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Are you confused about how to protect your invention and profit from it? This series of 10 articles is a patent and marketing primer for inventors that answers your most commonly asked questions.
Topics covered in this series include: 1) why protect your invention first; 2) turning your invention into a marketable product; 3) finding your customers; 4) determining marketability; 5) setting a profitable wholesale and retail selling price; 6) marketing channels; 7) contacting wholesalers and retailers; 8) distributing your invention; 9) marketing companies; and 10) conserve capital (money) except on educating yourself!
A must-read for inventors at all experience levels.
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There are many smart inventors who come up with unique products which solve problems which were in need of being solved, which make life easier, and which save people’s lives. Yet many of these inventors do not have engineering degrees, are not designers, and many have no design experience at all. They typically do not have any marketing experience as well. As such, they do not realize the fact that their rough prototype of their invention will not succeed as a marketable product. This might be because of a number of factors such as:
1. the product based on the invention (hereinafter referred to as the product) does not meet a specific customer need;
2. the product does not aesthetically appeal to the customer;
3. the product is not designed to withstand the use and abuse to which customers will subject the
4. the product is not properly packaged, advertised, and promoted to appeal to the customer.
Regarding factor 1, that the product does not meet a specific customer need, it should be remembered that the bottom line to any potential customer is whether the product fulfills an actual need of the customer, which need the customer may or may not realize they have. If the need is one the potential customer does not know he or she has, the marketing effort will need to include educating the potential customer as to the need and how the product meets that need. Needs of the potential customer include making their life more enjoyable, easier, etc.
Regarding factor 2, that the product does not aesthetically appeal to the customer, it should be remembered that the first thing a potential customer likely perceives is the overall look of the product. If the product has a look which appeals to the potential customer, they are more likely to further investigate the product to see what it is and how it works. Aesthetic appeal includes the overall lines of the product, that is, does the product have curved surfaces or angular surfaces, are the colors of the product appealing, is the product ergonomically designed to fit the human body, etc. Curved lines might be appropriate for certain products such as lounge chairs and kitchen mixers to give a modern, ergonomic look, whereas angular lines might be more appropriate for other products, such as hand tools such as chisels and axes.
Regarding factor 3, that the product is not designed to withstand the use and abuse to which customers will subject the product, it should be remembered that customers will use the product for uses which the inventor intended as well as uses which the inventor did not intend, nor even foresee such use. For example, a screw driver might be used as a chisel which is struck by a hammer. Care must be taken to make the product robust enough to withstand foreseeable unintended uses and to warn the customer of foreseeable hazardous uses such as by applying a warning sticker to the product and a warning on the packaging and on the instructional materials. Questions in this regard should be directed towards a lawyer specializing in the legal field of Products Liability, such as in most larger city yellow pages phonebook.
Finally, regarding factor 4, that the product is not properly packaged, advertised, and promoted to appeal to the customer, it should be remembered that the packaging of the product is part of the overall first impression the potential customer has of your product, and in the case of products which are not visible from within the packaging, are the only item of first impression to the potential customer. Therefore, a well thought out and designed packaging and advertising materials is essential to the success of many products. It should be clear from a not-so-lengthy viewing of these items what the product does for the potential customer. Remember, you typically only have from fractions of a second to several seconds to capture the potential customer’s attention and interest in your product. There are advertising and packaging design specialists in the yellow pages phone book of most larger cities which can be consulted for a fee, and many books on advertising at your local bookstore, library, and on the internet.
Brian R. Rayve, Esq.