Follow these early steps to increase your odds of success
So what makes your invention idea marketable? If it’s just an idea, it has no marketable value.
The product that the idea is converted into is what is potentially marketable. Its marketability will be based on successful demonstration that the invention works, and that enough people want it and are willing to pay for it. Consider these marketability steps as your new product moves through its early lifecycle:
When you start with an idea, conduct an initial assessment as to whether your product or service concept addresses a problem that needs a solution. The marketability of your product will depend upon how many people have that problem and how many are willing to pay for that solution.
In order to be marketable, your invention must have features and benefits that will enhance the lives of your target customers. When the consumer can clearly see the need for your product, its marketability is that much greater. Getting answers to the following types of questions will help in your marketability assessment.
Is there anything else out there that does the same thing?
Is your invention totally new?
Is it potentially global?
Is it the best solution possible?
You must determine and understand your product’s niche—specifically, where it will fit in the market. The bigger the market, the more potential your invention has for success.
Factor in the competition
Whether the target customer will buy depends on how well your product invention fits the customer’s buying habits. The size of your target market, your competition, how well your product stands out from the competition and whether you have found a unique niche are all influencing factors as to whether your new product is marketable.
The average person won’t invest in a product that is difficult to use or understand. Generally speaking, your new product must be focused on convenience and making things easier for your targeted customers. Novelty alone may mean nothing if your new product idea does not have good commercial potential. It has to be one that people will prefer to competing products.
Conduct a preliminary patent search
Doing this before actually applying for a patent will not necessarily give you information regarding the potential marketability of your new invention, but the results can provide some guidance as to whether you might be infringing on someone else’s protected idea before deciding to further develop your new product.
Remember that many products in the marketplace most likely were never patented; thus, because of similar products already in the marketplace, you might not be able to get patent protection.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your new product isn’t marketable.
If your product idea is patentable, considering filing for a patent. Receiving one could enhance the marketability of your invention.
A patent can add intangible value to your new product, even if that does not necessarily increase the chances of commercial success. To potential customers and potential licensing candidates, knowing that your product is patented can increase its stature in the marketplace. Having a patent is often perceived as an indication that a product is innovative and exclusive.
Additional legal steps you could consider to enhance this value of your new product include the use of copyrights, if applicable, to protect any form of artistic expression, and the use of trademarks to protect identifying features such as brand names. A new product with patent protection and both registered copyright and trademark protection is potentially very marketable to licensees and investors.
Demonstrate, and convincingly
Remember that “demonstrations sell technology.” If you can show that your invention works as advertised—that is, you have a working prototype—you increase the chances of its marketability.
A working prototype allows you to test and check your invention to ensure that it’s flawless before showing it to potential customers, licensees and investors. Nothing will demonstrate your new product better than a prototype, which speaks louder and more completely than drawings, written descriptions and photographs.
Remember that “a picture is worth a thousand words, but a prototype is worth a thousand pictures.” A video of your prototype demonstration that shows consumers how to use your product can be convincing evidence to support your marketability claims.
Strive for a perfect price
Inventors can usually make money from their inventions via licensing to someone, selling the invention outright to investors or manufacturing and marketing the invention themselves—but the key to commercial success is the product’s selling price. The right price ensures a reasonable profit while making the product more attractive to target customers and the market as a whole. Products that are not priced to match what consumers are willing to pay will have no marketability.
In summary, product marketability determines whether your new invention product has what it takes to make it. You may have read in this magazine that documented statistics indicate fewer than 5 percent of all new ideas and patented products achieve success in the marketplace. Being aware of what it takes to make your new idea marketable will increase your odds of success.