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The Portability Niche

Interested in starting a $125 million company? How about one that sells $365 million a year in products?

It’s not impossible. Just take an everyday product and change it in one simple way.

Make it portable.

That’s what General Mills did when they took ordinary yogurt, packaged it in a tube, and called it “Go-Gurt.” Last year, they sold over $100 million of the stuff.

Cheese used to be mainly for sandwiches and platters. But in 2003, “string cheese” from companies such as Kraft and Borden generated more that $350 million in sales.

Portability. Everyone wants to do whatever they want, wherever they are.

You’ve seen the high-tech examples. Looking around the lobby of the Delray Beach Marriott during ETR’s recent Wealth-Building Bootcamp, I saw almost as many laptops as people. To my left, Porter Stansberry was showing his new Web page to a group of attendees. To my right, copywriter Monica Day was checking on her thriving business back home. I was reading my e-mail. We were all on the hotel’s wireless Internet service.

Sandy Franks talked about the power of portability in her Bootcamp session “How to Give Your Business a Boost in Sales (or Even Generate a 2nd Income) Using Time-Tested Principles of Direct Marketing.” And Sandy should know about “time-tested principles” of direct marketing. She’s one of the senior marketing executives of Agora Financial Publishing and is the editor-in-chief of AWAI’s Monthly Copywriting Genius.

A common question from the Bootcamp audience was “How do I develop a niche when I want to market a product of my own?” Sandy answered it in her session by presenting 14 ways to create a hot-selling, unique product.

One of the most interesting methods she suggested is to make your product portable.

“People hate to be tied down,” she said. “So, if your product allows people the freedom to use it in more than one place, that’s a powerful niche.”

Adding portability to a product makes it more valuable to both the buyer and the seller. It will be used more frequently, so it might go through its natural lifetime more quickly. It may require replacement supplies more often. Perhaps most importantly, it will get more exposure to potential new buyers.

But unless you’re the next Thomas Edison or Steve Jobs, you’re probably not going to be able to develop the latest new technology in your basement or garage. Are there more realistic opportunities for a budding entrepreneur?

Sandy provided some possibilities when I talked to her after her Bootcamp presentation. “Portable exercise equipment is one,” she said. “Part of the appeal is that you can fold it up and carry it. Think about those rubber-band-based products you use to strengthen muscles.”

She also mentioned some products that I noticed at a recent football game tailgate scene. “There’s a company called Comstock-Castle. They make portable cooking equipment. And that area of their business is growing. The Windchaser Company makes portable icemakers.

“The idea behind portability is that it allows the customer to take your product with them wherever they go. From one room in the house to another . . . or even while traveling. Of course, not all products can be made to fit into this category. But if you can find a way to make your product transportable, you’re heading into the niche of portability.”

If your product can provide the same level of convenience as Go-Gurt, string cheese, or exercise bands, you just might have the next big seller on your hands. With the right marketing, the world will beat a path to your doorstep (or website).

And who knows? Maybe next year at this time, you’ll be the one giving a lecture on breakthrough marketing at ETR’s Bootcamp!