Dateline: 24 January 2015
As most everyone who reads this must know by now, I make Classic American Clothespins. To help spread the word about my high-quality, American-made clothespins I sent some samples off to the editors of a few different magazines. If you create a new product, you should do the same.
Not every publication will acknowledge your sample, or the brilliance of your idea. The fact is, print publications are flooded with free samples. This reality became clear to me once, years ago, when visiting The Taunton Press in Newtown Connecticut (back when I wrote articles for Fine Homebuilding magazine). One editor's cubicle was crammed with samples of new products, some from large companies, and some for small-scale entrepreneurs. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff.
Editors are overworked and often harried people. They have a lot on their plate. Your sample may get lost in the shuffle. In fact, more often than not, I suspect it will get lost in the shuffle. But don't let that deter you. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. That's my motto. One review of your product in a print publication can make all the difference. I know this from experience.
When I think of the power of a product review, I think of Chris Pasto. Back in the mid-1990's I was self-employed as a remodeling contractor and my focus was on cabinet refacing (I wrote This Book on the subject). One spring weekend, in an effort to promote my business, I had a before-and-after cabinet refacing display set up at a home show in Ithaca, New York. Chris Pasto had a display there showing and demonstrating his BoWrench tool.
I was immediately intrigued by the tool and started asking questions. Chris told me the story of how he was a college student and he came up with the idea. He had spent several thousand dollars getting it patented, and was making the Bowwrenches himself. That home show was his first attempt to market the new tool.
I expressed my admiration for the brilliance of the idea and the usefulness of the tool. I told Chris that I wrote articles and tool reviews for a magazine called Fine Homebuilding. He didn't seem impressed. I told him that a review of his tool in that magazine could really launch his business. He expressed mild interest. I realized that he wasn't going to just give me a BoWrench, and I realized that he really didn't grasp the importance of a good review of his product in a national publication.
So I handed over $50 for a BoWrench, did some evaluating of the tool and mailed it off to my editor friends at Fine Homebuilding. I told them it was a great tool and that I'd like to do a review of it. It took some months for the review to make it into the magazine, but when it was published, Chris Pasto's idea was launched onto the national stage. It made all the difference. No amount of money spent in advertising can compare to a good product review (absolutely free of cost) in a national publication.
I see the BoWrench is still selling and Chris has come out with some other neat tool ideas (BoWrench Link). I'm not sure what happened to the BoWrench I bought that day some 20 years ago. Maybe it is still in an editor's cubicle at Fine Homebuilding.
All of which is my long-worded way of saying that Mary Jane Butters at Mary Jane's Farm magazine saw the value of my Classic American clothespins when she received them, and promptly blogged about them. There was no internet (that I recall) back in the mid 1990's. Things are different now.
Mary Jane's blog post sent a lot of customers to my web site. Then she mentioned my clothespins in an early 2014 issue of her magazine. And, again, in the most recent issue of Mary Jane's Farm, my clothespins are given national exposure.
Other people have mentioned my clothespins in internet reviews, which are probably just as good as a magazine review. Who knows how long print publications can survive with internet competition? The world is changing. But national exposure in a popular print publication remains a powerful marketing tool.
This has been a long-worded rabbit trail to simply announce my newest web site, Vintage Clothespins. The web site is something akin to a clothespin museum. If you like old clothespins, you'll appreciate the new web site.
The new web site is, like all of my web sites, made using the Blogger format, which is absolutely free. It's free. It's simple and easy to use. And it is effective.
Why take the time to create such a web site? Well, I do like old clothespins, but my motives are more practical. The new web site serves to attract and funnel internet searchers to my Classic American Clothespins web site, and my Make your Own Clothespins web site. In other words, it is a marketing tool.
If you have any kind of a product to promote, this is a marketing idea you can pursue at no cost... except the time and effort it takes to bring it to reality.
By the way, those clothespins pictured at the top of this page are probably the best example of an American-made clothespin. They were made by Penley Brothers in West Paris, Maine. I think they were made around 1950. The price for 12 clothespins was 29-cents.