(c) 2000 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher: Paul Niemann



Ever notice how some magazines have their own "Letters To The Editor" section at the beginning? It’s always interesting to hear some of the comments and questions that readers send in. Internet chat rooms allow readers to post their own questions, where other readers can answer them.

In an effort to create a sense of community among our 505 (and counting) subscribers to "The Online Inventor," we’ve decided to start doing that in future issues for your benefit. All you have to do to participate is to send in your letters or questions, along with your first name (your last name is not necessary). In the next available issue, we’ll publish some of the letters, as well as some of the questions. We’ll post your e-mail address at the end of your letter or question. Other readers can then answer your questions directly by sending an e-mail to you.

I am scheduled to be the Guest Expert on the PatentCaf�.com chat on Tuesday, May 16th.

The topic will be, "Product Scouts: What They Are Looking For," among other topics. We’ll discuss, specifically, what a company looks for in new products when they turn to outside inventors. The chat runs from 9 – 11 p.m. Eastern time (8 – 10 p.m. Central time; 6 – 8 p.m. California time). To log on to the chat, just go to http://www.patentcafe.com. Hope to "see" you there.

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann



"When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world," George Washington Carver


In this issue:

Article # 1: "Eight e-Business Essentials," by Mike Banks Valentine

Article #2: "Prototype, Patent, or Market: Which is First?" by Ron Docie, excerpted from his book, "Royalties in Your Future."

Article #3: "10 Steps in Building Your Own Web Site," by Paul Niemann of Market Launchers


Article # 1: "Eight e-Business Essentials," by Mike Banks Valentine

EDITOR’S NOTE:    Since more and more inventors are now building their own web sites (or hiring someone to build it for them), we’ve devoted this issue’s first and third articles to e-commerce and building your own web site. Some of the information in this first article can be adapted to an inventor’s situation of searching for a licensee, even though the article wasn’t written specifically for inventors.


"Eight e-Business Essentials"

The success factors applying directly to e-commerce are multi-faceted, but can be refined into eight jewels for e-business assuming you have a product or service that people want/need.

1) Attractive, easy to navigate web site. Don't "do-it-yourself" unless you are very good with design! Web savvy surfers may accept a do-it-yourself look with canned graphics and static pages from hobby sites, but never from a business site. Professional logos, graphics and high quality web specific writing are expected of any real business online, as well as quick load times and consistent, understandable navigation.

2) Crystal clear communication of your benefits. You must communicate to your visitor immediate, concise benefits of doing business with you. If they are confused by your web site and don't understand what it is you offer them, they are gone in less than thirty seconds. Can you make their life easier? Can you make them happier, more productive or successful? Tell them on the first screen-full. Quick, stop them before they click!

3) Build customer relations with newsletters, forums, frequent buyer reward programs, special discounts or referral rewards for existing clients/customers. What can you offer them that makes your site one they care about? Most web sites offer "something for nothing" in the form of content. That is CONTENT related to your business. That is why so many sites provide articles, advice, e-books, software downloads and other related goodies. You will never achieve online success if you offer no understandable perks.

4) Multiple forms of online, immediate payment options. Accept credit cards, check by fax or online checks, approval methods in real-time while the customer is at your site and ready to buy. The most common way to lose a buyer is to make them fill out and print a form to be mailed in. You must accept payment online. They'll want it NOW, or not at all.

5) Search engine optimization and submission. Showing up in the top 50 results for your search phrase keywords is the only way to attract significant traffic to your site outside of spending substantial sums advertising, marketing and promotional efforts. Optimization software is available for effective optimization help.

6) Effective online marketing and promotion. This includes getting other complimentary sites to link to your site and is a standard marketing task online. As much as half of your web visitors may find you through links at other web sites. This is definitely NOT through Free-For-All (FFA) links pages, but "recommended" links from other site owners at high traffic web sites. Use a "signature line" on your e-mails and regularly visit online chats, forums and bulletin boards with useful comments questions or advice in your area of expertise, this earns you respect and makes people aware of your services.

7) Immediate response and follow-up to e-mail contact. The immediacy of the web makes people expect quick responses to all queries. If they can't find the answer at your FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, you must be prepared to answer e-mail queries within 24 hours or less.

8) Networking and Joint Venture relationships with complimentary online businesses. Take a look at online business sites for the "Our Partners" link. You will see that most effective businesses work with other online companies that can offer complimentary services or products. This is common practice on the web.

The above are far from complete, but each are very important factors critical to e-business success.

# # # #

Mike Banks Valentine operates several web businesses including http://www.website101.com, a small business internet tutorial teaching the basic techniques of growing your company online. A free "Short Course" is available by auto-responder by sending a request to: [email protected]. He writes for several online publications and can be contacted directly at: [email protected]

If you feel that building your own web site is not exactly your cup of tea, then contact us here at Market Launchers, and we’ll get you started with either your own web site (i.e. www.yourinvention.com) or with your own web page on our site (i.e. www.marketlaunchers.com/jones.html). We also do the promotion of the web site/web page for our inventor customers.  


Article #2: "Prototype, Patent, or Market: Which is First?" by Ron Docie, excerpted from his book, "Royalties in Your Future."

A dilemma facing many inventors is which to do first, make a prototype, patent or determine the marketability of their inventions. The simple answer is to do that function which requires the least resources and can be done in the least amount of time. For example, if you have a very complicated and capital-intensive invention, such as a hybrid engine that requires expensive, exotic alloys in its manufacturing, you may be faced with a cost of $200,000 just to produce the prototype.

The patent may cost you $3,000 initially and the time and effort to do the market research may cost $2,000. You can make this decision based on what I refer to as 64tiered risk", meaning, spend no more time and money than it takes to determine that your invention is not worth pursuing further. Bear in mind that most inventions never become commercially viable, for any number of reasons beyond the inventor's control. If you determine your market feasibility first and find that there is little chance of your invention being accepted in the marketplace, then it is not necessary to go to the expense of patenting or prototyping.

Or perhaps your invention is very simple and can be prototyped with off-the-shelf material found in a hardware store and produced in your garage within a week. The market may be highly dependent on consumer preference and also dependent on packaging. The process of producing the product and having it packaged and placed in the market may be a fairly expensive proposition. It could require a budget of $30,000 or more to do it properly. In this case, the process might be to make a prototype first then do a patent search followed by a patent application, and then proceed with the marketing angle. The set of circumstances surrounding each invention are different and must be considered when deciding which avenues to pursue and in what order.

Our experience shows that interviewing key members of industry uncovers very valuable information. Through this interview process, 75 % of Docie Marketing's new clients discover that their invention is not worth pursuing for good and verifiable reasons. We once represented a person who invested over $50,000 to patent and start limited production of an invention. He then hired us to find a licensee at a national trade show.

Within two hours at the trade show, after talking with just five key members of the industry, we learned that there was an obscure federal law that prohibited the use of his invention. We later verified this through legal counsel. Obviously it would have paid this inventor to have done some market research before spending $50,000. If these laws were expected to change during the life of a patent, however, it may have still been worthwhile to pursue the patent rights. This is another factor that must be weighed.

It is possible to get by with spending little or no time and effort in any of these three areas of consideration. This is one of the great advantages of utilizing the procedure set forth in this book for approaching key decision makers. When key decision makers in companies provide you with critical evaluation of your invention, the response will lean in one of three different ways. Either it is favorable and they want to proceed, it is not favorable and they do not recommend proceeding, or the basis of your invention is sound but it needs specific changes or alterations to make it acceptable. If they have a keen interest in your innovation, they may be willing to proceed with the prototyping, the patenting, and the market feasibility assessment at no cost to you. When an inventor has limited resources, this may very well be the best way to go.

# # # #

Ron Docie is the author of "Royalties in Your Future: How to Find Manufacturers, Negotiate, Market and License, Inventions, Patents and Technology." Five years in the making, this 200 + page book is an authoritative step-by-step guide to help inventors through that complicated maze from idea to commercialization. Particular attention is paid to how to identify and qualify appropriate manufacturers and potential licensees. Docie Marketing provides comprehensive services for inventors. One of their specialties is their ability to locate manufacturers who can produce your invention, market it, and pay you royalties. http://www.docie.com


Article #3:    "10 Steps in Building Your Own Web Site," by Paul Niemann of Market Launchers

EDITOR’S NOTE:    As the Internet continues to grow, by some estimates as much as doubling every 90 days, more and more inventors are starting to use it to their advantage to promote their inventions to potential licensees, or to sell their products directly to consumers. How many times have you heard someone say, "I saw _____ on the Internet?"

While there is too much to tell about how to build your own web site, here is a brief starter list. If you want more detailed advice on building your own web site for your invention, feel free to call us (we won’t try to sell you on our services, unless you ask). J These are listed in chronological order rather than in order of importance:

Select a domain name for your site, preferably one that is easy to remember and descriptive.
Register your domain name with Internic (http://www.networksolutions.com) and select a web hosting company (the one we use is Advanced Web Creations (http://www.awc.net). The cost to reserve a domain name is only $70 for 2 years, and the cost to have a company host your site is around $25 / month. Some web hosting companies will help you in setting up your domain name with Network Solutions.
Decide on the type of site you need and what you want to accomplish. For example, do you want your site to attract the attention of a potential licensee, or do you want to use your site to make sales of your product (to consumers)?
Decide in advance how you want your site to look. Focus on content rather than flashy graphics. Keep it simple and easy for your visitors to navigate. The most common feedback that we get (about the Market Launchers site) is that our site is well organized and there’s a lot of good information there. Ever since we built the site in early 1998, we have not had one single complaint about the obvious (and intentional) lack of fancy graphics. Which brings me the point about why it’s important to plan your site in advance: while the content on our site changes often, as it should, the look and theme of our site has remained the same ever since we first starting building it. You don’t want to have to overhaul your site with a major re-design in a year or two.
Build it, or hire someone to build it for you. You will either have to purchase software for this or learn HTML, which stands for Hyper Text Markup Language; we use MicroSoft Front Page to build and maintain our site, and it’s been well worth the $110 that it cost. Good software will pay for itself many times over in the amount of time and frustration that it saves you from. Building your site will likely take you anywhere from 30 – 60 hours or more.
If you manufacture your invention and sell it yourself from your web site, then you’ll want to arrange to take credit card orders through your web site and, preferably, to have an 800 number set up to take customer orders over the phone. (Even though you’re now high-tech, most people still prefer to talk to a live order-taker rather than give out their credit card number over the Internet.)
Promote your site with the major search engines, and exchange links with web sites that are complementary, not competitive to your site. Even though there are over 1,200 search engines and directories our there, you only need to register your site with the 10 or 12 biggest ones, because many of the smaller ones use the same software that the big ones use. The biggest search engines and directories are: Alta Vista, AOL, Excite, Google, Hot Bot, Infoseek (which is now Go.com), Lycos, MSN, Netscape, Northern Light and Yahoo. It’s been estimated that more than half of your search engine traffic will come from Yahoo, but more that half of your total traffic will come from links, rather than search engines.
Put your web site address (also known as an URL) on your letterhead, business cards and envelopes. You can do this economically by going to a copy shop and having them make you a rubber stamp or ink stamp with your URL – be sure to have it printed in blue ink and underlined, because this is how all web sites appear. Include the www. and the domain name and then the .com. Then the next time you have business cards printed up, have the printer include your URL on them.
Send out press releases to the trade publications in your industry, telling the story of your new invention and your new web site. If you do any advertising, you’ll want to include your web address, too. Since you now have a store that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Continue with your other marketing methods. While your site may sell for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you don’t want to rely on it exclusively. While the web is not a get-rich-quick tool, it does give you a level playing field on which to compete against the more established "bricks and mortar" companies.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. If you decide to build a web site to find a licensee or to promote your product(s), you can expect to spend many more hours in front of your computer than you originally had expected. It can be a never-ending process, depending on the type of site you have and what you want to accomplish. We hope this list helps you get off to a good start.


Feel free to forward "The Online Inventor" to your inventor friends and colleagues. If you change your e-mail address, please subscribe with the new address in order to continue receiving it each month. To unsubscribe, please reply with the word, "unsubscribe" in the subject line. If you would like to request a topic for an upcoming issue of this newsletter, just send us an e-mail or give us a call. To view past issues of the "The Online Inventor," please go to http://www.marketlaunchers.com/archives.html. Thanks.

Until next time, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann;
Humble Proprietor of Market Launchers
(800) 337-5758
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 2000
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the March 2000 issue.