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It’s finally done. The cool new product of yours that only recently was just an idea, is finally a reality. You took all the right steps: researched the market and intellectual property, carefully designed the details with manufacturing costs and logistics in mind, and even identified some potential manufacturers and/or licensees. Now, by way of drawings, compelling text, 3D graphics, a finished prototype or any combination of these, you finally have a completed product you’re proud of and can’t wait to start showing it to companies on your wish list. You have all the materials, but are you truly ready?
We recently had an inventor who came to us looking for help licensing her product. She had a marketing package prepared by one of those “big” invention companies which she paid a small fortune for and felt it was just what she needed to sell her idea. It consisted of many pages of “stuff” which included generic market stats, fancy patent search language, a long and wordy product description, and multiple 3D graphic images that were average at best. Also included was some background info on the inventor herself. It was all put together using a dated looking scheme and font that was actually depressing to review - definitely not the effect you want to have. (Side note: there are too many of you spending way too much for these types of packages. You don’t need to!) Unless the company reviewing it is willing to dig through all that in hopes of finding a hidden gem, it’s destined to go nowhere pretty fast.
What is essential to realize is that you only have one very small shot to make a great impression. Companies who are open to reviewing new products from independent inventors don’t have the time or desire to figure anything out. You need to catch their attention within the first few seconds, just as a magazine ad or billboard would catch yours. Such is the purpose of the mighty sell sheet.
A sell sheet is essentially a one page ad for your product and is designed to show the viewer what your product is and why it’s great, all very quickly. The most important goal of your sheet is conveying the benefit of your product – why it’s different, better, needed, etc. You can accomplish that with two basic components. The first is a short and to-the-point benefit statement. No one has time to read long descriptions, so the right benefit statement is critical. What makes your product something the company’s customers will like and want? Remember, you’re pitching to the company but ultimately it’s their customers they’ll be thinking of when they review it.
Next is an image of your product or what we like refer to as the “money shot.” It should clearly show the product, preferably in action, doing whatever it is that makes it awesome. You should try limiting it to one, but two is okay especially if there’s a before and after. High quality photos are great, but nice 3D graphics will also do the trick.
A great name for your product is also a plus, but don’t dominate the sheet with the name just because you think it sounds or looks great. You’re showcasing the product, not the name. You can also round out the content with other positive things about your product: patent status if you have any, a positive (but short) review or two, even a few bullet points highlighting cool features. And of course, don’t forget to include your contact info.
As far as overall look, check other similar items in your product’s category, or even better, in your target licensee’s arsenal. A familiar color and feel will create an immediate sense of comfort and help set the stage for a well-received impression.
Once you’re done, always take your sheet for a test ride first. Share it with others to see if they “get it” right away. Don’t be a prisoner in your own creative vacuum. Yes, you’re the expert of your product’s attributes, but the positive impression from others is the goal (especially from companies!), so strive for that. If someone doesn’t “get it,” don’t try to convince them or explain why they should have. Instead, look at what was missing and what you can do to change it. Criticism is tough but golden and using objective feedback to your advantage will help you achieve that perfect end result.
For more tips on sell sheets or if you need help creating one, reach out to us at Inventor Angels and we’ll be happy to help. You often get only one shot – make it count!
Glen Eckert, Inventor Angels