Every year, thousands of inventors fall prey to IMCs and their enticing offers – we can get you into all the ‘big box' retailers and you'll make millions with your invention.
Don't you want to believe your product should be in thousands of retail stores – making you rich in the process? Of course you do! So does every other inventor.
Inventors are creative, intelligent, typically college-educated professionals – precisely not the type of person you'd expect to be lured by scammers. So, why do so many inventors fall for the trap – happily plunking downtens of thousands of dollars in exchange for dubious promises of success? Read on.
I Blame the Inventor – Really!
Fill in the blanks: The road to Hell is paved with _______ _______. Your mind fills in the blanks with: good intentions. Right?
How about this instead: The road to disaster is paved with hubris and laziness. Here is what I mean.
Virtually everyone feels they are smarter than the average person – Just as 75% of us think we are better than average drivers. Also, we are always in search of the easy way to succeed – the myth of the overnight success is alive and well. We are afflicted with a bit of hubris and laziness as well.
IMC's need little more than to simply play a narrative to us that is music to our ears. Here's the script:
Wow! you are so clever. I can't believe you came up with such a smart invention. We can tap our extensive network of contacts in all the big box retailers, then craft a perfect pitch for your product. This product could be worth millions in the marketplace and we can get the process moving for you, right now, for only $15,000.
The above sample is incredibly simple, but entices many inventors by igniting powerful emotions.
The first two sentences play into your hubris, your pride and feeling of intelligence. The remainder is all focused upon appealing to laziness – the escalator to success myth we all wish to believe is true. For all of these reasons, I put a lot of blame on the inventor for being both naïve and easily lured by such a simple script.
While the script is both simple and emotionally addictive, your solution to protecting your wallet and your sanity is also quite simple.
Just Ask Them a Few Questions
The reality is that the IMC caller knows absolutely nothing about your product, except perhaps the patent number and the title of the patent. He knows little or nothing about your industry segment and has no real contacts in ‘big box retailers.'
His goal is to fool you enough through flattery and puffery so you will sign a vague contract promising little more than “best efforts” to promote your invention (legally meaningless phrase) in exchange for getting a sizable check from you. He, therefore, doesn't need to know anything about your product or industry. There is only one guarantee: he will cash your check quickly.
Turn the tables on the IMC by pretending to be interested in their program; and ask a few well directed questions to turn up the heat. I guarantee you he will want to get off the phone as soon as possible – drop you like a hot potato. (Sorry for all the clichés.) Here are a few great questions to ask the IMC contact.
Q1: Oh, great you have so many contacts, I have been in touch with Susan Welch (a name you just made up), a buyer at Target in Minneapolis. She is a key contact, have you worked with her?
Odds are, he will tell you they work with her all the time.
Q2: I've done just a bit of research, but am far from an expert. Who are the top three competitors that you would target for licensing for this product?
He won't like this question at all. He will probably pause and then tell you he'll have to ‘get back with you' on that question.
Q3: I have talked with several buyers about my invention. To be honest, they have suggested my product might be a modest success at best. Why, specifically, do you think it could be worth millions?
He really won't like this question and will have no answer whatsoever. Expect some stuttering and perhaps a very vague answer, if
Q4: It is phenomenal to be in touch with a company that has helped so many inventors to succeed (he'll like that statement). Could you provide me with the names and contacts of 3 to 5 inventors who've licensed successfully with you, so I could touch bases with them and get their feedback?
This is the most dreaded question of all for any IMC. There is no one whom they would ever want you to talk with. So, either he will simply say, “oh, that is proprietary information, we are not allowed to release” (which makes no sense) or he will abruptly end the conversation – he knows you're not falling for the scam. This question will always end the phone call quickly.
See, you can actually have some fun with this.