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We asked some of our TSBC alumni who joined us at Business Camp to provide recaps and highlights from some of their favorite conference sessions.  Victoria Venturi, founder of Paper Epiphanies, took away some great ideas from Craig Hetzer’s presentation about product differentiation.

Be DiFfereNt. bE yOU.  A look at Product Differentiation with Craig Hetzer

By Victoria Venturi

A veteran of Knock Knock and Chronicle Books, Craig knows different. Hell, in many cases, he invented it. And over the course of 30 minutes at Tradeshow Bootcamp, he gave his insider tips on how to make your product or business stand out in the market. How to make your brand shine!

To start, Craig says to make sure you can deliver. Before you get your hustle on, make sure your retailers and reps can count on you to not just invent a great product, but to actually make it! Your word is gold and you want to maintain your reputation of delivering when promised.

Next, it is essential to “know your point of difference.”  Craig asks, “What makes your business special? Why is your product unique?” Knowing what you stand for and why only you can offer that unique selling point is key to carving out your own identity in a busy marketplace.

Craig encourages everyone to think about product from multiple different perspectives. Ask questions. Reevaluate. Is this a novelty item or a utility item? If it is novelty, is it smart novelty or a gag gift? What value does the product bring the consumer? Truly seeing your product for what it is and how it will be used can help to streamline development and, ultimately, sales.

When it comes to a good product, “Run with it,” says Craig. Get it to market and capitalize on success fast. Evaluate your product and see if there are ways to expand on that item through line extensions and more. Build a program that plays upon on a successful series and think long term.

Throughout his presentation, Craig continually revisited the idea of inspiration. That it can be found anywhere. Visit stores, travel, read, look, and question. Curiosity can lead to something great.  Look at how products are displayed. Visit stores in any city you’re in and see which competitors, if any, are feature in the store. Do you like the layout? Why? Craig challenges everyone to “become compulsive list makers” and to allow inspiration to come at any moment. Build that list and do not stop. Do not edit yourself. Allow your list to be a stream of consciousness because you never know when you might strike gold.

Take risks. Push yourself and your product in new directions. If you’re bored, chances are your consumers are, too! Try to make things that surprise your customers but don’t confuse them. It is important to remain “on brand” but there are often millions of ideas and products yet to be explored.

The statement of Craig’s that really hit home was to “avoid the naysayer and the yaysayer.” Steer clear of people who are always going to rain on your parade and be a source of negative energy. Ain’t nobody got time for that. On the same note, avoid those who will always tell you things are perfect and never challenge you to grow or see things differently.

Lastly, Craig says, “We need to make time for ideas.” Too often, in the hectic day-to-day schedules and deadlines, ideas are overlooked. It is up to us to schedule time to think of fresh and exciting ways to share our brands with the world. Whether it be off-sites, field trips, group brainstorms, or simple reflection, it is crucial that we all take a step back and tap into our creativity.

Now that you have your roadmap, get out there and make cool shit!

Victoria Venturi headshot

Victoria Venturi, Founder of Paper Epiphanies

About Victoria

Victoria Venturi is the Founder and Creative Director of Paper Epiphanies, a sarcastic stationery company based in Los Angeles. Victoria is passionate about giving a voice to women and created Paper Epiphanies as a way to put all of her sassy thoughts down on paper. Now, stores all across the USA are laughing with her and Paper Epiphanies!

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