August 2006 - Marketing Methods

The Spirit of Inventiveness Is Alive and Well in America

By Peter Koeppel

It was an uplifting experience to have the privilege of sponsoring the Invention Showcase program for young inventors in conjunction with ERA and the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). The competition produced many great inventions and provided the inventors with a terrific learning experience about the process of taking an idea and turning it into a marketable product.

After meeting the winners at the awards presentation at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., I came away awed by their creativity, poise and ability to follow through and produce an award-winning product. These are exceptional young people and they represent two key areas where I believe America still has an edge versus the rest of the world. Those areas are the ability to generate new ideas/products and think creatively. The U.S. will not continue to maintain an edge in these areas without programs like the one developed by ERA and FBLA.

The top direct response television shows, according to the Jordan Whitney and IMS TV rankings, seem to vary little from year to year. That’s why it’s very important for our industry to encourage more young inventors to enter our business. There’s a strong interest among young people to start their own business and become an entrepreneur. We need to foster that interest and create an environment, where the best young minds consider entering the direct response business instead of going to work for Google or a hedge fund.

It was also encouraging to see that the two grand-prize winners were young women. I would estimate that 80 percent of the entrepreneurs we work with are men, so it was wonderful to see two accomplished young women win the grand prize. Sisters Julia and Caroline La Roche developed two unique pet products, including a natural remedy that kills fleas, called “Flea Tea,” which won the Grand Prize and “Doggy Den/Kitty Cave,” which is a home for your family pet that looks like a landscape boulder and has a heated floor for keeping your pet warm in the winter. The latter product won a runner-up prize.

I had the opportunity to spend time with the six finalists and was able to advise them on how to most effectively market their products. Their stories, questions and comments further demonstrated their talents and determination to succeed as entrepreneurs. The broad range of products developed by the winners was impressive. It was inspiring for me to be able to contribute to this worthwhile program, and I look forward to seeing these young people succeed in marketing their inventions. Perhaps next year “Flea Tea” or “Doggy Den/Kitty Cave” will be at the top of the industry rankings.

Peter Koeppel is president of Koeppel Direct Inc., a full service media buying agency based in Dallas. He can be reached at (972) 732-6110, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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