How to turn a brainwave into a marketing success

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The Independent Online
The British are often praised for their innovation, yet criticised for their failure to translate this into commercial success. Up to 90 per cent of British ideas fail because they are not properly marketed.

Doug Hogg, business development director at Eurotunnel, said: 'Many products fail because often the advice to people setting up in business is very poor. The marketing element is not sufficiently thought through.'

Sara Render of the marketing consultants Kinross and Render agreed: 'Too often insufficient market research is conducted to see whether there is a market before a product is launched. The classic example of this was Clive Sinclair's C5 buggy, where a product was made that the market did not want.'

Marketing research data should be used as an indicator of market susceptibility to a product, Ms Render said.

Having established a market exists, a number of additional criteria must be satisfied if an idea is to succeed. The product must be a good one, the price must be competitive and value for money, the market position should be carefully researched and selected, and the promotion campaign should be informative and effective. 'Get any one of these four elements wrong, and you are dead in the water,' Ms Render said.

'Many budding entrepreneurs fail to appreciate just how much effort and resources are required to establish a product in the public's mind,' she added.

'It takes a lot of money to sell to the British public,' Mr Hogg said. 'They are usually pretty sceptical when it comes to any new idea.'

The Department of Trade and Industry's department for enterprise offers financial assistance to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, subject to certain exemptions, to obtain consultancy advice on various aspects, including marketing .

The DTI will pay up to half the consultancy fee, rising to up to two-thirds if the business is based in an assisted or urban programme area.

The objective is to help the business develop an overall marketing strategy. The consultancy assistance covers a range of areas, including assessment of past and present performance and identification of potential markets.

James Hayward and Niall Ferris, two entrepreneurs, are marketing their new game, Who's in the Bag?.

They have worked hard to promote it with stockists, which now include Harrods, John Lewis, Virgin and Debenhams.

'The games market is very competitive and demand is fairly inelastic,' Mr Hayward said. 'In order to break into this market, we must make a significant impact on the customer.'

The campaign has included seeking endorsements from public figures featured in the game, such as Stephen Fry and Richard Branson.

'It is important that the promotional techniques such as celebrity endorsements are appropriate for the product,' Ms Render said. 'If a product is associated with intelligence, it requires the endorsement of a Clive Anderson-type figure, as opposed to a Frank Spencer.'

Selecting the right agent is also important. PR agencies should have a proven track record and be prepared to provide up-to-date reports on progress towards the agreed targets.

The Public Relations Consultants' Association seeks to maintain quality. It carries out checks to ensure that its members are well managed and the quality of work produced is of a sufficiently high standard.

(Photograph omitted)