THE ONLINE INVENTOR -- September 2000

(c) 2000 Market Launchers, Inc.


Publisher: Paul Niemann



During the 2 years that we've been publishing "THE ONLINE INVENTOR," most of our articles have come from service providers or from me, with a few inventor success stories thrown in. We'd like to start running more articles that feature inventors' success stories -- so we'd like to hear from you. One of the comments that we hear the most about this newsletter is that it "re-charges my batteries." What better way to get fired up and motivated than to surround yourself with other successful people! This is your chance to get some recognition in front of your peers!

If you'll send us your success story, and tell us what enabled you to succeed in bringing your product onto the market, then we'll consider it for an upcoming issue. If we think that other inventors will learn something important from it, then we'll print it in an upcoming issue. Don't worry about your writing style -- all we need are the details (and a picture or two of you and/or your product wouldn't hurt, either).

On the flip side, since it's often easier, cheaper and less painful to learn from someone else's mistakes, if you had a major screw-up in your inventing experiences that you'd like to share with your 520 fellow inventors who read this newsletter every month, then send it in, and we'll print it in an upcoming issue, too. And you'll remain anonymous, of course.

As I mentioned above, we've been publishing "THE ONLINE INVENTOR" for over 2 years now. It's been free since we started, and we plan on keeping it that way. Thanks for your continued support.

Best Regards,

Paul Niemann

"I do the best I know how, the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing it to the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me will not amount to anything. If the end brings me out all wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference," -- Abraham Lincoln

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor" -- Vince Lombardi

"Just Win, Baby" -- Al Davis


In this issue:

Article # 1:    "The 7 Advantages of Selling Your Invention in Mail Order Catalogs," by Jim Tilberry of Tilberry Direct Marketing

Article # 2:    "The Advantages of Doing the Marketing Yourself," by Paul Niemann

Article # 3:    "How to Receive Royalties," by Ron Docie


EDITOR'S NOTE:    We have a new contributing author this month: Jim Tilberry has been putting inventors' new products into major catalogs for over 12 years now, and has more than 80 major catalog accounts. You may have seen his ads in Inventors' Digest. Jim will be conducting a workshop at the Yankee Invention Expo in Norwalk, CT on October 15 - 16. His contact info for inventors who want to get in touch with Jim is at the end of the article.

Article # 1:    "The 7 Advantages of Selling Your Invention in Mail Order Catalogs," by Jim Tilberry

1.    You sell to a large market. U.S. catalog sales are now over $100 billion a year. Approximately two-thirds of all consumers have made a purchase through mail order in the last 12 months. With the right product a company can go from nothing to several million in sales -
just through catalogs.

2.    You compete more easily. Catalogs offer a level playing field for the big corporation and the smallest start-up. With few exceptions, products are judged and sell on their merits, not on the reputation or size of the manufacturer.

3.    You need just one product. Unlike store distribution, manufacturers don't need a "line" of products. Catalogs evaluate one product at a time. So the one-product company is not at a disadvantage as they are when trying to break into a department store.

4.    You save on packaging. Unlike point-of-purchase sales where the package helps sell the product on the store shelf, the package has no bearing on the sales of an item in a catalog. So you don't need an expensive 4-color box. In fact, the simpler the packaging the better. A plastic bag is often sufficient.

5.    You keep your risk low. A few catalogs now require a nominal advertising
fee to sell your product. However, many catalogs still charge nothing to advertise your product.

6.    You get national exposure. Catalogs offer start-ups and small companies exposure to millions of potential customers all over the country. When your product appears in a recognized catalog, your product and your company enjoy instant credibility.

7.    You test the market. Catalogs provide an ideal opportunity to find out how well your product sells. In addition, when you place your product in specific niche catalogs, you can test different segments of the marketplace. Naturally success in catalogs can lead to success in other marketing avenues.

# # # #

Here is the contact information for inventors who want to get in touch with Jim:

Jim Tilberry
Tilberry Direct Marketing
1749 Golf Rd., # 310
Mt. Prospect, IL 60056

Phone: 847-690-0670
Fax: 847-690-0671
E-mail: [email protected]


Article # 2:    "The Advantages of Doing the Marketing Yourself," by Paul Niemann

Quite a few inventors have called to ask me if I ever take on new inventions in return for a percentage of the revenues. Lately, I've received that question more than usual, for some reason.

My answer is always the same: "The person most qualified to market your invention is probably you. Besides, I've got my own inventions to work on." There are several reasons why this is true, and why it's to your advantage to do the marketing work yourself, even if you're unfamiliar with the process.

First of all, who is more passionate about YOUR INVENTION than you are? Who knows more about YOUR INVENTION than you do? Who is more concerned about YOUR INVENTION than you are? Without a doubt, the answer has to be you.

So why entrust the business aspect of your invention to a total stranger? You wouldn't entrust the raising of your kids to a total stranger, would you? Of course not.

Is it because the marketing part seems foreign to you? If so, then jump right in and immerse yourself in your industry. As Gary Kellmann always says: Become an expert in your field, read your industry's trade publications, visit some of the retail stores where similar items are sold. The more you know about your industry, the more comfortable you'll feel. The only way to become familiar with the marketing aspect is to just jump right in.

Or are you afraid that you might mess it up? We all make mistakes when we try something new. If you learn from each of your mistakes, though, then we're better off than if we had never tried. There's no shame in making mistakes -- the only shame is when we fail to learn from our mistakes, or when we make the same mistake twice. (As Homer Simpson would say, "D'ohhh!")

Sure, you can hire someone to market your product for you, whether it be on a percentage basis or on a fee basis. But here's another reason to do your own marketing, rather than relying on someone else to do it. What will you do when you create another brilliant new product? Would you hire someone AGAIN to do your marketing work?

Wouldn't it be better if you knew the process, and if you know what usually works and what doesn't work, so that you can just take care of it yourself? (And keep all of the profits yourself, too.)

If you'd rather hire someone else for their marketing services, there's nothing wrong with that, but you'll probably never hit your full potential as an inventor until you take that role upon yourself. The marketing aspect can actually be as gratifying as the inventing part of the process.

Some inventors call me and ask if I know of any agents or brokers in their industry, to see if they could help with the marketing. If you're hoping to hoping to find someone in your industry, then get started with the marketing yourself, and you just might find someone in your industry who fits the bill once you become familiar with who the main players are.

If, after reading this article, you're still looking for someone to do the marketing for your invention, then, Yes, I would help you, for a fee. But I would first try to turn you down by telling you that the person most qualified to market your invention is probably you.

There are 2 exceptions that come to mind: One is if you work the normal 8 - 5 each day, which makes it more difficult to contact businesses during working hours. The other is if you can reach an agreement with a specialist in your industry - one who can offer you a better chance of succeeding. This is common in the toy industry, where most toy companies (with the exception of Haystack Toys) tend to deal primarily with toy agents.

These 2 exceptions are not meant to be used as excuses, though -- just examples.


Article # 3:    "How to Receive Royalties," by Ron Docie

When it comes right down to it, profiting from inventions can be quite simple. All you have to do is find out who wants your invention and what companies will develop it into a product, approach these companies and establish a mutually satisfactory value and compensation basis for your invention, and finally, sip margaritas on the tropical island of your choice. I'm sure this sounds quite intriguing and probably somewhat unrealistic, however, there are a few among us who have accomplished similar feats. The process of commercializing your invention to the point where you are receiving royalties does not necessarily have to be very complicated. Most of the process involves good, old fashioned common sense, the ability to effectively communicate with others, and a realistic approach.

I firmly believe that if the hundreds of inventors who have approached me over the past 20 years had simply broadcast to the world that they had an invention and asked whatever company wanted the product to voluntarily pay them a fair compensation, they would be further ahead and richer . What usually happens is that inventors are overly paranoid worrying about the wrong things, and dwelling on areas of development that are inappropriate. Consequently, their inventions never see the light of day. Don't get me wrong -- I believe that it is extremely important for inventors to protect their intellectual property. There is a law of diminishing returns, however. The fact is, at some point you need to trust others, particularly experts in the field of invention commercialization, to help you. The trick is to share information on a need-to-know basis and with no more people than is necessary to get the job done.

Another problem is that inventors tend to work in a vacuum. It is not uncommon for inventors to come to us with patents issued five or ten years ago. My first question is usually, "What have you been doing for the last five or ten years?"

I'm sure many of you reading this have not fallen into this trap. I use this illustration to help keep this from happening to you. When it comes to intellectual property, the clock is ticking. The more you delay, the greater the chance for someone else to develop a similar or superior invention. There are also time constraints in the patenting process. Timing is a very important aspect of invention development. Being first and fastest doesn't always work; many inventors have developed revolutionary concepts "before their time" only to die paupers -- and then their invention makes the mainstream years later. However, for most inventors, speed is important.

So, now I'm saying invention development can be very complicated. Didn't I just say invention development can be quite simple? The fact is, it can be either or both. Every situation is unique. The trick is to use simple, common-sense reasoning to answer the complex questions. These answers get you where you need to go. To receive royalties from an invention you need the following ingredients:

1.    Appropriate proprietary protection for your intellectual property; i.e., patents, trade secrets, know-how, formulas, unique designs, etc.

2.    A willing market. Most inventions have value to at least one person in the world, the inventor. The question isn't whether an invention has value or not, the question is how many people will perceive that value and how many of those will be in a position to pay the cost. Markets can be very tricky and they don't always make sense (or cents).

3.    A manufacturer willing and capable of manufacturing your invention and reimbursing you with royalties, a cash buyout, a consulting fee or other remuneration.

You may need other things; you may need to test market your invention and you may
need to develop a working prototype. The patent protection available to you may be a
crucial element. All these variables weigh into the equation.

# # # #

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. Their web site address is: http://www.docie.com.


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
(217) 224-7735 (outside the U.S.)

Copyright 2000
All Rights Reserved


Click here to read the August 2000 issue.