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Nine Common Inventor Mistakes
Inventors succeed all the time, but many more inventors fail, many with excellent ideas that could be successful. So knowing the common inventor mistakes can help you avoid those mistakes, and help you avoid turning your potential success into a big winner.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 them
5. Vague 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
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