Will My Patent Sell?

Everyone loves discovery, whether it be a child discovering a new way to use their body, an adult discovering a new vacation spot, or an inventor discovering a new product or technology. Discovering in any form is one of the things that keeps life interesting and rewarding.

You have discovered a new product, process, or technology that you believe will benefit others. You have reached at least one level of success: self-satisfaction. Now the question is, are there other people in the world who will enjoy your discovery? If these potential purchasers exist, who are they, where are they, how many are there, by what means do you reach them, and how much will they pay? Which companies are currently reaching this same group of people and how do they do so? Once you have answered these questions, you have defined your market size and scope, the means for distribution to your market, and which companies or manufacturers may be the best ones to introduce your discovery to the end users.

So far this process seems very simple — and it is. Individuals and companies have been marketing products for centuries and the technique hasn’t changed much. So why do 99% or more of new inventions fail to be a commercial success or to reach their intended consumer? The answer is simple, and it’s not necessarily the fault of the inventor, or those working for the inventor.

First, let’s agree on some undeniable truths: The world has existed for centuries up to this point without your invention and it will likely survive for centuries more without it also. Agreed? There are literally millions of patents, hundreds of millions of products and even more new ideas being thought up daily by an ever-growing global market.

Now, follow me.

When you go into a major retail store such as a Wal-Mart or Home Depot, think of the thousands of products being offered there. Now think about how many products you leave the store with. Obviously, your purchase — even on an annual basis — is an incredibly low percentage of the products offered on a continual basis. Many of the tens of thousands of product choices offered to you have an inventor or a patent associated with them, and no doubt many of those inventors initially thought that nearly everyone entering that store would leave with their new invention product.

But it doesn’t happen that way, does it? For us to fulfill the wishes of all those thousands of inventors, each shopper would need to leave the store with hundreds of products. Even then we would still not reach the end of this plethora of products rainbow.

The U.S. Patent Office wants you to have a new and useful invention in order to receive a patent. Yet when it comes to the business world, retailers prove to us every day that a product doesn’t necessarily have to be all that useful in order to interest consumers in purchasing it.

Consumers are fickle and they make decisions that don’t always make intellectual sense. For example, we know that sugar and sweets aren’t nearly as good for us as whole grains, vegetables and other healthful food, yet you’ll see more convenience stores peddling candy than health stores in any community. In fact, decisions that we make in purchasing food can largely affect our health, our lifestyle and our longevity, yet consumers as a whole continue to purchase products that aren’t in their best interest.

In my three decades of experience working with inventors, I found that inventors largely come up with products and technology that truly help others in the world. Sadly, the vast majority of consumers don’t necessarily think in these terms. This creates a disconnect between what the inventor sees as a true value for a consumer and what the consumer perceives as value.

The trick to determining if your invention will be successful is to get into the true mind of the consumer.

How can you do this without spending thousands of dollars on market research or having an already packaged product ready to present to the consumer? There are simple, effective and easy ways to find this out if you know what you are doing.

To know if your invention will be a commercial success is to know your market.  If you know your market well, you have a head start.  If you don’t, you need to learn about your potential venue.

What better way to learn then from the professionals?  Key executives in any field hold the information that you need.  Extracting this information from them is generally free for the asking. This requires finding them and then interviewing them.  Either you will need to do this, or your hired gun will need to do it for you.

Who are these key executives?  They may be the upper management of the manufacturing company including people from a managerial level, to vice president, president or owner.  It may be a senior sales representative in your field of invention.  Others may include the editors, publishers of a trade publication, executives of a trade association, independent manufacture representatives and other such sales people, independent consultants, owners of small stores or managers of large chains of stores, purchasing agents, and any number of other types of individuals with many years of experience in your specific field or category.

The method for finding these key executives is also free.  In can be as easy as starting to interview retailers and users in the field of your invention and getting from them a referral to those people who are next up the chain of distribution for your product category or technology.  As you receive a referral from one person to another, stair-stepping up in the chain of distribution, you will eventually get to key executives with more and broader knowledge of your field.

The last and hardest step along this journey is extracting the information from them.  I am sure if you had a little bug like they used in Star Trek, it may do the most effective job, however in the absence of this, you may need to rely on everyday interviewing techniques, or have someone on your team that possesses those skills.

If you believe that you are comfortable doing this interviewing on your own, then there are resources to learn how to go about it, the kinds of questions to ask, and what order, and why. Talk to people who have already done these kinds of interviews, and try MY DIMWIT Self-Help for Inventors to get more detailed advice on the steps you can take.

If you do not feel comfortable interviewing key executives, consider hiring an inventor’s agent or invention broker. Finding a good, experienced and reputable inventor’s agent can be darn near as hard as to finding the key executive in industry if not harder. Hopefully, it will be worth it. Submit a free evaluation so we can review your new product idea and discuss what next steps you should take.