I recently had a fun and interesting call with The Gear Guru, Patrick Netter. His book High Tech Fitness in 1984 really highlighted the little known tech revolution happening in health, fitness and wellness and his ability to be on the cutting edge of the next big thing has never left him. Patrick's expertise is so spot on, this was a perfect opportunity for me to share Q&A style, how to get the attention of an expert reviewer and how this process has changed over the years.
When I asked Patrick about the first product he reviewed, that went to market ahead of it's time, he turned the tables and asked me the same question about products. Our answers were telling, and even at the risk of aging both of us, I'm sharing anyway:
Tracy: Stylus pens for handheld recorders, in the late 90's, which was really high-tech. It was the first product I personally brought to market and was very cutting edge. The first product I was involved with while part of a company, that went to market, was the iconic Aeron chair.
Patrick: The very first rebound trampoline exerciser, that happened to be square, not round, and truly was ahead of it's time. The trampoline was designed as a new health device for the benefit of mankind, and it had a three part suspension system with springs built into the legs and a flexing frame. It was a thrilling first review.
The most telling detail about the stylus pen and the trampoline review is this: we've been around the block, before the block was a block. Patrick knows what it takes to get the interest of an expert reviewer because 1) he is an expert reviewer and 2) he's been doing this a long time.
Q. What makes a really great and exciting product to review?
A. The first questions I always ask before reviewing a product are:
- What purpose does it serve?
- Who is it for?
- Is it valid and reliable?
- Does it do what it says it does?
- Will it look good on camera, does it have demonstrations that will be interesting to an audience?
The thing is that products might be great, but if it's purpose isn't clear or people won't "get it" right out of the gate, reviewing the product probably won't serve any purpose. These questions help me determine if the product, and reviewing the product, will be a good use of both my time and the potential consumers time.
Q. What makes a really great and exciting product to sell?
A. Well there are two problems for new products and these two problems can explain the reason why products might be exciting to review but still don't sell.
- The real problem.
- The perceived problem.
If you have to over-educate, being a pioneer, who is going broke to gain understanding for your product, it's rough. That means, even if there is a real problem you are attempting to solve, but if the problem isn't perceived to be enough of a problem, it won't sell. If you have to educate and educate and educate, because there isn't a perceived problem, or the need isn't enough, you're in very risky territory. You need the real problem and the perceived problem to already exist in a big way so that you can drop in with a solution and save the day.
Q. Are social promotions giving expert reviews a bad name?
A. People are becoming wary of the expert or celebrity review because if you're being paid to use and promote or review an item (Think Kardashian's on IG), it isn't honest. People are aware this is happening now so their ears are perked up because they want to know if they're being swindled or mislead. This is why I push the truthful, not neutral route. For all of us, we have a healthy dose of skepticism and I want to bring that trust back. I am not willing to put my reputation on the line to mislead people and I think this is the direction we are going. Because there are experts in the field who do have integrity and those are the people we should be looking to.
Q. Are infomercials or even TV shopping channels still relevant today?
A. There is such a decline of infomercials and we are seeing a huge rise in what I call the investi-mercial; which are investigative commercials. These are shows that are paid to do deep dive investigations into products and companies. These invest-mercials are not geared towards being neutral, but rather truthful, which is actually refreshing.
Be The Change
We always talk about how the business world is changing, and it is. This highlights one area where the change is going in a direction that we can and should be proud of. What Patrick is offering is not just a review. He's offering honesty and influencer integrity. This is the world of business I want to be a part of. How about you?
Oh, and while we're talking about change, put your product to the test. Use the questions and content we laid out to judge whether or not your product is ready for an expert review. If not, it isn't ready to go to market either but it's better that you know this now, rather than after your launch. The questions Patrick uses to decide whether or not he should review a product are great questions for you to use to determine whether or not your product is ready for that influencer to review and give a successful boost your launch.