THE ONLINE INVENTOR -- November 2000

(c) 2000 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher:  Paul Niemann


Some Famous / Infamous Quotes …

"Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure."

"Progress always involves risk; you can't steal second base and keep your foot on first," -- Frederick Wilcox


In this issue:

Article # 1:    "INVENTOR PROFILE: Bill & Jeanette Marble, Inventors of the Adjustable Deck Shelf," by Paul Niemann

Article # 2:    "4th Quarter Publicity = 1st Quarter Prosperity," by Todd F. Brabender, President of Spread The News PR

Article # 3:    "Your Web Site's Grand Opening," by Diane Leonte


Article # 1:    "INVENTOR PROFILE: Bill & Jeanette Marble, Inventors of the Adjustable Deck Shelf," by Paul Niemann

This article is intended to give help to any inventor that might be interested in pursuing information about Direct Response TV (D.R.T.V.) companies. The following is our story about our experiences with D.R.T.V. We hope you can use this information during your quest to make it all the way with your invention idea.

Does this sound familiar? You have what you think is a great invention idea. The only problem is, you don't have a lot of money stashed away to pay for a patent attorney or to have a professional prototype made. Those two things alone could easily cost you as much as $10,000.00! So instead, you do your best to make a "decent looking" prototype from your garage. Then you try to think of ways to get your invention idea out there to someone that could be interested in doing business with you. Or maybe find a financial backer that could front you the money to get started. But how do you find such a person, and how much of your profits are they going to take from you?

These are the very same problems and questions we came across when we first started. Through trial and error we learned as we went along, what to look for and what to stay away from. First of all, the fact that you're here at MARKETLAUNCHERS to read this is a good sign; you're on the right track. Having your invention on a web site is a great way to advertise, and having it on MARKETLAUNCHERS is the least expensive. Believe us, we know because we checked it out. (No, Paul did not pay us to make this plug!!)

Recently, we signed a contract with a "MAJOR" D.R.T.V. company to have our invention made and sold all over the world, and it didn't cost us much more than the cost of fax paper to do it!! Without going into a lot of detail, here's how we did it.

First, we bought Harvey Reese's book, 'How To License Your Million Dollar Idea." It became our Bible. (We even wrote our own counter proposal for our contract based on the information from Harvey's book). Next, we got on the computer and spent many, many hours searching for anything and everything we could find relating to the process of licensing an invention. We printed articles and wrote down names and addresses of anyone that we thought could be useful. Then we filed a provisional patent application to give us some legal protection while we put our invention out in front of the world. It's only good for one year, so be sure you have all your 'ducks in a row' before filing. Next, we used our tax return money to put a down payment on retaining a patent attorney. Remember, it's also very important to have a thorough patent search done first. After that, we made our first serious mistake. We tried to take the "easy route" and solicit our idea by going with a marketing company that specializes in advertising your product by sending out mailings to different manufacturers. We're here to tell you: DON'T DO ITI!! Most of these letters will never make it to the right person, and will end up in the "round file." It's a waste of time and your valuable money The reason we did that was because we were too afraid to call the president of a big company personally, trying to get an appointment to show him our invention. Even if we were able to get in the front door, we didn't know enough about the inventing business to feel like we could pull it off. After all, Harvey's book said, "You can't get anywhere if you come across as an amateur. Then, there is this thing called, "FEAR OF REJECTION" … you've probably experienced this at one point or another.

So, we got back on the computer and started a new approach. We had been getting a few e-mails from people that saw our invention on Marketlaunchers. They were advertising for D.R.T.V. as a way to get started. The only problem was, they wanted US to have the inventory ready to go. Finally, while looking at Inventors Digest's web site, we saw a list of companies looking for inventions that were patented or patent pending. The best part was the fact that THEY pay all of the expenses … "IF" … you meet their criteria. This means they will only take on a project "IF" they like it, and "IF" they think it has potential, and "IF" your invention passes these 7 steps. These 7 steps are very important for you to analyze and answer honestly and realistically for you to have any chance of success. You MUST answer "yes" to every one, otherwise we suggest you reconsider your idea. The main point is this, don't throw good money after bad trying to keep your dream alive. With that said, here are the 7 steps....

1.    Is your invention marketable, and does it have mass appeal? In other words, is there enough interest by a wide variety of consumers who would buy your idea?

2.    Does your product solve a problem? Is there already an item similar to yours on the market? D.R.T.V. companies will look to see if your invention is unique, or if you are actually reinventing someone else's idea.

3.    Are you at least patent pending? There is some controversy in this area, depending on the specific type of invention that you have. However, most of these companies want you to be at least at a patent pending stage. This is for your protection as well as theirs. After all, they're the ones putting out all the expense money. Once your patent issues, they will look at the strength of your claims. Strong claims will help to "ward off" the knock-off artists.

4.    THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE: Can your invention be made for the right price? Here is a formula for you to follow: First, do a little research. Ask around, or compare similar products at stores. Find out what you think your product will ultimately retail for. Now, divide that number by 5. If your invention cannot be made for that cost, then it's probably too expensive to produce.

5.    Is your invention timely or timeless? Is it a "fad" item? Okay, lets assume they like your product, If it loses its appeal after only 1 or 2 years, you might make some money, but then you'll most likely be dropped. So, don't plan on leaving your day job just yet!!

6.    Is your product not seasonal? If it's an invention that only will be used during a certain time of the year, this will limit your financial opportunity, as well as the licensee's, thereby, putting your product's success at risk.

7.    Is your invention easy to understand, and are the functions easy to operate? Unless your idea is technical, i.e., in the medical or chemical field, your invention should be easy for the consumer. Remember, sometimes less is better than more.

There are probably several other factors that will be considered by a potential licensee, but if you can pass these 7 steps, then you have reason to keep trying. We worked on our invention for over 6 years, unsuccessfully. If you believe you have what it takes, you must be persistent. In our case, we have invested a little more than $5,000 total up to this point (comparatively speaking, not a huge number). But for us, failure was not an option. On the other hand, we suggest you go ahead and set your goals. If you cannot reach them by a specified date (determined by you), chances are it's time to start on your next brilliant idea.

During a meeting in New York, we were gathered around a table with our agent, 2 manufacturers, and the VP of the company that we ultimately signed our contract with. After we finished our business, our agent had brought with her 2 prototypes of other people's inventions that she wanted to run by the "decision makers." The first one went like this: "Nope, it's been done 100 times before, and it would sell for too cheap; NEXT." The second one ... people are NOT going to go to the extremes necessary to make this work, it won't sell." In less than 2 minutes we witnessed 2 inventors' dreams go up in smoke right before our eyes, just ... like ... that!! We have read that, statistically, only about 2% of all inventions end up being made and sold to where the inventor makes a profit. We were very lucky! Even though we had what is considered the right answers to the 7 steps, there are no guarantees in this business. We have a clause in our contract that says that if they do not sell at least 200,000 units per year, we will be dropped!! So, we still have our fingers crossed.

We'll keep our fingers crossed for you too. There's a lot to be said for good luck and good timing. We hope your luck rides with you, and that your timing is perfect!!

Best Wishes,

Jeanette & Bill Marble

# # # #

The Adjustable Deck Shelf will be on the market in April or May of 2001. In order to avoid the possibility of the Adjustable Deck Shelf being knocked off by a competitor before it hits the market, Bill has asked me to remove it from the Market Launchers site until then. We will post pictures of it on the web site as soon as it hits the market.


Article # 2:    "4th Quarter Publicity = 1st Quarter Prosperity," by Todd F. Brabender, President of Spread The News PR

Those of you who read my articles regularly may remember one from last year called "Business/Invention Publicity = Business/Invention Prosperity." This article puts a bit of a spin on that as it relates to the timing of a PR campaign.

As the year winds down, many businesses and entrepreneurs are making plans and budgets for the year 2001. Those plans could include setting up goals for new products to preparing marketing, sales and PR campaigns. When it comes to your PR/publicity plan, WHEN you launch your campaign can be just as important to what and how you launch.

If your product/business lends itself to increased holiday sales, the next few weeks are a perfect time to get a PR campaign launched -- given the right media targets. Although many holiday issues have already been laid out for magazines, many other media outlets are feverishly seeking
information/pitches on innovative stories for the holidays. Some media outlets even reorganize or beef up staff around the holidays to allow for an increase in stories on products. Have your publicist help you take advantage of this increased media opportunity.

Some business owners may be of the mindset: "I think we'll wait to launch a publicity campaign until after January 1st." The problem is -- if you wait to launch your PR campaign until the first of the year hoping for a quick media interest blast in January, you may be in for a quiet month. Keep in mind most media outlets have editorial lead-times of a few weeks to 6 months. Also what some entrepreneurs don't realize is this. Because of the increasing number of PR pitches media outlets receive, anything you send out is subjected to what I call the "media digestion period" - simply put - that is a period of time (sometimes days, sometimes weeks) that it takes media outlets to:

#1)    see/understand your release and decide if they are interested;

#2)    find space/time in their editorial calendar to place the article/news story/show segment.

Having said that though, there are several "immediate media" opportunities you could pursue. From my professional experience, here is the breakdown of editorial lead-times of the media formats from quickest to most drawn out:

*    Radio Shows -- sometimes 24 hours but typically 3 to 7 days.
*    TV News Affiliates -- 1 to 2 weeks
*    Newspapers -- 2 to 6 weeks
*    Magazines & Network TV Shows -- 1 to 6 months

The potential placement is also directly dependent upon how quickly and efficiently your publicist or PR agency can help the media secure the placement. Media relations is crucial. Your publicist's job is to make the reporter/editor/producer's job as easy and as effortless as possible - which will lead to quicker and more numerous placements for your business.

When it comes to publicity pitches, the facts are: placement is totally up to the discretion of the particular media outlet; and very few media responses are immediate. I have in fact had media outlets respond even before the media release seemed to settle in the fax machine tray. Conversely, I also had one media outlet that responded 17 months after a pitch. (I had to ask the reporter what the YEAR was on the release!) NO placement is guaranteed, but you can definitely increase the odds. Even if your product/business if a dead-on perfect match for a media outlet's editorial profile, you are not guaranteed placement without some hard work and media relations. That's why timing of your publicity pitch is so critical. Have your publicist get your pitch to the media, allow the editorial staff to digest it a bit, and strategically and professionally "rattle the cage" over the next several weeks to generate as many placements as possible.

What we are trying to do is plant seeds in media outlets' editorial garden so they will bear fruit -- in the form of articles/show placements -- continuously over the next several weeks and months. Like the plant that comes from a seed, publicity placements can also grow roots and lead to other arterial media placements in other media outlets. Given the right tending, the publicity seeds you plant over the next few weeks will indeed germinate and you'll reap a wonderful harvest for your business well past the first quarter of next year.

# # # #

Todd F. Brabender
Spread The News Public Relations, Inc.
Generating publicity & media exposure for innovative products/businesses/websites.
(785) 842-8909
[email protected]


Article # 3:    "Your Web Site's Grand Opening," by Diane Leonte

PUBLISHER'S NOTES:    This article was sent to me unsolicited recently. If you have an article that you would like to see re-printed in this newsletter, just sent it to me at [email protected] and I will consider putting it in a future issue.


Your Web site is finally ready to be published. You have reworked the design, the content, the colors, the navigation, the keywords, the title, and the description until you were satisfied you have an award winning web site to showcase your product or service offerings.

Now it's time to prepare the invitations, or rather the AD Copy.

The next step is without a doubt the most critical in your entire marketing plan.... who will you send the invitations to? In other words, who are you addressing your Ad copy to?

Is your invitation list made up of a carefully selected well thought out targeted niche audience? If not, scrap the web site and all the work you have done up to this point and go back to the drawing board. Begin again this time by defining....

*    Who Your Customer Is?

*    Who has a need or desire to buy your product or service?

*    Who can afford to buy what you are selling?

If you do not do this step, you will be fighting an uphill battle. Everything you do in your marketing plan must flow from the definition of who your customer is, whether it is your sales letter, your web site design, your ad copy, which ezines you advertise in, what classifieds you place you ads in, how often you advertise, what time of the year you advertise, what color you use on you web site... EVERYTHING!

*    How do you get to know who your customer is?

*    Where will you find them hanging out?

*    What type of advertising will you use to attract them?

*    How much are they willing to pay for your product or service?

The best way I know to accomplish this market research is ... to simply become your own customer.

Do you own, use, and endorse what you are offering for sale to your customer? If not, buy it, use it, evaluate it and decide if you think it is a quality product that you would feel good about recommending. If you can't do this, then dump the product or service and find one you can feel good about and go sell it.

Now that you know what you are going to offer for sale on your web site, put yourself in your customers shoes and go surfing for your product or service offering on the Internet.

What keywords are you going to enter in the search criteria for the Search engines? What ezines and newsletters will you subscribe to and read to find what you are looking for. What discussion groups and forums do you like to hang out in?

How many web sites are offering the product you are looking for? Is their a large swing in the price range? Who is offering a guarantee? Who is offering a bonus? Which web master makes it easier to purchase the product? Which web master will deliver it sooner?

Do you see how getting to know who your customer is will help you design your marketing with them in mind. Using this tactic will deliver to your web site the customers who want, need, and
are willing to pay the price you are asking for what you are selling.

Your customers will come to your web site and buy from you when you when you begin addressing all of your advertising to meet their needs, not yours. You may attract less visitors, but you will have more visitors who will buy from you.

Why do you need visitors at your web site who are not interested in your product? The visitors that come to your web site to collect the freebies you advertised can only distort your traffic statistics, and lead you to believe that your product is more appealing than it actually is.

Stay grounded in your target audience and you will be profitable.

Aim everything you create to market your product or service to meet your customer's needs. If you do this right your web site will have Standing Room Only.

Now go out there and "bring down the house."

# # # #

Diane Leonte is a Business and Personal Coach, Webmaster of http://wealthinmind.com and Publisher of the "Achieving Success & Wealth" newsletter. To subscribe to her newsletter, send an e-mail to: [email protected]. "Are You Are Ready To Get What Matters Most To You? If Not Now ... When?"


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. You can view past issues of "The Online Inventor" at http://www.marketlaunchers.com/archives.html. Thanks.

Until next time, Successful Inventing To You!

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann;
President of Market Launchers.com
(800) 337-5758 (within the U.S. and Canada)
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 2000
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the October 2000 issue.