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Archive for January, 2010

Skull Hooker™ Premiers WebSite to Coincide With Product Launch at SHOT Show

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Site Features Novel Euro Mount System to Present
Game Trophy Heads Simply, Stylishly and Affordably!

Klamath Falls, OR Rob Shaw, President of Ivent, LLC and the inventor of Skull Hooker™ announced the unveiling of at the SHOT Show 2010 in Las Vegas. The website is now fully operational and provides sportsmen everywhere with a one-stop shop for Euro mounting their trophy skulls.

“Shot Show started January 19th”, said Mr. Shaw. “We timed the on-line premier of the site to coincide with the start of the show. Within the first hour of the site going online, we had already received numerous visits and product orders for both the “Big Hooker” and “Little Hooker” styles of the Skull Hooker product”.

“The Skull Hooker was a smash at the SHOT Show and the first few days has been online confirms the incredible interest hunters and sportsmen have in the Euro Mount style of displaying and sharing their hard won trophies”, said Geoff Ficke, President of Florence, KY based Duquesa Marketing, managing consultants for the Skull Hooker project.

Skull Hooker is a patent pending product that enables users to easily display their Euro Mount trophy skulls without drilling or damaging the heads. The Skull Hooker design is stylish and enables the skull to be presented on a pedestal mount or on any wall surface.

Skull Hooker™ Euro Mount Accessory Scores Impressive Debut at Las Vegas SHOT Show

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

World’s Largest Hunting Industry Expo Provides Launch Pad
For Innovative New Units That Showcase Trophy Heads

Klamath Falls, OR Rob Shaw, President of Ivent, LLC and inventor of the Skull Hooker™, interviewed in Las Vegas, stated that his Company’s novel Euro Mount wall unit is being overwhelmingly positively received at the SHOT Show.

“The first morning the SHOT Show opened, we were swamped with aggressive buyers”, said Mr. Shaw. “The momentum has only increased as word of mouth has spread among buyers from all over the world, and from media outlets about the multiple design features we have built into the Skull Hooker”.

Geoff Ficke, President of Florence, KY based Duquesa Marketing, managing consultants for development of the Skull Hooker project stated, “In this market, it is gratifying to see Rob Shaw’s instincts confirmed by the professionals in the hunting and outdoor industry. Retailers have flocked to add Skull Hooker to their stores offerings”.

Skull Hooker is a patent pending wall mount that simply and stylishly enables sportsmen to display Euro Mount style trophy heads and eliminates the need to drill, and damage, the skull. Skull Hooker is available for small and large game skulls and will on retailer’s shelves this spring or by ordering from the website at

An Interesting Marketing Lesson Taken From a Day at a Sporting Goods Tradeshow

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

by: Geoff Ficke

My consulting firm specializes in marketing and developing consumer products. Currently we are preparing a hunting product for launch at a major outdoor products tradeshow. This week I took the opportunity to attend the largest expo targeting the archery/bow hunting product industry to scout trends and network for my hunting product client. It was revealing and a valuable lesson was strongly reinforced.

In every industry, and especially on display at tradeshows, there are mammoth players that dominate their category. These leading brands are the stars of the trade and are immediately recognized as such by competitors and consumers. Their products typically are well established, their distribution channels fulsome, the marketing strategies are dominant and awareness of their products nearly universal to their targeted consumers.

The bow hunting industry show I spent a day visiting this week was like most of the hundreds of other trade shows I have attended over many years. The largest, loudest, most active booths were populated by the biggest archery product marketers. The vast majority of the stands in the show, however, were small, independently owned businesses, featuring more targeted product offerings. The opportunity to participate commercially in an industry, in this case for avid bow and arrow hunters, where the entrepreneur shares a passion for the sport with the pursuit of profit is a strong lure for the driven creator.

As I walked the show, I was able to meet and chat with a range of small business owners who love hunting with bow and arrow and relish the opportunity to earn their living in the archery/bow hunting industry. They have created products that fill needs they have identified from their field experiences. These people were virtually all passionate, positive and proud of the many items and specialty products they were showing.

Consider the simple hunting arrow. We all, even if we have never hunted in the wild, have shot or held an arrow, certainly as kids playing cowboys and Indians. We know there is a tip, a bow shaft and feathers built into an arrows assemblage of parts. At the trade show there were numerous purveyors of all types of arrows. Interestingly, there were also numerous vendors offering only tips, or shafts, or feathers, in a stunning range colors and styles. The specialization of these products, their artisan nature and the small, even seemingly tiny, niches they occupy were testament to the idea that building a better mousetrap will be profitable.

I left the show re-energized. The lesson I relearned for the thousandth time is this: If you have passion for something, and can identify a way to improve the experience, you can profit and enjoy earning a living doing what you love most. Many people do exactly this. They earn a good living from commercializing their hobby, craft or favorite pastime. It takes a bit of vision and a bunch of courage to successfully take the leap from employee to entrepreneur, but it is being done every day.

Duquesa Marketing Launches Clients Hunting Accessory at Las Vegas SHOT Show to Great Industry Acclaim

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Florence, KY Geoff Ficke, President of Duquesa Marketing, consumer product development and marketing consultants, announced today the launch of Skull Hooker™ at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Shot Show is the largest outdoor industry trade show in the world.

“We are thrilled with the industry response to this elegantly simple product”, said Mr. Ficke. “Skull Hooker, like so many great innovative products, addresses a real need in an amazingly clever unit and sportsmen have immediately recognized the unique features and benefits of the Skull Hooker. SHOT Show is huge, the competition fierce and the atmosphere very aggressive, and yet, this brand new product has been one of the standout stars of the expo”.

“I invented the Skull Hooker because I could never find a way to readily hang my own trophy heads”, said Rob Shaw, President of Ivent, LLC and inventor of Skull Hooker. “I thought I had a great product idea but I needed marketing and development assistance to turn the Skull Hooker into a finished product and a business. When I met the Duquesa Marketing team I knew I was home free”.

Skull Hooker is designed to enable hunters to stylishly hang trophy heads of the very popular Euro Mount style. The unit is available in two colors, and two sizes for small and large game trophy heads. The Skull Hooker will be available in major retailers during spring 2010. The Skull Hooker is also available for individuals to purchase at

Superior Marketing Usually Trumps Superior Product

Friday, January 15th, 2010

by: Geoff Ficke

The largest selling mouthwash brand in the world is Proctor& Gamble’s Scope. In second position is the very popular and familiar Listerine. These products enjoy massive sales and international distribution. They command dominant shelf positioning in retailers large and small. There are very few households that do not utilize one of these products to fight halitosis.

And yet, a better product, scientifically verified, and the brand that invented the term “halitosis” to describe bad breath is largely forgotten. Once a huge seller, Lavoris has declined precipitously in consumer popularity. Why?

Originally Lavoris was used as an antiseptic during the Civil War. Formulated utilizing the ingredient Zantrate, Lavoris was first marketed as a mouthwash in 1903. Zantrate is a patented ingredient, and coupled with a low alcohol content and pleasant cinnamon flavor, Lavoris quickly exploded in popularity.

Zantrate has been clinically proven to instantly neutralize the bacteria that promote bad breath. Clinical studies at Hill Top Research in Cincinnati, and the University of British Columbia claim to show that Lavoris is three times more effective than Scope at killing oral bacteria. These studies were so compelling that the three major television networks accepted and validated the results.

Richardson-Vick, the former owner of Lavoris created a classic marketing and advertising campaign that still resonates with older Americans to this day. The Company created the word “halitosis” as a powerful branding aid to identify the problem that Lavoris could solve. It succeeded so well that the word “halitosis” is now found in Webster’s Dictionary. In addition, the term “Pucker Power” became one of the most famous slogans of all time after years of use in Lavoris advertisements.

How does a brand with a century old pedigree, solid clinical support for its claims of better performance and clever branding fall off the precipice and almost disappear from the consumer’s radar? Actually it is not that unusual and the reasons are often quite similar. Lavoris lost sight of the famous old marketing adage, “You are never the greatest, only the latest”.

Graphics, packaging, branding, sales promotion, sales collateral, public relations, display, advertising strategies, sampling and product placement are only some of the components involved in constantly refreshing a product. The goal is to keep the brand fresh and in the forefront of the consumer’s mind as times, tastes and competition changes. However, it is imperative that the consumer not be put off by the new and the changed. Remember New Coke? Remember the K-Car?

The Lavoris brand found itself in a constant state of flux. The product was involved in a number of corporate ownership changes that forced frequent management and creative adjustments. Each new owner was less than keen on refreshing the brand and making essential investments that might have protected its place on shelves, while profits were used for other corporate purposes. In the face of an aggressive onslaught from brands like P&G’s Scope, Lavoris wilted.

There are many examples of great products that are outsold by more pedestrian quality competitors. The resources to market properly, aggressively and creatively all too often trump quality. If you can’t let consumers know about a products superior features and benefits, especially in a cyclonic marketplace, your item will suffer at the hands of the more dexterous marketer. This is where alternative marketing strategies, such as bootstrapping and guerilla marketing become essential.

The Classic Toy That Evolved From a Naval Ship Part

Friday, January 15th, 2010

by: Geoff Ficke

“It’s Slinky, It’s Slinky, for Fun It’s a Wonderful Toy,
“It’s Slinky. It’s Slinky, It’s Fun for a Girl or Boy”.

The above portion of the famous Slinky advertisement is ingrained in the mind of almost every child that grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. To this day, Slinky remains one of the most popular children’s toys of all times. In a toy market redolent of electronic toys and games and theme products, the simple, wire coil Slinky remains a classic.

Slinky, like many consumer product mainstays, did not start its commercial life as a toy. During World War ll, Richard James worked as a naval engineer. One of the projects he participated in was the development of a meter to monitor the performance of ships engines. One day, while working with coiled steel wire in his lab he dropped a coil. He immediately noticed that the dropped coil of thin gauge wire acted in an amusing manner, kind of jiggly. This planted the idea for a product concept.

Richard James and his wife Betty began the process of developing the wire coil into a toy. It took the James’ two years to produce the first units and research gauged steel to perfect the unique performance features of the Slinky. Betty James came up with the name Slinky. In Swedish, the word “Slinky” means sinuous, or sleek, exactly descriptive of the Slinky appearance and use.

The public unveiling of the Slinky took place at Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia during the 1946 Christmas season. Mr. James was afraid that the Slinky might not sell so he actually had a friend attend the initial demonstration to purchase several units. No need, the Slinky was an immediate success, selling over 400 pieces in the first 90 minutes the product was on sale. A toy star was born.

I write often about products that bridge categories, beginning life in one space and then evolving and leaping to another as novel uses are additionally discovered. The process of innovation is not solely dependent on originality. New uses for old products can lead to amazing success, fame and profit. Keep your eyes open. Somewhere in your work, play or environment there just might be an amazing opportunity, ripe for the picking.

How Edible Crisco Evolved From Ivory Soap and Helped Create Modern Consumerism

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

by: Geoff Ficke

In 1911, the Procter & Gamble Company was already a highly successful marketer of consumer products. Its original Ivory Soap was the top selling bar soap in the world. One of the key components of Ivory Soap is cottonseed oil. The Company purchased huge quantities of cottonseed oil from agricultural product brokers. As sales continued to explode, and the need for cottonseed oil expanded, P&G began to have designs on controlling the market in cottonseed oil.

By controlling this market, the Company could enjoy economies of scale and drive down raw material costs for making Ivory and other products. However, with total market control over cottonseed oil, there would be added inventories of the oil that P&G would need to utilize in some other product. The Company put their scientists to work to discover a new product use for their excess cottonseed oil stock.

The result was a scientifically designed, laboratory produced, white, fluffy substance that resembled lard. Technically it was a foodstuff. In reality it was not. It had no smell or taste. And yet P&G began to ask consumers to bake and fry with the new product, Crisco. This was a mass marketing milestone. Crisco was one of the earliest products sold by utilizing modern mass market consumerism strategies.

P&G positioned Crisco as a scientific breakthrough. The Company’s real genius, then as now, was in creating a consumer demand for a product that people did not know they even needed. Stores across the country were given free samples of Crisco. Recipes and cookbooks were given away for free to teach homemakers the features and benefits of cooking with miraculous Crisco. The product was positioned as a healthy food (we did not yet know about trans-fats). My mother, until the day she died, would not think of baking a pie without using Crisco for her crust. Crisco became a staple in the cupboards of generations of cooks and homemakers.

This is a classic example of a consumer product that has its root in another completely different product classification. Bar soap is not consumed or ingested. That Ivory Soap would be the progenitor of Crisco, a non-food baking and cooking ingredient, is a classic example of an enterprise taking a component and engineering or adapting to create a completely new category or brand.

Many consumers have discovered alternative or multiple uses for common household products or ingredients. Heloise has made a wonderful career for herself by advising housewives in this type of crossover product usage in her daily syndicated newspaper column. Consumers are amazingly adaptable and creative in discovering new ways to utilize products that were originally marketed for other purposes.

Look around your environment and you might find a new product or business idea sitting on a shelf, right under your nose. By remarketing, repositioning, reengineering or reinventing something that is old, you can create something new. Who knew that a basic raw material, simple cottonseed oil, could evolve from a bar soap to a consumable foodstuff before Procter & Gamble saw and marketed the need.

For Successful Entrepreneurs Job One Is Getting Started-Not Getting It Perfect

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

by: Geoff Ficke

The times are obviously difficult economically for many people, companies and organizations. There is uncertainty about what the future holds. Many of us are worried about the “new normal” and exactly where we fit into these norms, if we could define them. There is a certain paralysis of action that accompanies change and uncertainty. This is to be understood.

For entrepreneurs, however, nothing much ever changes. The optimism that must be hard wired into their constitutions is omnipresent. Real entrepreneurs, those that “do”, not just dream, see opportunity behind every tree and under every rock. Most importantly, they act while others strategize, stargaze and pontificate.

We review hundreds of entrepreneurial opportunities every year in our marketing consulting business. But only a hand-full of these ever become functioning commercial entities. At the end of each calendar year, we review every presentation file we analyzed over the previous 12 months. We are always struck by how many excellent consumer products, concepts or services we saw and how few actually move beyond the talking, dreamy, gauzy muddle of the old Texas axiom, “all hat and no cattle”.

The most distinguishing factor we see that separates a successful entrepreneur from the dreamer is the ability to simply get started. I see much better than I hear. Words are cheap. Action is dear. The “do’er” is driven to get started in pursuit of their goals and aspirations. The time is always fine for them to get into gear and move their project ahead.

Procrastination is a trait that all entrepreneurial pretenders (wannabe’s) perfect. They are always waiting for the perfect alignment of the stars. Excuses abound. Investment is coming. Next year will be better, because……. My wife needs to get her degree before we start. It’s fishing (or hunting) season. A friend is going to make me a prototype when he takes vacation. Self-imposed limitations are endless.

No matter the economic climate, the best time to start a business is when you have a viable commercial idea. Down markets actually offer wonderful opportunities for entrepreneurs with fresh ideas that improve, enhance or change product performance. Fresh features and benefits and novel products are always welcome in our vast consumer product marketplace.

The High Priestess of Personal Freedom Enjoys a 21st Century Rebirth in Popularity

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

by: Geoff Ficke

As a young college student in the 1960’s I was swept up in the exciting, confrontational political climate of that period. The Viet Nam War was raging, the military draft was still activated, John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been taken from us by assassination. The Beatles changed rock ‘n roll music forever and the movie “The Graduate” changed pop culture.

I graduated from school and began my career in business carrying; maybe burdened would be a better description, these influences at the core of my being. I was liberal without having enough of life’s experiences to really know why I was liberal or what that meant. I saw the world as flawed and felt that collectively we could make things better, safer, more peaceful and fairer. It made me feel good to want these things, although I had no understanding of how to make these altruistic goals obtainable.

Winston Churchill once famously said, “A man who is conservative at the age of 20 is heartless, a man who is liberal at 40 is a fool”. I was soon to cross the bridge from dreamer to realist, much as described by Churchill. I started my own business. That was when reality struck, and hit right between my eyes.

At about the time I made the leap into entrepreneurialism I was introduced to the writer, philosopher Ayn Rand. I read her monumental novel Atlas Shrugged. It was attitudinally, philosophically and politically a life changing experience for me.

Every idea I had nurtured from my formative years was called into question by the hero of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. Rand’s libertarian philosophy, she called it “Objectivism”, is on full display in this powerful, logically based tale of the benefits and pre-eminence of individual rights. In the story, the productive, creative, ambitious, driven class of individuals, lead by John Galt, essentially goes on strike. Quite the opposite of a mass union strike, this stoppage by the few brings crisis to the many and itemizes the reasons that capitalism is the only economic system that can benefit the most people most often.

The power of Ayn Rand’s thinking, as evidenced by the characters and stories she wrote are enjoying a renaissance today. Born in Russia, she had fled that country after the rise of communism. Her experiences growing up in a totalitarian place made her a fierce opponent of all the “-ism’s”, communism, fascism, socialism, all forms of statism and collectivism.

At the core of the Rand philosophy was a concept based on limited government, laissez faire capitalism and individual rights. She believed that doing what was best for one-self was the only duty a person owed to society. Altruism was destructive to Ayn Rand. The modern liberal, now interestingly called “progressive”, despises the Rand view of man and believes her views reflect selfishness. And yet, it is only through the “selfishness” of the productive, entrepreneurial, risk taking class that all of society reaps the benefits of their creative, industrious enterprise. Poor people do not create jobs, and thus income, and thus taxes that support all level of government altruism and waste.

In this belief, Ayn Rand was really a modern acolyte of Adam Smith, the original philosopher of capitalism. Smith popularized the “invisible hand”, the concept that by profiting and seeking advantage for ourselves, we inadvertently provide benefit for others. America’s Founding Fathers resoundingly agreed with this philosophy and incorporated this principal into the Bill of Rights and Constitution. Rule of law, private property rights, individual rights and limited government enjoyed supremacy in the Founder’s eyes. These principles, so taken for granted and abused by government today, are the very glue that differentiates successful states from dysfunctional ones.

The early years of the 21st century will not be treated kindly by future historians. The lessons that history teaches are being ignored. Thomas Jefferson said, “He is governed best, who is governed least”. Who amongst us can honestly say that we are well governed by our all intrusive welfare, nanny-state?

The lessons and philosophy crafted by Ayn Rand have never gone away. Atlas Shrugged is the most popular book ever published, after the Holy Bible. Sales are again spiking for this, and all of Rand’s books. Because of the awkward intrusiveness and overreaching hand of government, there seems to be a revival of interest in the ideas represented by John Galt and Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead”.

Ayn Rand is the High Priestess of libertarian, free thought. As long as men seek to live free from the oppressive hand of tyranny and bungled government over-activism her place in history will be secure. There has never been a better time than 2010 to dust off old copies of Ayn Rand’s thought provoking classic tales and rekindle the passion for freedom that she so passionately portrays in her works.