The Invention Addict 12 Step Program to Invent—Going from Inspiration to Innovation.

This is a series of posts on the 12 steps how to invent a product. A DIY class for Inventors.

The seventh step is PRODUCTIZATION – “The act of modifying something, such as a concept or a tool internal to an organization, to make it suitable as a commercial product.” (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/productization )

My definition: doing what does it takes to make a great product. This is the refinement part. You have your concept and made a prototype to get an idea if it will work or not. Now comes the nitty-gritty. If your idea does not make it through this phase, fear not, more ideas will come to you. As you refine your skills, you will be able to weed out the weaker ideas earlier on. This will make your effort more efficient. You’ll take fewer ideas futher along but the quality of the idea will be much better.

A good place to start is to read my post on the 4 P’s of marketing. But there s so much more to making a good product, To ensure successes you should try to tailor your product to meet the following criteria:

  1. Does It Solve A Common Problem?
    This should have been answered in the frustration step. You want to make sure your invention is a simple, inexpensive solution to a problem that challenges or annoys millions. There are over 300M people in the US alone so why not think big.  If your product save labor, time, or money you are on the right track. Think about how you can help people avoid common boring, messy chores.
  2. Does It Have Mass Market Appeal?
    The more universal the appeal, the better off you are. Avoid any features that would exclude a segment of your market. If you product is a new sports bra, you just cut you potential market in half. People have different interests. Sure you may love golf but golfers are fraction of the US market.
  3. Is you invention something obvious that people “get it” right away. You don’t want to have to explain with numerous pictures and lots of steps how it works. It has to have that WOW factor to capture people’s attention. Simple is good when simple is an elegant solution to a tough problem.
  4. Does It Have Room for a 5x Markup? If you take the cost to product the product and multiply by 5, this will be your final retail cost. How does it compare  to other products on the market? This requirement is not as daunting as it sounds, since mass production at overseas plants can help keep costs down.
  5. Does It Have Perceived High Value? Pitchmen always want to make potential customers feel like they are getting a great value for their money. This is why a pitch typically includes a line like “a $60 value all for only $19.99!” How do you make this convincing? By succeeding at all the requirements above. It’s been proven time and again that consumers will almost automatically impart a higher value to products that “solve a common problem” with minimum effort, even if the products are obviously made from simple materials with a simple design. Clever solutions that offer surprising results almost always earn a high value rating.

FAB

A good tool to help you figure this out is a FAB. Feature-Advantage-Benefit. Here’s and example. Let’s look at a Thermos.

  • Feature: Two piece canister
  • Advantage: The air pocket between the two canisters provides thermal insulation
  • Benefit: Keeps hot foods like soup or coffee hot
  • Feature: Screw Top Lid
  • Advantage: Resealable container
  • Benefit: Won’t leak if laid sideways or upside down
  • Feature: Plastic Cover Cap
  • Advantage: Cup shaped cover with handle lets use the cover as a cup
  • Benefit: Don’t need to bring a cup to enjoy your soup or coffee

It can be tricky, you may think the feature is the same as the advantage or the advantage is the same as the benefit. They are not. A feature is a physical component of the invention. THe advantage is what does it do. If it were not there, what would be missing. What does the feature do. The benefit it what does the advantage offer to the end user.

Sell Sheets

My interpretation of a sell sheet it this. A single sheet that conveys to a prospective licensee the essence of your product. I include these four elements in my sell sheets.

  • Name of the Product
  • Tagline
  • The Problem
  • The Solution (this is your one sentence that conveys the benefit)
  • How it Works
  • Benefits
  • Graphic of the product (photograph or a 3-D rendering)
  • Contact Information

Summary
Here are the 12 steps to invent a product:
1. Realization
2. Frustration
3. Ideation
4. Exploration
5. Investigation
6. Simulation
7. Productization
8. Confirmation
9. Communication
10. Conversation
11. Negotiation
12. Celebration

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