Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

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The Land of WIKKI STIX

Met her at a seminar. The twistable, stickable, playable, buildable, creatable, hands-on educational plaything "lady".

Her name is Kem Clark, President, Omnicor, Inc. The manufacturer of Wikki Stix Educational Playthings.

What are Wikki Stix playthings, anyway? They are a patented, non-toxic, tasteless wax formula, pushed into a strand of yarn. The "formula" is tacky to touch and the yarn endlessly re-usable. Currently available in 11 colors, 2 sizes, and countless combinations.

Okay, now I know the features...what about the benefits? Why would anyone want some Wikki Stix playthings, anyway?

Let's start at the beginning. Kem Clark bought Wikki Stix in 1990. Some seat of the pants research yielded good results. For one thing, nothing negative could be found about the product. Equally, if not more important for marketing, four markets were identified as viable:

Health & Therapy

OK -- it's a cool product, but now what?

Let's begin this story in the toy and educational arenas. Most importantly, Wikki Stix has been chosen one of the 100 best products for the year. Early Childhood News, a key publication in the educational field did the survey and ran the results. They looked at Wikki Stix as both a toy for youngsters and as a tool for educators -- and named it one of the top 100.

From a recent Wikki Stix direct mail package to the school marketplace, comes this copy (in a combination letter/brochure/ product sample/Q&A piece):

"WIKKI STIX makes learning fun and virtually mistake free... which helps build self-confidence and encourages the desire to learn more.
"WIKKI STIX are easy to use...they adhere to virtually any smooth surface with just fingertip pressure and can be easily lifted off and repositioned. "Mistakes" can be quickly reshaped.
"WIKKI STIX are ideal for walls, windows, desks, tables, dry-erase boards, poster board and nearly all smooth surfaces. If any residue occurs, a quick wipe with a paper towel or dry cloth will whisk it away.
"WIKKI STIX do not melt, stain or pull apart and they are endlessly re-usable. They cut easily with scissors and, of course, they adhere to each other so you can stick them back together again. They're a fun new medium for three- dimensional art.
"WIKKI STIX are safe, non-toxic, and contain no sharp parts. They are ideal for younger children. They are perfect to help develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
"WIKKI STIX appeal equally to boys and girls and are unbelievably versatile...from Pre-K to calculus...science to art...math to whole language...rainy day recess and positive behavior rewards."

This is Wikki Stix!

Who is the market for such a product? Teachers are a big market. Schools at many levels, including day care and pre-kindergarten, pre and post school programs, city and country recreation directors are all sound prospects.

Plus, hospitals and other health care facilities. With children who need attention and/or therapy. And others who just need therapy care.

Any business with an audience that is kids or includes kids. Best Western Hotels have a special kids Wikki Stix package, available to all their family guests. America West Airlines offers an in-flight travel Wikki Stix kit for their younger fliers.

A number of different family style restaurants use Wikki Stix as a gift to their children guests.

Kem Clark did her homework. Education was a market long before she came along. So it was natural to grow more in that direction first. And to expand at the same time into other avenues.

The other avenues were easy and clear to define and identify...but sometimes difficult to reach. Retailers, for instance, were generally not interested in this too unique product. They should be able to sell this item at the same station with crayons and coloring books and the like...but many were scared of something so new and different.

Kem also learned that any form of print media marketing would raise problems. Why? Because, even when you can reach a specific target audience within a vertical publication, unless you can "see" Wikki Stix at work, most have difficulty understanding the product, what it can do, how to use it. They don't "see" the potential.

Looking for the right medium

Television might work. It is visual. You could show the product in use. And cable would allow some specific target marketing. In the beginning Kem decided TV was too expensive to test. Maybe later.

So, two marketing approaches were taken. Both direct. The first was direct mail to end users. By putting a "live" sample of the product into the user's hands, allowing that person to touch and feel and play with Wikki Stix, they "automatically" began to see the myriad of uses.

For example, a mailing to teachers of elementary level students worked wonders. Even with a pre-payment prerequisite for all orders.

The second approach used is trade shows -- selected retail and educational trade shows. The combination mailing piece of a letter/brochure/sample can be handed out face-to-face...and talked about. Where the audience enjoys an opportunity to play with that twistable, stickable, playable, buildable, creatable educational plaything.

Earlier I mentioned one of the Wikki Stix direct mail packages. With the combination piece. A letter/brochure/sample/ Q & A all combined into a single unit. Experience teaches us many things. One of the things it has taught me about direct mail is that more is usually better. The more pieces in a direct mail envelope, the more response you will enjoy. Not always, but often this is the case.

One of the very good things about the combo piece Kem has put together is that it gets used in both her key direct contact sales approaches. With direct mail. At the trade shows. She can send it to almost any audience. And she can hand it out and talk the product to the trade show audience.

Test. Test. Test.

Still, I'd like to see Kem test. Test a separate letter. A separate brochure...different for each individual market. One for education, a different one for the retail trade, one for the premium marketplace and one for the health care field. Each with specific examples and testimonials for that individualized market.

And also test a separate sample package - Wikki Stix comes in many package offerings. Test to find the one that gets the most orders. And test a separate Q & A piece.

Yes, this will undoubtedly cost more. I know it. You know it. Kem knows it - which is why she has not done it. Yet! Test separate pieces, because until the test is made, no one will ever know if it improves the bottom line. Or not.

One of the reasons I feel strongly that a separate piece direct mail package will work for Wikki Stix comes from some communication from Kem Clark. She told me:

" ...we have begun to realize that much of what we thought everyone would automatically understand about Wikki Stix needs to be explained..."

What is very clearly being stated here is that more is indeed better than less. The marketplace is saying so. And multiple pieces is one of the ways to provide more of the answers.

Now, let's go to the reply card. The response device. Let's hear what Kem Clark says:

"For our internal reference, the coding system on the response/reply cards was designed to keep us amused. Our coding system went as follows:

Audience category Response Card Graphic Public Elementary - Palm Tree & 3 dinosaur tracks Catholic Elementary - Palm Tree & 5 dinosaur tracks Science Directors - Palm Tree & 0 dinosaur tracks Special Ed teachers - No Tree & 3 tracks Chapter I Directors - No Tree & 5 tracks.

"As you can see, a little levity keeps us going here in Wikki-Land!"

Let's end this story on a serious note. One of the things that is imperative in mail-order is a guarantee. It is equally important in business- to-business as consumer. Here is the Wikki Stix guarantee to all teachers, schools and other educational units:

"Our Special Offer comes with our complete money-back guarantee -- we are so sure your students will love learning with WIKKI STIX that if you don't find them to be everything you hoped for, just send them back (the WIKKIES, of course) and we'll refund your money."

Good stuff! Long enough to be complete...short enough to be understood.

Wikki Stix is now being sold worldwide. It is patented in the U.S.A./Canada/U.K. and soon in Australia and New Zealand. For more information, call 1-800-869-4554 or visit the Web site at http://www.wikkistix.com/.

Maybe there's a spot in your marketing efforts for a Wikki Stix package. If so, or if you'd just like to know more, contact Kem Clark, President, at her Omnicor Wikki Stix Phoenix, Arizona office. She would love to hear from you.

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