Learn how to turn your dream into a true money-making invention. Use these six tips to build a foundation for success in today’s competitive mass retail market.
1. Protect yourself. The first step to success is making the investment to protect yourself. It can cost anywhere from $500 or even $10,000 to patent your idea, but it’s worth it. This is an area you don’t want to skimp on, even if it means you have less to spend elsewhere. Without a strong patent, you’re more vulnerable to dishonest marketers and get-rich-quick schemes and less attractive to reputable marketers. Ensure the patent is in your name only; don’t assign your patent to any other entities.
2. Do your market research. Market research doesn’t have to cost big bucks. In fact, it can be as simple as mailing or e-mailing a quick survey to your friends and family. Ask questions that will help you determine whether there is a need for your product, if it’s appealing and if it solves a problem. Ask for honest answers and evaluations. You may find you need to change a few things about your product, but this initial step can save you valuable time and money later on.
3. Develop a real prototype. Marketers are looking for real products, not just ideas. Take the time to purchase your own materials and design a prototype by hand, or investigate other options. Enlist the services of an industrial design company to build a good prototype. Or try your local college or university. Many have industrial design departments that provide this service. However, avoid the urge to mass produce your product at this stage in the process. You want to get some sales experience and develop a marketing strategy before investing the money in mass production.
4. Get some sales experience. Most marketers want to see a little sales success before agreeing to represent a new product. It can be as simple as visiting your local hardware store and pitching your new product to the owner. This is a great way to get some feedback. Retailers know what sells and why, so they can lend valuable insight. Plus, if you are able to find a few stores that are willing to sell your product, and you can demonstrate a sales history, it’s more likely a marketer will agree to represent your product.
5. Create a video demo. To entice a marketer to choose your product, it’s important to include a demo that shows your product in action. This doesn’t have to be anything more than a home video, but a video is the best approach. Drawings just don’t do a good job of demonstrating how a new product works. Real people using the real product is always best. Be sure to record close-up views of the product, along with several action shots. Talk about the product, what problem it solves, and highlight any bells and whistles that make it unique.
6. Find a reputable backer. Once you’ve patented your idea, conducted market research, developed a prototype, created a video demo, and have some sales experience, it’s time to find a marketer to help you sell and promote your product in the mass retail market. It’s important to spend time researching companies. Generally, it’s best to avoid all-in-one shops. The more work you do yourself, the better. Look for a marketing company that is credible and that has established relationships with mass retailers. Experience is of the essence here. Beware of those who seem dishonest or appear to take advantage of inventors and/or manufacturers by charging high fees. If possible, ask to talk to other inventors or manufacturers the company represents.