The first products I made I sold on street corners and at fairs and festivals. At the time, my friends and family thought I was mad. But some of the most important lessons I’ve learned about selling I learned there. My interactions with consumers were immediate and the consequences of those interactions were tangible. Simply put, I couldn’t support myself if a customer didn’t buy my product. If my product couldn’t convince an individual to stop at my table, pull out their wallet, and spend money on my product, I failed. I learned very quickly what sold and what didn’t. I learned what customers liked and didn’t like – and why. I learned how to price a product competitively. And most importantly, I learned that my product needed to be different from others out there. What unique benefit did it offer? What did it do that was different? I eventually decided that I wanted all of my products to give someone a smile – that would be my point of difference. And it worked.
I operate by these same principles today. My products need to stand out. They have to have benefit. People asked me, “How can you make a living this way?” and “Why would you want to do this?” But I loved it. I learned about myself and about human nature in general. I got to talk to people about their habits and needs, to understand their desires. What motivated them to buy my product? I learned how to create products that people want.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.