There are many keys to success for an inventor, but one that is often overlooked and rarely discussed in public forums is selecting the right path for your product.

The unique characteristics of your new product that make it non-obvious to your USPTO examiner may likewise make its best path to the marketplace non-obvious as well. Put more succinctly, inventors may face continual barriers and rejections of their product simply because they are attempting to market it through the wrong channel.

I spent 3 years attempting to license my Savvy Caddy thin wallets to wallet manufacturers and received luke warm interest.

Then an executive at Tandy Brands Accessories told me, “you should take this product to QVC“, I had an aha moment. On QVC, I could easily describe and demo the unique design and benefits of the wallets to millions of potential buyers; whereas in retail stores, the wallets might gather dust as customers simply didn't grasp the benefits from a few bullet points on a box.

My second product, a new cat toy has the reverse problem: without videos of cats going wild with the toy, it may not be a sell on TV product but could sell well in retail stores. Licensing to a pet toy manufacturer might be a better path.

So, how can you quickly determine a marketing path that makes the most sense for your product? First, make a list of as many paths as you can think of for your product:

  • Retail stores
  • Online sales – your website, Amazon, eBay, etc.
  • Sell on TV (QVC, HSN, also Direct Response TV
  • Catalogs
  • Crowd funding sites

Consider the characteristics of the product and also the comments of buyers.

For example, if your product fits a niche such as golfing attire or baby apparel, you might consider catalogs as a good path for your product. Catalogs, most of which are now online, target just about every niche imaginable. Catalogs may not be the ultimate target but could get the word out, get your product noticed.

If your product offers key benefits over competitors that can be demonstrated and perhaps require some explanation, it may be a hard sell initially into retail stores, but could be great for HSN, QVC or perhaps even DRTV (direct response TV).

If buyers frequently comment that they would love to see your product in retail stores, maybe it should be in retail – stress on maybe. If your product is price competitive with other similar products but offers clear benefits that can be easily described on packaging, it could do very well in retail stores.

Lastly, recognize you may need to target an initial path that can ultimately achieve a larger goal for your product.

For example, if your strong goal is to get your product into mainstream large retail stores such as Target, Walmart, and CVS, you may buffeted with continual rejections if you present to such buyers when your product is new and largely unknown to the retail buyers. Instead consider an initial path of taking the product to HSN or QVC to get some sales and credibility and then consider approaching retail store buyers. A strong path into retail stores is via DRTV but many products are not appropriate for DRTV and that the rejection rate of new products into that industry is very high. To be successful in DRTV a product must have a WOW factor, be easily demonstrated, have at least a 5X mark up to retail, and must be presented with a compelling commercial that makes viewers want to buy right now.

If you are having very little marketing success, consider a different path. It could make all the difference!

Stay tuned!