After nearly two years in the marketplace, Spibelt inventor and founder Kim Overton has been making the rounds on various TV shows, sharing her business story and products with consumers across the country.
To date, she's told the story of the Spibelt -- a waist pouch that doesn’t bounce or move -- and gained oodles of free promotion and marketing that has become vital in today’s economic times -- on CNBC's "The Big Idea" with Donny Deutsch, "The Today Show" and CNN. Her product has also been featured by itself on the "Rachel Ray Show" and a Chicago morning talk show. “Spi” stands for “small personal items,” which is what the stretchy pouch is meant to carry for travel or exercise.
It leaves one wondering, how does she do it?
"The team that I have here is as passionate about it as I am," Overton said. "We want to tell the world that we have something that is so new and amazing and it can simplify their lives. It's as simple as that: We want to tell the world. How do we do that? We look for all the avenues that we can find. We want to get the message out there."
Overton launched the Spibelt (www.spibelt.com) in February 2007 out of her apartment in Austin, Texas, sewing the first few hundred pieces with the help of her grandmother. Now, she has a 1,800-square-foot office, a staff of 10 and produces about 2,500 units per week for running, fitness and outdoor stores. Click here to see a SNEWS® review of the product in April 2007.
Luck, confidence and moxie
Getting on TV has been a combination of pursuing it herself and being recommended by others with a splash of luck. Multiple people said her product and company story were perfect for "The Big Idea," which showcases business advice and strategies, hosted by Donny Deutsch, an advertising and marketing specialist. The show's website, like many others, has a section with instructions on how to pitch the show, which entails providing product information and submitting a photo or video. Some shows will also list upcoming themes and topics looking for applicable people to feature.
Overton sent in a general pitch and was later called -- while she was exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market for the first time -- to be on the show, where her segment ran twice in one week. In turn, when "The Today Show" asked Deutsch's team if they could recommend female inventors it could showcase, they passed along Overton's name.
She credits her past experience as an aspiring singer and dancer for her willingness to go in front of the camera. "Some people would rather not be on TV and there are other types -- like me -- who do. I enjoy it, so I pursue it."
>> Don't let stage fright keep you from promoting your product and company.
She suggested sending a business associate, sales rep or friend to speak on your behalf, like one woman did on "The Today Show." Also, she said, it's important to be prepared for an appearance, but not scripted. "Be prepared to answer every question under the sun, the good, bad and the ugly," she said.
>> Keep in mind that a TV appearance may not go as planned.
"Know that it never goes the way you think it might go. Having a script tripped me up a little bit on 'The Today Show.' Producers said, 'Matt Lauer is going to ask you this and he's going to say that.' Not once did he say anything they said," Overton said. "On the fly, I did think of the answer, but it's my product and so I'm prepared to say anything. You don't want to be too scripted or you could get thrown for a loop."
>> Know your product inside and out, and be prepared for all the questions, but also know what you want to say. And, if there's a message you really want to convey, throw it out there. "I have come off and thought, 'Oh man, I really wish I had said that,' when there was an opportunity to say (something applicable to the topic). You have 10 seconds and you want to get out as much as you can," she said.
>> Consider wearing a branded shirt. While Overton does suggest wearing a nice outfit, like she did for early appearances, she's now started wearing a sporty T-shirt with the Spibelt name on it, like she did recently on CNN. "It was just a no-brainer. The company name is short, and for me, it's branding over my personal style. The message was the product," she said. "To wear that shirt, I didn't even think of wearing anything else."
>> And, lastly, be prepared for disappointment now and then. Overton said the CNN production crew hung out with her and her staff for over seven hours. The TV segment ended up being about a minute long and didn't use much of what was filmed. "All that stuff we prepared for and it didn't get in, but that's how it is."
When asked how she keeps the momentum going, she's realistic that TV shows need "new" news for the audience.
"I'm just going to keep going. As we have new products, I'll pursue again and maybe a new story angle. From my background of loving the camera and the stage, I'll find something. It's in me," she said.
And the line has grown from the original Spibelt to include reflective, dual-pocket sport and armband versions. A kids' line was launched in late summer with kid-specific prints retailing for $15. She may have more to talk about sooner than she thought.