Tag: product improvement

Now Available! – a superior, bold writing pen that doesn’t bleed through

While supplies last, add one to four high-contrast pens to your calendar order.

Pen Features:

  • Makes a bold black line that is EZ 2 See
  • Ideal for those dealing with declining eyesight
  • Glides on smoothly
  • The ink dries almost instantly
  • No odor
  • The white barrel and black clip make it easier to locate
  • There is a handy clip on the removable end cap
  • Makes a thoughtful gift

Not sold separately. Only available with a calendar purchase.

With each calendar you order you may order up to 4 pens and pay as follows:

# of Pens Total Price of Pens Price of Each Pen
1 $2.20 $2.20
2 $3.80 $1.90
3 $5.10 $1.70
4 $5.10 $1.60

Some Tips:

  • Always put the cap back on when not in use.
  • If it won’t write because the cap was left off, try gently moisten the tip or standing it upright with the cap on and the tip pointing down.
  • Write with the pen more vertically for a slightly thinner line
  • Write with the pen at a lower angle for a more bold line
  • Things happens, consider having two of them around
  • When the pen is used up, save the cap just in case you need it
  • If you only use it to make notes in the calendar, one pen might last a year

On Being Selected for the BizPitch Competition

Towards the beginning of the 2016, I was informed of an upcoming event called BizPitch.  It is put on by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in this area, a very helpful organization.  If you were selected, you could present your small business idea or actual start-up to a small group of local business-savvy people from various sectors. It was presented like the TV show “Shark Tank”, but without any money being offered.

I submitted my application and was one of 3 folks selected.  The director of the local SBDC office who alerted me to the opportunity, drove me to the event.  Fortunately, I wasn’t the first presenter because it showed me how it all worked.  It took place in the classroom of the local community college.  Tables ran around 3 sides of the room with the panel, observers and the other presenters sitting on the outside.  The first presenter was a young man with some kind of mobile app idea.  As he spoke from behind the lectern, it became apparent that the fellow was known to two of the panelists.  The feedback was basically, “yes we’ve heard all this before, what have you done with the advice we gave you last time?”  An awkward moment.  So I was prepared for some tough love.

Since no one said not to, I had already spread out all of my stuff on the tables on the 3rd side of the room.  So I was more or less ready when they said it was my turn.  I stood near my materials and talked about the situation people face who are dealing with vision loss as they try to manage their daily schedule.  I ran through my experience with seeking a product I could use and the path that eventually led to me starting my business.  That story is on my website if they wanted even more information.

Over the next 20 minutes I showed them the original, partial-year calendar that got so many people to urge me to start the business.  I showed them the 2016 version that I was selling and the Sample I created and sent out to prospective quantity buyers.  Then at the end I passed out the profit and loss statement that the accountant I had recently hired to  had created.  I finished up describing how my first year went and my plans for the next year.  

The time went by quickly and I heard little or nothing from anyone during my talk.  So I was unsure what they’d say.  With a smile growing on my face, I heard one positive statement after another from the panel.  Some assumed that I had a business background because they approved of all I had done.  One panelist was a numbers person and was thrilled to see actual figures on sales and expenses.  One panelist took a Sample to show in a near-by city to the entrepreneur support group there.  A young man who had come  to watch took a card to give to someone he knew would be interested.

The most ironic part of the day came when the 3rd presenter promoting a summer camp at an unused nearby facility, bought a calendar on the spot.  She was having increasing vision trouble and this was the first weekly planner that would work for her. That had to be my favorite part of the event.    

On Coming Up With a Counter Top Display

During the first year, I had several retail outlets offering the calendar.  As the second year started to roll around, I spoke to all of them.  It appeared that those who best displayed the calendar sold them the fastest.  Most of them agreed that if they could stand up the calendar rather than laying it flat, more people would see it and possibly buy it.  Thus I was launched into the enormous world of “point of purchase” countertop displays.  After this experience, I will never look at product displays in the same way.  

After hours of store visits and online research, I narrowed down the options to two methods.  One was a fold up display made of white cardboard that could hold about 10 calendars.  The other option was a clear heavy plastic stand that would hold 3 calendars at a time.  Each had their advantages and disadvantages.

The cardboard ones were cheaper but when shipped were quite large.  Meaning they would not fit into the carton with the calendars.  This meant both additional shipping cost, hassle and the store had to do some assembly to set them  up.  Although the  acrylic display was more expensive, it  would fit in the carton with the calendars.  Lastly, I had to come up with a way to decide on  the text that should go on the display and how to get it on either display without costing an arm and a leg or looking like a middle school art project.

So much effort exerted to encourage a few additional sales.  But I choose not to look at it that way.  If my goal was and still is to get these weekly planners into the hands of people who need them, then I need to do what I can to support these retailers.  I chose the acrylic displays.  I used the computer to print out another slogan, “Finally a calendar you can see”.  My wife is far better with scissors and tape.  She affixed it to the small panel across the bottom and taped it so it almost looked professional.  Now we’ll just sit back and hear if it was worth all the effort.

Thoughts on improving the product after producing the 2016 edition

After the first year, it was time to consider what improvements were in order. For example, what about the location of the monthly pages; keep them up front, or slip them within the appropriate weeks?  The cover raised several questions:  alter the design, make it more durable, should it be a dark color?  What about the holidays?  Who knew there were that many to choose from?  Because  the design-print-sell cycle is so demanding, there was only a few months to make all of these decisions.  

With the help of a new graphics person, I updated the appearance of the cover.  Working with the printer, we found a way to both stiffen the cover and make it moisture-resistant and yet keep the cost down.  For now, I decided that a white cover is fine and we’ll keep the monthly pages up front where they are.

All of these plans and decisions took much discussion, research and some agonizing.  I  listen closely to the feedback I get and continue to try to make this the most usable and accessible product of its kind.  

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