Inventors are tempted to market direct by contacting buyers themselves and using the internet, advertising and websites to market their product. Most advertising produces enquiries that are about 0.5% of the total audience of the advertising. So a local paper ad to 20,000 households might give you 100 enquiries if you are a big ad on the front page so you are seen. Small ads are not often seen, boring ads are not seen. The right hand side will be noticed more than a left hand page. What if the circulation volumes are poorly stated and there are not that many distributed at all? What if they go to old people predominantly who are not going to buy your product?
If you use a website do you know about “keywords”? Use the wrong ones and you will never get anyone looking at your site. Worse still, use no keywords and you will get no visitors. Making money from a website audience will only begin once you have around 200 new visitors a day, or 73,000 new visitors a year. How are they going to know you exist? You have to be quite skilled in the techniques to make this work, all the hype is true if you pay experts to set everything up and you have a big budget. Even the bigger companies rely on lots of other advertising to send people to their websites. You can do it if you know what you are doing and target a very specific audience for your product. So invention tip 4 is to thoroughly investigate whether to sell your product direct or to sell it through distributors.
Inventors must approach agents, manufacturers, or companies with a proposal, so they should try to take a confidentiality agreement (available from Innovic website) with them and get it signed. Many companies will not sign one because the inventor’s idea might have already been thought of by them, but not yet developed. So by signing an agreement without knowing what it is they might not be able to produce their own product in the future. An alternative is to divulge enough information to interest them, but not enough detail for them to understand its operation. So invention tip 5 is to secure your confidentiality one way or another.
Be aware when doing patent searches that all information on inventions is not contained in Intellectual Property office files; their files probably contain something less than half of published data. The rest of the information is already in the public domain in magazines, newspapers, websites etc. and often this is what large companies get their researchers to investigate to invalidate patents to avoid paying commissions or royalties.
If you are preparing a Patent yourself or hiring somebody to do it for you then ensure that where a material such as stainless steel, brass, gold or ceramic is required that you specify the properties of the the material and not what the material itself is to be. For example if the invention requires oil or water then list it as a fluid not what it actually is because if you specify a material and somebody copies your invention using a different metal or fluid then your patent will not hold up under examination against the competing model. Be as vague as possible in your specifications so that if they are rejected you can tighten them up and resubmit, but if they are tight to begin with you will have nowhere to go if they are rejected.
A cheaper alternative for inventors to patenting is to source your components from different manufacturers which makes it hard for anyone to copy. Low volume products that go to a diverse distributorship are rarely copied anyway.
Good luck with your invention, these tips and more are given by our guest speakers throughout the year although you may have to attend regularly to hear what you need. Our feasibility committee will also give you this type of advice and you can ask questions during networking and supper of other inventors or a committee member.
You can join IAA(Vic) here and save yourself a lot of time and mistakes