Have you ever watched someone else launch and sell a successful product using an idea you thought of last year? That's what happened with the creator of The Slanket, a blanket with sleeves. But have you heard of The Slanket? Or have you heard of The Snuggie? Maybe it's because the creator of The Snuggie took action faster than the creator of The Slanket. That's what I've heard anyway.
In any event, if you have an idea for a new product, you'll want to jump on it and make it happen as quickly as you can. On this week's Indie Business podcast, retail expert Jim DeBetta, author of The Business of Inventing (affiliate link), shared some tips to help you do that. Here are some highlights:
- Avoid the most common mistake inventors make. Jim says nearly all of his clients are people who have wasted thousands of dollars, then hire him to clean right the ship. Their hurry to make millions clouds their judgement, and they spend money on things they don't need, or worse, end up storing thousands of dollars in unsold merchandise in a garage. These days, if you have a good idea for a product, you have limited time to leverage it before someone else does. Jim says that, before you spend your first dime, found out what expertise is available to you. (Most people don't do this.) If you decide not to use it, at least you have given yourself the option.
- Get the package right. Citing packaging expert JoAnn Hines (also known as The Packaging Diva), Jim says that packaging is everything. It's the package that draws us in the first instance. Once we've seen that, if the price is right and we need the product, we will buy it. “Packaging is critial, and if it's not done right, you may ahve a great product inside the box, but if no one picks up the box, you're not going to get the sale.”
- Patent information. A patent is a federal legal recognition of your invention, that prevents people from making and selling your invention without your permission. If you have an idea for a new product, you should check the federal patent database to see if someone else has registered a patent on the invention. You can obtain a patent on your invention too, thus preventing others from duplicating it without your permission. You can file a patent before you start selling your products, and even before you create a prototype of the product.
It costs thousands of dollars to prosecute a patent application through to issuance, so be sure not to spend a ton of money on a patent without making sure you get good counsel first. (Jim is not a patent attorney, but he can refer you to people if you want that kind of help.)
There is a fantastic flowchart of how the patent process works at the US Patent & Trademark Office website.
Says Jim, “In this world where corporations are laying people off left and right, why not take your shot?” Sounds good to me. Go!
About Jim DeBetta
Jim DeBetta is a nationally recognized authority in the world of inventing and retail sales and marketing. Founder of DeBetta Enterprises, he had coached many inventors and has successfully sold millions of dollars of products to the world's leading retailers. Jim has appeared in the pages of Business Week, Newsday, Inventors Digest, and is sought after speaker at conferences and universities. You can follow Jim on Twitter. You can follow JoAnn on Twitter also.
Listen to the Show
This post contains my paraphrases of a small bit of the fantastic information Jim shared. To hear it from the horse's mouth yourself, listen to the entire show, and benefit from Jim's and my exploration of these topics first-hand. You'll get great tips that you can apply to your life and your business each and every day!
- You can download it on iTunes. (It usually takes a day or two for iTunes to feed the show there.)
- You can stream or download it at my radio show website.
- You can stay where you are and simply click on the arrow at the bottom of this post to listen right now!
- Because I have not had a chance to load all of my shows to this blog, you can listen to hundreds of interviews from 2005 to 2010, each one as relevant today as it was when I recorded it, at my Indie Business Radio site.
Coming Up January 24!
Coming up on January 24 at 1:00pm EST, my guests will be father-daughter team, Meagan and Larry Johnson, co-authors of Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters–Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work (affiliate link). They'll join us to show how to effectively lead and encourage workers from all generations and walks of life..
See you then!
Question: Got an idea for an innovative new product? Tell us about it!