THE ONLINE INVENTOR – November 2011 issue

(c) 2011 Market Launchers, Inc. 


Editor:  Paul Niemann 


Article # 1:    “Preparing and Using the Sell-Sheet, Part II,” a private paper exclusively for Inventor-mentor clients: By Jack Lander of www.Inventor-mentor.com

Article # 2:    10 Questions for Inventors By Jeffrey Dobkin


“He who thinks by the inch and talks by the yard deserves to get kicked by the foot” Unknown

“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see” – Arthur Schopenhaur


“Preparing and Using the Sell-Sheet” – Part II
A private paper exclusively for Inventor-mentor clients
By Jack Lander of

(continued from October 2011 issue) 

How to order your sell-sheet:

            Professional studios sometimes dread working with amateurs because they are unfamiliar with the language, the processes, and simply don’t know what they want.  To cover themselves for a lot of wasted “transaction” time, they may hike up the price.  Therefore, resolve what you will furnish and what you want before contacting any sell-sheet service.  I’ve included an information sheet at the end of this paper that will help you to communicate with the sell-sheet preparer. 

Using the AIDA formula:

A sell-sheet essentially is an ad.  So is a personal resume’ for that matter.  And so is any proposal that attempts to convince someone to buy something, or to take some kind of action.  And a sell-sheet, resume’, or business proposal must follow the rules that have been found effective for successful advertisements.  

The time-honored and most effective format for an ad or proposal is represented by the acronym, AIDA, which stands for:

                                                Attract Attention

                                                Arouse Interest

                                                Create Desire

                                                Facilitate Acquiring

If you ever been hailed or approached by a person trying to sell you almost anything from Girl Scout cookies to donating for their needy charity, you’ll know that your first reaction is to resist.  Whether you are won over, and buy the cookies, or make the donation, is largely a matter of your own conscience, not the typically inept sales pitch.  However, when the object is not something that plays on your conscience, you maintain resistance.  The AIDA approach effectively (well, not always) breaks down resistance by presenting the pitch gradually—in steps—each of which is non-threatening in itself.  

If you doubt this, test AIDA against the next few written sales pitches that you respond to.  The point here is that the sell-sheet is an ad, and it follows the AIDA “formula.” Your headline and photo fulfill attract attention.  Your bulleted list of benefits arouse interest.  Your testimonials create desire because they are believable, and we all want to believe.  And finally, your ordering information facilitates acquiring.  Note the word “facilitates.”  This means more than merely telling how to order.  It makes ordering painless by accepting credit cards, providing an 800 phone number and an e-mail address in case the reader has an questions before ordering. 

Graphic artists are clever at creating eye appeal, and you need that to complete attract attention.  But when graphic artists are not guided by AIDA they produce some of the greatest wastes of paper imaginable.  I’ve seen sell-sheets that couldn’t convince me to do any more than crumple them in a ball, and shoot for my waste basket.  It’s your money.  It’s your future.  Insist that whoever prepares your sell sheet follow AIDA. 

A model sell-sheet:  (Follow this plan for a rough draft of your sell-sheet.  Instruct the preparer that you want the following model followed.)

1)      At top of front page: tag-line in bold print.  A tag-line is a single brief sentence that expresses what the product is, and the major benefit to the ultimate user, (not, for example, the intermediate customer, which may be the catalog or retail store buyer to whom you are pitching your product).  You absolutely must attract attention and arouse interest within a few seconds with your tag-line.  (Statements like “we are proud to announce,” or “presenting,” are a turn-off, and a waste of this precious space.  No one gives a damn how proud you are except your parents or your spouse, and they may suspect that you’re a bit nuts.  Think only from the customer’s viewpoint!  A brief tag-line may have a sub-tag-line below it, like a book title often does.  In general, avoid questions such as: Do you spend too much time washing your car?  Questions are weak, and you don’t always get the answer you want.  The new XYZ sponge washes your car in seven minutes flat!  And maybe a sub-tag in smaller print: . . . and saves an average of four gallons of water.  That is a tagline cast as an effective statement, rather than a question.

2)      Immediately below the tag-line, on the left, place a color photo about 3 by 4 inches, (4 inches running vertically).  Show your product being used by a person if appropriate.  Get in close with the camera.  Show hands only unless you need to show most of the person, such as washing a car, etc.

3)      Immediately to the right of the photo, just below the tag line, place a brief statement that defines your product if your tag line hasn’t achieved that.  “The XYZ sponge is . . .” But don’t get carried away.  Just a few words.  And remember to avoid stressing features.  Features don’t sell; benefits sell  (We inventors think in terms of features, so we have to be especially disciplined to change our thinking over to benefits when we work on any kind of advertising.)

4)      Below the definition, enter the subordinate benefits.  Use “bullets,” the black dots that writers use to highlight paragraphs.)  The bulleted benefits should end even with the bottom edge of your photo if practical.

5)      Below your photo and benefits, list a few of your best testimonials.  You may have to lend your prototype to a few friends or acquaintances in order to get honest testimonials.  But don’t have them all come from your same region, or even from your state.  This may be a troublesome step, but testimonials sell and convince like no other words. 

6)      Below your testimonials discuss features, but only those that yield benefits.  For example:  “Built with stainless-steel ball bearings that will never rust or corrode, thus guaranteeing a long life for your _________.”  This is the area where you should write about the UPC code and liability insurance, as I suggested above.

7)      Last, and below the features section divide the remaining area approximately in half.  In the left section enter your address and contact information.  Place a rectangular box around the right hand area, and leave it blank.  This is for rubber stamping information such as a distributor’s contact information, etc.

That’s it.  Follow this format, and don’t get too fancy.  Your objective is to sell, not to dazzle with glitz.  The time-honored and most effective “formula” for preparing any document that is intended to sell or convince is “AIDA,” like the opera.  Easy to remember. 

This is what I call the gradual induction principle.  Like the courting process, (whatever its ultimate aim), you woo by degrees.  You didn’t propose—or accept a proposal—before you got to know your mate, did you?  

*    *  

P. S.  If you don’t feel comfortable preparing your own sell-sheet, I’ll do it for you.  We work together, back and forth, until you are satisfied.  I ask that you arrange for your own photography, however.  This works best because you can negotiate face to face with your photographer, and get exactly what you want.  

My charge for handling the rest, and preparing the model sell-sheet (from which you can have Staples, Office Max, Kinkos, etc. print any number of copies) is a flat $500.  I think that you’ll find this is much less than the graphic studios charge, and I’m sure that you’ll be happy with the results. 

# # #

© 2011 Jack R. Lander

Jack Lander is a mentor to inventors, as well as a seasoned inventor with 13 patents and always working on more. His most commercially successful patents are assigned to U.S. Surgical Corporation. Jack has served as President of the United Inventors Association and is presently the Vice President of the Yankee Invention Exposition. He has been a feature columnist in Inventors' Digest magazine for the past 14 years, writing the "Lander Zone." He is a published author of "How to Finance Your Invention or Great Idea," "All I Need Is Money," and more than 50 special reports for inventors. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience to guide you, and his newest book is entitled:
Marketing Your Invention: A complete guide to licensing, and to marketing and selling your invention. His web site is www.inventor-mentor.com and you can reach him at [email protected]  or  [email protected]


“10 Questions for Inventors”
By Jeffrey Dobkin

Like it or not, at one point if you are serious about your invention -- and moving it forward -- you need to answer a few questions.  The good part: Don’t worry -- you can change your answers at any time. Just rough it out for now.

1. Do you have a budget? 

Nothing happens until you spend a little time, money… or both. So - What is your time commitment, Hours/week?  What is your $$$ investment?

2. What are your goals?

If everything goes right, this happens.  What are your objectives - what do you want to accomplish?  Start a business?  Get rich?  License your product?  Just have fun (because everything doesn’t have to make money!)  Have a few products for you, your friends.  Think about this - up front.  Write it down.

3. Have you done a patent search?

I generally recommend a patent search.  You can do this on line at USPTO.gov or the Google patent site.  Even if you’re not patenting your invention, it’s nice to know you aren’t infringing on someone else’s patent.

4. Are you going to patent it, or not? 

A patent is a $5,000 to $10,000 expense.  Yes, it’s that expensive.  And most of the time, patent claims are narrow, indefensible, and easily circumvented. For most people: a patent doesn’t protect you or your idea, a patent only gives you the right to protect yourself (by suing someone.)

5. Is your product “Commercially Feasible”?

In other words, can you “sell it and make a profit?”  Not every idea can be sold at a profit.  This doesn’t mean the idea isn’t great, it just means it may not be a commercial success. 

6. What industries will your product sell to?  

Is it specific to one or two, or is it so general you can’t define the markets (which makes for harder and more expensive marketing.)

7.  Will it sell itself?

If you product sells through a store like Home Depot -- remember it will sit on a shelf with someone else’s product on either side of it, and one on the shelf right above it, and one on the shelf right below it.  Can a customer tell what your product is -- and what it does -- at a glance? (Because that’s all you’re getting on a store shelf.)

8. Can you make a few prototypes?

You can’t show anyone your product without a prototype. There are homemade prototypes, made with available parts, working prototypes for proof of concept, professional prototypes, and manufacturing  prototypes -- how it will be made in volume.  You should have one or more of any of these.

9. What is your own field of expertise?

You’ve got to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Now you know what you can do, and now you know where you need to go for help.

10. What are your next 10 steps?

Yes, in order.  Because if you don’t know them, what are you going to do?

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© 2011 Jeff Dobkin

Jeffrey has written 5 books that are incredible for inventors, entrepreneurs and small business owners, including:  

*  How To Market a Product for Under $500

* Uncommon Marketing Techniques

* Direct Marketing Strategies, 

* Successful Low Cost Direct Marketing Methods.  

To order call 800-234-IDEA. Questions? 610-642-1000 rings on his desk, right to him at the Danielle Adams Publishing Company, Box 100, Merion Station, PA 19066. See more articles from Jeff at www.danielleadams.com