You’ve got a great idea for a product. You know who you want to market to and have found a manufacturer to help you make the prototypes.
Before you start branding and marketing your product, you’d be wise to learn about intellectual property.
Disclaimer - I am not a lawyer, you should consult an attorney who specializes in patents and trademarks. But I have found that the clients who do a bit of homework before they meet with their attorney are more prepared and ask more informed questions.
It is surprising how often a company will want to get a logo designed before there has been any trademark or service mark search and after they’ve spent all the time to tweak the logo (as well as the budget set aside to develop it), they find out they can’t use the name or design because it’s too similar to another mark. Don’t let this happen to you!
Before You Market It, Protect It
Do you know the difference between a Patent, Trademark and Copyright?
1) A patent only protects your idea in the country that you’ve filed it and only for a specified amount of time.
2) A trademark protects the word or symbol you use (like a logo or name) to trade the product or service. It can last indefinitely as long as you continue to use it.
Even before going to market many companies are trying to get some funding in order to create their dream. Communicating the value proposition with the angels and the venture capital group is critical to getting the funds needed to do the launch.
Yesterday I attended an entrepreneurship pitch for Archangels (they do four a year) where 6 companies gave a quick powerpoint explaining what their company does, why their team is the best, how they out do the nearest competition, what their exit strategy is, how much funding they need and what the payback would be. Great stuff.
It’s very obvious that communication is critical in a situation like this. You only have a few minutes. You want to capture the attention and the emotions of the room. The tendency is to tell too many details and history… and rely on the audience to “get it.” The companies that did the best were the ones who got to the heart of the matter the quickest. And connected with the group.
I loved to see each presenter’s style. It was obvious who was comfortable and practiced in front and which entrepreneurs were new to the game. (Raising the remote toward the screen to advance the slide like it was the television set at home is a dead give away that the individual was a novice presenter. Meanwhile, throwing a clever joke slide into the deck, that also had some real meaning, helped another individual connect with the audience in a quick way.)
One group in particular had a wonderful product and made sense money wise, but just was not able to communicate the value proposition to the group. I think they really had the “big” idea of the afternoon, but due to a complex subject and an entry level powerpoint with the default white background and black boring font, I bet that they are overlooked as the next big thing. It made them look like beginners, not the experts that they actually are.
Loved the way one other group incorporated a video testimonial into their powerpoint. That presentation rocked!
Lots of area students were at the presentation in the back of the room. A great way for the next generation to see how its done and learn what not to do as well.
A few weeks ago, I met Greg Getzinger when I was talking with a group of about 35 entrepreneurs as part of a business speaker series to help new business owners learn more about branding and marketing their business. Greg is the owner of Portion Padl, a new product that helps people cut a pizza into exact sizes.
He has used a number of innovative techniques to market his unique product (which has been submitted to the patent office) to other businesses who are in the Pizza delivery industry.
ADVERTISING SPECIALTY: By working with the largest national distributor of frozen pizzas to school systems he created a custom made paddle and imprinted the handle with distributor’s logo as an advertising specialty item as a prize in a rewards program for dietitians. The schools loved the product! Next thing Greg knew, the schools were calling to find out where they could get more portion paddles. Most important takeaway: Instead of marketing to all the individual schools all over the country, he was able to market once to the largest distributor and get sampling through an advertising specialty program.
YOUTUBE: He has almost 2000 views of his product in a pizza video on YouTube that shows the benefits of using the product. Using simple editing techniques, he was able to superimposed text to point out the benefits to pizza shop owners of using the product. (First Day Employees Cut Equal Sizes of Pizza Easily.)
PRESS RELEASES: He’s used a variety of milestones as the headline for his press releases and distributed them on the internet.
PROMOTIONAL PLACEMENT: The product received promotional placement by starring in a Speedway Commercial which helps build awareness of the new product.
Community entrepreneurs from Northeast Ohio are invited to the seventh annual free entrepreneurship event at Kent State University. Hosted by the CEBI, the Center for Excellence and Business Innovation, the event features the founder of Priceline Jeff Hoffman and motivating leadership speaker Nobby Lewandosk among the many speakers and workshop sessions.
College and high school students are the focus of the first day of the event on Wednesday, but community entrepreneurs and college students who are interested in starting and growing a business are invited to participate in the programs.
I received an email today with a request to tell my readers about a unique, new campaign launch that offers an emerging business the opportunity to win a business JumpStart with $100,000 in agency services from Blue Collar Interactive.
I skip over most of the requests I receive for pushing out information to readers, but I thought this may be of interest:
The JumpStart campaign aims to award one deserving emerging company with $100K in agency services in exchange for a creative, online pitch. They select three finalists who demonstrates the greatest need by delivering the most compelling pitch and the public will vote on the winner. The deadline for submissions is Oct. 26, 2012, with the Top 5 Finalists selected and announced for the public to vote on shortly thereafter.