A great public relations campaign can have a long-lasting impact on your brand's reputation and public image. It will also help you sell more product. So, whether you're licensing or venturing, learning how to get media attention is something every inventor should do.
There are many ways of getting publicity for your product. Today, one of the most effective is by going the distance to literally place it into the hands of media and influencers. This strategy is sometimes referred to as "product seeding," and it works.
I've personally used product seeding to help me get national publicity for my inventions. For example, when I was running Hot Picks, a company that produced novelty guitar picks in the early 2000s, I used product seeding to get myself booked on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. In the letter I mailed the show's producers, I included a handful of picks, knowing they would spill out and leave a lasting impression. I also used product seeding to get written up in music magazines like Guitar World and Revolver.
This strategy isn't new, so why is it particularly effective right now? Because we're all so inundated with digital content -- whereas nothing compares to actually holding something in your hand, where you can touch, feel, see, and use it. That interaction is much more likely to pique someone's curiosity.
More recently, I've been on the receiving end of successful product seeding campaigns because I interview inventors on my YouTube channel. For example, the other week I received a package from Anaheim, California-based puzzle company MicroPuzzles: a 150-piece mini puzzle packed in a test tube, along with a thank-you note. The package was custom-printed with my name on it and the product inside was nestled among eye-catching tissue paper. I was instantly enamored, and I wouldn't have felt the same way if I had just gotten an email.
The most effective product seeding strategies are highly targeted yet subtle. When you begin making your hit list, focus on people whose audience can benefit from your product. Bigger isn't necessarily better.
1. Be intriguing.
You need people to open your initial message for this strategy to work. (Mailing someone your product without touching base first is just spam.) So, don't overlook the importance of your subject line. For MicroPuzzles, the line that worked on LinkedIn was, "Here's a puzzle I bet you've never seen before." That's fun.
2. Keep your request short and simple.
All you are doing is asking this person for permission to send them something. That's it. Don't sell. Focus on making it easy for them to say yes quickly.
3. Personalize each package you send.
To the extent that you can, make the recipient feel special. This can be accomplished by a few genuine words of appreciation. Don't ask for anything in return, and don't make any demands. Above all else, be sincere in your approach.
4. Convey a sense of urgency.
Attention is fleeting; the media moves fast. When you begin seeding your product out, make sure you are able and ready to respond to the responses you receive quickly -- like within 60 minutes. If you're too slow, they'll move on.
Personally, hiring a publicist was never in the cards for me because they're expensive and there's no guarantee they'll be successful. So, if it's not in your budget either, that's okay -- as an inventor, you're well-suited to get your own publicity.