In August 1975 Gary Dahl, an advertising executive, came up with the wacky idea of having a ‘rock’ as a pet. He just didn’t want the hassle of looking after traditional pets like dogs, cats and birds etc., which Gary considered to be too messy, expensive and hard to look after.
After the initial weird looks and grunts from his friends, they soon came round to the idea, and thought the concept of ‘Pet Rocks’ was quite fun.
Gary spent a couple of weeks creating a ‘Pet Rock Training Manual’ and designed a small box to look like a miniature pet carrying case. The manual contained tips on how the owner should look after their new Pet Rock. The tips included how to teach your Pet Rock to ‘roll over and play dead’ and how to ‘house train’ them.
A Leap Of Faith
He really felt he was onto something, and decided to exhibit his Pet Rocks at a gift show in San Francisco, later in the year. He also wrote a press release and sent it out to all the major news agencies. As news of this latest fad began to get round, a number of local newspapers ran articles on the story, and the Pet Rock phenomenon started to really gather pace.
Gary enjoyed an almost overnight success, which saw Pet Rocks being sold all over the world, and culminated with Gary being interviewed as a guest on Johnny Carson’s ‘The Tonight Show’. Ever since the success of the Pet Rocks in the 70’s, many a would be inventor/entrepreneur has tried to emulate the success of the Pet Rocks. But so far, nothing has done quite so well. At least not something as wacky as a pet rock.
My Childhood Memory Is A Bit Faint, But…
I was about 7 or 8 when I first saw the Pet Rocks, after my mum bought one as an ornament. I’ve always had this memory of these little rocks with painted on eyes, staring at me from on top of the television.
If my memory serves correctly, my mum bought a few different ones, but I never remembered seeing a manual or a Pet Rock carrying case. In fact, we always called them ‘Pebble People’, not ‘Pet Rocks’.
I would hazard a guess that the ones we bought we just a copy, or a ‘knock off’ of the original Pet Rocks. That said, my mum enjoyed having them around the house, and I know my sister and I found them amusing at the time.
This does show you though, that you don’t necessarily have to come up with a totally original idea to be successful. Sure, you have to be careful that you don’t get accused of copyright or trademark theft, but ‘spin offs’ from ‘fad’ products can often prove very profitable.
Consider This Viewpoint…
Lets say things had started off differently. What if Gary Dahl had invented the ‘Pebble People’ and not the ‘Pet Rock’? You could have seen them and then taken the idea a bit further by adding the manual and carrying case to your own version.
What I’m saying to you is this…Instead of just looking at the latest craze and saying:
“Why didn’t I think of that?”
You should be saying to yourself:
“What spin-off product could I create, which would be the perfect compliment to this new ‘fad’ product that everyone is buying?”
This ‘reactionary’ method will give you a much higher chance of success. For every successful invention/inventor there are probably thousands of unsuccessful ones.
Let the inventors pioneer a new game or invention. Then, once you see something that looks like a hit, that’s the time to jump in and take advantage.
Let’s suppose there’s a new board game for adults. Everyone seems to be talking about it, AND buying it (very important).
You could look at creating spin-off info products. For example, just fill in these blanks:
* 7 Secret Ways To Win At _______
* 21 Successful Strategies For Playing ________
* How To Play _______, A Quick Start Guide
* ________ A Beginners Guide
* ________ An Advanced Players Guide
* Alternative Games To Play With ________
* Members Only Website For ________ Board Game Enthusiasts
Obviously, as I said before you have to consider copyright issues. However, you might be able to strike a joint venture deal with the new ‘craze product’ owners, or buy an exclusive license for your spin-off.
My Closing Advice
Creating your own craze product or even a spin-off from one can turn out to be extremely lucrative. However, by their very nature, craze products usually have a short shelf life. If you don’t capitalize on it early, the craze could be over before you are out of the blocks.
Just keep your eyes open, and regularly look into different markets and products outside of your usual focus. Make a note of the spin-offs that are being created for products in these markets.
Then, when a new fad does hit the marketplace, you might be able to borrow an idea from an unrelated niche, and use a similar method to create a spin-off product or service for the new craze.
It all about getting your brain in-tune, so that when an opening does present itself – A: you will spot it, and B: you will know how to take advantage of it.
I hope you found this useful.