Inventors are not marketers. A strong belief in their new product idea combined with little or no understanding of marketing causes them to look for an easy way to achieve commercial success. Sadly, many spend their time, effort and money on get rich quick schemes that drain them of resources before they achieve commercial success.
Probably the most common get rich quick scheme is the Infomercial scam. A number of companies cater to inventors. They promise to present the inventors product to the market via an infomercial for somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000. The poor inventor has visions of someone like the late Billy May making them into over night millionaires. The short video gets produced and the firm airs the infomercial a few times in unlikely time slots in tiny markets. They report back to the inventor that the product didn't sell. Now the inventor has a very expensive video and a much lighter bank account.
A second area where new product inventors tend to spend money where they shouldn't is on tooling. While we are blessed today with technology that makes it possible to produce a small number of prototypes or even small production runs with out investing in hard tooling, many inventors commit to hard tooling long before they have proven the commercial viability of the product. Not only is this an expensive proposition, it may prove to have been a huge waste if the first parts need to be redesigned or if the tooling is made for one producer and will not work for another.
A third area where inventors tend to spend money before they should is product inventory. All too often inventors avoid producing a quantity of prototypes that would allow them to test the market. Instead, they building a large quantity of inventory because the piece part costs are lower. One inventor came to me with $50,000 worth of inventory in his garage before he ever tried to see if the product would sell.
Another area where inventors complain to me about wasting their money is having their ideas printed up and mailed to manufacturers. Sometimes they are sent by themselves and sometimes they are included with a number of other new product ideas. In today's world, you really have to do more than present the idea if you want your idea to be accepted. You have to show the manufacturer or the retailer how to make money and prove that it is possible. You have to show the end user why they should part with their hard earned money for your invention. In this economy, you have to do the work for your intended customer. The new product idea is only part part of the equation of making money from your idea.
Patents can also be a huge drain on an inventor's resources. Having a patent means you now have a right to defend your patent in court. If the inventor is not prepared to defend the patent, then the patent becomes nothing more than a "keep off the grass" sign. Unless you have created something of unusual design, most design patents are not worth the time or the money. Utility patents need to be well written to prevent competition from reverse engineering your new product idea. Patents can be a tremendous asset when done properly or they can be a huge expense.
Achieving financial success based on one of these ideas is about as likely as pitching the perfect baseball game or bowling the perfect game. It is not impossible, but not very likely either. In real life it is more likely that you succeed from a series of small successes rather than one Grand Slam.
Copyright Bob Cannon/The Cannon Advantage, 2009. All rights reserved.
Byline: Bob Cannon author of "Guide to the U.S. Hardware Market", helps inventors and marketers with new products. Check out other interesting articles available in the Taking Aim newsletter available at http://www.cannonadvantage.com. Bob can be reached at (216) 408-9495. This article courtesy of http://www.marketingnewproduct.com. You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.
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