It seems practically every week, I speak with an inventor with a promising product who has fallen victim to the charms of a invention marketing firm (IMF).
There are two types of IMFs – the legitimate ones that render services intended to help inventors to license their inventions, and all the others – those who seek only to bilk inventors of precious capital in exchange for over-hyped, generic ‘marketing services’ of no value to the inventor.
Unfortunately, the legitimate IMFs are very few in number and the shyster IMFs, who appear much like slugs eating your garden after a spring deluge, seem to be everywhere. Like slugs, every time one of the shysters is squashed, two more spring up to take its place.
This post is about how to recognize the shysters. Part II provides a simple script to ‘smoke them out’ early.
Let’s do a bit of role playing with two inventors – Sam and Susan – and a shyster IMF we’ll call Intergalactic Marketing and Patents (IMAP).
In both cases, IMAP has contacted the inventors, asked them for some information, and is now calling the inventors with ‘good news’ regarding their inventions. Sam is the inventor in the Part I blog post.
Here we go.
IMAP Call to Inventor Sam ————————————————————————-
IMAP: Hello, may I speak with Sam, please?
Sam: This is Sam.
IMAP: Hi, Sam, this is Jim Bigdeelz with Intergalactic Marketing and Patents. I wanted to follow up with you about your widget for close-cropped haircuts. Do your have a few minutes.
Sam (excited): Oh, yes, great to talk with you. What did you think of my product?
IMAP: Sam, I hope you are sitting down.
We reviewed your product and, simply put, we believe it is a home run. We feel your product could sell many millions in the marketplace. We’d love to work with you to get it onto store shelves everywhere, into all the big box retailers. How does that sound to you?
Sam (a bit shocked): Well, that sounds, .. uhh .. great to me.
But, Mr. Bigdeelz, I must tell you, I have spoken with several retailers and, so far, no one seems to have any interest at all. They tell me the benefits of my product are hard to understand, that consumers are unlikely to buy it. It has been a real bummer for me, and I have spent a lot of money. How could you help me?
IMAP: Sam, we hear stories just like yours every day from our clients and it breaks our hearts. Here’s the deal: it is all about knowing the right contacts and also about presenting the right presentation to them.
We have relationships with all the key decision-makers at ‘big box’ retailers. Concerning presentation, prospective companies must be able to visualize your product immediately. This requires advanced CAD tools, like TurboCAD Deluxe for proper 2D and 3D renderings of your product. Here at IMAP w say: the ‘right’ people plus the ‘right’ presentation equals success.
Sam: Wow! I had no idea it was so complicated. All I did was a short PowerPoint presentation. Won’t that work?
IMAP: Sorry, but that won’t even get you in the room with the key decision-makers at the big retailers. Amateur presentations just don’t cut it in today’s high-tech world.
Sam: So, have you worked with other inventors like me? What is your success rate?
IMAP: Great questions, Sam. Yes, we have worked with hundreds of inventors just like you! Just last week I was in Bentonville to meet with Walmart execs for one of our clients.
Sam: That just sounds great! But how much does all this cost to get started with your company?
IMAP: Sam, our full service, Gold package will put your product in front of the right people at all the big box retailers. We can do all of this to get your product launched into stores for only $14,950. What do you say, are you ready to make millions with your product?
Sam: Well, sir. I’d love to make it happen working with you guys, but that is just way above my budget! Thanks for your time, but my wife has already had very serious conversations with me about the money I have spent on credit cards already with this product.
IMAP: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Sam, let me put you on hold for a couple of minutes, I’ll be right back.
Five minutes later ….
IMAP: Sam, thanks for waiting on hold. I have some really great news for you.
Sam: What is that?
IMAP: Sam, I just spoke privately with Joseph Maxcash, our VP of Product Development about your situation to see if there is anything we can do. He loves your product as much as I do. Here is the good news.
He is prepared to make you a limited-time offering on the Gold package of a single payment of only $8,970 or three monthly payments of just $3,000. Sam, that is a 40% discount off our normal pricing! That is an amazing offer. I can’t remember us offering that kind of discount to anyone in the last 6 months. What do you say to that, can we get you started today?
Sam: Uh…. Mr. Bigdeelz, it sounds like a great deal. But, I would have to talk with my wife and get back to you next week on this.
IMAP: Sam, let me put you on hold for just a couple more minutes.
3 minutes later.
IMAP: Sam, I had one more conversation with Mr. Maxcash on your behalf.
He told me that the best deal we can possibly make is a payment of only $8,225 or just six monthly payments of only $1,380. That is as good as it gets, Sam. Due to special financing, that offer is only available today. That is less than a big screen television.
Sam: Wow, I can’t believe you can offer such a deal, but I still feel I must think about it.
IMAP: Sir, let me ask you one very serious question here.
Sam: Yes, what is that?
IMAP: Do you genuinely believe in your invention and do you truly believe it is a million dollar product?
Sam: Sir, I truly believe in my invention or I would not have put as much money into it as I already have. And, yes, I think it is worth at least $1 million in the marketplace, if not $5 million or more. Why?
IMAP: Well, sir, the steeply discounted price of $8,225 for our full-service Gold package to get you in front of all key retail buyers amounts to less than 1% cost on a $1 million product – it’s like pennies on the dollar.
Honestly, if you don’t have any more faith in your product than that, well, … uhh Betty told me I have another client on hold right now who is ready to get started. So, maybe I better wish you a good day, then.
Sam: Wait, no! Let me go ahead and get started with the first payment of $1,380 on my credit card. It could be my first step on the path to becoming a millionaire.
IMAP: Congratulations on a very wise decision, sir. I look forward to working with you and seeing just how far we can take your product. Betty will go over all the details with you and get your credit card payment.
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Thanks for your comment. I think this is a big problem: invention marketers luring inventors with the “we can do it all for you” trap.
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