What's an inventor to do? Launching 2 products

Julie and Bob Fehring work on the launch

Julie and Bob Fehring work on the launch of two new products on Dec. 20, 2013, at their home in Remsenburg. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

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Creating demand for one product can be a daunting task.

But for Julie and Bob Fehring of Remsenburg, that challenge is multiplied by two.

In November the Fehrings launched two products on the same day: the Pail Refresher, a garbage and diaper pail deodorizer, and the Squeeze Reliever, a multipurpose massager to relieve pain in hands and feet from arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and bunions.

With the dual launch came double the investment, oversight and marketing to try to get the products into the hands of retailers and consumers.

"It's a big commitment," says Julie Fehring, 50, president of Ideas Space Time. "It's like having two kids in diapers, and they're both needy."

To be sure, it's not impossible to launch multiple products simultaneously, but it's a hefty undertaking, say experts.

"It's difficult even when you have a lot of experience behind you," says Stephen Key, co-founder of Nevada-based inventRight, an inventor's resource, and author of "One Simple Idea for Startups and Entrepreneurs" (McGraw-Hill; $22).

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The Fehrings are no strangers to product promotion. Over the past 30 years they ran two different advertising/marketing companies, handling marketing and product promotion for others. Now they spend long days writing news releases and ad scripts, working on social media and sending out pitches to catalogs, distributors and other potential marketing partners for their own products.

PROMPTED BY NEED

In 2009 Bob Fehring conceived the idea for the Squeeze Reliever after suffering from a bunion on his big toe. Squeezing the area provided relief, and he subsequently invented a product that could apply that needed pressure to help relieve bunion pain and discomfort associated with arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. It adjusts for height, speed and strength.

In 2011, need prompted him to start developing the Pail Refresher after frustration over their garbage's odor, says Bob, 66, inventor/creative director at Ideas Space Time. The automatic, motion-activated Pail Refresher attaches to a pail's lid or inside rim, releasing a scented mist to dispel odor.

"The Pail Refresher developed faster because we had many of the components in place," says Julie. They'd already secured a manufacturer's representative, Toronto-based Leivaire Inc., and getting multiple products manufactured helped them achieve better pricing, she says. The products are made in China.

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Introducing two products at once can be an advantage, says Brian Fried, president of GotInvention.com, a Melville consulting firm, and president of Inventors and Entrepreneurs Clubs of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Aside from better pricing, "you're getting exposure in multiple industries, opening up doors for future opportunities," he notes. You also have the opportunity to potentially double profits and hedge risk if one is performing poorly, he adds.

SIZABLE INVESTMENT

On the downside, it's a much heftier financial investment to launch both simultaneously, and you risk spreading yourself too thin with limited resources, he adds.

The Fehrings have invested "six figures" from their personal savings into the dual product launch. They're targeting marketing efforts online to build momentum, securing Digital Target Marketing, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based online direct response agency, to spearhead the effort. TV spots are planned next.

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"We're testing the initial response and demand for the products," says Digital president Dan Castagna.

The Fehrings have begun selling them on their own websites and the products are available on Amazon.com. The Pail Refresher retails for $14.95, the Squeeze Reliever for $49.95 They also plan to target brick-and-mortar retailers and catalogs.

Their best bet would be starting with small independent stores, suggests Key. "The way to get to bigger accounts is to get a track record."

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