Monday, September 29, 2003

Eckberg: Daily Grind

NKU class marketing Segway

About 40 students at Northern Kentucky University will get a first-hand look this fall at the marketing challenges represented by a cutting-edge consumer product: the Segway Human Transporter.

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, was a recent commencement speaker and told students that one essence of entrepreneurship is simple: success comes from taking charge.

Bill D. Cunningham, adjunct professor at the Fifth Third Bank Entrepreneurship Institute at Northern Kentucky University, decided to take Kamen at his word.

"We told him we would be glad to take on a big project for him - getting the Segway Human Transporter onto college campuses," Cunningham said. "The college market is always the most innovative and is the most likely to spread news about a product virally."

Cunningham is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., where Kamen also attended.

"The story is that Kamen made $60,000 his freshman year inventing and selling electronics and light show equipment," Cunningham said. Kamen attended classes for five years but never graduated because he was too busy inventing.

Kamen got a Segway to the students late this summer so work can begin. The two classes - marketing research and entrepreneurial marketing strategy - have a Dec. 1 deadline for their Go-To-Market Plan.

"We are targeting the best Segway-friendly universities and see if we can get some Segways sold on their campuses," Cunningham said. "The challenge is that the Segway is a disruptive technology - there is no comparable path.

"Disruptive technologies are about changing the way people do things. That is always the most difficult marketing problem."

Going global

Some companies worry about selling to the guy down the street. What they ought to be worried about is how to sell to a customer in Paris.

Going global should be the imperative of just about every medium- and large-sized company in the region.

But learning how to take marketing overseas on the Web is like catching bats with a mousetrap: a lot of activity, not a lot of result.

No more, say the organizers of a planned global summit. On Oct. 8, a daylong Ohio Globalization Summit is planned for the David H. Pointz Great Hall at Sinclair Community College in Dayton.

In addition to breakout seminars, the program brings Ben Kolz, international e-commerce manager from Lands' End, to the podium.

He is expected to talk about effective international business strategies and usable Web and e-practices that promise to grow the top and bottom lines of balance sheets.

The summit is designed for executives and marketing managers who need to figure out how to get a global reach.

More information about the event is available at (937) 223-1415 or at The full program costs $75 for non-members of the alliance.


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