In recent blog posts, I have described a variety of reasons why inventors often fail. So now, let’s look at reasons why inventors succeed.

Today’s topic: Key to Inventor Success – Research Marketing Channels

A key to success for any inventor is to recognize which marketing channels are ideal for his or her product. Put another way, a lot of time effort and money is often wasted fruitlessly pursing a particular marketing channel only to discover much later that channel is not a good fit for the product.

Examples of marketing channels include:

  • Online retailers: Amazon, Ebay, and many others
  • Catalog sales
  • Other media – Skymall, Shark Tank, for example
  • HSN/QVC and other home shopping networks
  • Retail stores
  • DRTV – Direct Response Television
  • Your own website
  • Social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter
  • Kickstarter, Indiegogo etc. – other crowd funding sources

The above is merely a partial list of marketing channels, but it highlights that there are many different directions you might choose to go with your product. Each channel has its own unique characteristics – QVC might be great for one product, but not for another.

As I meet with inventor clients, I am often amazed with how little they know about marketing channels.

On a recent Shark Tank show, the entrepreneur insisted that her planned path forward was using DRTV – in spite of the fact that all of the sharks inveighed against doing that. Furthermore, she wanted capital from them to fund expensive DRTV campaigns for the product. She refused to consider their viewpoints simply because her mind was made up.

I find a similar trend with some of my new inventor clients.

One of my clients insisted his product would be “perfect” for QVC. When I asked him why he thought so, he said, “it is a great product and we can sell a million of them on QVC.” I asked him if he had watched QVC and what he knew about it; his answers were, respectively, “no” and “not much.” When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

If you think Shark Tank would be a great marketing channel, make a study of it. Watch lots of Shark Tank; see how entrepreneurs present to the sharks, note approaches that resonate and those that don’t. Pay close attention to the questions the sharks ask. Develop a profile of each of the sharks.

Finally, consider how you would present your product to them. What equity might you offer and what valuation would you project for your company? How would you answer the hard questions?

After investing the effort described above you would either conclude that Shark Tank is not a good channel for you or you would feel more certain that it is a good channel. If the latter, you would have the outline of a good game plan.

Stay tuned!