Inventions help make our lives easier. However, some of the best products never make it to market. If you’ve invented a product that you’re anxious to introduce to the world, one of your toughest challenges will be finding a vehicle for promotion and distribution.
The Cheat Sheet spoke with Joanne Domeniconi, co-founder and chief discovery officer at The Grommet, for tips on how to pitch a new product. The Grommet, launched in 2008, has had plenty of inventor success stories. Some inventors have seen their business take off after selling their wares on the site. The Grommet team worked with James Park during the early stages of Fitbit, as well as Debbie Sterling, inventor of GoldieBlox.
While Domeniconi offers tips for pitching products to The Grommet, these nuggets of wisdom can be used as a general guideline for how to successfully market a new product. Here are four tips for perfecting your pitch.
1. Have a complete product
Before you market your product, make sure it is finished and ready for distribution. Generally, an idea is not enough to secure a distribution deal.
“One of the things you need to have is a market-ready product. A lot of people pitch ideas to us, but that is not really our business. Our business is to help grow a business that is already formed. Your product must be manufactured and ready. If you haven’t figured out your manufacturing and you don’t have any inventory in your warehouse, we are not going to be able to help you. We get paid by selling your product. That’s a wonderful thing, because we are very much aligned. We are going to create a wonderful story about your product and tease out why it’s important, why it’s distinctive, and why a consumer may be interested in purchasing it,” said Domeniconi.
2. Emphasize innovation
Express what makes your product different from the rest. How can your invention approach an old problem in a brand new way? What makes your offering so amazing that a company feels like they need to make it available to their audience? Once you can effectively convey what makes your invention different from the rest, you’re off to a good start.
“The strength of our business is the products. We are looking at 200 to 300 ideas a week, and not all of them are strong, but when we do find a strong idea, it makes our platform very valuable. We are interested in innovation. We are searching for interesting, unique, innovative, and distinctive ideas — products that are going to change the world. And changing the world means the product might be sustainably manufactured or ecofriendly. We’re looking for products that are going to make your life better, easier, or more connected,” said Domeniconi.
3. Have a clear brand message
It is necessary for you to develop your brand’s identity and message so that consumers and potential clients can understand why they need your product. What problem is your product aiming to solve? Your ability to make the sale will rest partly on how well you can express the need for what you have to offer.
“If a customer understands how an innovative product would be relevant in their life, it’s powerful. If they don’t understand it and they can’t make that connection to it, they will just gloss right over it. People are busy; they don’t have time to read the label and figure it out. The attention span of today’s consumers is very short. The Grommet is trying to cross that chasm of understanding so that consumers get it. In our product videos, we try to get the message across of why a product is important, how to use it, and why it might be relevant,” said Domeniconi.
4. Follow directions
Some organizations have specific rules for how they will accept submissions. It’s important that you respect their guidelines so you can improve your chance of getting your product reviewed.
“If you want to get in front of The Grommet, the best way to do that is to submit your idea on our site. Under the Citizen’s Commerce tab, there’s a page that says “Become a Grommet.” Our team gets many submissions each year, so you need to be thoughtful about how you pitch us. It’s important to let our team know what makes your product distinctive and special. Between our own outreach, in addition to inbound submissions, we look at about 200 to 300 new products every week. We get inbound submissions but we’re also watching the crowdfunding platforms. We ask people to send samples of their work, and we review between 30 and 50 samples a week. We have a taskforce responsible for specific categories,” said Domeniconi.
Don’t neglect to showcase a new product on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe. Domeniconi says The Grommet has discovered up-and-coming entrepreneurs through sites like these. However, remember that it’s in your best interest to make sure your product is market-ready before you attempt to introduce it to the world.