Industrial & Commercial ProductsSalesmen were the first marketers of 3M sandpapers and “Three-M-ite” abrasive cloth. Following the lead of William L. McKnight and Archibald G. Bush, they went to furniture and automobile factory floors to demonstrate their products and solicit improvements. Building on the inventions of Francis Okie, 3M developed “Wetordry” sandpaper, lacquers, and adhesives for the automotive industry. It developed “Scotch” masking tapes, based in part on the observations of its salesmen. Electrical tape and other innovative tape products followed. Circulars, brochures, catalogs, and product samples reinforced the efforts of the salesmen. Further interest in 3M products was generated by print advertisements in trade journals. The efforts of 3M researchers led to new products for new customers. For example, in 1946, the New Methods Engineers saw themselves as “market makers,” developing markets for 3M abrasive belts. The development of the “Thermo-Fax” photocopying process between 1949 and 1955 by 3M led to a new market in office products. Magnetic recording tape and video recording tape were initially intended for commercial uses but were soon marketed to individuals and families.
Every Employee a Salesperson
3M employees were encouraged to be familiar with standard company products and new products that were being developed. Articles in the 3M Megaphone with titles like “Parade of Products” and “Products of 3M Research” provided useful information about product categories. These included coated abrasives; pressure-sensitive tape; adhesives; roofing granules; color pigments; reflective products; printing products; magnetic recording tape; electrical products; gift wrap ribbons; fluorochemicals; and special products—products that were developed or produced to make other products.