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All posts for the month April, 2019

Read the Complete Article at: http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2019/04/is-your-benefit-obvious/

Benefits should be
recognized by end users and distributors in two to five seconds.  How do
you know you have an obvious benefit?  When you can give it to someone and
they immediately recognize the benefit without you telling them anything. 
The more you have to explain your idea, the less obvious the benefit is.

Why is an obvious
benefit important?  Unless you can afford a big advertising and marketing
campaign, your product will need to sell on a shelf without anyone offering a
big sales presentation.  The product needs to sell itself.

The degree of
obviousness the benefit has is a subjective question, so I’ve listed six
success stories where the product sold itself.  Compare the power of your
benefit to the power of the benefits listed below. You may even want to get
samples of the following products and have people evaluate how obvious your
product’s benefit is compared to theirs.

Spanx, Body Shaping
Undergarments 

Sara Blakely did amateur
comedy is her spare time and one night before going on stage, she put on some
cream colored pants, but everything she put on under them showed lines. 
She had already decided to wear open toed shoes, so she couldn’t wear panty
hose either.  Out of options, Blakely cut off the feet of her panty hose
and went on stage.  The legs kept on rolling up on her, but she realized
that she was onto a great idea – footless panty hose.  Seven years later
Spanx was on its way to becoming $150 million business.  Her product line
had greatly expanded beyond footless panty hose to a whole line of body shaping
undergarments, not girdles, but enough to firm so that many users claim they
loose two inches when wearing them.  Spanx comes in a variety of shapes,
that run from the bra line to the thigh, and the smooth out the look over all
undergarments as well as shaping up the body so it looks its very best in
almost any outfit.

Blakely actually had a
very difficult time convincing manufacturers (who were all men) that women
would want her product.  After hearing no many times, she finally met one
manufacturer who initially told her no, but after showing the product to his
daughters, he called Blakely back and told her although he personally thought
the idea was strange, his daughters thought it was the greatest idea they had
ever seen. 

Panty lines are a
problem that most, if not all, women have faced.  Also, many women are
always searching for ways to look their best.  When presented with a
product that can cover up panty lines, even with open toed shoes, and at the
same time shape up their bodies, women instantly understand the benefit. 
It is this instant recognition of the benefit, along with edgy and effective
marketing and packaging, which has turned Spanx into the huge success it is
today.

Lashpro, Curl Those
Eyelashes

Staying on the theme of
high fashion, our second inventor, Stephanie Kellar pick a product area,
eyelash curlers, where products had not changed much since the original eyelash
curler was introduced in the 1920s.  These eyelash curlers could pinch
women’s faces and were cumbersome and awkward to use.  A second problem
was that the eyelash curler was small and could easily over curl the
eyelashes.  Keller reinvented the product, moving the curler away from the
face and adding a much larger curling surface to minimize the risk of over
curling the eyelashes.  Kellar introduced the product, which retails for
about $20.00 and quickly sold to 50 high end stores like Henri Bendel and
Nordstrom. 

Kellar’s success came
very quickly because people saw the benefit immediately, which existed
primarily because the current products didn’t work well.  When your
product solves a problem that people know they have, they are quick to see the
benefit.

Electotrack, Plugs Every
8 feet

Holiday outdoor lights
require lots of extension cords, but do they need to?  Kevin O’Rourke, an
electrical contractor didn’t think so, instead all you need is one cord with
plugs every eight feet or so and then one electrical cord can do the work of
20.  Then in a flash O’Rourke licensed his idea just months after he had
his patents in place and a full working prototype.   The Electrotrack
sells for $69.95 in stores like Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Target and has been
featured several times on QVC.

Once again, the benefit
is strong because the need is strong, the other products just do not work well
and people recognized a solution immediately.

Mountain Boards – Snow
Boards with Wheels

Jason Lee and Patrick
McConnell didn’t get their benefit from solving a problem; their benefit from
giving users exactly what they wanted: extreme danger. Adding big wheels onto a
snowboard, and then calling it a Mountain Board, with the mobility to go down
the mountain at unheard of speeds was just what your everyday crazy snowboarder
was looking for in the tamer summer months.  They launched the product
after the year’s snow melted away had over a million dollars of sales before
the year was over.

Lee and McConnell knew
what daredevils wanted, because they were daredevils themselves.  They
went for a fast and furious product that their target customers immediately
related to.  The main benefit is that the Mountain Board gives daredevils
more opportunity to live out their creed all year round, namely, that we could
live or die, but we’ll have fun in the meantime.

The Clean Shower – a
Household Name

Robert Black was a
retired chemist who lived in Florida, where the water is bad and leaves a
crusty film on the shower wall.  Black didn’t mind, but his wife did, and
she was after him all the time to come up with a solution that would keep the
shower clean.  Black worked for a few years and then had a solution, a
simple spray that could be used after a shower that kept the shower walls
perfectly clean.  Black took the product out on his own and was selling
over $100 million per year before he was bought out by Proctor and Gamble.

Black learned that what
counts for an obvious benefit is not so much the product itself, but rather how
end users perceive the problem that the product is going to solve.  If the
product addresses a problem that is known and important to users, you will have
a product that will communicate a strong benefit to end users.

The Java Jacket – One of
My Favorite Stories

When Jay Sorenson bought
coffee in convenient stores and coffee shops it was always too hot to hold in a
single disposable cup.  He noticed that many people used two cups so that
they handle the coffee without burning their hands.  Sorenson then came up
with the original idea for the little piece of corrugated cardboard that fits
over a coffee cup and keeps your hand cool.  The benefit is obvious to the
end users, but Sorenson didn’t need to sell the product to end users, but to
convenient stores and coffee shops.  Furthermore, his customers
(convenient stores and coffee shops) didn’t sell the product to end users – they
gave the product away for free.  How could Sorenson convince his potential
customers to buy from him?  He had to find the benefit that made sense for
his potential customers.  His Java Jacket was only half the cost of an
empty coffee cup, so his customers could cut their costs from a double cup down
to a Java Jacket and single cup.  That benefit is obvious, easy to
understand and important.  Shortly after introducing the product Sorenson
was selling over $16 million per year. 

Don’t always assume the
benefit is just for the end user.  Benefits to the distribution channel
can be just as important, and just as powerful.  Better packaging, better
terms, easier to handle product lines are all important benefits to the
distribution channel and companies spend as much time looking for advantages in
the distribution channel as they do looking for advantages for end users.

CD and DVD repairs

Have you ever had a CD
or DVD skip or play a very distorted sound or picture.  Well that can be
easily repaired because rarely is the electronic signal distorted, instead the
optical layer is damaged.  Repair the optical layer and that $15 to $20 CD
or DVD is as good as new.  Daniel Henry knew that and he put together the
very first optical repair kit called Wipe Out and he was ready to roll. 
But at first sales were a huge dud.  A great benefit and people wouldn’t
buy. Why – they didn’t know CDs and DVDs could be repaired. They thought it was
a hoax.  Once again pointing out it the obvious benefit is not because of
the product, but because of the end users perceptions either of your product or
their problem.

Henry bounced back by
running a major publicity program to editors of key magazines, sending out free
samples and telling editors to try and repair their damaged CDs and DVDs. They
tried the product, it worked and the praised the product widely in print
–leading to big sales of Wipe Out.  With endorsements on the package
consumers started to believe and the product was a big hit.

How to Proceed

When you start to evaluate
whether or not your product has a truly obvious benefit, don’t concentrate on
the product, concentrate on the problem or situation the product
addresses.  Ask people if they experience the problem you are addressing,
and see how they describe. Eric Teng, who created the Garlic Twist, a new and
easier way to mince garlic, started out by asking people if they ever used a
garlic press, the old fashion way to mince garlic, and if they did how they
felt it worked and what they thought could be done to improve the
product.  When one person after another complained about the press, Teng
knew he had a winner, and his product’s sales of over $600,000 a year
demonstrate that the Garlic Twists benefit is indeed truly obvious.

The post Is Your Benefit Obvious appeared first on One Stop Invention Shop.

Read the Complete Article at: http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2019/04/strategic-agreements-offer-inventors-a-big-time-launch/

Strategic Agreements Offer Inventors a Big Time Launch

Inventors often don’t have the resources to bring their products to market.  Many times inventors turn to licensing to try to avoid spending too much money. But inventors lose control of their product in a licensing arrangement. There are other approaches inventors can take to maintain control and still get investments to launch their product in a big way. Those approaches include strategic agreements or partnerships with other companies. There are many types of deals inventors and their interested parties can strike. The following are some that you might propose to interested companies.

{Don Debelak’s new book, Turning Your Invention into Cash is now available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Turn-Your-Invention-into-Cash-ebook/dp/B07N8JSQJW   for $3.49. From the author of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Bringing Your Product to Market.}

An exclusive agreement with a manufacturer where you agree to
only use that manufacturer to produce your product for a period of time in
return for the manufacturer offering no cost or discounted fees for product design
help, prototype production, mold creations and initial production set-up cost. An exclusive agreement with a marketer that commits you to sell
only to that one marketer in return for an investment from the marketer, or in
return for a down payment on future orders. 
Inventors might first strike a deal with a marketer as that creates the
likelihood of future sales that will encourage manufacturers to give you a
manufacturing deal. You don’t need to do exclusive agreements with both
manufacturers and marketers, but often doing both creates a synergy to both
parties that helps land both deals.   Private label agreement, in which you package the product with
the private label marketing company’s name on it rather than your own, with the
private label marketer guaranteeing to take a certain volume over a one to two
year period. . Inventors often need to sell the product at a discount of 50 to
60 % or more from the suggested retail price, but inventors get in return
guaranteed sales and low marketing costs. Joint ventures, where one or more of the partners will own part
of the company in return for their investment. You are best off doing this with
only one partner as it will help you maintain some control. Among all the
approaches discussed in this article, inventors have the most trouble
maintaining control in a joint venture. A joint venture is also the most
difficult agreement to negotiate so use this approach as last resort. Taking a marketing commission, of maybe 15% 25% in return for
the manufacturer picking up all the marketing and production costs.. This is an
approach to take when inventors don’t have any money to offer towards product
introduction but where inventors have made industry contacts to help market and
sell the product. This is often the best approach for inventors who know their
industry and know how to sell. 
Manufacturers, especially contract manufacturers, who are companies who
only make products for others, don’t have any sales expertise and are desperate
for new product opportunities.

Tips for Success

1.      Try to find inside support in target companies.  When you are targeting a company or distributor, you need someone within the company to help promote your idea. You can meet contacts at your target company at trade shows, or by just contacting the company and finding the salesperson that covers your area. Salespeople, regional sales managers, and marketing personnel all can be the right one to push your product and deal concept with company management.

2.      How to approach a target company.  The best approach is to simply approach the company and tell them you have an idea that has received very positive consumer reviews in your market research. Explain that you can’t afford to introduce the product on your own, but that you feel the product could be a success if you and the company collaborate. Mention you have two or innovative approaches you’d like to discuss with the company to see if there is any interest. 

How to decide on patent protection? Inventors don’t really need a patent to strike a joint-venture or alliance agreement, but it does improve their negotiating position. It also helps ensure that the product’s intellectual property rights belong to the inventor. In some cases, the inventor might apply for a provisional or design patent so he or she can say that a patent is applied for. You are better off applying for a utility patent and be able to show that when a potential partner asks to your patent application.

The post Strategic Agreements Offer Inventors a Big Time Launch appeared first on One Stop Invention Shop.

Read the Complete Article at: http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2019/04/inventors-nine-most-common-mistakes/

Inventors succeed all the time, but many more inventors fail, many with excellent ideas that could be successful.  So knowing the mistakes inventors commonly make can help you avoid those mistakes, and help turn your invention into a big winner.

{Don Debelak’s new book, Turning Your Invention into Cash is now available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Turn-Your-Invention-into-Cash-ebook/dp/B07N8JSQJW   for $3.49. From the author of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Bringing Your Product to Market.}

Inadequate distribution plan.  Distribution stands for how you get your
product in front of the people who will buy it. 
You might use distributors to retailers, of use sales agents to sell to
direct to retailers, or even have you own sales force that sells to
catalogs.  In most cases you need to sell
through a variety of distribution outlets to get your product started.  Distribution channels are the hardest part of
marketing a product because a) they have hundreds of products they could buy
and b) they don’t always understand why a product benefits are unique and
important.  Waiting till the last minute
to line up distribution is a big mistake, and most inventors don’t even
consider creating a distribution plan till they are ready to sell a
product.  No help from industry insiders. What trade shows
should you attend? What are the key names of buyers?  Which stores are most open to a new item from
an inventor? What companies could an inventor partner with to sell the
product?  All these questions might be a
mystery to an inventor, but they wouldn’t be mysterious to an industry insider.
They will now the information right away. 
They will also know typical pricing, distribution channel discounts,
packaging and insurance requirements. 
Inventors will make many costly mistakes if they don’ fine someone with
extensive industry experience to help them. Spending money too fast.  Things never go smoothly with an invention,
there are many starts, and the restarts, many efforts that don’t pay off, and
often unexpected product changes become require.  These adjustments all costs lots of
money.  Inventors need to be careful to
save their money for when they really need. Unfortunately inventors are often
enamored of their product and are sure it is going to succeed.  As a result they don’t watch their spending
because they are sure the product will succeed. 
When changes are require, many times inventors have just run out of
money. Targeting too large a market.  You need to create a certain amount of market
momentum to succeed.  Since inventors
typically have limited resources, they often have a tough time penetrating a
big market.  For example, a company with
a new kitchen product will probably do best by concentrating on kitchen stores,
smaller stores that won’t worry about the company size. If the inventors go
after Wal-Mart, or department stores, they will need many more resources to
market their product, plus they will need to go through many hoops to prove to
the big retailers they have the ability to supply themVague product benefits.  A new product typically has only two to three
seconds to interest someone in finding out more information.  That is all. 
If you haven’t whittled your benefit down to a clear five to seven word
statement, you benefit will be vague. 
Inventors big obstacle here is not the end-users but instead the people
in distribution, retailers, manufacturers reps, distributors, are much tougher,
they have to believe it will sell instantly. Your product will have trouble in
the market, no matter how great it is, without this clear statement.Short-changed sales effort.  Inventors work very hard and getting patents
and prototypes and perfecting the product. 
But often they wait till the product is ready before doing even one
thing to sell the product. That is way to late. 
You should start making sales contacts right away, once you start
developing your product./  meeting sales
reps, other inventors who have already succeeded in the market, and possible
meeting region managers of big retailers. 
You want to make these contacts early, so when you have product, you can
get immediate sales.  If you don’t do
that, you will start without any sales momentum and the market might lose faith
in your product before you even get started.Failure to plan for the transitional period.   Most inventors start with a first sales
period, where inventors prove their product will sell, typically through some
of the key contacts the inventor made while developing the product, then they
have a period where they start to sell to people who are not in their initial
support group. This is a very difficult time and sales just don’t happen.  Inventors need to develop a specific plan –
targeting key accounts and trade shows and make a concerted effort to land
sales during this difficult period.Poor product packaging.  Companies spend months developing packaging,
conveying their products benefits quickly, and having the packaging copy that
helps consumers buy.  Inventors often
think of packaging as an afterthought, instead of realizing that over 30%
success can often be related to the package itself.  If you are investing in patents, prototypes,
trade shows and initial runs, you must also invest in packaging and hire professional
help to at least review the product.   High manufacturing cost.  Your product must cost no more to
manufacturer than 20 to 25 % of the end user price.  If you don’t have that much differential you
just want make money.  You need to make
money every month in order to have the resources you need to expand.  The costs of marketing, product returns,
sales commissions, trade shows as well administrative costs like product
liability insurance will take every dime you have if you don’t have your
manufacturing costs in the right range. 

The post Inventors Nine Most Common Mistakes appeared first on One Stop Invention Shop.

Read the Complete Article at: http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2019/04/wild-and-young-a-recipe-for-success/

Often inventors get into a routine that revolves around look for a problem that affects many where you can create a great solution.  Then you just be sure you can make the product for 20% of the products retail value and you might have a winner.  You probably have all the ingredients for a great invention right in your own home.  Both of the stories in this article are about inventors who made it with recycled cardboard.

{Don Debelak’s new book, Turning Your Invention into Cash is now available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Turn-Your-Invention-into-Cash-ebook/dp/B07N8JSQJW   for $3.49. From the author of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Bringing Your Product to Market.}

There is another way, one followed by kids for generations, just get a wild and crazy idea and try it out.  While not exactly kids, 26 year olds (in 2009) Jason Lucash and Mike Szymczak did just that.  Now these two young fellows loved their music, and loved it loud.  Their first product which had some traction, was the Rock-IT, a product that could take audio sounds and change the sounds to vibrations. All you had to do was attach the vibration magnet to a wide variety of devices and you had great sound.  Some of the places where their product could go include cardboard boxes, file cabinets, appliances, coolers and lamp shades.  The product sold for $34.99 and was a modest hit, that is available at Amazon and other stores including Bed Bath and Beyond and their own web site www.origaudio.com. 

But their sales will exceed $5 million for a second product, Fold and Play Recycled Speakers. Obviously the Rock-It added sound, but our inventors more, much more, and they came up with the idea of a speaker made out of  recycled cardboard with a standard black speaker that requires no power or batteries.  Now they had a light weight box, or in their case several boxes, and they were ready to party wherever they went.  Just assemble the boxes, plug into an audio source and you had music, loud music. Time magazine featured the product as one of the 10 best products of 2009 and sold 15,000 speakers in one day on their web site.  Then the Marines ordered 50,000. For the inventors it’s the best of all worlds, a crazy idea that deos exactly what they want and a booming business to boot. 

That is a great story, but not as great as my favorite story, the Bogdon bass. Chris Baydee wrote songs but couldn’t afford a bass to play on his recordings.  So he built a bass out of cardboard he found around the home.  He added vinyl strings and a wooden handle and he was ready to record with what he felt was very silly idea.  But then something happened, the bass sounded great.  And the big cardboard box was really loud, and didn’t need an amplifier. He didn’t know what to do with what he thought was extraordinary.  So he put his idea up a YouTube and received over 1000 hits in less than a day.  And he had lots of requests to buy the product.  So he put his bass up on EBay and started selling. He sold hundreds of the product, almost as fast he could make them. Bass Player gave the product a great review in 2008 and the product is available at many web sites.  A great product that really works at a fraction of the costs of real double basses and even bass guitars.     

Chris Baydnee took the money from his initial sales to patent his idea which has helped him keep his product selling four to five years after he invented.  Just because you think your product is silly or not serious doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take action to protect a winning idea.  A reminder for all is Gary Clegg who invented the Slanket, a blanket with sleeves long before the Snuggyie came out.  A simple idea and Clegg didn’t patent it and now today the Snuggie has sold millions of products, far more than the Slanket.  So don’t lose your rights.  If that “silly” idea has real legs in the market, patent it.

Make Magazine

These stories this week are all about inventors who pulled together invention prototypes in their garage, basement or living room.  Make magazine, makezine.com, is a magazine that shows you how to make all kinds of things, such as slip castings, that you can easily do at home, but that you might not be aware of you.  If you are the inventive type, always trying to come up with a new idea, but not always able to pull something together, you need to start getting Make magazine.  Even if the magazine can’t help you, the ideas are fun and you can do the projects just for fun. If you want to help your kids be creative, or if you are home schooling your children, Make magazine is a great resource to explore.

The post Wild and Young – A Recipe for Success appeared first on One Stop Invention Shop.

Read the Complete Article at: http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2019/04/introducing-products-at-trade-shows/

How to Introduce Your Invention at a Trade Show

After countless months of research and development, are you finally ready to show your invention to the world? Why not schedule its grand debut for an upcoming trade show? Trade shows bring together thousands of wholesale distributors, retail buyers, and potential customers who may be interested in learning more about your invention and eventually doing business. But, to achieve the outcome you desire, you have to nail your first impression. Here are tips for introducing your invention at a trade show:

{Don Debelak’s new book, Turning Your Invention into Cash is now available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Turn-Your-Invention-into-Cash-ebook/dp/B07N8JSQJW   for $3.49. From the author of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Bringing Your Product to Market.}

Train your team.

Everyone who is working your trade show booth with you should be adequately trained on your invention’s features, benefits, and price. There should be enough people working your booth to attend to every guest who walks by and asks a question or lingers around to look at your product. Team members should immediately engage with guests who stop by and introduce them to the invention before they brush you off and walk away. You may not have anyone else working for you—especially if this is your first invention—so just grab a few friends and ask if they can help you for the afternoon.

Host a live demo.

If your invention is unlike anything on the market, it’s best to do a product demo once for guests who stop by your booth. This is also important if your product is similar to something else on the market, but has key advantages over the competitors. Letting guests look at the product without explaining what it does or how it is different from competitors is not an effective way to get picked up by retailers or drum up interest in your brand.

Preplan.

If you’re worried your booth will go unnoticed next to big name brands at the trade show, spend time reaching out to the media and industry influencers prior to the event. Send along your personal contact information as well as a press kit and invite them to stop by your booth for a personal demonstration of the product. The press kit should include product shots, a press release announcing the launch of your invention, and advertising brochures. Hopefully, this will pique the influencers’ and media members’ interest prior to the event so they pencil a stop by your booth into their busy schedule.

Provide background information.

Because trade show attendees will be completely unfamiliar with your brand and new invention, try to get them to connect with you by providing them with background information. How did you come up with the idea for the invention? What unique problem does it solve? How is it made? Answer these questions for your audience by setting up iPads with informational videos in your booth or handing out pamphlets. The more guests learn about your brand, the more engaged they will be.

Finally introducing your invention to the world can be nerve wracking, especially if you choose to do it at a trade show surrounded by your peers and potential customers. But, keep these tips handy and your first trade show will go off without a hitch.

The post Introducing Products at Trade Shows appeared first on One Stop Invention Shop.

Read the Complete Article at: http://onestopinventionshop.net/blog/2019/04/sales-reps-and-inventors/

{Don Debelak’s new book, Turning Your Invention into Cash is now available on Amazon for $3.49. Go to Amazon.com and enter inventions Don Debelak to purchase. From the author of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Bringing Your Product to Market.}

Setting up a sales rep network is one of the most cost effective ways to start selling regionally, nationally or internationally. Expect sales reps to take a 8-12% commission, but for inventors starting out selling their product, this is much cheaper and more effective than trying to hire, train and motivate his or her own sales employees.

Sales reps bring with them expertise, experience, industry knowledge and many contacts within the industry–all things that you need to succeed. Additionally, while stores will buy from anyone, they prefer fewer vendors, so sometimes being an inventor with one product makes it difficult to get into retailers. But having sales reps that already sell to your target market means that many of your target stores already buy from your rep and can add a new product without much hassle. Also when adding new stores, your reps won’t face the same resistance that a one product inventor faces since they carry other products.

Finding Reps

There are lots of reps, but you need to know how to find them. Follow the below steps and you should be able to locate plenty of reps.

Trade Magazines and Trade Shows

Locate the leading trade magazines and trade shows for the industry. If possible attend the trade show, go to booths with complementary products and see if they have reps or maybe the booth is even run by reps.

Subscribe to the industry trade magazines and in the new product sections, send away for information on complementary products and when you receive the sales literature, see if there are local reps names included. Talk to the rep and see if he or she knows additional reps.

Trade Association Websites

Sometimes industry trade association websites have lists of reps. Gales’ Book of Associations, found at most larger libraries, and Internet searches should be enough for you to find industry trade associates.

Also check out manufactures sales representatives directories such as MANA, Manufacturers Agents National Association.

I

Talk to Other Inventors

When attending trade shows or other industry events, network with other inventors and ask them if they know any good reps.

Preparing a manufactures’ rep agreement

Before you start contacting sales reps, you want to have a manufactures’ rep agreement ready in case they are interested. You can find a sample manufactures representative agreement on the Internet, have one done by an attorney, or you can get a sample agreement from us, customized for your situation for $75.00. Contact info@onestopinventionshop.net to request an agreement.

There are many particulars in the agreement that you will see in samples that you find in libraries or on the Internet. The main thing for you to be prepared for is to expect to pay a commission of 10 to 12%.

Prepare rep materials for a mailing

Having great materials for your rep mailing is key to success. You need to let reps that you have a hot new product, that you are running a professional and serious business and that you are ready to do all it takes for your product and your reps to succeed.

The literature should include sales flyers, price lists, stories and testimonials. You should offer samples, list your web page, and include info on manufacturing capabilities. Discuss marketing support, i.e. ads being run, trade shows you will attend, PR efforts, and other support. Offer information on sample policies, consignment or guaranteed sales for new customers, and co-op advertising programs. Also include what reps will receive for promotional materials, sales materials and samples.

You need professional looking materials so the reps know you mean business. If your mailing looks like it was put together by a fly-by-night company, it is unlikely you will attract talented and experienced reps.

Sending out the mailing

Send your mailing only to 10 to 15 reps to start. Then call them up and see if any of them are interested in your line. If not, check to see why they are not interested. You may need to make some changes in your package.

If your first mailing didn’t go well, make changes to your package and send it to another 10 to 15 sales reps and again call them up and if they are not interested, find out why. Keep on doing this until you know you’ve got the right mailing materials. Then make a larger scale mailing to all of the reps on your list.

When sending out your mailing, don’t send the contract, but have it ready if someone is interested.

Interviewing the reps

If a rep is interested, make sure you ask him or her a few questions to make sure that he or she is really the right rep for you. Here is what should you look for:

Complimentary Lines

Reps should have complementary lines. For example, if you have a new style of backpack for camping, you want the rep to have other outdoor product lines for the same market.

Driven to Succeed

You want a hungry rep. Selling new products can be hard, so you want a rep that is ready to go out and give it his or her all. The best reps are ones that worked for another rep agency and then started his or her own agency and is anxious to build up sales.

Successful Track Record

Check that the rep has taken on other new lines successfully over the last two years.

Impact of Your Product

The rep needs to believe he or she can make at least $10,000 or $15,000 with your product. If they can’t make that much, it is unlikely they will support it for long.

Technically Qualified

The rep has to have the technical knowledge to properly represent your product. This doesn’t apply to all products, just ones that have a technical or scientific nature. For instance, if you have a chemical product, you need reps that can intelligently and understandably talk about how your product works and answer questions possibly of a technical nature. They don’t need to be chemists, but at least have a basic understanding.

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