Anyone can make a pitch but will it stick? What are the keys to success?

Pitchmen is new hit TV show on Discovery Channel. Anthony “Sully” Sullivan continues to make inventors’ dreams come true after the sudden death of his longtime friend Billy Mays. Sully looks to give everyday inventors an opportunity to make their pitch with simple solutions to common problems.

It all comes down to the product you are inventing. What is the secret sauce for an invention to become an infomercial hit? Answer these questions.

1. Does It Solve A Common Problem?

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.

Steer away from a “prevention product”. People pay for solutions; they don’t pay to avoid a problem they may never have. Who enjoys buying insurance?

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.

It has to be FAB

A good tool to help you make an effective pitch is a FAB. Feature-Advantage-Benefit. Here’s an example. Let’s look at a Thermos bottle.

•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: Re-sealable 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.

Give it a shot. Come up with an invetion and pitch it. You have nothing to loose.

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