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.
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