(c) 2002 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher: Paul Niemann



We’ve got another 3 great articles for you in this month’s issue. We’re including an article from our syndicated newspaper column, INVENTION MYSTERIES, as well as the re-print of my latest article that I wrote for Inventors’ Digest.

Congratulations to Phil Tagariello for receiving a licensing deal for his inventions, which he has listed on our web site.

Also, congratulations to Glen Grutze, who received calls from 2 companies within 1 week of having his invention listed on our web site. Both are interested in manufacturing Glen's product, and Glen hopes that it may lead to a licensing deal. Glen also received an e-mail from an importer in Taiwan who is interested in distributing his product once he gets it manufactured, and he received another e-mail from a distributor in South Africa who wants to distribute it in South Africa. 

IF YOU HAVE YOUR OWN WEB SITE FOR YOUR INVENTION(S) and would like to have it critiqued and also receive recommendations for improvement it, please visit: http://www.marketlaunchers.com/inventors.html (there’s no cost for this).

IF YOU WORK FOR A COMPANY THAT’S LOOKING FOR NEW PRODUCTS, or if you know someone who does, please mention our PRODUCT SCOUTING SERVICES to them. Details are at: http://www.marketlaunchers.com/productscout.html

Finally, if you’d like for your local newspaper to carry the new INVENTION MYSTERIES column each week, then contact your newspaper’s editor and request that they carry it. Thanks!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann


P.S. We had 88,116 visitors to our site’s 250 + pages during the month of August!



"Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong." -- Ella Fitzgerald

"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary," -- Fred Allen


Article # 1:    "Screen Doors for Submarines and Lead Balloons: 21 of the craziest inventions of all time," reprinted from the INVENTION MYSTERIES newspaper column by Paul Niemann

Article # 2:    "Primary Research," by Jim White, author of "Will It Sell?"

Article # 3:    "Important Tips on Pitching Your Product to a Company by Long-Distance," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com, reprinted from the September / October issue of Inventors’ Digest


Article # 1:   Screen Doors for Submarines and Lead Balloons: 21 of the craziest inventions of all time," reprinted from the INVENTION MYSTERIES newspaper column by Paul Niemann

A couple of weeks ago, we brought you some of the most interesting and odd invention-related quotes in the article entitled, "Everything that can be invented -- has already been invented."

This week we bring you some odd inventions that were just not meant to be. To get the maximum amount of enjoyment out of this article, try to visualize what each of these must-see, must-have inventions might have looked like. By the way, that quote about everything already being invented has long been attributed to the former head of the U.S. patent office in 1899.

Can you guess which of these inventions were actually patented, and which ones were left on the cutting room floor -- sending the inventor back to the ol' drawing board? The answer appears at the end of the column.

  1. An underwater golf swing training device
  2. A method of growing unicorns
  3. A dog watch. I presume this is for the busy executive dog on a tight schedule? And does every hour equal 7 hours in dog hours?
  4. An amphibious horse drawn light vehicle, which is used by a horse walking in shallow water. Does it come with a water bucket in case the horse gets thirsty?
  5. A leash for walking an imaginary dog, which produces a variety of barks, growls, etc. A similar version of this actually made it onto the market back in the '70's!
  6. Toilet landing lights
  7. A Santa Claus detector, which signals the arrival of Santa Claus. If this one really exists, would there be a debate over whether or not it really exists?
  8. A method of creating an anti-gravity illusion
  9. A drive-thru ATM machine with instructions written in Braille (think about it)
  10. A device for producing dimples. And you thought people were just born that way!
  11. A haircut machine that sucks in your hair like a vacuum cleaner, and then gives it a perfect cut
  12. A motorized ice cream cone. Don't you wish you would have had that as a kid?
  13. A drip pan for caskets (in case the dead leak!)
  14. A jet-powered surfboard
  15. An all-terrain baby stroller. For the adventuresome little tykes!
  16. A pet petter. This device has a human-like hand that pets Rover when you're not able to.
  17. A slingshot golfing system. This device slings the little white ball, then converts into a putter once you reach the putting green.
  18. A human slingshot machine
  19. A gas-powered snow ski fan. For those who live in the Midwest and other mountainless areas.

Check out these nifty little inventions from across the pond:

Americans don't have a monopoly on ridiculous patents, so we present you with two of Great Britain's worst inventions:

20. A fart collecting device (I'm not even going to try to explain this one to you)
21. A ladder which enables spiders to climb out of the bathtub

So which of these 21 "inventions" were actually patented, and which ones were left on the cutting room floor?

ANSWER: All of the above inventions were patented! And who was it that created # 8 -- a method of creating an anti-gravity illusion?

Michael Jackson. Yes, that Michael Jackson, the man who moonwalked his way to fame, is listed on the patent as a co-inventor. The patent explains that the invention allows a person to "lean forward beyond his center of gravity by ... wearing a specially designed pair of shoes."

Sources: www.Patent.freeserve.co.uk, TotallyAbsurdInventions.com and http://inventors.about.com

© 2002 Paul Niemann

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INVENTION MYSTERIES TM is a weekly newspaper column that focuses on the little-known stories behind well-known inventions. READERS: Ask your local newspaper editor to carry INVENTION MYSTERIES each week by calling or e-mailing him / her. For more information, please visit www.InventionMysteries.com


Article # 2: "Primary Research," by Jim White, author of "Will It Sell?"

The three forms of primary research previously mentioned are focus groups, mall interventions, and test marketing. For more information on those check the index and go back to those sections. There are two other sort-of primary research methods that you should probably be aware of. These work best if your product is easily categorized and is not a dramatic departure from the norm.

The first is to ask store buyers, i.e., the people working in the store that are responsible for buying products to sell in the store. These people will usually provide their best answers after you have real products in real packaging, but some might be willing to talk to you at the model stage when you are most in need of a hint that all money invested in the invention won't be wasted.

Show them your model and ask their frank opinion of whether it would fit in their product line and whether it is appropriate to the demographics of their clientele. Also ask what volume they might expect it to sell at and the selling volumes of competing or at least possibly comparable products. Get the info in dollars and units if you can but don't be a pain because you can guess approximate conversions later by looking at the current store prices.

Before you leave, if possible, get the store's overall volume in dollars (you can probably look it up later if they don't give it to you). DON'T TAKE UP ANY MORE OF THEIR TIME THAN THAT unless they are obviously willingly volunteering it. Also, WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT, DO NOT argue with them about your invention. You will impress them much more favorably by genuinely thanking them for their input.

With the input of a few such store buyers and with industry numbers you can make some decent guesses about your possible annual sales volume after sales growth has ramped up to "normal." Keep in mind the issues of whether your invention is seasonal or regional when looking at industry numbers to make projections. A Christmas version of a butter dish is extremely unlikely to ramp up to the level of an every-day butter dish. A snowmobile gizmo won't sell well in Florida. And an Easter Bean Pot may only sell in Boston.

If the store buyer's don't like your invention you will have to decide how much you trust their judgment. If they are shooting you down due to competing functional products, then I would trust them a lot. If your invention is quite out of the norm, with only non-specific competition, I wouldn't trust them overly much. Remember that the Slinky was rejected by every original store buyer that was given the opportunity to sell it. There is another straw, grab it at your risk.

The second additional form of primary research you might do is to talk to multi-line manufacturers' reps or distributors. Ask questions similar to the ones above. You won't be able to get readily comparable dollar sales for the distributor from which you can easily match industry numbers, however, because each retailer that deals with the distributor is likely to deal with multiple distributors. Again, you are not there to waste their time or argue with them. Be considerate because you hope to be back to get an order from or through them later.

I believe that the above two approaches work best when your invention is 1) obviously superior in function (and usually cost) and 2) of significance to the store's or rep's clientele. An insignificant example might be a new pegboard hook while a significant example might be a replacement for soldering copper pipe joints. You might get a "ho-hum" on the pegboard hook even if they like it but they may promptly usher you to the door of an appropriate manufacturer for the non-soldering invention. (Note to quibblers: I don't know what the replacement to soldering is but for purposes of illustration it is superior to soldering on every imaginable criteria.)

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This information is from Jim's book, "Will It Sell?" To purchase "Will It Sell?" for 19.95 plus $5 S/H, please go to www.willitsell.com.


Article # 3: "Important Tips on Pitching Your Product to a Company by Long-Distance," by Paul Niemann of MarketLaunchers.com, reprinted from the September / October issue of Inventors’ Digest

Consulting with inventors, I hear about a great deal about the inability to personally approach potential licensees. Why are we hesitant to get on the phone with someone who can make our invention a reality? While that person may hold the key to our success, he could also say what we fear the most: "No." For many, that fear of rejection keeps us from picking up the phone.

Although it’s much more effective to pitch your products in person, that's probably not an option unless you live near potential licensees. If you're located hundreds of miles from the company you want to license your product, get out the ol' Rolodex and see if you have a contact in that city. If that fails, you should use the next available option: Use a combination of phone and mail/e-mail to make your initial introduction. 

Mailing information about your products is a great start, but to increase our chances of success you have to do more than just put the envelope in the mailbox. Here are a few simple rules that will benefit anyone who will use them.

1.    Before mailing your information, call the company and ask who reviews new product submissions. Ask the receptionist for the correct name, title and spelling. Your contact could be the vice president of marketing or new products, or even the president if it's a small company. Watch out for titles with the word "engineer" or "research and development" in the title, as these folks might see you as competition or a threat to their job. If you’re not sure whether the contact is male or female, ask the receptionist which it is; there is no easier way to have your presentation thrown out as junk mail than to address a man as "Ms." or a woman as "Mr." 

If you have a web page, then you can direct him (or her) to that instead of sending your product information in the mail. You can even do this while making that initial phone contact. If you do not have a web page but do have a picture that you can e-mail, then I suggest you do that. Just be sure to make the phone call BEFORE and AFTER you send it.

2.    This might sound almost too obvious to even mention, but always include a picture or two of your product. (See the article entitled "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words" in the January / February 2002 issue of Inventors' Digest.) Even if your product can be explained in simple, everyday terms, you should include a picture of it because some people must see a picture in order to fully understand it. Besides, there may be another product with a similar name, and a picture or illustration will clarify what your invention is. Imagine that a recipient has a stack of 15 or 20 product submissions waiting for him on his desk. If yours includes a picture, it's more likely to stand out among the other products that are not accompanied by a picture.

The recipient will learn more from a picture or illustration in five seconds than he will from reading a written description in five minutes. He'll remember it better, too.

3.    ALWAYS follow up with a phone call after sending your information. This is essential because: 

* You can make sure that your information goes to the right person.

* You can make sure that he did in fact review it (and not mistake it for junk mail). Even if you spoke with him prior to sending it, he may have forgotten about you by the time the material reached his desk. 

* The only way you can explain your product to him (along with selling him on the benefits of licensing it from you) is to speak with him after he has had a chance to review your literature. 

As a side note, when someone gives you a "no" answer, make sure that person also has the authority to say "yes," even if he calls himself a decision maker. Anybody can be authorized to say "no," but only a few people at each company have the authority to say "yes."  

Once you find yourself talking to a company that’s interested in licensing your invention, your next step should be to try to line up an additional licensee. Why bother to do this if you've already found one? Here are three good reasons: 

1.    At this point, your confidence is at an all-time high, and you can sell with a can-do attitude; this confidence will show. Focus on your efforts rather than the results, as the results sometimes take care of themselves (I say "sometimes" rather than "always" because marketing is as much of an art as it is a science).

2.    Now you’ve got leverage. With only one potential licensee, your options are limited to what he's willing to offer you. If you have two or more potential licensees to choose from, you can play one off the other, upping the ante as you go, ultimately selecting the best offer. In this scenario, you're the one with the leverage.

3.    Sometimes deals fall through, so you might need to have a second interested company lined up. Knowing that you have back up can take some pressure off.

Making that big sale via long-distance is tough, but it can be done if you're willing to use a combination of phone and mail/e-mail to get your product licensed. Focus on what it takes to get one or more licensing offers rather than on the fact that you probably don't like making those calls. If you have a good product for which there is a market, and you contact enough of the right types of companies, then you can succeed.  

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Paul Niemann is president of MarketLaunchers.com, a company that specializes in building web pages for inventors, where they can be seen on his web site's Invention Database (www.MarketLaunchers.com). The Invention Database can be seen by companies looking for new products to license in. He also builds complete web sites for inventors and small businesses. To get your own web page, visit www.MarketLaunchers.com/forms.html or call Paul Niemann at (800) 337-5758.


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Until next month, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann -- http://www.marketlaunchers.com/customer-testimonials.html
(800) 337-5758 (within the U.S. and Canada)
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 1998 -- 2002
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the July 2002 issue.