I’ve often written about the importance of having a “roadmap” – a guide that outlines the beginning, end, and steps you need to take to license your invention. Two of the most common roadblocks I hear are, “I don’t have a background in sales or marketing. How can I sell my product?” and “I don’t have the money or skills to make a prototype of my own. How am I going to be able to sell my product?”
Successfully licensing your product does not require you to be a trained, superb salesman. You also don’t need to have a beautiful, professionally made working prototype. Don’t allow these two common misperceptions to psych you out. There are a number of simple, inexpensive ways to overcome these roadblocks. These tips rely on the traits that ARE most important to becoming a successful inventor: creativity and persistence.
First, realize you’re not selling your patent or your product. You’re selling the benefits of your idea. Everything about your product may change during the final stages of its production (packaging, name, design, etc)– but fundamentally, your idea exists because of those specific benefits. The benefits don’t change. An idea of a powerful benefit might be, “A hammer that hits the nail straight every time.”
Let your benefit statement speak for itself. Flowery language and a mastery of the art of persuasion aren’t substitutes for a powerful benefit. Identify the best way to highlight your benefit. Realize: this is freeing! Showing off a great benefit may not require having a prototype. One technique I use to convey the benefit of my idea quickly and directly is through a one page sales sheet. The sales sheet is concise: it has only a picture or drawing of my invention, the benefit statement, my contact information, and maybe several sub-benefits.
What are some ways to fake a prototype in order to make a drawing or picture for your sales sheet? Often times, you can cannibalize or cut up a bunch of products that you buy at your local store. You can glue them together or attach them in whatever means necessary. The prototype may not look that good in real life but if you take a picture of it from just the right angle, it will look like a fairly finished product that will relay the benefits of your invention in your sell sheet.
Don’t waste your money before making a real prototype is necessary. If a manufacturer is interested (and thinks he can make the product), then he’ll ask you to. Investing in a working prototype after you’ve got some interest is much, much smarter.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 25 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 ask questions and get advice on the inventRight forum, check out the resource center, and listen to the weekly radio show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media outlets find you for news stories.