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By Pfeiffer & Company

You have a great idea or product. Now the key to success is finding a market or avenue of distribution for your idea or product.

Before developing the product or the advertising, it is important to know what the market is for it. Garages and warehouses are full of unsold products and wonderful widgets that prove the point. All the experts agree--test your market.

Don't begin before you are ready. Getting ready means perfecting whatever you plan to sell. Once you are satisfied, ask friends, relatives, and people in business what they think of your idea. Know as much as you can about your product and be able to speak about it in specific terms. Enthusiasm helps build interest.

Whether you are planning to sell apples, better mousetraps, or crafts, finding your market niche is often accomplished by taking the same steps. Others have been there before, and you can follow in the steps that have been proven to work.

Take examples of your product to stores, and ask the owners or managers if they would be willing to display them, to buy them outright from you, or to take them on consignment. Ask if they will try or test a display.

Don't overlook specialty stores or stores that relate in some way to your product. For example, if you have a ski hat to sell, go to ski shops, sporting goods stores, clothing stores, hotels, and gift shops. If it is hand-knit, go to yarn shops where finished items are often displayed for sale.

You may not be able to sell hand-knitted ski hats in your hometown if you live in Florida, but you can sell them--by contacting shops and hotels in snow country that cater to skiing enthusiasts. Contact catalog houses that feature ski gear. Advertise in skiing and sports magazines and newspapers in the snowbelt. If you have a product that should sell in southern climates, concentrate on reaching the appropriate markets.

If you have craft items, attend craft fairs, shows, flea markets, and swap meets. If you can give demonstrations of your work, you might ask storekeepers to give you an area where you can set up demonstrations. They should be interested; after all, you will be doing something that will attract customers to their shop. If it is successful, together you might consider a permanent display area using a cart or corner. Choose a shop that is compatible with, or complements, your products.



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