You’re an inventor, not a marketer or perhaps even much of a businessman. These are all very different roles, but the inventor determined to attain fame and fortune, or at the very least recognition, cannot neglect the commercial side of his new invention. Regrettably, good ideas are never as quickly recognized as they ought to be, nor as effortlessly. Marketing and promotion are the skills that will bring the benefits of your product into homes and/or workplaces around the world.
Invention ideas can be a dime a dozen, fading away on shelves or lingering in the minds of inventors who don’t take the next step. Unless they are willing to take a much smaller cut of the potential profits by pursuing a licensing agreement with a manufacturer for their latest inventions, only determined inventors see their new products get the deserved recognition. Market your prized invention by following these straightforward and time-tested steps for a new product launch.
Patent your invention. Always, the first step is to protect your idea and your own rights to benefit from that idea as the inventor. It’s important to do so before any other steps, so as to preserve the secrecy of your idea and beat any competitors to the patent office. The patenting process is beyond the limits of this article.
Assess the market. No matter how original your invention ideas, there are already competing products out on the market, to one degree or another.
Competition. Take a look at the products already out there, and determine where your product will fit in. How much space is there between your invention and the most comparable product? How can you improve your design to further differentiate it or otherwise help it to fit into the marketplace so that consumers will be eager to purchase your invention?
Market Price. Eventually, you will have to sell this product. How much will it cost to produce your invention, and will the market accept that price? Remember that supply and demand will fluctuate, as will the price of the labor force and the raw materials that will go into manufacturing your invention. Can you sell your product for a price that will bring you a profit?
Assess your business skills. As we’ve said, you’re the creative inventor and not necessarily the calculating businessman. There is no reason you need to market your invention all on your own. A business partner or partners can bring needed skills, time, ideas, business networks, and energies not to mention the potential cash investments you will need to get your invention into the marketplace.
Protect your assets. Whether you decide to go it alone or with one or more partners, you will need to protect your private assets by forming some sort of corporation that will separate the profits and liabilities your invention creates from your own financial holdings. Different inventions have widely varying levels of inherent threat in regards to both product liability and patent infringement liability, but no invention that enters the marketplace is without these liabilities. Incorporation as a partnership, LLC, sole proprietorship, or other legal corporate arrangement will limit your liability strictly to the corporate assets and protect your personal holdings.
Create a business plan. In a Limited Liability Corporation or any of the legal incorporation arrangements, you will need to draw up a business plan to a greater or lesser degree, according to legal requirements. Go beyond the minimum requirements. Get your new invention off the ground properly by planning thoroughly from the start. You’ll need a business name, a corporate structure, and a division of shares if you intend to raise funds through a public or private offering, among other items. Internet sites offer basic business plan templates, but most likely your invention will require the services of a lawyer to guide you from the patent process through incorporation and beyond.
Production and marketing. Part of your business plan will have to consider how and where you will go about production of your invention or inventions, and then how you will market and distribute those products.
Product Liability Insurance. After the above steps, you should have some sense of what your level of exposure to a product liability claim will be, once your invention reaches the consumer. Plan to purchase an appropriate amount of insurance coverage once your invention gets in the hands of the public. You will not be allowed to sell your product in most stores without product liability insurance.
Build capital. In drawing up your business plan, you should have been able to forecast how much money you will need to get the first slate of products made and into the market. Get this money together, plus an additional cushion. Your well-defined business plan will help you solicit loans and funds from banks and investors, as well as potential business partners.
Begin the manufacturing. Once your incorporation papers have been accepted and you have procured sufficient funding, you can begin manufacturing your product. You may have determined to outsource the production of your invention, or you will decide to buy, rent, or lease a building for enough manufacturing potential to meet the market demand, with room enough to expand in the future. Be sure to spend some time looking for the best sources of raw materials. Prepare as well to be flexible once production has begun, because you will likely run into certain troubles as well as uncover new opportunities to improve the manufacturing process once it is underway.
New Product Development. The idea behind your invention may be revolutionary, it may change the world, but the number of sales your business will manage from this new invention will be as much determined by appearance as by the inherent value of your new idea. Invest in the skills of a graphic designer to attractively package your product, and even to polish the appearance of your invention itself. Then have that person design the basis of a media campaign to promote your invention to industry pros and the public at large.
New Product Launch. With your product in hand and your media campaign designed, begin to introduce your product to the marketplace. Bring your finished invention to industry trade shows to put it in the hands of investors and distributors. You’ll also find reporters and trendsetters at trade shows, and these people can truly launch your product quickly if you impress them with your invention or with yourself as an inventor. Beyond trade shows, you need to begin racking up sales. Your initial sales will establish your sales record, which can convince stores and distributors that you have a viable market for your invention. So again, invest whatever you need to in terms of media exposure and advertising in order to super charge your new product launch.
Your invention is no doubt a joy for you simply to behold, but in order to share that joy and to spread the benefits of your new idea, you have to market your new invention wisely and aggressively. You may do so on your own, or gather together a business team, but the above items should be your marketing and new product launch guide in bring your new invention to the local and the global market.