Boston Speed Pitch Event a Great Success


Top Dog Direct Boston Speed Pitch panel

Top Dog Direct Boston Speed Pitch panel

Top Dog Direct Boston Speed Pitch Event 2014

Boston Globe Interviews Bill

On Thursday, October 2 we had our third Speed Pitch event at the Small Business Expo at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.  Producer John Miller of Hutton-Miller, Bill and I were the judges this time on the panel.  We had a great turnout from the inventor community of about 25 people.  Being a native Bostonian, Bill quickly connected with the inventors as they exchanged exactly which neighborhoods and surrounding communities they were from.  The pitches ranged from very sophisticated patented items, a crude pen drawing and a very enthusiastic presentation of just a conceptual idea.

There is nothing too out there for Top Dog to look at and thoughtfully consider. Our philosophy is that even if it not right for TV, the idea has merit and could be very successful in other channels.  We shared our candid thoughts and advice for those items with the inventors, young and old.  The day before Bill was on local Fox28 TV (see our News section) and many were very motivated to sign up.  You could see that even though the Fox News host had his own product to pitch, and thought Bill would be crazy about, Bill was honest with his assessment on live TV and the host took the disappointment well.  There were other “no tuck shirt”solutions out there in his category and maybe his invention was not the best solution.  But Bill did it in good humor and it was well received because it was honest, reasonable and to the point.

That brings back to what we learned and I can share it with you.  Inventors need to do their homework about the existing marketplace for the item in which they are working in.  What other products are like theirs? at what cost? and in which channels of distribution? and what other products solve the same problem?  This I believe is the biggest blind spot for inventors.  The good thing is, that with the internet, the research can be an easy one with a little time and effort.  The 7 criteria for the winners that we look for are the same in all our searches.  It does not guarantee success, but it raises the probability of our success with you greatly.  As we do only a few product a year, we are picky, but as an inventor you will get a quick definitive response, and if it is right, we will let the dogs out, and move quickly to get a commercial done and make a TV success just as we have done recently for the wonderful inventor of the BeActive Brace.

Mass Market
Compelling Visible Demonstrations
Solves an Important Problem to Customers
Cost of Goods allows for TV marketing
Instant Transformations, Works Quickly
Good Value versus Competitive Alternatives
Not Available at Mass Retail outlets… yet


By For Now,





Had Fun at Vegas ERA and DRMA “2014 Marketer of the Year” Award Party

ERA D2C Top Dog Direct Cabana IMG_9732 IMG_9711

We did not win the big award, but we were sure the talk of the ERA convention and the DRMA party.  How would little Top Dog Direct have the biggest hit short form product among the field of all those large competitors- the BeActive brace?  Several people asked us about our product picking strategy.  Being humble Bill said to a friendly large competitor, “even a dumb squirrel can find a nut sometimes.”  Honestly we stick to our criteria and do only a few projects that we really believe in.  Yep, the secret is out.

At the ERA convention we did not have a booth as we feel it is much too stuffy a place and we hate wearing a suit and tie.  We rented a pool suite and put the word out to our network that we will be at the cabana ready to meet inventors and product finders.  We offered a relaxed atmosphere, an offer to order anything off the poolside menu and cool drink from our stocked fridge.  And sure enough several stopped by and we found 2 very good candidates that we are doing our due dillegence.

As part of the Marketer of the Year festivities they asked Top Dog to answer some more questions for the next Response Magazine in the event we won.  Since we did not, you have an exclusive and I think these responses are insightful to the type of company we are:

What does it mean to you and your company to be one of the top nominees for the DRMA Marketer of the Year Award?

We are very honored to be selected.  We are a small DRTV company that concentrates on a few projects a year and been very lucky to have a successful product each year.  We thank our network of inventors and developers for our success and for their trust in us to do the best for their projects.

 What was the most significant accomplishment in the past year for your company?

 For the first time in our history we have had three products in the Top 25 at the same time, Tag Away, Night View NV and BeActive.

 How did the successful products you had over the past year fit within the overall concept behind your company? Were any of those products so successful that they changed the way you do business? If so, how?

 Night View NV, Tag Away and the BeActive Brace all solve important problems for our customers at a compelling value.  They all fit our criteria for success that we stick to.  Although we hate to do it for environmental and financial reasons, we had to use airfreight more often than we would have liked to satisfy overwhelming consumer demand.

 Why do you think your business has continued to respond well in an extended sluggish economy?

 When you are solving real problems for a mass-market audience with a unique product for a compelling value in a compelling commercial, the consumer will always respond.

 What is your outlook for the next 12 months? What are the top items in your pipeline?

 Several inventors have entrusted us with some outstanding products to take to market, but I would be insane to disclose those in our extremely competitive industry. 

 How has technology changed the way your company does business in the past 12 months? How will it in the next 12 months?

 Yes, the Internet is playing a much larger role in the marketing mix and mobile devices are leading the way.  It requires that you be flexible in your methods and practices even when you think they are currently working well.

 What types of products and services are best equipped to survive — and even thrive — in 2015?

Products that solve real problems for a mass audience and solves them well will always be winners in spite of the economy or technological advances.  When we questioned that premise in the depths of the Great Recession we had one of our greatest hits with Tag Away.

Bye For Now,



Top Dog Direct nominated as “Marketer of the Year 2014” by the DRMA


Top Dog has been lucky enough to be recognized by our peers as a nominee for Marketer of the Year.  As opposed to the other trade association for our industry, the DRMA (Direct Response Marketing Association) is not controlled by one or two very large corporate interests, the DRMA is truly a group of our peers.  We really appreciate the nomination.  When Erica and I were filling in the information sheet after we received our invitation, I thought what we wrote would be interesting to our product inventors, finders and developers.   It wraps up in a nutshell what we do and why a person might entrust “their baby” to us.

Directly from the application:

“What do you believe are the top three reasons for your company’s success during the past year? 

1. We are very selective when it comes to picking products. We concentrate on a few products a year and execute them exceptionally well.
2. We are willing to explore new categories. For example, Tag Away and Night View NV were areas that are competitors passed on. In the case of BeActive, we were the first to introduce Acupressure to a wider audience.
3. At Top Dog Direct, we get our inventors and developers intimately involved in all aspects of launching their products. They know their products best!

Briefly describe – in 100 words or less – your company’s accomplishments in the DR industry in the past 12 months:

We successfully launched Night View NV and BeActive Brace. These 2 products will help millions of people with their problems of night driving and sciatic pain. At Top Dog Direct, we are all about helping customers solve REAL problems. Top Dog is off the chain and always on the hunt for new products.”

That last part also captures our ethos and why we picked “Top Dog” as our name.  We want to be super serious about our business, but we don’t mind having good humor and a good time along the way.

Bye for now,



Florida Inventors’ Speed Pitch is a Success

We had a great response to our outreach to inventors in Florida on June 17.  It was held at the studio of Hutton Miller in Boca Raton, Florida.  With over a hundred inquiries and about 20 presentations of products, and I think we found a new item.  And that is what it is all about.  New products are our lifeblood.  What was most striking about the submissions was that some of the inventor had not done their homework.  I can’t stress that more strongly.  Inventors need to do some searching on the internet to see what is already out there.  Need to go to the stores that sell products in your product category to see what is on the shelf and the price points.  It vitally important to do so.  Not only does it a great use of time, but it prevents needless expenses on projects that can go nowhere.  Also it clears the path to move on and find the real hit, but it also may confirm your hope that you really have something special.  Even with our rejections we always provided guidance on other venues that they could sell the product, perhaps QVC or HSN, a catalog or an internet campaign or even a manufacturer or license prospect.  Some of the ideas were just ideas and others were products well along the path to market.  What’s is key to Top Dog is to find that “rare bird” that is a potential for a TV hit product. By sticking to the criteria outlined under “Services” at the website, we increase our probability of success on TV.

We had several members of the press in the audience from print and TV enjoying our antics as our “sharkless tank” panel reviewed the products.  We were there to find product and to provide helpful guidance, but not at their expense for a TV audience.  One thing I can say is that I like the people that I work with and we had a good time at the venue and away as well.  A reporter could immediately pick that chemistry up and thought we should have a reality show of it.   I am very happy with our “A team” of Erica, Bill and I and also sitting in on the panel was John Miller of Hutton Miller.  One of, if not the most successful producers in DRTV history.  His on the fly web research skills helped several inventors to know that they were not alone with their products and well as his encyclopedic memory of  past DRTV hits and misses guided us all as well.  Thanks to Hutton Miller for providing the location.



topdogbocateam TopDogBoca3  TopDogBoca2 TopDogBoca4

Notice Erica has found the real “Top Dog” that was brought in by one of the inventors.

dayboca NightBoca




Top Dog Direct says hello to the blogosphere

In the crazy and lucrative world of TV direct response there has never been an “A” team like Top Dog Direct. At least there has not been a company that has the bravado to call itself “Top Dog.” Our aim with the name and logo is to look powerful yet friendly. That is exactly who we are: Bill McAlister, Steve Silbiger, and Erica Meloni. We will blog to our inventor and product finder community our never ending search for the next big thing on TV. In the process we hope to entertain and inform you about the process of finding, developing and rolling out “As Seen on TV” products. And if you like what you see, please give us the privilege to review your products, and if it is the “right” fit, taking it to market to create the next blockbuster.