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Twistable, Stickable, Buildable, Playable WHAT?
by Ray Jutkins

In the very early '90s I met Kem Clark. She was an active participant in a direct mail seminar I ran in Phoenix, Arizona. Since that time we've stayed in touch. Visited. Did a wee bit of consulting for one of the charities where she is active. Even attended a grand holiday party in her home.

She was also the subject of a presentation at an Arizona Direct Marketing Association event. At an earlier time I wrote about her and her company. More recently she was a guest on my INB Internet Radio Network program Marketing with Ray.

Let's start by introducing her product; Wikki Stix. Because it is the "stuff" that gave the title Twistable, Stickable, Buildable, Playable One-of-a-kind Creatables!

Okay, what IS Wikki Stix? Think post-it-note. The 3M product known 'round the world. A piece of paper with glue that allows you to re-use it over and over. To pick up the paper and "stick" it down in another place. Again and again.

That's what Wikki Stix is ... except it's not paper. It's a piece of yarn. A piece of string. A brightly colored piece of string. With a "sticky" substance within the fabric. That allows it to be placed on just about any smooth surface, removed, and put someplace else.

Now, why in the world would you want to do this? And who cares? To begin, children care ... and those working with children care. Wikki Stix is really a "toy". Something to play with. To make things. To build "stuff". To do designs.

And it is a teaching tool. Teaching kids letters and numbers. Yes, teachers use Wikki Stix to teach the letters of the alphabet. And how to spell. Math, too ... how to add, subtract, multiple, divide.

Wikki Stix, because it is flexible, also teaches hand movement. It is an alternative to crayons. Hey, crayons are not going away. Yet, for the smallest, youngest amongst us, crayons can be a hazzard. Not all kids color within the lines. Which means table tops, chair backs, walls and other places frequently have crayon marks ... compliments of little people.

And Wikki Stix is safe, too. Food coloring safe. Meaning, since kids seem to put just about everything in their mouths, if they get hungry and want to try a Wikki Stix sandwich, they won't fall over and die. Little kids' teachers are big believers in the product.

There are others, too. The airlines and family restaurants. Several airlines use Wikki Stix as their hand-out toy. It is light weight, easy to carry, and easy to offer as a play thing to the family with children. Kids can easily become bored on even a short flight.

Ditto with restaurants catering to families. Kids can make a mess. And may with their food. They will not with Wikki Stix. It's not messy. It's fun.

Every package of Wikki Stix comes with a small paper offering suggestions on what to make, what to build. Simple line drawing ideas. Frequently, when I'm presenting a creative seminar, I give each participant a package of Wikki Stix, and ask them to get with a neighbor. They then have 3 minutes to "make something". It's fun, and it gets people working together. Plus, an added bonus ... it leaves nothing behind for the next guy to clean up.

Another use is for occupational therapy. No matter your age, when you need to use your fingers and hands and are having trouble, a package of Wikki Stix may come to the rescue. The problem could come from an accident or illness, maybe from a disease, such as arthritis. It really doesn't matter - using Wikki Stix "forces" you to use your fingers, your hands.

Wikki Stix is even being used by the blind! How? Well, Karen Evertz, a private practitioner and adjunct professor at Syracuse University in upstate New York, has uncovered some truly unusual uses. Karen discovered raised Wikki Stix works in a fashion similar to the raised alphabet of Braille. Different shapes, sizes and thickness of the product are used to teach the blind different skills.

Okay, teachers of small children use Wikki Stix. As both a play thing and a teaching tool. The airlines and restaurants use it to keep the kids out of trouble. And physical therapists use it in their work. Now, how in the world do you sell this stuff?

It didn't take long for Kem Clark to figure out you did it ONLY with a sample. When someone saw, touched and then used the product, they understood. Yet, until they actually "played" with it, they did not get it.

So, it's easy; Kem does lots of sampling. Through the mail "live" samples are sent to all prospect categories. They're handed out at educational and therapy trade shows; Kem shows up with a basket of samples. Likewise at the food industry conventions and shows, she is there.

What she has learned is the product is a hard sell unless the buyer "sees" the use. It's been tough to get third parties to carry the line. That is, retailers, such as children's toy stores. Oh sure, in some places you'll find the product. Most often because of demand created by locals. Usually the store owner/manager has no idea what Wikki Stix is, who wants and needs it, and why. And they have zip idea on how to sell it.

The burden to get the message across falls 100% on Kem Clark and her team at Wikki Stix. Each year she produces a collection of 4 color flyers, blank on the back. That get personalized to an individual event.

For example, the Wikki Stix Creativity Kit flyer tells the story of a craft kit. It's designed for kids 8 years of age and up ... and shares how to make picture frames, greeting cards, mobiles, funny faces, jewelry and much more. For a very reasonable price a school, a camp or recreation department, a hospital, day care center - scores of places - have a product that will last and last. And get used over and over.

Of course Kem uses the product in soft sell promotions, too. The Wikki Stix holiday season greeting card is always something you make yourself ... with Wikki Stix. Kem sends the sample, the "card" and instructions.

Other holidays, such as Valentine's Day, Halloween, national holidays, back to school and more are also reasons for direct mail to customers and prospects. Valentine's is all hearts - with lots of red Wikki Stix. Halloween is orange and black. Thanksgiving has pumpkins and corn stalks and earth colors.

Kem has learned full color post cards work for her, too. Especially to past customers, who don't need a sample - they know what to look for. Post cards have also been a good tool to drive new prospects to her trade show stand. And as follow-ups after a "live" demonstration at a specific show.

Probably the best sales rep Kem has today is "word of mouth". References, referrals, testimonials. Including mine. Many times I've made the suggestion that the "answer" could be Wikki Stix.

So, next time you're looking for a Point of Difference, for something unique, unusual ... Wikki Stix just may be the answer. Especially if you're working with children, are in family hospitality or physical therapy.

You may enjoy a visit to www.wikkistix.com - surf over and take a look.
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About Ray Jutkins, October 3rd, 1936 — January 6th, 2005. Ray was one of the NMOA’s most generous contributors. Over the years Ray supplied the NMOA with hundreds of tips and articles for members. This is just one of many. 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. Keep an eye out for more of Ray’s marketing tips and how-to articles in the pages of Direct Marketing Digest and the article archive on the NMOA website.

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