Richard Thalheimer

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

When I came across the obituary of Milton Levine, it struck a chord deep within me.

Here was a 43-year-old salesman of toys and novelties watching some ants at a July 4, 1956 picnic when he suddenly saw his future—the ant farm—a 6” x 9” two-sided plastic frame with sand, tunnels and live ants busily doing their thing as mesmerized kids watch and learn.

A half-century later, kids are still enthralled with ant farms. The basic model sells for $10.99.

Last year, Levine sold his business for $20 million. His website, UncleMilton.com has a slew of wonderful scientific gadgets for kids.

Milton Levine—described by one magazine writer as “anty-establishment”―gave pleasure (and inspiration) to millions of kids, made pots of money, obviously had great fun and went to the great beyond at 97.

Life doesn’t get any better than that!

So what does a fledgling entrepreneur do following a “eureka moment?”

How do you translate an idea into a profitable business?

My suggestion: go the dry test route.

I spent 15 years creating dry tests for clients and my own little business—the WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletter and archive service—started out life as a dry test.

Technically the dry test is illegal, but many years ago I discovered a possible loophole.

Welcome to the Toughest Business on Earth April 11, 2006: Vol. 2, Issue No. 28 IN THE NEWS AMAZING TUGS by the Crowley Corporation Every once in a while a book comes along that captures the imagination of kids and adults who are young at heart. The Crowley Corporate Communications group has published a children's book about tugboats entitled AMAZING TUGS. —MarEx Newsletter, April 7, 2006 According to publishing guru Dan Poynter, a survey by the Gallup Organization found that 82 percent of the population believe they have a book inside them. Six million people have already written a manuscript. That

I 'm going to let you in on an inside joke at the Target Marketing offices. For a while, we've been speculating that our Direct Marketer of the Year Award was cursed. Consider: Of the 12 previous winners, six had their careers hit the skids shortly after being proclaimed by us as the best in their field. A couple examples: 1) Who else but the infamous John Peterman to start our curse? A little more than two years after Target honored him, J. Peterman Co. filed for bankruptcy. 2) Ah, Jay Walker and Priceline! We knew we were taking a gamble on

Who Speaks for Your Company? The new General Motors strategy of offering employee pricing on all new models resulted in a 47-percent sales increase in June. Ford promptly followed suit. Chrysler went them both one better by not only offering employee discounts but bringing back Lee Iacocca--the man who saved the company in 1982 and became its spokesman--to do the TV commercials, complete with the line he made famous, "If you can find a better car, buy it." In 1955 Ogilvy & Mather dreamed up the idea of using the CEO of Schweppes USA, the elegant, bearded Commander Edward Whitehead, as the centerpiece of

By Denny Hatch Where channel integration means a sales and marketing network that never rests. You have to be in awe of a company that opened its doors in 1987 and ended 2002 with 26 patents, 321 retail outlets, 25,000 testimonials from happy customers, net sales of $335.8 million and a dazzling stock performance in what can only be called a bungee-jumping market. The company is Select Comfort, headquartered in Minneapolis, manufacturer of beds that encompass a revolutionary design and blessed with a marketing team that rivals the legendary David Oreck and the wizards of Bose. About the Interview That Follows Noel

How The Sharper Image is Expanding its Global Presence Via the Web By Lisa A. Yorgey People have the same wants and needs the world over. With this in mind, you can safely assume that if a product does well in the United States, it also may perform well overseas. This theory is being put to the test by high-tech consumer products marketer The Sharper Image, which is testing global waters via the Internet—a marketing channel suited to global marketing and able to reach the lion's share of Internet users who live beyond U.S. borders. This multichannel marketer has maintained a global presence

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