Small Ideas Make a Difference

George J. Abrams, vice-president in charge of advertising for Revlon, points out the importance of all sorts of ideas in the competitive business world. He mentions the idea of the aerosol container which was used first with whipped cream and later shaving cream. He tells how a small company like Breck in Springfield, Massachusetts, successfully competes with huge international firms in the creative warfare of business because of good ideas.

Breck doesn't have a million-dollar TV program; it does have beauty parlors across the nation using and recommending its product because of brilliant merchandising ideas. In almost every case of profit-making products there is a good idea behind the product. Abrams cites a competitive product which became the largest selling deodorant on the market. Why? Because it rolls on, using the principle of a ball-point pen-an idea which created millions upon millions of dollars of business a decade ago.

His own company, Revlon, has a long record of successful ideas. One is Love Pat. For generations women have been putting loose, messy powder into expensive compacts.

Revlon pressed powder, under high pressure, into inexpensive but attractive plastic compacts any woman could afford. Overnight the Love Pat compact became the largest-selling item in the face-powder field. "I know of no business weapon so powerful as a strong idea," concludes Abrams.

There's Herbert Piker, a young Hamilton, Ohio, manufacturer, who sat staring at a minnow bucket. He had inherited a metal box company, which was in bad shape. He didn't know which way to turn. But as he stared he thought, "Why not put a layer of insulation between those two cans?" That was the beginning of the Scotch Cooler.

In four years his rundown business was grossing more than five million dollars annually. The profit from a good idea is easy to figure out, but J. A. Anderson of the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors has pointed out the other side of the coin. "We have the costs of ideas not thought up," he has said. "That is a very definite cost.

We have the costs of ideas thought of too late. We have the costs of ideas not developed to their fullest potential. We have the costs of ideas not thought of at all." Ideas which people have had-or not had-have made the difference in the whole history of man-simple ideas and complex ideas, little ideas and big ideas.

What unknown genius first discovered the wheel? Who was the person-was it a woman-who discovered wheat could be made into bread? Our whole world is defined by the men who had the ideas that made possible the automobile, the bridge, the skyscraper, the airplane, the ocean liner, the telephone, the light which turns night into day. Who can estimate the value of the idea of a curved ax handle which made it possible for one man to clear more wilderness and create a new world? What price can be put on the idea of freedom that made children defy Russian tanks in Hungary in 1956? The essential difference between nations is ideas; the Free World will stand or fall on the strength of our ideas. In a Hell Bomb age ideas are still more powerful than any other force known to man.

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