Insider #5: PR and Phone Sex

Wishing everyone out there a very Happy Holiday Season. We’re looking forward to keeping all of you posted next year…it should be exciting!

Lessons Learned

The search for a promotional products supplier is almost over! In the last few months we’ve met with 3 suppliers who have shown an interest in carrying MouseDriver. Of course, each of these suppliers wants the exclusive rights to the product, so we have to be pretty diligent in our selection process. Once thing that we’ve discovered; bigger and more reputable is not always better. Other things that we’ve looked for in our supplier relationship include; the # of new products that the supplier is introducing (more new products means less focus on MouseDriver), the $$$ that they’ll spend marketing the product, “fit” with the current product line, financial stability, industry reputation, and most importantly, how much effort are they going to put into promoting the product. We will select our supplier by the end of the week…watch out!

We love PR!! Anyone that tells you that PR is overrated has no idea what they’re talking about. A good Internet PR firm out here in Silicon Valley charges upwards of $20,000/month…worth every penny if the firm is good. Since we launched the first stage of our PR campaign in October, we’ve had over 100 meida kit requests, been covered in a couple of golf magazines, featured on a couple of golf related websites, and interviewed by an AM News Radio station on the East Coast. In fact, our radio interview (KYW News Radio) and our feature on the PGATour.com website generated a 400% increase in unique visitors (1500 total last week) to our website. Now the challenge moving forward is to convert all of these visitors into buyers. I guess we can call ourselves an ecommerce start-up at this stage in the game…anyone object to MouseDriver.com?

The PGA Merchandise Show in early February is the event that will determine how big of a success MouseDriver will be. Everything that we’ve done thus far has been done with the PGA Show in mind. Approximately 75% of all golf retail purchased for the year are made at this show. Manufacturers, distributors, retailers, media..anyone who has anything to do with golf attends this show, including the PGA Tour Pros themselves. Preparing for a trade show like this one is a huge pain-in-the-ass. You have to secure booth space, design the booth, identify giveaways, practice your media spiel, set up meetings with distributors/retailers, and prepare your body for 5 days of boozing, schmoozing and partying. The ultimate goal for us (other than not completely trashing our bodies) is to finalize a retail distribution network for MouseDriver.

All the sales that we have made thus far have been direct. So, our gross margins are higher than they will be next year…we’re just not getting the volume that a distribution network could provide. Unfortunately (or fortunately), direct sales means that we have to deal directly with customer service issues. We probably get 2 or 3 phone calls a day from customers asking about MouseDriver, inquiring about their order, or questioning the security of their on-line transaction. For instance, a few weeks ago, one of our sales reps gave a customer the wrong toll free number (instead of 1-877, he gave her 1-888). Turns out that the 1-888 number is a phone sex number…the customer wasn’t real happy. We ended up having to convince her that we weren’t a pornography company and sent her a free MouseDriver to prove our case. At this point in time, we can’t afford to have any negativity associated with the product. Which means that we do everything possible to make customers happy. We hope that we can keep this up once the distribution networks are in place.

What We’ve Done

  • Received over 100 requests for MouseDriver media kits from golf magazines, television shows, golf courses, newspapers, etc.
  • Been the feature product on Chipshot.com’s home page during the 1st week of the shopping season (and we didn’t have to ask for this).
  • Began identifying and talking with a number of retail distribution networks…both golf and non-golf related.
  • Traveled to LA and Salt Lake City to negotiate with potential promo product suppliers.
  • Received Platinum Visa’s with a $32,000 credit line, 2.9% introductory rate and 7.9% lifetime. Life is dangerous!

Priority Goals

  • Finalize a supplier relationship within the next week (this is a huge decision).
  • Complete rollout of the new and improved MouseDriver website with full ecommerce capabilities and fulfillment house integration.
  • Collect on all of our outstanding accounts receivable (we’re looking for anyone with the nickname of “knuckles” to help us out).
  • Identify a distribution strategy before heading into the PGA Show (i.e. do we distribute by industry, by region/territory, by client base, etc.).
  • Continue preparing for the PGA Show.

Mood Meter: Anxious for the PGA Show

 

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