In last week's blog, I described 3 keys to inventing success:

  • Solve an annoying problem
  • Retail Sales Price is Less than $20
  • Must Have a 4X to 5X Mark Up

In today's blog, let's consider 3 more keys to inventing success (surely you didn't think there were just three).

  1. Benefits are Easily and Quickly Understood

Many inventors come from professional, technical backgrounds that include software developers, engineers, CPAs and other occupations. Portraying issues using technical, detail-oriented verbiage is second nature to such professionals.

For an innovative new consumer product, however, descriptions must be short, sweet, and succinct.

Below two descriptions of a hypothetical new product:

  • The Marker Eraser uses an innovative chemical process to dilute and remove a variety of different unwanted marks, including graffiti, from most smooth and abraded surfaces using an innovative, non-toxic chemical process.
  • Graffiti Gone instantly removes graffiti from walls with a swipe of the hand! The swipe-away cloth removes graffiti without brushes, scrubbing, toxic chemicals, or messy clean up.

Notice Marker Eraser focuses upon the mechanics of how the product works; the benefits are buried at the end of a long sentence that very few casual shoppers would read.

Graffiti Gone grabs the reader instantly with benefits and action words. Even if consumers only read the first sentence, they have a good understanding of what Graffiti Gone will do for them and how easy it is to use.

In our time-crunched sound byte world, Marker Eraser would languish on store shelves – if it ever got to store shelves. You must be able to package and market your product like Graffiti Gone: sell the sizzle.


2. Ready to Use, out of the Box

The three words etched on the gravestone of a failed consumer product: some assembly required.

When I was a child in the 60s, the Christmas Day gift opening ritual included a chaotic assembly line featuring little bags full of parts and the clank and clatter of hammers, screw drivers, and wrenches. No more. 

Today successful consumer products are either ready to use out of the box or have simple, snap together parts, occasionally a few nuts and bolts may be included. HSN and QVC, where many new consumer products debut, rarely sell products that require assembly or installation. Buyers simply refuse to purchase products that require following instructions or using tools.

As you develop your new product, you must constantly consider, how can I make this easier, simpler to use?  I just killed off a new garden product idea because consumers would have to follow a few simple instructions to use it. I still like the idea, but it won't work in the marketplace.


3. No Big Foot – Small Footprint is Crucial


Retail store managers use detailed planograms that depict exactly how products are to be arranged and displayed on their shelves. Sales volumes are targeted to meet certain dollars per square foot of shelf space goals. As a result, the “footprint” of any given product – how much total shelf space is required – is crucial. Small footprints are great, large footprints are terrible. It is all about $/square foot.

Always look for creative ways to reduce the footprint of your new product to make it more attractive for the retail store manager's bottom line. Fluffy items are often compressed to take up less space. Rectangular packaging is great for palletizing the product easily and also for store placement.

You'll see some products on store shelves that are a bit more voluminous, but not very many. There is a new cat toy product that is a bit large, so only one or two items can be put on the shelf at any given time. I'd hate to be the inventor of such a product because if both items sell in one day, store personnel may not notice for hours or even days the shelf space is empty.

Products stored in inventory at the back of the store don't sell well!

Small = more sales; large = less sales.

Stay tuned!