In the beginning, you will not know if your product will sell in the marketplace. There is no way to predict if a product will sell well.
Many people have tried and many people have failed to predict product sales. The US Patent and Trademark Office is filled with thousands of amazing product patents that never sold despite gallant and well-financed efforts. You must TEST, TEST and TEST your product to determine marketability. You do not want to spend a lot of money and time on a product if it will not sell. I recommend a three-to-six month trial period. If you put all your effort into a product for six months and have not at least covered your costs, then perhaps, you should move on to the next idea. On the other hand, if you have covered your cost up to that point, and the product shows great potential based on results and reactions by customers, then you should proceed at full speed and from that point on do not take “no” for an answer. Give it one hundred percent of your effort.
The first step in bringing a new product to market is to sell or even give away some of your products. Ask for feedback. Generally, people will give their opinions freely about products. Your family is a good source for advice, but remember at this stage those closest to you may tell you what you want to hear. You need feedback from customers and potential customers. If you start to hear things like, “I wish I thought of that,” “You’re going to sell a million of these,” and “You’re going to be a millionaire,” you may have a successful product on your hands.
My plan was to wear, give away, and sell as many of my initial order of 200 pins as I could. Then I sat back and waited to see if people would contact me for more. I thought of this as a trial period to determine if I wanted to invest the time and money to start a business based on my new invention. During this time, I began to read as many books as I could about marketing, patents, trademarks, and small business. All of our 200 pins were sold or given away in a short time and my cost was more than covered.
Within 3 weeks, several dozen people who wanted more CLIPEZE Badge Holders contacted me. I then had 500 CLIPEZE pins manufactured. Again, about 2 weeks later, several dozen more people called me wanting more. I cut the trial period short and manufactured 1,000 badge holder pins. By then, I had completed reading many business books and applied for and received my local, state and federal business permits and licenses required for a home business. At this point, I had enough earnings to buy a new computer and put up a web site. Remember, this was 1995 and not many companies were on the web. I found a friend who had made a web site for his church, and he was happy to set up a site for CLIPEZE for free. Today, many sites, such as http://www.godaddy.com/, have templates to make your own web site construction much easier and for very little cost.
For the first year, our web site was just a basic billboard type of site that only had our name, address and phone numbers and a picture or two of the product, but I was on the web! Just being on the web in 1995 was like being a pioneer of a new technology!
Trade shows are wonderful for assessing your product’s ability to sell. Trade shows are expensive, but exhibiting at a show will allow you to directly explain your product and see and hear the reaction to your product. You get instant feedback.
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