The goal is low cost, high return inventing sequence. The As Seen On TV (ASOTV) industry is always the fastest, most financially rewarding option, when consumers respond. If ASOTV won’t fly (meaning no one will fully fund your idea and you can’t afford to partially fund the market viability test partnership or your product did test and failed). you need to step back and consider your other options. Maybe it doesn’t meet the narrow criteria of ASOTV at all?
Inside the As Seen On TV category, patents are not required, but in slower moving. niche distribution channels, they are critical.
As with any service need, you can Do It Yourself (DIY) or hire a professional. It’s all a choice between time, quality and money. Below is the sequence I recommend. The most common mis-step I see inventors make is moving to Step 5 before 1-4 are complete. This is a mistake since filing a provisional starts a 12 month clock that runs fast. Negotiating licensing agreements takes time. so completing steps 1-4 first, maximizes your investment of money and time.
Whether your product is selected by our licensing agents and you hire Inventive Ideas or you decide to Do It Yourself. here are the next steps I recommend. Inventive Ideas does not file patents so you will need to DIY or hire an attorney you can understand for that step.
Here’s what needs to be done.
Step Back and Research
Produce Marketing Materials of Concept Prototype
File Provisional Patent.
Prospect & Gain Feedback.
Secure Interest &
Set Up An Conference Call. Carrie Jeske Optional.
Conference Call De-Brief.
Receive Mailbox Money.
When making calls, if all you hear is “No Thank You” or crickets, find a place of peace, consult with those closest to you. whom you trust, and make changes to press onward or drop it and move on to your next idea.
Inventing is a gamble for individuals and companies. Never invest more then you can afford to lose and never make financial decisions out of desperation or fear.
Cautious Optimistic Hope is your friend.
See you on the shelves!
We live in a fast moving, quick changing world. The opportunity for independent inventors has never been greater. The risks never more crippling. Be smart when launching new product ideas. Beating knock-offs can be a dirty business or a magical mystery tour. Here are my tips on the latter (while taking a dip in the former.)
1) Stay Pure
Use private submissions till you’re ready to go public. The public domain can generate consumer interest, but it comes at the price of increased market competition. Don’t take your product idea public too soon.
Many manufactures in every category including As Seen on TV need time to test the product before investing capital. In TV, it’s about surveys, web tests and 2-minute TV commercials. Getting a positive result with a strong marketing message takes time.
Stay pure. Find a partner you trust and gather inside feedback to make your pitch and product the strongest it can be. Leverage industry insiders by giving permission for candid feedback. Consider negative feedback or you may be dismissing important product and market competition information. If opportunity arises, sign a licensing agreement BEFORE going public. It’s likely the direct licensee can capitalize on the head start so everyone makes more money.
Improve the prototype, product pitch and demo video so when you do go public, you’re putting your best foot forward. Stay pure, till you’re seriously ready for something more. When you’re in position, put your best effort into going viral. Try crowdfunding.
With 60 Second Salad, the inventors gave WIL the opportunity to complete the testing cycle before going public. We had an early advantage over competitors. Even so, within weeks of the viral video, Asian knock-offs began flooding Amazon and my email.
2) Marry A King
Once you go public, you’ll get suitors or hear crickets. If a billion-dollar company comes calling, get hitched if they are willing. Be charming, smart and marry for the money! After all, this is business. You’re not having human babies together. The King controls the distribution channel and has the power, time, money, connections and experience needed to make your product a financial success. Let them do it.
Don’t make the mistake of telling a King how to run a business or spend money. Just say “Thank you” and collect a royalty check in the mail then live a happy life, in community with friends and family.
The alternative; become a competitor and battle in the open consumer market. Call it a knock off, a follower, or capitalism. Either way, it’s coming.
A Speedy Wedding
Be fast and first. A big company with current products already on store shelves has a fine tuned operational infrastructure humming like a sailor on shore leave. They want more products! They move fast. Don’t over haggle or delay the prenuptial or they’ll tire with you and move on to another or leave you at the altar. A business marriage is not a lifelong commitment. It’s a term agreement to make money together. Don’t confuse the two. Make money.
Having a fully granted utility patent is helpful, but only in the hands of a large experienced company. Most independent inventors cannot afford the legal fees to enforce their patent.
Fighting legal battles is what attorneys are trained for. Don’t be naive. Knowing how long to draw out a court case, when to settle, and how to leverage product sales to the last penny is a strategy. An inventors best bet, is to have their patent protected by a direct licensee, large funding source or pro bono legal firm.
If you’re determined to do it yourself, make sure you have the funding in place to handle large purchase orders. Start with equity partners, factoring or investor notes then move to credit lines with caution. I strongly discourage credit card debt or high interest business loans.
Connecting with the right partner is one of the single most important decisions an inventor can make. Working with someone you trust, who has your back can avoid many pitfalls. There are no guarantees with product inventing, but feeling good about the people you work with… priceless.
With 60 Second Salad, WIL secured a billion-dollar partner to handle the operational rollout. They took our testing data and ramped up product development and lined up retail buyers in under three months. That’s the power of a King.
3) Flirt with Social Networking, Online Selling, Crowdfunding
If there are no wedding plans, play your own game. But keep an eye out for suiters to avoid being knocked off.
Use remarketing campaigns through Google AdWords and fall in love with social networking. Paying for clicks or sales isn’t easy or cheap but there are low cost strategies that gain market awareness. If you don’t have big bucks, it costs TIME and SKILL. There are many free preview training programs that will share one to three good ideas for free, in hopes of selling the program. Before you buy, try DOING the three free steps. Too often, inventor entrepreneurs focus on the “knowing” rather than the “doing”. Both are important, but before I’d pay for a program, I’d see if I could implement a few suggestions for free. Take the free classes, learn, and do. See what works. The secret is testing to determine your target market.
Affiliate marketers choose the products they want to sell. Sellers provide a unique affiliate code that is used to refer traffic to the target site. Most affiliate programs will offer ready-made text links, banners, and other forms of creative copy. Affiliates simply copy the code and place it on their website to start referring traffic. Interested visitors click on these links, are redirected to the product site, and if a product purchase is made the referrer makes a commission.
This was a boom in the 1990’s and can still be a fantastic strategy. Today, inventor entrepreneurs must wade through the mass of internet service providers and affiliate marketing programs. I don't have all the answers, but if I were investing in a product with this as a strategy I’d require an credible expert on the launch team.
A no brainer. Your margins are better, but you still must market the site and fund inventory.
Get funded and go viral. Be noticed. Just remember; a marriage to the King is still the best end game.
4) Know Who You Are
If you’re on your own or seeking a partner, know who you are, but let the product lead. The jockey and the horse work together to win the race, but quality horses are harder to develop then good jockey’s. Leverage what you’ve got.
· Friendly – great customer service. Excellent return policies.
· Giving – donations to causes. Affiliation with those causes.
· Caring – environmentally conscious materials? Does this matter to your target market?
5) Do It Better
Ultimately, it’s the product that will stand on its own. Focus on:
· Uniqueness – Think about product design and problem / solutions consumers will pay for. Think soberly on the truth and integrity of this requirement. Is your product solid or are you making a mountain out of a mole hill?
· Marketing - Develop legendary branding. Put together a well thought out marketing pitch that is compelling to your target. Be the purple cow.
· Diversity - Create many product lines. Consider adding accessories and product extensions to broaden the value of your offer. Most knock-offs won’t go the extra mile. Always count the cost.
· Trademarks - Unlike patents, trademarks are harder to get around. If you have a clever name or brand that the direct licensee values or that the market knows, this could be important. If not, it’s not. Spend wisely.
· Value - Price competitively. Is there a strong value proposition? Today’s consumers have many options for spending money. Is your value clear?
· Quality - Make the best quality at the lowest possible price to consumers and highest profit margin for you.
With 60 Second Salad, the viral testing video and crowdfunding campaign used a white prototype. The final rollout product is red, a part of an existing product line, and comes with a bonus knife for added value.
6) Two Is Better than One
Sometimes it’s best to knock yourself off. There are a couple of good strategies here.
Different Distribution Channels
With some products, the best of both worlds is possible. License one version of your product to one market, then make and sell to build a business in another market segment. Two is better than one. Get a big company working on a version of your product that works for them and keep on your own path to marketing. Double dipping with a partner reduces risk for the inventor entrepreneur.
Do this yourself if you can fund the manufacturing and distribution. Working multiple channels where the market pulls product, rather than pushing it up the hill is the way to go.
Different Price Points and Feature/Benefits
Some experts claim covering three price points with a mix of feature/benefit works to keep the big companies at bay. Try low, medium, high price prices, giving consumers a wide array of choices that all say “Buy Me”. The risk is too much inventory and higher operational costs.
7) Love the Masses or Know Your Place
Think soberly. Is the product a mass market consumer item or a niche? There’s nothing wrong with niche products. In fact, it’s easier to sell niche products on your own sometimes because it takes less money to reach a select group of customers. Is your product more geared to people who love biking? Is it sports related or fishing?
Finding the right customer is like having 12 ponds to fish in. You must figure out what pond has fish and then understand what bait they bite on before you run out of time and money. The faster you find your target, the more sales.
Mass market products are at greater threat because big companies have greater need for products and more resources to produce them. They sell more and make more, which by default means greater market competition for dollars.
Niche products can fly under the radar and become nice lifestyle businesses for inventor entrepreneurs. The risk of knock offs is much lower with a niche product.
In my way of thinking, making money on a new product idea is the goal. Avoiding knock offs is an important key toward that end. I trust these steps will help inventor entrepreneurs make wise decisions, find high quality partners, service providers and direct licensees. There are a lot of good people in the inventor community and a few scoundrels.
I hope we can work together on the next big retail rollout. It is my singular business focus. Please:
1) Give me "First Look" on "As Seen On TV" product ideas. Submit to carrie@WillitLaunch.com
See you on the shelves!
PS - Carrie Jeske has been happily married for 30 years to her Jr. High School sweetheart. They travel extensively but reside in Kansas City.
Prizes for the winning teams include cash funding and in-kind services to assist in the pursuit of their new venture. Total purse of cash and in-kind is $80,000.
The primary goals of this event are to:
• Provide students the opportunity to present their ideas to members of the business community, including professionals, small business owners and seasoned investors.
• Provide additional entrepreneurial resources to the community and increase their awareness of various aspects of entrepreneurship at Northwest.
• Provide the community the opportunity to see what businesses are developing in the community and possibly provide future connections that can help all parties involved.
• Provide help to individuals involved in all aspects of small business and entrepreneurship to make business connections. (These connections can range from investors connecting with entrepreneurs with an idea they wish to invest in to current small business owners connecting with professionals that can fulfill an important need or a new business idea.)
For more information on this event, please visit the Venture Pitch Competition web page here . If you're interested in submitting your own ideas directly to Will It Launch please visit our Submit Invention page here .
The Will It Launch video for 60-Second Salad is going viral as I write. In just months 60 Second Salad will be launched at trade shows. Buyers are already placing pre-orders and expectations are high. Still, the product must perform well at retail.
However, the correlation between viral videos and “As Seen On TV” success is not absolute. I believe in this case, the advantage was timing. Earlier tests of the 60 Second Salad in November did not perform as well as expected. Then in January, the video went viral. To me, the biggest difference was timing. In November, people are gearing up to eat a lot. In January, a fast salad seems more desirable.
The inventors brought us a well-made 3D prototype that was testable. With a good marketing pitch in place we had a lot to work with.
Trade show season is upon us. Trade show are a great place to find new market ready products for us to sell on TV. You don’t even have to go to the show! From the comfort of your own computer, surf the show site for the exhibitors list and floor plan.
If you’re there in person, zero in on the gems inside inventors hearts and minds. Stay connected to people you like. The products being displayed are picked over hard by competitors and service providers so it's harder to get out front. Most entrepreneurs get financially tapped out if they don’t sell product or secure a licensing agreement in the first couple shows. Almost always, they have other ideas. Dreams. Other inventions that are ripe for our low cost, high return inventing strategies. If you look past the product being shown and connect with people, their next idea may be the big winner that makes money for us all.
Focus on single product booths. We’re looking for early stage products that are physically small and solve everyday problems in visually appealing ways. Google the booth name or click on the website links to see if the products meet our narrow criteria. Product booths with many products are usually (but not always) companies that already have distribution in retail stores. It's worth looking at those lines since it gives insight into what's selling. Occasionally, there is something there that we can partner on.
Put on your inventor cap and use some Invention Techniques to come up with your own unique products to pitch to me.
How To Submit as a Product Scout
Simply email me a link to the website or demo video. Put the PRODUCT NAME in the SUBJECT line so I can track conversations. Add a link to a website or demo video in the body of the email with your contact information below. It’s simple.
My email date and time stamps everything and I reply to each email. For trusted and loyal product scouts that I’ve been working with over time, I’ll share industry insider tips to help improve your keen eye for the next winner. Give me under 5 days to reply… a bit more if I’m traveling.
If you are physically at a trade show or local store and see a new item you think I should look at, simply shoot your own short smartphone video or look on the packaging for the website of the manufacture, then send a link.
When you're the first to show me a product, I flag your name as the Product Scout. If we test and rollout the product to retail shelves, you get a piece of the pie in finders fees.
Want to increase your odds of finding the next winner? Go international. Don’t limit yourself to United States trade shows. Find an international show and search online there. For every kind of show you see in the U.S. there is an international counterpart. Developing international relationships with inventors, service providers, product developers, patent attorneys, manufactures and production companies could be the ticket to an early look at the next million-dollar winner. Connecting internationally has never been easier. Searching international shows online can be like digging in a gold mine! Catalogs and small international online retailers are also very good sources.
Checkout your own backyard. There are Home & Garden Shows, Boat Shows, State Fairs, County Fairs, Pet Fairs, Craft Fairs, Do It Yourself (DIY) Shows and more. Talk to your neighbors, friends, work associates. Anyone. Almost everyone you know has a great idea, but they don’t know what to do next. You do. Capitalize on it.
Bottom line. No one knows where the next big winner will be found. Where every you go, whatever you do, keep your eyes open and your mind sharp. A million-dollar product may be in sight. I’m counting on it.
See you on the shelves,
As Seen On TV Invention Process
1) Make a working prototype.
2) Make a short demo video and post “unlisted” on YouTube.
3) Submit the link to me, as a “First Look” sneak peak. I’ll give you feedback.
4) We’ll do a proprietary market test with real consumers the final judge.
5) We’ll produce a 2 minute TV commercial test. Then do naPonwide full media campaign.
6) We’ll manufacture and roll it into Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and ASOTV shelf space everywhere.
7) You’ll be paid royalPes or finders fees. Mailbox money!
Mass Market or Niche Product?
ASOTV is a home run play. The fastest, least expensive way to hit it big in products. It’s the best, first choice. A small royalty can equal millions paid to the inventor.
If at any stage, your product fails, you still have options. As Seen On TV is simply the first and best distribution channel for physically small, low cost items that solve an everyday problem.
If mass market consumers don’t resonate with the product or the problem/solution, it’s time to move to niche markets. Niche markets generally won’t sell as many units per year or make as much in royalties as a mass market item; but sometimes they do. Plus, $20,000 to $150,000 a year in royalties is still a pretty good part time inventing job to have. For more help, see Inventive Ideas.
The goal of every product idea, is to find where products are purchased, in the highest volumes, and by whom? Then, license the concept to a manufacture/distributor in that area. Simple, right?
Marketing has the same challenges for companies and inventors. Find your niche before running out of cash! That’s why it’s so nice when the ball goes out of the park with the first ASOTV shot. If it doesn’t, you’re not done ba`ng and the game isn’t over. Keep invenPng.
It’s my belief that the inventors instincts are critical. Find a place of peace, once you have all the data, then reflect on it soberly. You’re hearing the good and bad responses to your product and seeing the sales, which are the ultimate guide. Everyone likes a product till you ask them to buy it. Sales are the true reflection of interest. Keep in mind, you’re looking for the target market of people who “buy” it, not who just “like” it.
The next consideration is cash. Every bet you place depletes capital and everything costs either money, Pme or both. You have to hear the feedback you’re ge`ng from consumers and make go/no go decisions along the way. Not every product idea will make it. In fact, most fail to produce a financial return. Knowing when to push forward and when to let go is a tough decision.
That’s one reason I like the ASOTV testing process. It’s void of emotion and measures consumer responsiveness to a specific product pitch at a specific time in history. Results may vary with product variations and timing, but at lease we learn fast what will and will not fly today.
There’s no way of knowing if product redesigns, features pitched or creative will change the outcome. No way to predict which path is lucrative and which are not. I’ve seen every manner of success and failure with seemingly right and wrong choices. No one can predict what consumers will buy or not buy. Product success is a perfect storm of the 7 P’s: Product, Price, Promotion, Placement, Packaging, Positon, People.
You can work with WIL in several ways: Full Licensing Agreement, Partnership
Distribution Plans, or Consulting. To find out which is best for you, just contact ask. Let’s swing for the fences together!
Hope this helps. I’m a long term relationship person who values loyalty, trust and hard work. If that’s you, let’s connect.
If you’re into social networking, it’s helps me and others for you to participate: