These factors can help you choose your most viable idea
If your product is earmuffs with built-in headphones, your premise is that people want to hear music when they wear earmuffs. Do people agree with your premise?
BY DON DEBELAK
Inventors typically have more than one product idea, so they often need to decide which one to pursue the hardest. They want to be sure to focus on an idea that has the potential to be a big winner.
These 10 criteria can help you decide which product could be your ticket to major success. You don’t need to satisfy all 10, but the more you meet the better chance you will have.
1. The product has the “wow” factor. When you have a product that does great things or meets important needs, it will resonate with people.
When you first thought of the idea, did your eyes open wide? Did you say, “Yes, this is it; I’ve got a great idea”?
2. People agree with your premise. A premise is the reason you feel your product will sell.
If your product is earmuffs with built-in headphones, your premise is that people want to hear music when they wear earmuffs. Do people agree with your premise? Ask at least 10 people and have at least half of them agree to believe you have a great idea.
3. The product offers a total solution. Cutting the number of products required for an activity from three to two isn’t all that impressive in the market, but you hit paydirt when you cut the products needed to just one.
4. The product targets people with passion. Everyone is passionate about something, and the people you are targeting should be passionate about your type of product.
When people care about a product category, they evaluate it closely, read trade magazines, go to trade shows, visit websites and talk to like-minded enthusiasts. That interest makes it easier for inventors to inexpensively reach their prospects. New mothers can be very passionate about baby products. That’s the passion you need.
5. The product relates to an emerging market.
When the scrapbook industry started, dozens of inventors and new product entrepreneurs were able to introduce their product because there was a shortage of products to buy. That is not the case anymore, but the fact remains that inventors have a great chance any time a market is emerging.
6. The product targets new trends in an existing market. This is similar to the previous factor, but it is in an established product.
When golfers switched from pull carts to push carts, there were many opportunities for inventors—both for the carts themselves and for accessories such as cup holders, umbrella holders and baskets to hold supplies. I highly recommend that inventors choose one or two areas where they have a high degree of interest and to track emerging product categories and new trends. By tracking their passion, inventors will often find a winning product.
7. The product offers few technical challenges.
Inventors can and do introduce technically difficult products. But this type of invention requires more money, more time and more expertise than most inventors have. Simpler products, like Rollerblades, are far easier to introduce for the average inventor.
8. Targeted customers can easily find the products. Products are easy to find when prospects can find them at specialty stores and catalogs.
This is why inventors do well with kitchen products. There are many small stores that are relatively easy to sell to and stores that prospective customers probably visit every three months or so.
Eventually, most inventors want to be selling at mass merchants, but typically they don’t have the money or product success to land at a mass merchant right away. So the key is to have a specialty chain of stores, or some popular websites or catalogs to sell an unproven product.
9. The product conveys its major benefits quickly. Complex packaging, promotion and advertising are all expensive, but they are required when a product is difficult to understand.
People should be able to understand your product immediately—within two seconds and without any explanation from you if you are going to succeed. Besides consumers, both retail stores and distributors are turned off by a product they don’t understand.
10. The product avoids competitors with category-dominating companies.
Don’t try to compete with Rubbermaid, which dominates the market. These companies have broad product lines and get premium shelf space. They are not above complaining about any space given to a pipsqueak inventor who’s trying to get started.
If the dominating company likes your idea, it will try to figure out a way to get around your patents and will have lots of resources to come after you.