Make millions from your inventions – King Gillette success story

Today we’re going to look at how a discouraged inventor with no money and 13 years of failure turned his life around, became a millionaire, and had his company eventually sell for $57 billion. This is the story of King Gillette from the Gillette Razor Company and the top 3 lessons you can learn from his success. “The razor was looked upon as a joke by all my friends. A common greeting was, ‘Well, Gillette, how’s the razor?’ If I had been technically trained, I would have quit.” – King Gillette To learn more check out my list of King Gillette articles at Action Item #1: Don’t Let “Experts” Tell You What You Can’t Do As an entrepreneur it’s important to seek out advice. After all, you don’t have all the answers and you can’t do everything by yourself. Don’t be embarrassed about asking “stupid” questions – it’s the fastest way to learn. Be careful though not to take anyone’s advice as being the only way to do something. Make sure that it makes sense for you and keep looking for answers until you find one that will work. When Gillette first came up with the idea for a razor with disposable blades he was elated but he needed metallurgists to help him make the product. He went right to the top and enlisted the help of experts from the prestigious university, M.I.T. But, when he told them what he wanted, they told him it was impossible. According to Gillette: “The razor was looked upon as a joke by all my friends. A common greeting was, ‘Well, Gillette, how’s the razor?’ If I had been technically trained, I would have quit.” Unwilling to throw in the towel, Gillette kept looking until he found someone who believed it was possible and who could help him. He got his patent for it in 1901 and proved the experts wrong. Action Item #2: Leverage Other Brands to Grow Your Business In the company’s early days, Gillette focused his marketing on the uniqueness of his razors compared to those that had come before. As knockoffs hit the market he had to change his approach. So he began cultivating a number of brand associations. Gillette ran ads that featured testimonials from the likes of baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner. Wagner was the most popular baseball player of his generation and the celebrity endorsement proved to be a huge success for Gillette’s sales. Gillette started a new trend in the world of advertising. No longer did an ad only speak to the product’s benefits. Instead, Gillette began to associate his products with an image of the lifestyle he wanted to convey. He understood that people were not just buying a product; they were buying into an idea. Under Gillette, shaving went from being a mundane morning ritual for most men, to being an important experience; with the right razor — a Gillette razor — shaving could transform you into a powerful, athletic and attractive man, just like the sports figures in his ads. That idea took Gillette from being just another razor company to being one of a kind. Action Item #3: Form Partnerships to Build Your Customer Base Gillette was always looking for an angle to promote his business and stay ahead of the competition. When World War I hit, he made a vital decision: give a Gillette razor to every soldier in the service. He sold razors to the government at cost and let them distribute. They designed a special metal-cased shaving kit for every American soldier, with ads touting that “every man in khaki ought to have one.’ The U.S. government took Gillette up on its offer and ordered 3.5 million razors and 36 million razor blades for all of its soldiers. As a result, Gillette had to hire more than 500 new employees, who worked around the clock to get the order filled. But Gillette’s suggestion was not just about being a one-time promotional scheme. By supplying American troops with his razors, he was securing his future. He had created a huge base of customers who had grown accustomed to the Gillette razor and who would keep coming back for blade refills long after the War was over.


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