Don Debelak offers affordable patents www.patentsbydondebelak.com
I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the biggest tactics you need to pursue in order to be a successful inventor is to know your market, and to have contacts in your market that can help you. Most inventors don’t do this and they struggle. But learning and making contacts in your target market is something every inventor should be able to do. I’ve laid out the steps in this post, plus I’ve listed a group of questions at the end that inventors can use to start conversations with potential contacts.
- Find Your Trade Magazines
There are many types of magazines, such as news, consumer and entertainment magazines. Trade magazines are a special category and are not generally available to the public. Bicycle Retail and Industry News is an example of a trade magazine, which targets component suppliers, bicycle manufacturers, bicycle retailers, distributors, sales agents and anyone else in the supply chain for bicycles. You can find trade magazines by simply doing an Internet search for your trade magazines and your industry.
Now in addition to articles about industry news, and new developments in the industry, trade magazines also publish a directory about once a year of everyone involved in each category, for instant brake component manufactures, headlight manufactures and sales organizations. For inventors of bicycle inventions, this is a target list of companies to contact.
Inventors can also get a list of contacts at those companies from articles on industry news, and from news on who has been hired or promoted. But especially helpful is a section on new products or other offerings from companies where inventors can request information. Typically a salesperson will contact them and an inventor can start a conversation to learn more about the industry, and to develop a contact that might be helpful in the future.
- Find Your Trade Shows
Trade Magazines often sponsor industry trade shows, or at a minimum will list what trade shows are coming up. Inventors have a lot gain by being an attendee (that is someone without a booth) prior to launching their invention. Trade shows are not meant for the public, but typically you can attend if you state you are an inventor with a new product that you expect to launch in the next year.
Trade shows are full of potential contacts for you, if you plan on introducing your idea, or if you plan on licensing it. Your primary goal at a trade show is to learn the industry and to make contacts that help you in the future. There are a few facts about trade shows that make them very useful
- The booths are typically not busy for the first hour of the show, and the last one to one and half hour of the show. People at booths will often be happy to talk you when they are not busy.
- Booths are typically not busy the last day of the show, so you can make contacts with bored exhibitors
- Trade shows almost have a welcoming reception the first evening of the show where you mingle with contacts and find people who might support you.
- Trade shows have large tables, seating eight to 10 people at their refreshment areas. When the show is busy, sit at those tables and then talk to people who come and sit at the table and drink their coffee or eat their lunch.
The overall impact is that you have many people to talk to who can be a big help to you in the future, who will have time to talk to you and you can a large number of business cards. Normally you might also develop a rapport with four to five contacts who could become you industry inside help.
- Nurture Your Contacts
Once you have a promising contact you need to keep in touch every three or four months. You can do this with updates on your progress. But if you have nothing to report, you should still send an email. You can use the industry news to pick out an email topic. Examples might be “What do you think of the new transmission product from xxx Company” or “what do you think of the sales agreement between XXX and YYY companies.”
- Conversation Points
New inventors may not have a ready list of questions or comments to get the conversation going so I’m offering some conversation starting points to use.
Hi, I am the inventor of a bicycle product for pet owners and I hope to launch my product next year at the show. I’m trying to get a better understanding of how the industry works and wondered if I could ask you a few questions.
How long has your company been in business?
How did your company start out?
Has your company had any recent new products?
How does your company sell its products?
Are there many inventor led companies in the industry? Are there any that have started within the last five years?
Are there leading companies in the bike accessory market, or is it dominated by distributors?
What do you like best about the industry?
Are there things about the industry that you don’t like?
Does the industry have a lot of new products?
Do you feel this is a good time to be introducing a new product?
Do you know of any products that were licensed by a company from an inventor?
Feel free then to ask questions that flow from your conversation.
Someone post on by Facebook page that few inventors succeed. Which may be true, even though many do succeed. But my comment is that few inventors do all the work they need to do to succeed. Don’t be one of those inventors who stops short of full effort for success. The steps I’ve outlined here take time and effort, and there is an expense of attending a trade show. But succeeding without industry helpers is difficult, and if you want success, go all the way, and create your industry help.