Last week, I read an article on StartUpPrincess.com by Margie Zable Fisher called “How to Get Media Coverage for Your Product”.
Step #1 in Margie’s how-to? Have a great product.
Clearly, to get media coverage for your product, it’s gotta be a great product. She’s absolutely right about that.
Margie then goes on to list some of the elements of a great product–priced right, unique, visually appealing–but doesn’t spend a ton of time on it because her article is focused on getting media coverage for your product. I encourage you to read her article because it offers wonderful tips, and as a successful PR person, Margie knows what she’s talking about.
Reading this article reminded me of when I invented Swaddleaze and how exciting it was to take an idea and turn it into an actual product on store shelves.
It also reminded me of how easy it is to get burned by your lightbulb moment if you go into it blindly.
So, here are my steps to avoid getting burned by your lightbulb moment:
1. Google your idea to see if it already exists. If there’s already something like it on the market, would your invention be an improvement? Is the market big enough (read: would enough people buy your product) for both products?
When I attended the JPMA trade show two years ago, there was a guy who’d “invented” a neoprene bottle cover that kept baby bottles cool. My sister & I (and everyone who saw his sketch) didn’t have the heart to tell him that his “invention” had been on the market for years.
2. Search the U.S. Patent & Trademark Organization. Do a “quick search” under both “issued patents” and “patent applications”. Do you see anything here that looks & sounds like your idea? Again, even if you do, it doesn’t mean that your product can’t be brought to market–it’s just great to be aware of competitors early on in the game.
3. Ask your family & friends for their honest opinion about your idea–and don’t be paranoid about them stealing it. Most people don’t have the time, money or energy to develop a product.
Would they buy it? How much would they pay for it? Would they make any improvements? Where would they go to purchase it? If you have a prototype, let them try it. My husband’s coworker tried a Swaddleaze sample on his twins and he was the one who discovered Swaddleaze’s second use as a sleep sack!
4. Consider presenting your idea to key people in the industry, like retail buyers, advertising executives or the CEO of a company that might make a product like yours. Bring a non-disclosure form to protect your idea. Hearing feedback from unbiased people will give you a better look at your product’s future AND it may create opportunities for you early on (licensing, selling your idea, exclusive deals, etc.).
5. Surround yourself with support. Read books about people who’ve done it before. Visit websites for inventors. Join an online community for mom entrepreneurs. And know that I’m always here to help.
Following these steps will help you get started with your eyes open and will prevent you from getting burned by your lightbulb moment.