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Improving the Odds by Professionalizing Your Presentation

By Stephen Paul Gnass

Dear Innovator,
I hope you enjoy this article about making presentations to VIPs, and find it useful with your inventing path. Wishing you success with your invention.

Sincerely, Stephen Paul Gnass
Founder, InventionConvention.com
Executive Director, National Congress of Inventor Organizations (NCIO)

This article is for the personal and educational use of the subscriber. It may be emailed to friends and family only in its entirety. Commercial Use: This article is copyrighted intellectual property, and no part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without advance permission in writing from the publisher.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."
          Howard Aiken (1900-1973)

Improving the Odds by Professionalizing Your Presentation

By Stephen Paul Gnass

Having been in the invention field for so many years, I understand how important it is for inventors to get their products seen by a wide variety of "VIPs" [i.e. licensing agents, licensees, manufacturers, investors, distributors, etc.].

But I also know that in the inventor's initial enthusiasm and excitement, that the inventor has difficulties determining when it's the right time to send information, as well as how much or how little to send.

Unsolicited Mail

One thing that I've experienced, which is mostly done by beginning inventors, is the sending out of unsolicited invention materials by physical mail to VIPS [i.e. licensing agents, licensees, manufacturers, investors, distributors, etc.], without ever talking to them first. It's very much like email spam - but instead it's physical whether with postcards or a letter description of their invention, packages, or sample inventions.

Sometimes the product is only in the idea stage, and yet the beginning inventor is mailing out sketches with a description, without having talked to anyone first, and without being protected in any way.

There have even been times when I have received a registered letter from an inventor I've never spoken to before, which had confidential invention information. After opening it, and realizing what it was, I felt this put me in an awkward position, so now I don't accept registered packages from inventors that I don't know.

I personally believe and think that these unsolicited mailings are an intrusion on the VIP's time, and puts your invention materials into the category of junk mail, (unsolicited ) so it could quickly be tossed out as soon as it arrives.

There's always a small possibility that sending things unsolicited may work, but it's a real roll of the dice, and most often, has a negative effect and can set the inventor up for failure.

Obligating VIPs

Another thing I've seen is inventors making a VIP feel obligated when they send a VIP something that is of value to them, but that the VIP never requested. I've seen situations where the inventor was "MAD" and upset at a VIP who lost their prototype, product etc. It may have been the inventor's only prototype or a costly limited sample, but the inventor had sent it unrequested [i.e. unsolicited], and now the inventor was blaming the VIP for losing it. For this reason, some VIPs don't like to accept prototypes or any unsolicited products.

Too Much or Too Little

Sometimes the inventor sends the VIP contact too much information, and too soon. At other times, when it's the right time to send information, they may not send enough, or they don't send the right information.

So the question is what's too much, and what's too little? And when should you send your materials? Here are some tips that may be helpful to you.

In order to take a look at the scenario from the VIP's point of view, I feel that my recent experience as one of the judges for a new product hunt contest, illustrates well what VIPs go through when trying to review inventions.

Here Comes the Judge

I, along with the other judges, received the entries by e-mail, which had the inventor's contact information, the invention name, and a brief description of the invention. The entries that had a link to a web site or web page advertisement [like a cyber-exhibit on the InventionConnection.com], made the process much easier for me because I could just click on the link to find out more about the product and see pictures. I separated these inventions into a folder earmarked for immediate review.

However, I was surprised at how many inventors stated that they didn't have a web site or web page ad. It was difficult to understand these inventions from only the small descriptive paragraph without any visuals, which meant that I had to separate these inventions into another folder for manual follow up. Then I had to contact the inventor directly and request that he/she separately email me pictures, or when they didn't have pictures they could email, to send me materials by postal mail.

Now, with hundreds of entries, you can see how this became complicated. This added lots of administrative work for my support staff. First we had to wait for these materials to arrive, then we had to process them, label them, and match them up with the entries. Some inventors sent videos and I had to set aside time to watch the videos. Other inventors sent samples, and I had to dedicate time to view them, as well as make space to store the samples.

There was a timeframe for submitting entries for the contest, as well as for judging the inventions. My personal belief is that the entries that had a web site and/or web page ad were geared to make the job the easiest for the judges. Keeping in mind that each of these judges were simultaneously busy with their careers and lives outside of the contest, I think that by default, some of the inventions that were too cumbersome and time-intensive for the time-crunched judges to review, might have inadvertently been left out.

So what's the point? Well, VIPs go through a similar process that I just described. Although they don't usually have to review so many inventions all at once, they're busy with their careers, and they have numerous details and obligations to handle each day.

Keeping the VIP in mind

Even though you may feel that you're presenting VIPs with an opportunity that could be extremely valuable for both parties, you'll want to make it as easy as possible for the VIP to take a look at your product. You're probably not the only inventor or project that they're involved with, so you might want to follow some rules of protocol, of etiquette. For example, take into consideration what the best presentation format is for the VIP, and make sure that you don't create extra work for the VIP, or an obligation that he/she feels required to fulfill.

Remember that VIPs are real people, just like you and me, with their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. I know some VIPs who prefer to view videos, while others like to see the actual invention itself. Some like information to be faxed to them. Still others, like to see inventions on the web, like a web site, either your own or a web site advertisement, like the Invention Connection® cyber-booth etc., before getting more detailed information.

What's the Best Presentation Medium?

I've found that it's a personal thing, determined by what the invention is, where the inventor is at in the invention process, and what the inventor is trying to achieve.

One of the things I do with my clients, is to brainstorm to help them determine which medium helps to best explain how their product functions. Some presentation styles are better suited to some types of inventions. For example, a video may be the best way to explain how a certain product works. At other times, sending a prototype or sample may be the best way to demonstrate it. I like to help my clients see all their options, and the many ways a presentation can be developed for little or no money.

With so many people are on the internet now, my personal favorite medium is a web site and web page ad i.e. a cyber-show ad. Almost everyone can send and receive emails, and see web sites. I think it's a great tool for inventors. Then, if the VIPs are interested in pursuing discussions, you can find out what they need, and upon their request, send them those items.

The Difference Between a Web Site and Web Page Ad

In regards to people who have a web site, I've found that there is confusion about what the difference is between a web site and a web page ad. I often explain that a web site is very much like a brochure, it's something you send out to people that you're contacting. Unless you do a great deal of promotion for your web site, for most inventors, it will be one out of millions of web sites on the internet, like a needle in a haystack. So many times, the only people who will see it and know about it, are the ones that you have sent the link to.

On the other hand, a web page ad is an advertisement on a venue that features inventions, like the Invention Connection® Cyber-show, where VIPs come searching for inventions. It should have a professionally written description, along with pictures, what the inventor is seeking, and the inventors contact information. I often explain to my clients that showcasing an invention is essential in order to be seen by the incognito VIPs that are actively looking for new products.

But that to increase the odds of success, inventors should both proactively seek VIPs, as well as display their invention in places where VIPs can find them. Exhibiting with a web page ad [i.e. cyber-booth] is a professional tool to let VIPs know that your invention is available for license, sale, etc.

Bottom line, if you're hoping to have better receptivity when dealing with VIPs, try to think about the VIPs who will be viewing your invention, and their time constraints, when developing your presentation materials. Following these guidelines for social graces, and tailoring your presentation to the VIP, will hopefully make the inventing environment a little better for everyone.

I wish you good luck and Godspeed.
Stephen Paul Gnass

Stephen Paul Gnass is founder of InventionConvention.com, Executive Director of the National Congress of Inventor Organizations [NCIO] and an inventors advocate. Mr. Gnass speaks on the subject of the "Business of Inventing" [tm] and has had his articles reprinted in various magazines. As Senior Consultant with the Gnass Group, he consults independent inventors and small businesses. He can be emailed at gnass@businessofinventing.com or visit www.businessofinventing.com

A SPECIAL NOTE: Complimentary Brainstorm:
If you're further along the path of inventing and are ready to launch your product, and need assistance in determining whether to license your idea or build a company around your invention, I'll more then happy to offer you a Complimentary Brainstorm, no obligation. For a Complimentary Brainstorm, please be sure to include your phone number with area code and your time zone with the best times to call you back in your email. Sincerely Stephen Paul Gnass

I offer additional brainstorming as part of the cyber-exhibiting program. Or, if you have special projects or problems and you need brainstorming, I also offer consulting on retainer on a sliding scale. ***************************************

This article is for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal counsel or financial services. The information provided is accurate to the best of our knowledge, and we are not liable for any omissions or incorrect information. It is the responsibility of the reader to verify any legal information with appropriate professionals. If you need specific legal assistance, we recommend that you contact an attorney or accountant.

Privacy Statement:
Please note that your contact information will not be sold or shared with other organizations for commercial purposes. However, as part of the subscription, you may receive periodic e-mailings from us with press releases or information about products and services that we think may be of interest to you. ***************************************

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..Invention Connection[r] Cyberspace Convention

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Contents, Layout, Style and Source Code Copyright 2003-2010. Stephen Paul Gnass. All rights reserved.

This article is for the personal and educational use of the subscriber. It may be emailed to friends and family only in its entirety. Commercial Use: This article is copyrighted intellectual property, and no part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without advance permission in writing from the publisher.


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