Archive for the ‘Product Credibility’ Category

The Priorities for Gaining Credibility for Your Invention

Monday, March 10th, 2008

With all the false starts that come with inventing something, it is easy to feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of inventing: like you get “no respect” from credible figures in your field. If investors are turning you down, business partners are flaking out, and you can’t even seem to get your calls returned, it may be time for a change of priorities. Believe it or not, there is actually a tried-and-true formula for establishing yourself as a respected inventor. It begins be creating credibility for your invention.

 Priority # 1 – Creating a Prototype

 If anything separates players from spectators, it is this. Having a prototype – a real, working version of your invention – says unequivocally that you are for real and have serious intentions of entering your field. It takes your idea from, as Entreprenuer.com says, “your mind’s eye to the palm of your hand.”

Their article on prototyping offers some helpful guidance on how to approach the process:

“So what exactly should a prototype look like? First, it depends on your idea. Second, it depends on your budget and your goals. If possible, it’s great to start with a handmade prototype, no matter how rudimentary. For example, I’ve seen prototypes made from the simplest of household items: socks, diaper tabs, household glue, empty milk containers–you name it. If it works for your initial demonstration purposes, it’s as good as the most expensive materials.”

SRC: http://www.entrepreneur.com/startingabusiness/inventing/inventionscolumnisttamaramonosoff/article80678.html

The number one thing to keep in mind is getting your prototype to solve the problem it aims to. Early on, it is not important whether it looks glamorous. It does not need to exactly mirror the ultimate vision you have for it. Get something up and running – something that works – and you will have taken a bold and important step toward gaining credibility for your invention.

 

 Priority # 2 – Secure a patent for your invention.

 Once you have a working prototype, you should file a provisional patent application for your invention. This will protect any new formulas, equations, processes, technologies, or methods you employed in creating your invention. Having patent protection is an invaluable asset in establishing your credibility.

 For one, it enables you to approach retailers or business partners with a tangible asset. Not only do you have a working invention, but you also have the exclusive, legal right to commercialize it. This portrays you as a legitimate player with something to bring to the bargaining table.

In addition, a patent gives you some peace of mind that a sleazy ripoff artist can’t clone your operation overnight. It won’t stop all of them from trying, but it will give you the right to sue them for damages and legally compel them to stop.

Above all, being a patent holder puts you in a position to capitalize on your invention by conferring on you the status and rights you have earned.

 

Priority # 3 – Set some initial sales targets – and meet them!

 This step is where the rubber meets the road: that fateful day when the market decides whether your invention will fly. It is a day inventors anticipate with both excitement and fear; excitement driven by hope of success, and fear driven by worries about what could go wrong. However, you can increase your odds of hitting your sales goals with some rational planning and foresight.

 The first thing to do is some market research. You cannot just concoct sales goals on a whim, based on fantasies of what you would like to earn. Instead, you must research the market and determine what similar companies have sold. While this in and of itself does not determine your fate, it will give you a realistic idea of what to expect. Reliable sources of market research include industry trade journals, periodicals, and library/academic databases that include access to market data.

Another good step is to avoid overextending yourself. There is a temptation among many inventors to hit the market in a huge way. They want to get their product in as many stores as possible right up front. While the excitement is understandable, this is not always the smartest choice. A better idea is to start off by selling in one or two stores and use that to test the response. How did people respond to your invention? Were sales high? Are you maybe pricing your invention too high, or low? These questions are easier to answer on a small scale. There is an old piece of marketing advice that applies here: fail early, and fail cheap. If you can learn from mistakes at smaller stores, you can apply that wisdom and approach the bigger retailers with the most important thing of all – a track record.

 It would be dishonest to say that gaining credibility is easy. However, if you are diligent and smart in your approach, it is eminently possible. Don’t give up.

Getting Endorsements for Your Invention

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

When it comes to establishing your credibility and value, few things are more effective than endorsements. An endorsement puts a trusted and well-known figure behind your invention. It says to potential customers, in effect, “I wouldn’t stake my reputation on this invention unless it performed like its creator says it does.” This is an enormous help in the task of establishing your invention as something worth buying. But how do you go about getting endorsements for your invention?

Well, there are basically two types of endorsements you can get for your invention: endorsements from respected people in your field, or endorsements from celebrities. We will examine each type separately.

Endorsements from those in your field

Getting a respected authority in your field to endorse your invention is an excellent way to build credibility. Fortunately, getting one is a bit easier than getting celebrity endorsements. There are a few ways to go about it. One way is to contact the person you are seeking an endorsement from and simply ask for one. Tell him or her that you are willing to send them one of your widgets and that you would appreciate a few positive sentences to use in your promotional materials. Nine times out of ten, the person you ask this of will be happy to help. Just be respectful of their time and be sure to thank them if they do help you.

If you are not sure how to strike up a conversation with this person, try flattery! After all, if you are in the same field as this person, you should have some common ground right there. If they have a great product on the market, tell them how big a fan you are, how you use it yourself, how you have recommended it to others. This builds some good will between you and establishes a basis for continued conversation. Once this has been done, feel free to come right out with something like “Hey, so speaking of kitchen widgets, I just invented a really neat new so-and-so and I was wondering if I could send you one to check out and possibly review for me. A testimonial from someone as accomplished as you could really help.”

Where do you find professionals in your field? Typically, trade journals, conferences, or periodicals are the best source for this information. Anyone who publishes papers or is generally considered an authority in a field will probably be in these publications. You can also ask your colleagues if they know anyone of importance.

Endorsements from celebrities

Now, a word of caution: A-List celebrities like Angelina Jolie probably won’t be singing your invention’s praises anytime soon. However, that does not rule out local celebrities! An excellent article on Helium.com gives some practical tips on how to find them:

“Try local celebrities. Many local radio personalities are not only expected, but contractually required to advertise for a certain number of sponsors. Contact your local radio stations, and you’ve got your celebrities. Local acting schools and modeling agencies are filed with eager students, always needing a few shots and spots to boost their portfolio.

If you do want to spend the bigger bucks, subscribe to the professional version of the Internet Movie Database and gain access to actor’s agencies. While you may not net or afford any A-Listers, there are plenty of more obscure actors who would consider giving an endorsement.”

Of course, it helps if your invention is in some way related to what the celebrity is known for. For example, it would not make very much sense to ask a radio DJ to pipe up your latest suite of computer programming tools. But if you just invented a new kind of stereo speaker or sports widget, a radio DJ would be a perfect fit. Seek out celebrities that have something in common with your field, and you will drastically increase your odds of scoring that killer endorsement.

We live in a celebrity obsessed world, so it certainly makes sense to try and get one to endorse your invention. However, it may be far more effective to go the first route: getting one from a credible authority in your field. These are people who your customers already know and trust. You can only benefit from capitalizing on their good will. Additionally, some celebrities are very polarizing. Half of your customers might love someone while the other half despises them. It would be a shame to alienate potential customers over something trivial like that. Therefore, you should take care to only seek out neutral celebrities that don’t engender a whole lot of controversy.

If you are diligent and selective in the process of seeking endorsements, you will almost certainly secure one. It is simply a matter of getting out there and making the necessary phone calls.


Eric Corl is the Founder and CEO of IdeaBuyer.com, the online marketplace for intellectual property that gives inventors the opportunity to showcase their intellectual property to consumer product companies, entrepreneurs, retailers, and manufacturers. You can email him at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com.