Marketing Inventions

Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration and the other 99% is marketing.  — S. A. Coates, Carrville, Iowa

Understand the needs of the corporations that market inventions.  “[I]nventors need to understand the needs and the dynamics of corporations that can license, manufacture and market their inventions.  While independent inventors still get tens of thousands of patents each year, the vast majority of these never produce a dime in sales. The reason… …is that inventors often suffer from a myopia that prevents them from understanding the broader challenges of moving from the garage shop to the marketplace.”  (Richard C. Levy, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions and Inventing and patenting sourcebook: How to sell and protect your ideas, cited in Edmund L. Andrews, “Inventor Offers Advice On Ways to Market Ideas”, N.Y. Times News Service, The Journal Record, September 5, 1992)

Target midsize companies in the growth stages when pitching you invention.  “Inventors should target midsize companies in growth stages because it's often hard to get on the radar of a big corporation and startups may not have the capital to invest in outside ideas.”  (Inventor Stephen Key, quoted in John Tozzi, “How to Sell Your Invention,” Business Week, September 12, 2007)

Pitch your invention idea to sales and marketing managers rather than top executives.  “When contacting a company, inventors should pitch their ideas to someone in sales or product managers in marketing, not top-level executives, who are too busy, he says. (Inventor Stephen Key, quoted in John Tozzi, “How to Sell Your Invention,” Business Week, September 12, 2007)

Fit your invention to the narrow target market of your prospective licensee.  “What do potential licensors look for in inventions, anyway? …Inventors who want to succeed with licensors have the best chance of hitting a hot button when they describe their product in terms of the same narrow market opportunity their contacts already operate in. So the next time you talk to a potential licensor, concentrate first on finding out what market they target. Next, explain how your product fits that market. Whatever you do, don't talk about how your product can be sold in dozens of markets--your contact will just end up thinking you sell to a different market than they do.”  (Don Dedelak, “How to find a company to make and market an invention,” Entrepreneur, April 1, 2001)

Biggest challenge is getting the products to market.  "The biggest challenge is getting (the products) to the market,"  (Jim Ward, inventor of Puppy Perch quoted in Marcia Heroux Pounds, “Licensing Offer Inventors A Safe Path to Production,” Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News, November 10, 1998)

Commercialization is the hard part.  "The ideas are easy to come up with.  Making them a commercial success is the hard part."  (Mark Shaw, vice president of UltraTech International Inc., quoted in Dolly Penland, “Protect your ideas,” Jacksonville Business Journal, March 16, 2007)

95% of an invention’s success is selling the idea.  “The patent is only five percent of the process.  Ninety-five percent is selling the idea. People think it's 99 percent inspiration and one percent perspiration. The hard part is selling it. Ideas are a dime a dozen." (Andrew Krauss, president of the nonprofit Inventors Alliance quoted in Thuy-Doan Le, “Entrepreneurial spirit starts to pay off for Sacramento, Calif.-area inventor,” The Sacramento Bee, December 12, 2004). Find more information on marketing inventions.

Do you need help marketing your invention? Finding invention companies? Or finding companies to license your inventions?  If so, contact Inventors Workshop, a nonprofit organization that has been providing invention marketing assistance services to inventors for more than 35 years.  805-879-1729

90% of an invention’s success is marketing it and getting it out.  “[T]he idea is about 10 percent of this exercise; 90 percent of it is the marketing of it, getting it together, getting it out.” (Richard C. Levy, inventor of the Furby and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing in On Your Inventions and Inventing and patenting sourcebook: How to sell and protect your ideas, quoted in Liane Hansen, All Things Considered (NPR), “Profile: Independent toy inventor Richard C. Levy,” June 18, 2002)

Success is 80% to 85% marketing.  “Inventing is the fun part, about 15 to 20 percent. The rest is all marketing.”  (Bill Baker, director of the Academy for Innovation, “Inventors need to add business skills to become entrepreneurs,” Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal, October 7, 2005)

Don’t assume that your tastes match those of your target consumer. “Just because you like it doesn't mean everyone else will. Use your own instincts, and confirm those feelings with the opinions of others. But the only way to know ahead of time if your product can really sell is to sell some units prior to launch.”  (Ron L. Wilson II and Brian Le Gette, co-founders of 180s LLC cited in Don Debelak, “Warm reception: how you can revolutionize a stagnant product on a limited budget and still win over your target market,” Entrepreneur, December 1, 2003)

Invest in researching, attending and showing your invention at trade shows attended by your target buyers.  "Tradeshows [sic] are hard work and can be tedious, not to mention very expensive to attend. However, they are …necessary in getting a product the proper exposure; it's possible to meet all the key people in a product category in a matter of days. It's important to hit every tradeshow in an invention's product category and hold meetings with manufacturers at the show. It's also very helpful to have a booth, where a product can be presented to buyers who walk the tradeshow floor.  (Business Wire, “IP&R Shares the Top 10 Reasons Patent Holders Fail,” January 16, 2007)

Attend invention conventions to get feedback about your invention.  “Attending invention conventions is a good way [to assess the marketability of an invention]. At conventions, inventors get feedback about their inventions, network not only with people in the relevant industry but also with a cross-section of consumers who may be able to help indirectly, and generally learn more about the invention business.  Conventions and shows are also good for finding sources for legal advice, prototype building and manufacturing.”  Inventors conventions. (Yeang Soo Ching, “Reaping rewards from inventions,” New Straits Times, December 24, 2000)

Attend licensing trade shows.  “When his company [Buffalo Games of Amherst] is unable to work with an inventor, [marketing manager Chris Thorpe] has other suggestions, including an annual licensing show in New York City.” (Michele Deluca, “Bright Ideas: Local inventors explore ways to market their ideas,” Niagara Gazette, November 1, 2007)