December 18, 2014

Getting Your Invention To Market

The ingenuity of inventors never ceases to amaze me. Whether it’s Post It notes, zippers or velcro, our lives have been greatly influenced by inventors and their inventions. But how does a modern inventor get their product to market? There are several ways.

Invention Market

Market Via Your Own Website

For the inventor who wants to keep as much of the profits as possible, selling direct is the way to go. However, selling on your own website can be hard. Here is a sample of all the things you’ll encounter:

  • Setting up the site – This involves buying a URL, getting a hosting package, installing a CMS like WordPress yourself or hiring a web designer to set up the site for you.
  • Writing the content – Once you have a site, you’ve still got to write all the content that goes on the pages. And you’ll probably want a good content marketing strategy to keep your blog relevant to users and search engines alike.
  • Conversion – Before people arrive at your site you’ll need to prepare how you’ll “convert” them. If you have an email newsletter, you’ll need to have a place for people to signup. If you’re selling your product you need a shopping cart and payment method. Take care of conversion early and make the most of your traffic.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – SEO should be laced through this entire process from site setup to content writing to linkbuilding, but you need to have a focus with your on-page and off-page SEO so that you start ranking on terms that drive business.
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising – If you don’t want to wait for your SEO rankings, you can get traffic quickly using a PPC platform. Obviously Google AdWords is the biggest, but Microsoft adCenter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others can provide great sources of targeted traffic.
  • Email marketing – Whether they’ve just signed up for a newsletter or if they’ve purchased a product, email marketing is how you further your relationship. Staying top of mind is important and leads to repeat customers and upsells.
  • Social media – You can’t escape the reach of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the many other social media sites. While you won’t need a presence on every platform, you want to be on the right ones and you want to be actively participating. A deserted social media account can hurt your credibility.

As you can see, this can be a bit overwhelming. However, there are ways to simplify the process.

Sell Through A Platform

There are a lot of different platforms out there and they vary in how they work and the level of control you have. Craigslist and eBay are very simple ways to list a product and make sales. If you want more of a “store” you can go with a site like Etsy or Cafepress that gives you control over the layout and styling. Whichever platform you choose you can usually avoid the hassle of setting up your own website and they will usually have a built-in payment system.

The downside to these options is that you still need to drive traffic to your listings or store. If you’re not particularly marketing minded, this can still seem overwhelming. So what’s even easier?

License Your Invention

The easiest way to get your invention to market is to license it to an existing company. They’ll handle production, sales and fulfillment and give you a percentage of each sale. While licensing deals can be structured many ways, the inventor usually keeps the patents and rights to the invention. So how does one get a licensing deal? There are a few methods:

  • Cold-calling – This is the hardest way to get in and it requires a lot of effort, but sometimes dogged persistence can be the key to success.
  • Personal network – As the saying goes “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Having a personal connection within the licensing company will give you a champion inside, but even if you can get an introduction through a common connection you’ll be ahead of the game.
  • Invention Contests – Many companies run contests searching for inventions to license and sell. One example I came across was the Big Ideas Worldwide Invention Contest. They are accepting applications through March 1st and will have 10 finalists present 3 weeks later to pick the winners.


Invention Photo via Shutterstock

12 Comments ▼

Robert Brady


Robert Brady Robert Brady is the owner and head PPC wizard at Righteous Marketing, a Google AdWord Certified Partner. Robert helps small business owners and large companies just getting started with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) get better results from their PPC management.

12 Reactions

  1. Robert, I’m with you. Inventors are awesome. Not too long ago, Anita wrote about Edison Nation which is a community of inventors (and the people who help get their products and concepts onto shelves, into stores). http://www.edisonnation.com/

    • TJ, may I recommend you check-out Davison, an award-winning new product development company whose mission is to give the independent inventor a chance to succeed by providing all the necessary elements under one roof.

  2. Thanks TJ, I’ll check it out.

  3. It is definitely, definitely crucial to monitor social media networks instead of just slapping them up and forgetting about them. I reached out to two or three caterers via Facebook when I couldn’t find any online contact information on their page — one of them got back to me, and the others never did. Guess who got my business?

  4. Robert,
    Good info for inventors. I think you bring up some great things that are very important. It makes me think of one of the main statements that made Peter Drucker such a business expert/guru. He claimed that all businesses boiled down to two basic ingredients: innovation and marketing. The great invention without the other half of the puzzle will never change the world, create or change a market, and certainly will not make the inventor wealthy.
    Thanks Robert!

    • @Tom – Couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why I think you so often see founder teams with the idea guy(s) AND the process guy(s). Sergey Brin and Larry Page needed Eric Schmidt to grow Google.

  5. Being a inventor is a bad way to put things. Take it from a person who has been there. Inventors are taboo to everybody having to do with marketing and money. The only time it is fun to be called a inventor is after you get to market and selling. The key is to incorporate yourself as a business. Product development company is a good term to use. By creating a business name with store front, then you will be taken seriously by manufacturer. By banks and by the buyer. Here is a good way to look at things. The manufacter is there to work for you. You are hiring them to do work for you. Same goes for sales people, selling your product. If they can make money, they will sell anything. Create products or services in fields you know and understand. I invent about hospitality. Being a chef and owner gives my ideas credibility when speaking to people who I would like to get on board. Having conections to all parts of the puzzle before spending money is important. If you have people who want to buy. Then everything including money is easy. Make your product after you have people to buy. I could go on, but this would take all day and people who want to understand the whole process.

    • @Todd – I agree that credibility is needed for inventors to make it and making the business more official is a great vehicle for that. Glad you’re succeeding in your business. How are sales of the Pro-Pad?

  6. Nice info! Let your invention explode to the market or keep it yourself as trade secret. All up to you.

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