How To Market This Article for Free

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If you wanted to market a product, Jeffrey Dobkin could tell you how to do it — and he would help you save money in the process.

Say you invented a product like windshield wipers for glasses for when it rains (not a free idea, by the way), the next step would be marketing it and making sure people knew your product was out there.
If you wanted to market a product, Jeffrey Dobkin could tell you how to do it — and he would help you save money in the process.
Dobkin, who made a name for himself with his book How To Market a Product for Under $500, will speak at the Main Branch of the Free Library on April 14 about marketing, inventions and all things in between.
The current president of the American Society of Inventors, Dobkin, who lives in Lower Merion, has worn many hats — many of which he made himself, though not literally.
His first invention came about after he graduated from Oglethorpe University and came home to Philadelphia to be with his family.
“I couldn’t really sit there by myself,” he said, “so I invented a motorcycle burglar alarm because I have a great passion for motorcycles.”
You know, as one does.
“I worked with my brother who was an electronics wizard,” he recalled, “and eventually came up with a winning design for a motorcycle burglar alarm that I started marketing to the motorcycle industry.”
The alarm, which clipped onto the horn of the bike, was quite successful.
He worked with that business for a number of years before selling it, but he gained marketing experience all the while. He met someone who was an advertising typesetter and learned he could write well and create his own advertisements for his product.
“At that point, I probably read every business book in the library that was on marketing,” he said, which wasn’t what he studied in school. “I probably read 300 books on marketing, so that’s how I got a leg up on marketing. I marketed my motorcycle burglar alarm, and it was very specific to the motorcycle industry. The product only fit Japanese bikes, and at that point, they were 90 percent of the market. They didn’t work on Harley-Davidsons.”
At this point, he said, “I didn’t have any practical knowledge that I’ve done but I had a world of book learning.”
He moved from this business to his next venture, a pet catalog in which he sold identification tags for pets. He wrote the packaging for the products and the mail that was sent out about them. That was exciting for him, he said, because he wrote them all, so he could see what worked and what didn’t.
“After about 10 years, I got a little burned out from doing that,” he said. “It became very repetitive. I was making good money but it wasn’t exciting. So I started writing my first book.”
He spent about two and a half years on How To Market a Product for Under $500, which has since been updated and reprinted six times.
“I started writing, and I started in the middle and wrote toward both ends — exactly the wrong way to write a book,” he said.
He heavily researched the material, drawing from his own resources and experience. And then when he finished it and it came time to publish, he started his own publishing company, the Danielle Adams Publishing Company, named after two of his three kids, all of whom had their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs at Main Line Reform Temple.
Instead of having it be the Jeff Dobkin publishing company, the one he created featured “the books of master marketer Jeff Dobkin.”
When he started shopping around for a distributor, the first two people he sent it to wanted it, he recalled. “I gave it to the best one.”
“When the book was finished,” he said, “I came into the publishing industry profitable with an opening order of $50,000, which was really great.”
The book differentiates itself from the big texts about marketing because it speaks to the reader. And if you are at all familiar with Dobkin’s writing from the various articles on his websites, his humor and conversational tone also come through in his book.
“It’s the most thorough of any marketing book, it’s all tips and techniques and how-to — no theory or history,” he explained. “So if you want to learn how to market a product, it goes very deep and it’s all presented in my style of writing, which is very conversational. It’s a 10th grade, conversational style of writing.”
That’s not to say all of his writing is jokes and laughs.
He also started the Brain Injury Foundation from something that interested him. He researched Hypoxic Ischemic Injury of cerebral hypoxia, which causes brain damage when oxygen and blood flow don’t reach the brain. After years of research, he created the Dobkin Technique, which he details in not-so 10th-grade style writing on the Foundation’s website, braininjuryfoundation.org.
But for his marketing work, he typically sticks with the humorous style in which he is comfortable writing. For example, in another one of his books, Uncommon Marketing Techniques, the table of contents lists chapter titles such as “Magazine Publishers Hate Me” dedicated to tips about magazine advertising sales.
He also followed his own advice when marketing his books.
He has a chapter about how to get free magazine publicity for the product you are trying to market. So, when marketing his book, he took excerpts and sent them to magazines to get free publicity — his excerpts were published by 60 magazines.
“Now I’m in all these magazines and I’m like, ‘Wow, this is awesome, maybe I should just write articles,’” he said, adding they were all about marketing. “So I started writing articles and I sent them to magazines and I got into a couple hundred magazines. So I — as I learned now — I self-syndicated my articles and when I had 35 articles, I said, ‘Hey, I have another book.’”
Those articles became Uncommon Marketing Techniques. 
He always held on to his passion for inventing as well. He came up with ideas for hospitals to use pre-medicated syringes or color-coded systems for organizing medicine. Without having a medical background, however, it was hard to get them off the ground.
But it still gave him the opportunity to keep creating, which led him to the American Society of Inventors.
“To verify my ideas, probably about 15 years ago, I went to the American Society of Inventors who had evaluations for ideas,” he said — though he added with a chuckle he couldn’t remember at this point why he went to them for the first time.
“I forget what they evaluated,” he said. “They’re a nice bunch of guys, pretty eclectic. I talked to them on occasion, and they said, ‘Would you like to sit in our board meeting?’ So, I started sitting in on their board meetings, then became a board member and have been a member ever since. We like the creativity, we do inventors a lot of good and it’s fun for us.”
They offer evaluations and advice to inventors, and help determine which ideas are good.
How does he know which ideas are good?
“I don’t,” he answered, simply. “What I look for — being the marketing guy — is can this person develop this into something that is commercially feasible —and commercially feasible is a key term. It means, can you make money on it?”
His talk at the library will focus on such lessons, and he will draw from his experiences and writings.
“My talk is going to be a how-to talk, a presentation on what to do with your idea or if you just have an idea and you don’t know where to go with it,” he added. “I’m going to talk about patents — should you get a patent? Should you not get a patent? A patent doesn’t really protect you, it gives you the right to protect yourself. Most people don’t know that.”
But the best advice he would give (though it isn’t his main intention)?
“Buy my book.”
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0740

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