Transforming the science of discovery into the art of the sale

 In Cleantech, Marketing, Public Relations

TBIf you listen to NPR pledge breaks you’ve heard about the wind up radio thank-you gift. Ever wonder why these radios only just started showing up in the past 15 years? That’s because the British inventor Trevor Baylis didn’t get his inspiration for the invention until 1989, when he watched a British documentary about the spread of AIDS in Africa. Yes, the idea for a wind-up radio is only 22 years old.

An inspiring story? Absolutely. A perfect story? Not entirely. Trevor’s experience, from a relative unknown to an international icon, had several false starts until he got the right marketing and communications team in place to gain exposure for his radio. His story is social and business proof that having the right team in place it key.


The Origin Story

Wanting to help in the fight against AIDS, Baylis realized how important it was to find a way to educate those in rural areas who had no electricity. By 1991, Baylis had created a wind-up radio that could play for 14 minutes a stretch. He patented the idea and attempted to mass produce the radio, but was rejected over and over again.

In 1994, his prototype was featured on “Tomorrow’s World,” a BBC television program. Afterwards Christopher Staines and South African entrepreneur Rory Stear saw potential in the product and contracted with Baylis. Meanwhile, details of Baylis’ wind-up radio were catching on through media placements, and Baylis –well, he earned an honorary doctorate, became an award-winning international speaker, met Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II, established Trevor Baylis Brands, and was invited to assist Nicholas Negroponte in developing the technology to power the One Laptop Per Child Initiative.

Six marketing and communications takeaways from Baylis, including the final plot twist:

1. A great idea is just the beginning
Trevor Baylis was the “idea” guy, but not the businessman.  When taking your product to market, make sure you hire a team with connections, influence, and public relations savvy, to get the job done. Seasoned experts outside your company will have different perspectives than you on your products and that’s a good thing. Taking your product to make means communications and branding that speak to the customer and often company founders are too close to the product to see outside perspectives clearly.

2. Storytelling is key
Why is the Trevor Baylis story so great?  It has human interest. Urgency. Emotion.
So does your story. Convey your product’s features and benefits through the lens of the person who will be most effected by it. This is why case studies and testimonials are so important.

3. Timing is everything
Your potential audience, stakeholders, and customers are out there, but not forever.
Connect your story with headlines that are relevant today, so you can get the greatest exposure and benefit now.

4. Local is global and global is local
Every story is multifaceted, and should be promoted from all possible angles, so that clients get the most coverage possible for relevant audiences, influencers, and decision-makers. Look for experts who know how to speak to various audiences with the same level of compelling outreach.

5. Earn Trust
Trevor Baylis unfortunately made a mistake. He signed on the dotted line with those who, in the end, took advantage of him for their own financial gain.

You should never be held hostage for your own success. Always choose a team that stands by every client and holds a reputation for excellence. At Technica, for example, we are dedicated to our clients receiving value from our work every single day.  It sound cliche but their success is our success.

6. A Diamond in the rough
Maybe you don’t quite know what your story is, or how far its reach, but you know you have “something.” Those you’ve chosen to represent you should be your researchers and explorers, helping you find your diamond in the rough, and polishing it so its brilliance shines through. This should be a core value –and indeed a necessity–for any public relations or marketing professionals you hire.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it quite often doesn’t always mobilize customers. Emotional connections do. What connections does your product make with the outside world?