You've got a new invention idea. That's great news!

But, how do you know if this idea is a “Hero… or a Zero,” to quote Lori Greiner?

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Read on.

Question 1: Why would anyone buy your product?

Doesn't this question seem sarcastic? Not at all. It changes your perspective from you to everyone else.

I think my idea or product is great, but would everyone else think it is great? Then, dig several levels deeper into your questioning.

What specific problem would it solve for them? People don't buy a drill because they like electric tools, they buy a drill because they need to make a hole. They actually need to make several holes for some kind of a project. That's why they buy the drill.

Start with this question and then dig deeper – this will often reveal what you thought to be a hero idea to, to in fact, be a zero. Let me illustrate.

When I was researching patents for my thin wallet, I came across an unusual wallet patent that I had never seen anywhere in the marketplace. When you opened the otherwise ordinary wallet up, it had a series of printed questions on different parts of the wallet, such as “do you really want to charge this on your credit card?” “Isn't your credit debt already too high?” You get the point.

It seems the inventor had a lot of credit card debt and felt the wallet would be a great tool for others with too much debt. But, she never really asked, “Why would anyone buy this product?” except on a very superficial level. People in debt do not want constant reminders of the choices that got them into that situation; and, those with good credit, have no need for such a product.┬áThe reality is that no one would buy her wallet

Sadly, she spent thousands of dollars patenting a product no one would ever buy, simply because she didn't ask this simple question.

I want you to avoid that mistake!

Question 2: Who, specifically, would buy my invention?

It is important to view your product idea more broadly and recognize that very few products sell to everyone. Men don't buy purses or skirts, but women do. The good news is your invention doesn't have to sell to everyone, just millions of people who need to solve a particular problem (see question 1 above).

There is a unique DRTV product (direct response TV) called the Sock Slider.

This invention makes it very easy for someone with limited range of motion (like those with back pain or physical disabilities) to be able to put on their own socks. Most people don't need this product, but there are millions who do need it. My dad would have loved it. When you dig deeper into your questioning, you uncover the big reason why people would buy it: not simply to enable them to put on their own socks; but to finally overcome their feelings of humiliation because they are dependent on others to accomplish this simple daily task.

Always ask yourself the logical follow on question: what other choices do they currently have? If they have a lot of choices already, why would they rush out to buy your product?

Question 3: Would they “get it” immediately?

Often when I ask an inventor to describe his invention, two minutes later, he is still talking. That is a bad sign.

Remember, buyers and licensees aren't engineers – they don't want to know every detail as to how you developed prototypes along the journey.

They want to hear your 30-second commercial – what are the key benefits of your invention. What problem does it solve, what makes it better than other similar products? For my thin wallet, now called Wonder Wallet, I would simply say that “it is half as thick, holds twice as many cards, yet is flexible for comfort in the back pocket.” This would immediately get their attention as they wondered how a thin wallet could possibly hold “twice” as many cards and then be flexible and comfortable.

Can you describe your invention in 30 seconds or less?

Consumers typically gaze at a product for no more than 6 seconds before making a purchase decision. Your pitch needs to fit easily as bullet items on the packaging, because that is how consumers make their decisions.

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Stay tuned!