This is an instructive example of just how complex it can be to get something on the market: a proposal for how we could hobby-shop a nifty calendar for Artemis Societymembers.
Would anyone be interested in having (and helping to produce) an Artemis Society calendar? We're thinking we could put together something nice, but inexpensive, by laying out a monochrome calendar with the line drawings and other artwork on 11x17 pages and printing like a magazine on heavy bond paper. Then we'd just need to punch a center hole for hanging the calendar.
With a cover, it would run 7 sheets, or 14 pages. With volunteers to help put together the information and do the layout, we suspect ASI could produce this for about US $7.00 postage paid, maybe less. Putting it together sounds like lots of fun, too. Here's the list of things volunteers would have to do. This is rather educational, because it's an example of all the things one has to do to develop and market any product.
Provide a list of significant historical space events that should be noted on the calendar.
Provide a list of space conferences and events that are important to members of the Artemis Society.
Provide a list of holidays and other standard calendar information.
Provide dates and times for moon phases. We also need times for lunar apogee, perigee, eclipses, acending and descending nodes, and whatever else would be of interest to moon watchers.
Calculate sunrise time on Angus Bay.
Design and lay out the artwork. This design is important: we need a consistent look throughout the calendar, both aestheticly pleasing and functional.
Design and lay out the calendar information.
Get the calendar printed. We would need to select the printer, paper for the cover and calendar pages, ink colors, decide on quantities to print, take orginals to printer, check sample prints, pick up the printed calendars, and finally deliver printed calendars to packager.
Design the package. We need to select the envelope and stiffeners, then design and lay out the envelope. Then select additional material to include in the package such as Artemis Society membership information and response cards, or maybe advertising for space-related merchandise.
Manage advertising and sponsors. We have to decide whether the calendar will have printed advertising. Then decide whether we'll include advertising material, and if so, determine formats and prices for ads. Contact potential advertisers. Receive ad artwork and forward it to the person responsible for laying out the calendar. Forward payments for advertising to ASI treasurer or ASI's agent for this project.
Get the packaging material printed.
Package the calendars. Calendars, enclosures and stiffeners would need to be shrinkwrapped and shipped to the distributor.
Design marketing campaign. This includes providing artwork copy for a catalog on the web, artwork and copy for flyers, newsletter advertisements, and anything else we think of.
Execute the marketing campaign.
Fulfill orders. Lunar Traders is set up to do this; we could add it to that catalog. Lunar Traders can propose a contract to ASI where they of retail for handling marketing and sales, and the rest of the revenues -- along with all the risk -- goes to ASI. That's a lesson in dealing with capitalists who have to answer to their stockholders.
Manage the whole project. That is, be the coordinator, financial controller, and communicator to make all these activities happen. Make sure each person has the information and resources needed to do each part of the job, and solve problems as they arise.
If you follow through all that, you can see the amount of effort that goes into a relatively simple product like a calendar. Add up the man-hours and you'll notice that only a small fraction of the effort is actually related to producing the product itself.
If we were try to produce this calendar as a commercial effort with paid employees on the schedule we have now, it would cost about $300,000 US in labor alone. (16 people x 9 weeks x $75/hour fully burdened labor rate.) With anticipated sales of 100 units, the price each would have to be $3,000; that's just a tad high for a simple calendar. So one can see why the slick professional calendars you find in the bookstore get planned years in advance.
Nevertheless, it would be a great thing to hang on the wall. So if there's enough interest to get a volunteer for each job, let's do it! (Anyone who can handle the job is welcome to underbid Lunar Traders for the marketing and sales contract. See task #16.) This will have to start with #17, someone to manage the whole calendar project, so people will know who to contact.