I am doing a follow up to my last post, 3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started, because I felt I had a bit more to say about each that could be of benefit to readers. So, below are some thoughts on how you could build a strategy around the 3 things.
There are many paths to the marketplace for an innovative product
A common mistake by new inventors is to assume the path they wish to pursue is really the best for the product.
In my case, I hoped to license my wallet to one of the large manufacturers (Buxton, Randa, etc.). Only after 3 years of persistent effort did I come to realize that small leather goods is a shrinking category and, consequently, the players are not inclined to license to outsiders.
Fortunately for me, Tandy Brands suggested I take my product to QVC as it would be an excellent sell on TV product; and they were right!
I recommend viewing every presentation as an opportunity to ask open-ended questions. For example, when meeting with a potential licensee, make sure to ask them a very simple but valuable question:
If you were me, what marketing strategy would you pursue with this product (and why)?
They may suggest taking a totally different approach to your product. You will tap their expertise for free and you may learn an approach you had not considered before.
Licensing your product is generally a long shot, but worth the effort
I suggest that you make a list of every conceivable channel for licensing your product; look beyond the obvious players in your category or market segment.
Perhaps you have a pet toy product and plan to approach manufacturers of pet toys as potential licensees (the obvious path). Think more broadly. Perhaps Hasbro would like to get into pet toys as an expansion to their children’s toy segment. If your pet toy has a wow factor, maybe it could be a DRTV product (direct response television). Your chances of licensing success will certainly increase if you consider a broader scope of companies and industries.
Commercializing your invention on your own will be very costly in time and capital
I learned the hard way that commercializing my invention and marketing it myself was going to be an expensive, arduous effort.
Why not test it out on someone else’s nickel and greatly reduce your risk?
Specifically, take your product to Indiegogo or Kickstarter and see if you can get funding for a $30,000 or $50,000 project (or whatever budget makes sense for your product and circumstances). If your crowd funding project funds successfully, you can do a production run without borrowing or risking your own capital – a great deal! Better yet, you may create buzz via social media that could attract investors you might never find otherwise.