We have seen a lot of startups fail and close shop after only a few years because of one fatal mistake: not having enough information before taking a deeper dive into launching their product or business. Falling in love with your idea or product can run you out of business early in the game. There is nothing bad about being passionate about what you do, but it must always be coupled with the proper mindset to avoid losing precious time and money. When entrepreneurs make an emotional decision, they sometimes choose not to see the pitfalls of their plan, glossing over any kind of objective criteria to properly evaluate the feasibility of their business venture. Guest Experts on the Product Launch Hazzards membership Expert Office Hours podcast guides business owners like you so you will know how to sift through all necessary information for review before proceeding to the next step, identify necessary revisions, and ultimately know how to determine whether your product launch is a go or a no-go.
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We’re going to talk about, “Should I do it? Should you do it?” I think it’s, “Should I?” all over the place. Because of my Inc column, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing quite a lot of startups that might have lasted a little too long and shouldn’t have done it to begin with. I’ve dived into a few things that I learned from that. There are quite a few reasons why you shouldn’t do something. The main thing is that you aren’t thinking about criteria. When you do it, it’s emotional. That’s a huge problem because you’re talking about a lot of money that could potentially be spent and a lot of time that could potentially be wasted, yet you’re making an emotional decision instead of a more empirical criteria-based decision. Instead of a business decision, you’re making it from the heart. You should be passionate about what you do though.
The real thing that I’ve learned from talking to a lot of people and from comparing them to the level of success we don’t have a lot of absolute failures, maybe we have early failures. We stop them quickly before we spend a lot of money. There are failures but they’re learning failures. They’re not, “I’ve been in this business for five years and then crashed it because it was never successful.” There are indicators all along the way that you’re not listening to if you go that far. The idea of what I’ve come to is that emotional decision-making is a significant part of the problem. You fall in love with your idea or your product or your invention and then what happens is you do not hear or care to hear what other people have to say about it and you don’t have any objective criteria to evaluate it. You don’t set for yourself some evaluation review points. Our seven-step plan is available on the site on the Facebook page, you can download it from there. If not, send us an email and we’re happy to send it to you. On the seven-step plan, we have a review and a go, no go process. We have a review, revise and reject. It’s an actual stop. How do you make that decision? Sometimes you don’t have enough good information and you continue on to the next stage but you at least know that you don’t have enough good information and you say, “I need to seek the answer to that so that at the next stage I have a more educated review.” That’s it, and you don’t go diving in to the full depth of all the costs and all the time commitment and all of those things until you have some of those unknowns at least dialed in with, “What will be the signs that they are successful or not successful that I need to watch for so that I stop soon enough?”
I get to talk to this wonderful woman who ran a Kickstopper project. It was an interesting tell. She got in-love with the idea that she would create these striped t-shirts that will be in the sports colors, whether you were a football fan, a baseball fan, it doesn’t matter what kind of fan you are but you could wear the shirts across it and it wasn’t logoed. It just had the team colors and you could represent without having to wear a big logo on the middle of your chest. She fell in love with the idea of it and she bought 10,000 pieces of different colors of these striped shirts. She spent five years doing the business and spent about $120,000, which doesn’t seem like a tremendous amount but at the end of the day, she sold 4,000 after five years. She had 6,000 shirts left over. It obviously didn’t work. She had set in her mind that she was going to give it five years because five years is how long it takes for a business to succeed or fail, but there were so many signs along the way and she didn’t pay attention to them. That’s what I want to point out here is that I see this so often when I review inventions and when I talk to the companies and startups and other things, I look at them and I’m like, “Red flag, stop doing it.” You don’t see it because you’re in it. This is what I’m hoping we’re going to get across is I want you to get a little objectivity to your baby. It’s possible your baby’s ugly. It’s highly possible nobody wants to hold your baby.
As inventors at some point, we’re all guilty of this. It’s very hard to be completely objective. While it may be initially painful to consider the fact that maybe your idea isn’t as great as you think it is, it’s the wise thing to do. The smart inventor, the wise inventor, gets independent objective opinions not from your friends or family, from others, as to whether you’ve got something or not. There’s a difference between perseverance and being committed to your idea. It definitely does take that to bring an invention all the way. There’s also stubbornness and recklessness that can come in to play. There will always be naysayers, and I’m not saying to listen to all the negativity by any means, but you need to do your due diligence and make sure that the idea and the concept that you have that you want to develop into a fully baked invention and product at some point is actually going to sell at the end of the day.
It is not all about making big enough runs so you get the price point down to a production level. In fact, I would rather see people spend a whole lot more money than it would cost in the long term and then a whole lot more money than it would cost per item to do a short run and prove the market than it would be to spend the big money on a big production run so that your unit price is lower. We all know and we can estimate that the production run costs. We can know what that will be, we can predict that, but is anybody actually going to buy it? It’d be nice to find that out before you go spend money on a run of 10,000 or even 5,000. I’m talking about a run of 100 or 200, with the most 500. If she had done that, maybe it would have cost her more per shirt, but she would have sold through them in a shorter period of time and won’t be stuck with trying to move all that inventory.
In her case, she got caught up in the idea that it was not possible to get the quality that you want and do whatever it is that she wanted to test out required her to do that. That sense is very common, “It doesn’t exist anywhere. I have to build it. I have to show people they don’t want, don’t understand it.” Reality is that if they don’t understand it, then that’s a red flag right there. You have to try to figure out what you’re not communicating properly to get them to understand that. The biggest failure that I see overall isn’t in the concept itself, it’s in the execution of the concept and that it’s not matched with the audience you might have. She overbuilt her site, overbuilt her product, did all of these things, and it was a mismatch with the pricing in her case. The shirt was too much money and it was too premium for something that was actually plain in terms of its design. It ended up being a mismatch. Then she found a lot of heavy price competition with J. Crew and some of these other companies and so she was competing.
Instead of moving out of it and getting out of it faster, which was another mistake, when you see those signs, you need to do something drastic to help yourself move out of it, she doubled down. She would say, “I’ve got to throw more marketing at it. I’ve got to throw more PR at it. I’ve got to find more influencers,” and she would double down on the thing she knew already, which is also another problem I see, is that when things go wrong and you shouldn’t be doing it, it’s because you don’t know what you don’t know, because you have an area of expertise and you’re living in that bubble of expertise and all those other areas aren’t getting fixed and touched on in your business. We are guilty of that too. We are admittedly not the best marketers.
It’s not something that we normally do in our core business. Our core business is that somebody else is marketing the product. Our job is to design it for the marketing channel that they have with us on the retail shelf or online or whatever their venue is. That’s our job is to design for that, not to actually execute that. Executing it on our own business is completely frustrating. For us we’re like, “I have to spend that much money?” That’s also like a big surprise. The reality is that if we wanted to be successful in that, we absolutely have to do that, and us not doing it is the reason for failure. That’s also where I see that so many people budget themselves. They give themselves a startup budget and they say, “I’m going to spend this amount of money,” but they spend it all on the product and not on the sales and marketing and not on any testing of that sales and marketing with a little bit of money from the beginning.
When you’ve done that, you’ve run out of money and now you’ve backed yourself into a corner and now you can’t get someone to buy it. What good is it? You have made it so that your baby, as great as it might be, will never get to market. It will never gain traction because you’ve handcuffed yourself and your marketing ability. For us, this is why our process has shifted so that we do and test out the things we don’t know. Can we test out marketing reach? Can we reach influencers and will they do something about it? Is there conversion? Do they like what we have?
We’ve talked about this. There’s a whole video on Prove It Right and it’s the very first one we have in the system. Go back and watch that again and listen to it again with new perspective, but that the main thing that you have to think about is sit down and take your idea. I don’t want you to think about it as like we’re risk averse because we are the opposite of that. We actually will dive feet first in when we believe in something, but the reality is that you must keep your head in the game. You must keep your head above water in my analogy there about diving in feet first. You have to have some way to keep yourself objective about what you’re working on and some way to evaluate it and stop yourself before it’s too late. You need to make sure you build in a lifeboat so you don’t go down with the ship. We were talking about early exits failing fast is what we’ve said. Hopefully it won’t fail, but if you don’t plan for that, then you’ve committed everything so you’ve got to figure this out. I’m a huge believer, especially in this day and age when it’s relatively easy and relatively okay to put a product on Amazon and test it. I think personally some of the easiest marketing to do on a product is getting key search terms to rank on Amazon as opposed to any other marketing. Amazon is one of the biggest search engines in the world. It’s for all the products that they carry only, but you list something on Amazon that’s a relatively easier way to test something. If you don’t want to become an expert in Amazon, there are people that already are. You shouldn’t become an expert.[Tweet “In this day and age, prototyping has taken on a new reality.”]
This is the other thing is that I find so often we get caught up in the idea of, “I need to know this and I’m going to have to figure this out myself and that there isn’t any time for us to do this ourselves.” The reality is that you can’t afford to do it yourself sometimes. You’ve got things in your business you have to be building. You are building a business, not just a product. You’ve got to look at that broader. I get a lot of people say, “I’m going to license the thing so all I have to do as the product,” and that’s actually a mistake in this world. The idea of licensing in this world of licensing, you must prove that the dogs will eat the dog food. We’ve said that before, I’m pretty sure. When you prove that the dogs will eat the dog food, then you command more money in the licensing model. You’re able to close the deal faster. We’ve talked with licensing experts. We have a great guy who we’ll bring on a Hangout at some point in the future, David. David has done this and he can license sometimes a great idea, but it’s so hard and it has low returns when you don’t have proof. When you haven’t taken something through a certain level of concept phase, you can’t just have an idea. That’s required.
When you’re in a startup, you’re not going to get significant investment until you get through that proof stage. That is the level. This is stuff that’s critical to resolve and this is where you should spend your money and your testing and not in the final making of it, because you’re also going to learn something in that process. It might make you make it differently and that’s why we don’t prototype until the fourth step and we don’t make anything until the seventh step. It is critically important that we get through this idea that this thing is so precious and I’ve got my blinders on and I’ve got my ears plugged and I don’t care what anyone says.
In this day and age, prototyping has taken on a new reality. Prototype used to be, “You’re making one, you’re making a proof of concept either functionally or an appearance model or both.” Now prototyping has taken on the role of first production run, short production run. With additive manufacturing, there’s so many more things you can do in repetition more easily that you can produce a product and get market proof in a very short run that you never used to be able to do. You couldn’t’ justify tooling for something for a run of 100 or 300.
The thing is that you get caught up in the idea that it has to be perfect for deciding whether or not you should do something. Perfection is not the answer to that. Communication is the reason for making it. You need to communicate what’s special about it. When you look at it from that perspective, you’re talking about a slightly different models. I want to segue into talking about the event, because this is the goal of our event. We’re having an event called the Inventors Mastermind and I will put a link to it within the different comment areas so that you can check it out. It says Los Angeles on it, but it’s not. It’s here in Irvine. It got moved, which is greater Los Angeles to an extent. You’re talking Orange County. You’re going to be 35 miles south of LA for sure. It had to move because there was an issue with the hotel and construction and stuff. You’re going to be happy unless you’re commuting a long way from north of LA, but you’re going to be happier that this is in Irvine over the course of the event. Tell us about the Investors Mastermind and exactly what everyone can expect.
The idea of it is that there are so many things you don’t know yet and so here’s an opportunity for us and some of the people that we worked with and some of the people that we know. John Livesay is going to join us and he talks about pitching for startups and how you pitch your product and things like that, deal terms that you should never have in your distribution or licensing agreement, we’re going to talk about. There’s talk about marketing. We’re going to have Jill Lublin come in and talk about PR and how you can promote your product and how you should talk about your product with the press, talk about capital and funding and funding models for early stages that’s very different from going and seeking equity funding. The whole real point is to come across the biggest mistakes that inventors commonly make and what to do instead. We want to go through that with you guys. It’s a two-day event, it runs from 9 to 5, and it’s going to be at the Hotel Irvine on June 28th and 29th. That’s a Tuesday and a Wednesday. You are going to get so much information.
For those that are a part of this mastermind group that we’re tapping into to present, there are paid members of the mastermind. They pay money per year to be a part of the mastermind group and they get to attend any of the different types of masterminds that go on. There’s a marketing mastermind, there’s a publicity mastermind going on at the same time that ours is going on, and that’s why we get to have Jill Lublin come over and talk about publicity and PR. This is so it’s great that she’s there at the same time. They also have investors masterminds, so they have different types of them. When you belong into the mastermind, you get to go to any one of their events at any time. We are going to give a basically in two days a tremendous amount of information that is going to be exactly how we launch our products, how we do this successfully, all the tips and tricks and things that we do and the considerations that we make. What will not happen during this time is we are not going to review your invention. I’m going to be upfront about that. We do not have time to sit there and talk about your what at that time.
People will have an opportunity to arrange and to consult with us. At the end of the event, if you wanted to set up one-on-ones or do other things like that. The mastermind groups themselves have access to us and I consult with them all the time and so they have an option to choose any member of the mastermind expertise panel, which I’m on. The idea is that you’re going to get a tremendous amount of information about what you don’t know, it’s your areas of lack that are going to mess up and stop your project, it’s your gap. We want to help fill the gaps with at least where to go to find more information, who to think about hiring to help fill those gaps, what types of people should you go out there and seek, because we want you to have good criteria because you’re launching and invention. That’s a very different world than someone launching a coaching project and there’s a lot of stuff out there that’s about online marketing and doing all this, but it’s not geared towards product people.
We want to be careful and make sure that you understand the difference between that so you’re not caught into hiring a website developer that is great at doing speaker authors and not so good at doing product-based websites. Also, we have a lot of people who claim they do product-based websites and look like glorified stores which are actually horrible for you in today’s market. We want to talk about the differences of all those things. We want to talk about what it’s like to be on Amazon. I’m going to talk about a lot of the criteria for what it takes to get on the shelf. We’re going to talk about pricing, the market basis versus cost basis and I know we have a video on that, but we’re going to do a deeper dive into the math on that and how it works and what you need to think about to project and plan your budget for your launch.
I want you to think bigger. It’s counter to the, “Should I,” because the ‘should you do it’, it still might be no, but if you’re not considering the bigger picture of what it’s going to take to launch your product to where you want it to go to, what your end goal is, do you want to be on the target shelf? Do you want to be on Amazon? Is that simply the stopping point for you or do you want to get it far enough to get someone to pay licensing fees. Whatever that end goal for you or for your particular invention or product is, what is that, and then what will I need to do? What do I need to plug in to make that happen? Our goal is to give you that big picture, the absolute right path to take to make it happen for you if this is the right thing to do. It may still not be the right thing to do and you have to give yourself some criteria to do that. I would be just as happy if someone walked away from our event and said, “I’m not pursuing this invention. I’m going to move on to something else. I’m going to come up with a new idea.” That is success too. Failing is a successful outcome because we’ve learned what we shouldn’t do. We’ve learned something and we’re going to do something more successful next time. We talk about this all the time.
What is the statistic on Edison? He found about 2,000 ways not to make a light bulb but there was one way obviously that worked and eventually morphed into several other ways going forward, but there were many, many failures. Talk about persistence. He was confident that he could make it happen and you may be. too, so it may not even be that the invention concept is flawed, it may just be the particular embodiment of it and it needs to take a slightly different path. Maybe the market you thought you planned it for is the problem and you need to go into a different market that requires a different set of marketing or a different sales channel or something like that. There are things that you will have to sort out, and this is going to get you thinking bigger. What it’s also going to do is give you the most accelerated plans. This is what we get all the time. How do we, in seven years, do 250 products with two people? You don’t do 250 products successfully with two people without a system, without criteria, and without not wasting your time, money, and energy. You have to do it with a different mindset. My goal is to help you see that and shift that in two days. It’s also going to offer up some resources to these people that are available to help them with these gaps.
You are under no obligation but coming to the event, all the information is free. I’ve been very careful that they are going to give you something valuable that they’re not there to sell you, but if you want them, they are available, and they are my go-to sources. I’m bringing them to you as part of the mastermind as well. That’s critical in a lot of times. We’ve talked about the three feet from gold story on this Hangout before one time and part of that story is it may be that to fill the gaps, you need to hire the right expert to help accelerate your project. Everybody often spends too much money prototyping their product or actually tooling and manufacturing something way too early when those funds could have been better spent on hiring the right expert to help prove what is the right specific market for the product and what is the right specific price point for the product, among other things.
Going back to our Kickstopper example, Laura, back in the striped shirt, which I send everybody the link in the group messaging so you can click through and watch the video, that’s on the Facebook groups. She spent $20,000 building a website that was at the Gap level of shopping. She sold more shirts on Amazon than on her website. Nobody should ever be spending that much money on a website. Further on invention, even if you’re building your own vertical company, do it at the early stage. You can create a modern website through WordPress and existing plugins. What’s the cost of an average website? $3,500 to $5,000 at most. $3,500 should be able to get a good website with a shopping cart plugged in and everything. It could be maybe $5,000, but still that’s the money you should spend if you’re ready to spend money on a website. That’s it though.
To me, that includes your branding. In that particular case, because you don’t need a high level of branding, you need enough branding to have a good strong foundation, so that’s $5,000. That’s why I say. I think it gives you this foundation for a good start brand with an idea of where you’re going to go with that. This is the thing. We have this information we can write check it for you and make sure it’s a fit and make sure it’s in line with where you want to go. Remember licensing on the shelf versus online, Amazon or Wayfarer, it could be any one of those online resources. When you look at those three places, they have a different model and different path that they take to do that. It might be a path to get to on the shelf, it might be a path through Amazon, into licensing, and then you’re actually on a shelf under somebody else’s brand. It might happen that way for you, but you have to think about that from the very beginning so that you can plan this out and you don’t overspend and you don’t take too much time because time in the retail market is money. If you don’t get to market fast enough, you lose out. In the invention growth, that’s the same way right now. The number of patents being filed every day is crazy. It’s increasing every month.
Some of the other things we’re going to talk about is communicating. We’re going to talk a lot about IP. There’s going to be a lot of discussion about the value in communicating. Communicating with your attorney is a big one and I’m going to help talk about that one. John Livesay will help talk about how to communicate what’s special about your IP to other people, to laymen, because that communication is very different as well. There’s going to be a lot about communication, a lot about mindset. There’s going to be exercises you get to do in there, which can be specific to what you’re working on and we will then dive in to them and talk about them. It’s not a one on one situation. This is a group event, group class, so want to make you aware of that, that there’s not any pitch opportunities. We’re not doing any of that. I don’t think that’s useful to a lot of people. That that’s only useful to the person being pitched to. They have an agenda they want and they’re hoping to seek ideas. I’m not a big fan of some of the pitch fest that don’t teach you how to pitch properly first.
If you’re interested in one of those though, let me know. Send me a message because I know a very special pitch event is coming up which has a whole backend workshop to it and that’s coming up in Dallas in July so I can refer you to that one as well. That one has an invitation but it’s a cost as well because they’re teaching you something. Anyway, I just wanted to make you guys aware of this going on. If this is a well trafficked at the Irvine event and we get a high level of people like we expect, then there’s highly likely that this will fold out to 30 cities around the US and I would like to someday take it international, but we’ll see. Right now, we’re going to do Irvine. We have enough people to serve in the US. That will last quite a while.[Tweet “The number of patents being filed every day is crazy. It’s increasing every month.”]
It will be 30 cities over the course of a year from July to the next June. The next cities that are on the list of things would be Salt Lake City in Denver following, following this Irvine in Orange County event. That’s what’s going on here. We hope this is going to be helpful for you guys. We want to keep bringing you exclusive little tips into workshops that might be going on and things that might be helpful for you, any resources that we think are useful. That’s a part of what our group is about. At this point we won’t have another call before the event. The event is the end of June. We’ll be skipping the next Hangout and we’ll do it that Wednesday after the fourth of July. We’ll put it on the calendar. It’ll be the sixth of July. We should probably look at the calendar before we get into it. I hope you guys have fun watching the Kickstopper video. It cracks me up. It is hilarious, but it’s so realistic. I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve seen who’ve done stuff like this. I can say we’ve done that, I can remember boxes and boxes of pens all over our house now. Granted we were selling them, they were moving through, so we would receive these deliveries of stylus pens into our houses, cases and cases at a time and our daughters would be overwhelming it. This video is very similar.
We have a question, “Where should you prove your concept?” It depends on where you plan to sell it. The video that we talked about, it’s probably the first one or the second one that we’ve talked about on the series of hanging out so far in the Mentors to Inventors Network. We talk about prove it. You should test it in the market you first believe is the market for it. Hopefully you found a need and you think that you’re filling a gap or a need in the marketplace and you’re going to go to find that target demographic. Where can you reach them most? For us, a lot of times we design for women. Women are the largest shopping demographic in the US. They are a huge portion of Amazon and all retail shopping. If I can access them in a way at which I can get into some of their groups or I can get in with an influencer and ask them questions, that’s where I go to prove it first.
Sometimes we have people who have maybe a phased version to their invention. It would be like the Beta version. It’s not quite your full concept. Maybe you didn’t fully tool for it. If you’ve got that and you can make a small run, then we try to actually run it straight on Amazon. It depends on where your market channel is and where you want to go. You want to test the same demographic, that’s the first thing you want to test, and then you want to test the difficulty level of accessing that market in the most important channel within that market, the most important store within that market or website, whatever that may be in the case of Amazon. That’s why we will do a 500 to 1,000 piece run if we can in the 3D printed version. It doesn’t have to be that big. You can run it smaller. You just to test ow difficult is it to access and do that.
A follow-up question is, “What about selling in an informal way? Would it be valid?” I’m going to give you a good example of that one. That’s a good follow-up question. I think there are legitimate informal ways to gauge that. I don’t know about in Brazil that you probably have the same type of selling environments that we have here in the US. I would say you could do a very low-cost event type of a selling opportunity. We have farmer’s markets here in the U. S where people go usually on the weekend to buy fresh produce, food, vegetables, fruits, things like that, but there are other kinds of things sold there too. A lot of times there are artisans selling crafts and other types of products and you get a real cross section of people at these things.
You have to make sure it’s a fit. Make sure you’re selling something that’s probably a gift item or jewelry or something that fits the model of whatever that event is so you make sure that that’s the case of that and make sure that it’s already tied at an artisan mindset. They’re probably interested in sustainable products already because they’re at a farmer’s market type, buying organic fruits and vegetables. It has a profile of the type of people that it wants to profile and so that if that fits your product, then it’s the perfect place to test it. Yes, you can do things like that. You could also try some flash sale. That’s an online option to do that, but you have to do it within a market that you’re very, very sure that they trust you already to be a valid test. If you’re going out there and doing one of these like Amazon or Facebook’s flash sales, which I see all the time, the likelihood of somebody buying from you who isn’t already a part of your group, who already knows you is difficult. If it’s somebody who already knows you, you’re muddying your data. That’s where you have to go out and say, “Is this the right place to do it?” Online is hard to do a test in.
I think there are other opportunities and actual local retail. You may be able go to more independent shops if they are carrying the similar type of category of product you want to test with the right demographic. You could probably get someone to do a local test that is on consignment, where they’re not actually buying your product and reselling it, but they’re putting it on the shelf to do it. We were talking to somebody recently about a product. They had a product that might appeal to people that were buying wedding cakes. Here’s a good example. We counseled this person to go get some market proof because she had product, she had physical product to be able to be sold and was having trouble dialing in some price point issues and some demographic issues. She had an opportunity to create a one off, only a single retail display, a pop-up display to show the product and give some bullet points, what it’s about and the price point and put it in those bakeries. It wasn’t a cake product; it was an accessory. Somebody who’s buying a cake might also want to buy for that celebration event. That was an idea that you want to think about what kinds of other things might the person wants to buy your product also be buying at a similar time maybe, and then piggy back on that opportunity.
I want you to be careful in thinking about what your goal of the proof is, because that’s really important, if your goal is to prove that the product has a fit, then that’s a great way to go about it. If the goal is to figure out whether or not you can get traction in marketability of something, then you have to dive into putting up a shop on Etsy, putting up a shop on Amazon or putting up a shop in whatever place that you feel is best fit for your product and seeing if you can access that and drive traffic there and gain organic, as well as a purposeful traffic. You’re building it directly because that may not happen. That’s the harder part than finding out whether or not your product is good already. If you’ve gone out and done some demographic testing of it, we’ve talked about going into a nonprofit group and checking it out with them, then you may already have a good indication. You feel that the product is strong, but the marketing access and whether the marketing access is even going to pay attention to your product is the key. It’s not about a good product, it is about whether you can capture their attention and the attention of their dollar, which even if there’s no competition for their product, there’s always competition for that dollar.
You’ve got to think how you’re going to make that emotional connection with the consumer to get them to give up their money for your product. You have to really dial into that valid reason. It’s tricky to do. We’re not marketers. We’re not the best to help you dial that. We use experts. That’s why we hire experts to help us with that. There are two types of testing, it’s market testing and product testing. When you’re testing your product and your features, that’s one thing. When you’re testing your market reach, that’s another. We talked about this before actually in the 3D print world. The ring cam was a great product where they tested the product, where they gave that product away pretty much to a bunch of guys who were getting ready to propose, engaged, and they got product feedback and product testing and testimonials and a lot of data and feedback on how to make it work. That was one way that they did that and they 3D printed that at that stage and made that prototypes by hand. They didn’t make a tremendous amount.
They learned a valuable lesson because originally they thought that they were going to sell these ring camera boxes to people that were going to propose and that was a much more expensive proposition. They ended up finding out that that caused that that price that they were asking people to pay to buy the product was too high and not very many people were going to do it and they came up with the concept of renting it. It didn’t convert, so they came up with the idea of where you are going to be able to capture the market the fastest. Keep in mind these guys did not come up with this themselves. They hired a sales expert, a guy we know called the Byers Group, Michael Byers, an amazing guy who’s had a tremendous history in creating sales traction and he said the fastest way for us to accelerate this is for you to go and partner with the jewelry shops because that’s where all your customers are going and it’s not in competition because it’s not a piece of jewelry, so they may be more happy to do that, so then they created a couple of these pop up displays, discovered that the price point was a little too high from that model and then went to a rental model from there on. Now it got its own salesforce, its own traction. They didn’t have to invest in that, so that was such a smart method of doing it but they did it because they were testing the product and then testing the market reach.
They ended up discovering that the jewelry stores could sell it for them and they’re able to have a couple markets. They could sell the products to the jewelry stores. The jewelry stores would then loan them out or rent them out depending on how they want to do their business. The customer ended up not being necessarily the end consumer, although they do that on their website. They will rent them now themselves to you from anywhere, but you could make it be a branded special. Jewelry shops are a local market in the US. There are local jewelry shops everywhere. This is not something you normally buy online. You go and look at it and you may develop a relationship with a jeweler so they tend to trust them. Have that same sales force out there help sell your product or even buy your product and they rent it out. There are lots of opportunities. They discovered different ways to reach their market and it was all through doing some initial testing with 3D printed version of their product. They refined the product and how they were going to reach the customer.
If you had imagined that they had spent all that money diving in and creating a $20,000 sales and rental website themselves and doing this high-end thing and then discover that nobody came, you had nobody buying it, that would have been a travesty of expenses. The reality is that because they did this very low budget, very cost conscious and went about it very slowly and involve the experts in an area where they didn’t feel comfortable, they felt comfortable with the product and the tech that they did not feel comfortable with the sales and marketing, so they brought in someone who serve them well. We hope that helps.
Even though it’s a 3D printing podcast, there is a blog post related to it, that’s a great lesson of a business strategy, a growing business with a brand-new invention product and how they went about doing it. I don’t want to paint the picture that they did it right from the get-go. They had some successful failures and pivoted along the way but the point is they hired experts, figured out what those pivots needed to be, found their proper market, found their proper sales models, and now have gone into business in a significant way and they’re doing a great job of it. I liked the example as well because it’s not a traditional market. It’s not throwing something up on Amazon, which is not a bad place to test a product, but it has to be the right product for that channel. If you’re just on Amazon and not do some marketing things with it, then you’re not helping yourself at all.
Amazon, you can’t put it up there and expect that Amazon’s going to bring the customers. That takes work in many different areas. We have some experts that we work with to help dial that in and we’ve talked about that a little bit on a past hang out and we’re going to be talking about that more in the Advantage Mastermind event. It comes down to seeking out and hiring the right expert to help you with what you don’t know, so it’s super critical. I like where this has gone. That’s useful information. The Google Hangout thing seems to be working okay.
We will be back with you and we’ll give you a recap of how things went with the event and whether or not we’re going to continue to the next level and hopefully some of you guys will be able to join us. Reach out to us over Facebook. You can ask any questions. If you’re a serious inventor, you have an idea and you want someone else to help make that idea reality, you have to be a serious inventor and very passionate. You want to accelerate this. You want to get to market. This is for those that want to launch. You might want to launch it to licensing. It doesn’t have to be launching to being on the shelf. You don’t have to want to create a whole vertical company around it, but you also can’t be expecting someone else to do it all for you and that they’ll pay to do it all for you. It doesn’t work that way in reality. You need to be serious about making it happen and maybe spending some amounts of money but in the right ways. That’s what we’re going to talk about.[Tweet “You’ve got to think how to make that emotional connection with the consumer to get them to buy”]
We see a lot of people who come through who have spent tons of money at InventHelp and Edison Nation and all of these other things and you guys haven’t gotten anywhere. I’m always like, “Is your patent issued?” “They issued it two years ago.” “You’re still trying to get this marketed? It’s probably out of market by now. You’ve passed your prime waiting for it to happen. How much money did you spend?” “I’ve spent $50,000 or $25,000,” or whatever. I’ve met a couple people spend $120,000.
There’s nothing wrong with spending $25,000, $50,000 or even $100,000 in the right ways to achieve your goals. It may need to happen but make sure you learn enough to know what you don’t know, that you’re spending it in the right ways, in the right place. This is going to accelerate you and lead you to where you want to go. That’s what we’re going to be detailing for you, how to make sure you’re not getting taken advantage of but are accelerating your project, how you make those decisions along the way.
- Tracy’s Inc column
- John Livesay
- Jill Lublin
- Michael Byers
- Hazz Design’s Facebook
- Edison Nation
About The Authors
An inventor with 37 patents and an unprecedented 86% success rate for consumer product designs, Tom Hazzard has been rethinking brand innovation to design in success for over 25 years. Tom’s patented innovations provide entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes a system to spread their brand, grow valuable consumers, and diversify into higher converting revenue streams without a lot of time, cost or effort. Tom is co-host of the Forbes-featured fast growth WTFFF?! 3D Printing podcast as well as host of two new podcasts, Feed Your Brand & Product Launch Hazzards borne out of his core business, Hazz Design, where he has designed and developed over 250 products that generate $2 Billion in revenue for retail and e-commerce clients.