(c) 1999 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher: Paul Niemann


PUBLISHER'S NOTES: A warm welcome is in order to all our new readers -- we've had quite a few new subscribers this month. Welcome!!! We hope you enjoy this newsletter and find a lot of good content in it. If you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to see in future issues, please let us know.

Due to the length of this issue, it is being broken up into 2 parts. The first part announces the "New Product Search of the New Millenium." The Search is being sponsored by Think Tek, Inc., which is the world's largest provider of new products to the Infomercial / Direct Response TV industry.

The "New Product Search of the New Millenium" runs from now until December 31, and inventors whose products are chosen will receive a $5,000 -- $10,000 signing bonus with a licensing agreement AND ongoing royalties from the sales of the product. In the last 3 years alone, Think Tek has helped bring the following products to market: The Static Duster ™, Master Swing (golf product) ™, Great American Onion Machine ™, Shelf Master ™, Rotato ™ and others, sold through the HSN and QVC home shopping networks.

They are AGGRESSIVELY looking for the next BIG product success stories and, if your invention is one of them, Think Tek will put it on a national TV commercial or infomercial, at their expense. These products will later be marketed through retail stores with the familiar red "As Seen On TV" label on them. Be sure to enter your invention in this New Product Search because your product might be what Think Tek is looking for -- the chances may be slim, but it's like Wayne Gretzky always says, "You're gonna miss 100 % of the shots you don't take."

Our first article explains some of the nuts & bolts of the Direct Response TV industry -- Direct Response TV refers to commercials and infomercials. The second article provides a checklist you can use when writing letters to potential licensees. It was written by an inventor who sold over 1 million units of his first product.

I’ve always said that the 2 main reasons why new products fail (and as a result, why some inventors fail) is because there is either no market for the particular product or because the product was not marketed properly. The third article tells of one way that you can do some market research – helping you to eliminate some of those product ideas for which there is no market, rather than wasting your time and money on them. Inventing is a big enough risk as it is, and we want you to eliminate as much of the risk as possible in your inventing ventures.

Market Launchers is conducting the New Product Search on its web site. There is no cost to you if you enter, but your invention must be patented or patent-pending (a provisional patent is OK). For all the details, surf on over to: http://www.marketlaunchers.com and be sure to tell your inventor friends and colleagues about it!


In this issue:

Article # 1: "Some Basic Facts about the Direct Response TV Industry," re-printed with permission from Think Tek, Inc.

Article # 2: "A Guide for Composing an Effective Letter to a Prospective Licensee," by Mark Davis (Mark is the inventor of the Eggsersizer and a partner in Invention City.)

Article # 3: "Research / Put on Your Sherlock Hat" by Ken Tarlow of America Invents


Article # 1: "Some Basic Facts about the Direct Response TV Industry," re-printed with permission from Think Tek, Inc.

Publisher's Note: We've all seen infomercials on late-night TV, and you probably know of someone who has ordered one of the following products:

* The Tony Robbins tapes

* The "Buy Real Estate With No Money Down," tapes from Carlton Sheets

* The Thigh Master TM, from Suzanne Sommers

* The "How I Made Millions With One Tiny Classified Ad Working Out Of My One-Bedroom Apartment," tapes from Don LePre

* The Tae-Bo Tapes TM, from Billy Blanks.

I'll admit, I've ordered several products from infomercials (but not a Thigh Master), and I would have been guilty of ordering another product, except that my Mom had already ordered the product that I was considering (the Tai-Bo tape series), so I just borrowed it from her. But the point is that these 28 minute infomercials -- with their "ads-within-an-ad" format -- can be very successful. They are carefully scripted, right down to the smallest detail, and their customer testimonials always sound so convincing.

If you've invented a product that might be appropriate for a TV infomercial, then here are some of the basic facts, as told by Think Tek:


The main goal of an infomercial is to turn passive watchers into active buyers. Here's how:

1. Capture the viewer's attention and keep it.

* It's important to create a campaign that captures the attention of your target demographic as they are channel-surfing.

* The images shown should be appealing to the customer you are targeting. Once the viewer has tuned in, a running story line and teasers will keep them watching.

* Since a viewer can tune in anytime during the half-hour, a good infomercial is a series of 6-7 minute, self-contained segments, each with similar information told from a different angle and each with an embedded commercial known as a "CTA" - the Call To Action.

2. Keep them watching while you present the benefits with emotion.

The mix of entertainment and sales pitch is the key to success. With no entertainment value, a viewer is likely to change the channel. Too much of a sales pitch could also turn away some viewers. A great infomercial has just the right mix.

* A presentation made with emotion touches the viewers. Emotion is what turns passive TV viewers into active buyers.

3. Present the product and prove why this is a good buying decision for the viewer.

* One of the great benefits of a half-hour campaign is that all of the information about the product can get presented. This is particularly useful for building excitement about owning this product.

* We can get very specific in terms of what makes the product unique.

4. Close the sale by getting the customer to take action.

* "Each of the show's segments is completed by an embedded commercial, commonly referred to as a "call to action" or CTA. In each CTA, the offer is presented and the viewer is invited to take action. There are typically 3 CTA's in the course of each infomercial. Because the CTA is the only place where the offer is presented, it allows for adjustments during the course of the campaign without the need to edit the body of the show. It also provides an opportunity to test different offers and prices to maximize return

Again, the main goal of an infomercial is to turn passive watchers into active buyers.


* Generate direct product sales through a dynamic effective long-form infomercial.

* Create product branding and awareness to establish distribution through retail mass merchandisers and other channels.

* Build a mailing list of qualified consumers Interested in the product for use in future out-bound direct mail and telemarketing campaigns.

* Gather respondent date to confirm and/or modify the strategy and positioning of future marketing campaigns.

* With 28.5 minutes, an infomercial allows you adequate time to demonstrate all of your product's features and benefits -- more than a 30-second spot can do.


There are several reasons why infomercials are successful:

* Exclusive Offers: A DRTV campaign generates response if viewers believe that they can't get a similar product anywhere else. Presenting "Not Available In Stores" throughout the infomercial is very helpful.

* Urgency to Purchase: Creating a sense of urgency to make the purchase is a critical factor in any DRTV campaign. This is accomplished this in a number of ways, including presenting the product as a limited-time offer and offering a premium for calling now.

* Reinforcing the Product Value: Cost justification is also very important. Many viewers will instantly want the product, but will need to be able to justify the price in order to make the purchase.

* Creating an Emotional Connection: Consumers buy products because of the benefits they will receive -- what it means for them in their lives. Enthusiastic testimonials and a show with great energy will compel viewers to stay interested.

* Product Uniqueness: Emphasize what makes the product unique from anything else on the market. This can include product comparisons.


* Over 51% of infomercial shoppers polled said there are two reasons they buy from infomercials: the same product was not available elsewhere and they received a complete demonstration of the product. Both reasons were equally weighted.

* Over 40% indicated that the infomercial accurately described the product they were purchasing.

* 52% indicated that they were satisfied with the quality of the product and speed of delivery.

* And a full 46% said they would definitely purchase from infomercials again.


* More time with customers: A half-hour allows for enough time to educate the consumer and fully present all that your product has to offer. More time with your potential customer means more sales.

* Pays for itself: A half-hour allows enough time to both advertise your product and generate instant sales. Revenues from your direct sales literally pays for your media costs. (In the New Product Search, Think Tek is footing the bill.)

* Increases retail sales: It's been proven repeatedly that an infomercial dramatically boosts retail sales. Studies show that for every customer that buys from TV, there are 7-10 other viewers who will later buy the product at retail because of watching the infomercial.

* Accurate and measurable: A half-hour infomercial is a very measurable format - and you can directly target the audience you are seeking. The flexibility of infomercials enables you to easily test a variety of offers and prices for maximum response. You can also update price points easily for region-specific campaigns.

* A successful infomercial will instantly generate $2 to $3 in sales for every $1 spent on media.


Article # 2: "A Guide for Composing an Effective Letter to a Prospective Licensee," by Mark Davis

Crafting correspondence to a prospective licensee can be difficult. Three primary elements must be considered -- what you want to say, what you need to say, and what you should not say yet. The following is a guide for composing an effective letter or presentation letter to a prospective licensee for your invention:

* Begin with an attention-grabbing lead -- perhaps referring to what your product does or how producing it could benefit the company.

* Tell who you are without wasting time on superfluous personal details.

* Briefly tell what you have invented, focusing on its commercial advantages.

* State why you believe this company should acquire the license to manufacture your product.

* Tell how your device fits into that firm's product line.

* Define your patent's realistic potential.

* Do not compromise your creditability with claims that cannot be substantiated.

* Define your invention's potential market.

* Relate the patent status of the product.

* If you are co-inventor, state whether you hold the rights to the invention or are representing both yourself and the co-inventor(s).

* Make no demands, such as deadlines, royalty rates, or hints about interested other parties.

* Be open in your communication but protect your invention.

* Don't be wordy:

* Limit your sentences to no more than 20 words.

* Structure sentences tightly by limiting prepositional phrases, adjectives, and adverbs.

* Keep the letter to one page, if possible, but add plenty of support material.

* Hold some information in reserve for the meeting with the company.

* Do not criticize the company's products, even if yours is much better.

* Do not be so presumptuous as to use the company's name -- or a variation of it -- on your product.

When the letter seems to be perfect, leave it for a day or two before re-reading it. Then, review it again, asking yourself whether the letter seems to clearly to communicate what you intended. Does it make sense? Refine whatever portions need re-working.

However, you should not stop with just your own evaluation of the letter. You know what you want it to say and you might skip over errors or places that would be unclear to others.

If possible, have someone who is knowledgeable in the field of your invention critique the letter. Otherwise, settle for someone who knows spelling and grammar well and has some background in what is being discussed in the letter. Ask that person if anything you have written raises unanswered questions in his or her mind.

Re-write the letter to address those points but, I caution you, do not give so much detailed information that you endanger your invention before you have a confidentiality agreement signed. This letter's purpose is to peak the reader's attention enough to get you inside the company for further discussions.

When you are satisfied with your package, mail it and try to wait patiently for a response.

# # # #

Mark Davis is a partner in Invention City; http:www.inventioncity.com, which helps inventors commercialize their new products. His first product, the Eggsercizer sold more than one million units at outlets such as QVC, the Home Shopping Network, and various retail stores. It was also featured on CNN, ABC's 20/20, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Inventors' Digest, Inc. magazine, People magazine, and others.


Article # 3: "Research / Put on Your Sherlock Hat" by Ken Tarlow of America Invents

OK. So you’ve got this great idea for a new product and you’ve asked a few people about it and they think it’s great. And you’re starting to see the dollar signs flashing. Great!

You’re pretty sure you’ve never seen anything like your idea before, but how do you know that no one’s producing it and you just haven’t seen it? Or maybe someone invented it already and patented it but it never made it onto the marketplace.

There are two major ways to find out the answers to these questions. The first is to do store research. Go to a store where your product would be sold, if there was such a product. Ask the salesperson if they have a product that performs the task which yours would. (Remember to be discreet and somewhat vague.) See what they come up with. You might then say, "I am doing research on this product category, would you know the name of the buyer who purchases this product category for your store? If the sales person doesn’t know, ask them who would know.

After you get the name, find out where their office is located. Call the buyer and say, "My name is __________________ from ___________________ company (develop a company name for your product). We are considering developing a product in your category and we would like to know if you’ve ever seen anything like it?"

At this point, you need to give a description of the way the product works. This is a calcualted risk in that you have not asked them to sign a confidentiality agreement, so keep it as general as possible. However, I have found that store buyers are so busy that they have no desire to run off and make your product.

These buyers stake their careers on knowing all the products in their category which are good, which are bad, which ones tried and flopped, which ones were bought out ten years ago and have come and gone, etc.

They will usually give you a few minutes of their time, but don’t abuse it. Make it brief, thank them for their help and ask them if they would be kind enough to evaluate your product once it’s more fully developed. Also, ask which industry journal(s) you should be reading to keep up in this product area.

If you want to be really thorough, do this process with two or three stores. You can do this on the phone without spending a lot of time running around town. You are going to expert sources of information – people who spend their lives studying your product category. "Do less and accomplish more" – that’s my motto.

Make sure you subscribe to the industry journal(s) which have been recommended to you. These journals are on the pulse of activity in your product area. Many times the journal does market surveys about your product category. You can call the editor of the journal and ask if a market survey has been done. You can also ask if there is an annual directory telling who’s who in the industry. Order the annual directory.

Keep an eye on mail order catalogs which would carry your type of product. Mail order catalogs are always looking for the newest interesting products.

# # # #

Ken Tarlow is one of the most prolific inventors in the country. He has developed more than 300 products which have combined to sell for more than $1 billion in retail sales. The material in the above article came from Ken’s book, "Mind to Money," which comes with an excellent set of cassette tapes to walk you through the inventing-prototyping-patenting-marketing process in a step-by-step format. His company, America Invents TM, can be reached at (415) 927-0311 or on the Internet at http://www.americainvents.com. Ken can help you develop your invention, or you can do-it-yourself with his book and set of cassettes, which sell for $40 & $5 S/H.


If you've enjoyed this issue of "The Online Inventor," please forward it to your inventor friends or to your inventor organization. If you change your e-mail address, please subscribe with the new address in order to continue receiving this newsletter. It is free and sent only to subscribers who have requested it. Our subscriber list is not sold to other companies. If you wish to unsubscribe, just send us an e-mail with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject line. Feel free to call us at (800) 337-5758 or (217) 224-7735 with your questions, comments or suggestions -- we love hearing from our readers. Thanks for reading "The Online Inventor."

Until next time, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann
Market Launchers, Inc.


Copyright (c) 1999
Market Launchers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the July 1999 issue.