challenge certainly not being a designer was to draft what I wanted.

My main focus when thinking about the product were the following criteria;

  • not perishable
  • no sell by date
  • modular
  • shows off the pen, not just somewhere to put it
  • premium feel and look
  • small desktop foot print
  • function-able
  • smooth lines

A sketch was not enough and I did try to make some clay models which clearly demonstrated the flaws in the design, space between pens, centre of gravity and design flexibility to allow for different styles of writing instruments.

Speaking to manufacturers, they all said they would need 3D CAD drawings of my design to be able to give me a cost. So, the next stage was to find a 3D Cad designer… someone that could take the idea and concept and create a 3 dimensional drawing that manufactures could use and create some photorealistic images.

From this I was in a position to shop around for manufacturers.

I was on a mission now .. I needed prices, prototypes and needed to think about marketing.

Manufacturers I found were reluctant to give me prices here in the UK. When I did find companies willing to give me a price they quoted individual costs that would end up being 7 times the price found elsewhere.

So I approached China. I did this by researching Alibaba. I wanted a responsive company, excellent feedback and references that might assure me.

Out of the three I approached, only one responded. As a result I entered into negotiations with them .. mostly between 6-30am and 9am and late at night often after midnight…. although in fairness they were available in the mornings generally until just after lunch.

I knew that in order to create a momentum I would need a price for 1000 units.

My plan was to crowd fund it.

Check out Part 2 to see how I get on.

Bird seeds and social media marketing? What’s the connection?

You buy the bird feeder and the bird seed and place strategically in the garden, but how does a bird know to come into your garden? How does it know the bird seed is even there?

Now compare this to social media marketing.

You set up the Facebook page, the LinkedIn page and even Twitter… how do people see what you post?

Placing quality seeds strategically is the key.

If all you do is shout “I’m here! Come and look at me!” you’ll not attract the birds… in fact the noise does the exact opposite. It is the action of saying “Gosh these seeds are good” and telling those you know, that spread the word.

So when you have something really useful, compelling and interesting to say … that’s fine… just say it. Your friends, colleagues and those that you talk to you will not only listen, but more importantly tell each other. Comment on the quality, mention a new product and the benefits, talk about something controversial, topical, your plans and ideas.

Remember, someone is listening.

Skewed results?

Just in Leeds tonight watching my niece in a music contest… But it got me thinking about marketing.

Firstly I am surprised no mention to tweet the contest name in the acts… No one asked us for email details to notify us of forthcoming events, discount vouchers or anything else.

In this modern day and age I was astonished too that out of 11 acts through to the final so far half of them have been rock bands. Where Miss Jenem is a 15 year old young talented lady that sings original material.

So what does this say about this contest?

Perhaps a rock group event?

Thinking about marketing it suggests that if you target your audience incorrectly you get skewed results.

So when you next consider sending marketing or advertise products or services consider the audience first.

Where do you get your business from?

Years ago I read an interesting book, (sorry can’t remember the american authors name), about the art of selling. In it he suggested that people buy off people that they know, people they trust, people that have done business with them and further suggested that phycology plays a significant part in the selling process.

Now, i’m no phycologist but I can tell you there is a bond between two businesses. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

The problem until relatively recently was that building that relationship took meetings, a handshake and a face to face contact, but not now. Everyone’s too busy and with little time on there hands.

I am a strong advocate of face to face meetings and I know my friend and Linkedin expert Will Kintish is too… but all too often business owners show little or no regard to the lifetime value that will ensue when a relationship is made.

Now a days everything moves so fast, we are impatient as a society that demands a response quickly to our questions.

Online marketing can build that relationship if the mind is put to it.

Let me explain…

So many people tell me that they get unwanted calls, direct mail and emails that it drives them mad. No one really wants to be sold to, and even less by a cold caller…. only today my house phone rang and the woman on the end of the phone quickly said “Don’t hang up! I’m not selling anything… Would you be interested in a free hearing test for anyone in the family!” Now I ask you… would you she really be offering free hearing tests if the end result were not to make money?

So setting the relationship up correctly can and does bare fruitful rewards.

I email my customers with regularity and I call them and arrange face to face meetings. I’m not chasing that next piece of work. I let my building of the relationship do the selling for me.

Try giving of yourself from time to time, give freely and without condition. You may just be rewarded more than you think.

So your first in Google but does that get you the sale?

I’m a great advocate of good practice in Internet marketing… You do all the SEO, Adwords, social media, etc but oh do I get mad when website owners miss the most important factor over and above everything! The Customer!

Oh do I get mad! You see all very well getting the traffic but listening to what your customer has to say surely must rank close to one of the most important Internet marketing techniques in your arsenal.

I mean after all they have the power to make the choice.

One thing that I do weekly is run constant tests. I’ve been doing it for years testing discounts, layouts, prices, etc and all with the help of my customers.

Building relationships and loyalty brings many rewards and whilst getting to number 1 in Google is wonderful it is by no means everything.

Perhaps step back and take a fresh look and engage with your customers… You might learn something new.

Last chance to Book the internet Marketing Seminar 7th March at the Village Hotel Ashton

The doors for this event are almost closed.

Remember this is a live workshop where you’ll see the latest techniques live. Learn how to drive more traffic to your site and gain more enquiries than your competitors.

If someone walked into your business or shop clearly looking to buy, looking for advice or generally interested what would you do? How would you approach them? What would you say?

Just imagine if you had a training manual set out that told your staff and agents exactly what to say, do and when?

This event is a one of a kind. Not your bog standard seminar by any means.

This is your last chance to book and use this code PIM40DIS that will give you more than 25% off the regular price.

Book now online by going here

We’re looking forward to seeing there.


The Profitable Internet Marketing Team.

Any questions call 0161 766 1742

I’m pleased my accountant doesn’t have a website!

Yes you read it correctly…

You see when you walk into my accountants its like going back into a time warp…. there are files everywhere, the office is very quiet, high ceilings, old fashioned lighting and chairs that give away their age.

Then as you look around the building there is just one company computer screen for the odd email.

Oh, don’t get me wrong they have phones, (not mobiles), they have fax and of course the good old letter box on the front door.

Are they any good? You bet… thank goodness they have a select client base.

They themselves admit that they are old fashioned, but confess that they also hate to be distracted by email and the pressure to answer them immediately.

So where lies the balance between having a website, dealing with clients emails and the other extreme of having nothing at all.

Well in 2012 you have to be living in a cave or time warp not to be connected in some way with the internet, but let’s face it keeping your website fresh and up to date and responding to countless emails is only a part of the picture and they are time stealers.

The website has to work for you not the other way round. Your emails should be a blessing not a curse and making yourself available should never be at any cost, time or indeed in preference to your core business.

Take some of the huge websites like Scottish Power. I recently visited the website and had a question. I was looking for a phone number but instead there was a virtual assistant. I typed in what I was looking for and it offered suggestions, indeed it even suggested other ideas and advise.

I found what I was looking for and saved myself the call and an email.

Now back to my accountant… well he could have a website and it could contain the latest tax advice, guidelines, dates for returns, telephone numbers for advice and much more.

Does he need email? It’s his decision to not be swamped by email so if I really need to get something to him I can send to a corporate address where I know it will be past on, but I can always call him if I need him. He’s always available to his clients.

So am I pleased that my accountant doesn’t have a website nor direct access to his personal email? Sure if he does the job as well as he does and always has time for me on his terms and we’re both happy then what’s the problem…. after all I’m not recommending him to you, as I’m quite happy for him to be available to me all the time.

So yes, I’m pleased that they have no website.