You may be sitting with issued patent in hand, wondering exactly where to begin in your marketing efforts. In last month’s article, I discussed how to prepare your list of companies to contact and the importance of professional marketing materials. Once you have those components, you can ready your thoughts for how to approach each conversation with decision makers.
Know Your Audience and Prepare Accordingly
When making initial contact with a decision-maker, think about your audience. A company that is reviewing your product will be primarily interested for one reason—they believe it will make them money. Value to the community, contribution to man-kind, public perception are all ancillary benefits that may tip the scale for them, but without something they feel is financially viable, the initial investment of time and capital is unlikely to happen. There are a number of ways that you can quantify the value of your product to a company. When at all possible, obtain manufacturing quotes from various production methods. When you’re in discussions with a potential licensor, the more information you can provide (and the less they subsequently have to do), the better. For example, if your product is made of plastic—get manufacturing quotes for 1 unit, 500 units, 1000 units, 2500 units with traditional manufacturing (say, injection-molding) and also 3d printing. A prototype is not necessary to get a licensing agreement, but any additional information you can provide may give you the edge up on your competition. For smaller orders, it’s almost always cheaper to go with 3D printing, so look around at your options before committing.
Obtaining your manufacturing cost information will also allow you to get a rough estimate of expected price. This number can and will change, but it’s another piece of information. Be sure when communicating with potential licensors that you differentiate between the wholesale and retail cost, as to not to unnecessarily dissuade from investing. You should also wait to be asked to provide the information. The manufacturing costs for a company could vary from your estimate widely depending on if they have current product with similar manufacturing requirements, and with economies of scale, the costs you would get as an individual may be quite different.
Be Aware of your Product Category
Finally, be aware and up-to-date on your product category. If you’re speaking with a company, you should be very familiar with their product offering, as well as the offerings of other large competitors. They may have other items that meet the same needs, so what makes your product a better solution? How is your invention version 2.0, so to speak? If you can answer those questions with ease, you’ll be ready for most questions a potential licensor may ask.