Picture this: it’s that pivotal moment when a friend is asking you to describe one of your favorite interests. It could be your favorite television show, movie, book, etc.- but we all know that moment of pure excitement. You love it so much, you’re so excited your friend is expressing interest, you really want them to like it- you’ve got this. But instead of providing an intellectual synopsis of the plot, characters, cinematography, and literary devices, what actually comes out of your mouth is a series of guttural noises, names with little to no description attached to them, an extremely non-linear plot description, and a million mutterings of “Oh, can’t tell you that… that either…”
Just because we love something with all of our hearts, doesn’t mean we’ll automatically do it justice when it comes time to talk about it. The same goes for pitching your invention. You may have faith that companies will respond to simply a description of the invention or your passion for the project, but that’s unfortunately not the case. If you want to get people interested, you need to give them a good reason why (actually, several of them). And to do that, you can’t just leave it up to chance- you need a structured pitch.
1) Set the Stage
The first step to crafting the perfect pitch for your product or invention is to create the perfect opener. The goal of your presentation opener is to hook your audience in, to peak their interest and entice them to be at the edge of their seat. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on the problem that your invention is proposing to solve. If you immediately hit on a problem that your audience constantly finds themselves faced with, you will immediately have their attention.
You could approach this practice in a few different ways. You could begin your presentation simply by proposing a question like, “Do you often find yourself [insert problem here]? Well, what if I told you there’s an easy solution?” Another approach would be to set the stage for your audience. Paint them a vivid picture of what it’s like to be in the thick of their problem. Matt Alwine, Managing Senior Director of Licensing at Davison, advised on this approach saying, “Put your audience mentally in the environment where the product would be used. For example, you are walking to your vehicle after a late meeting at work and cannot remember where you parked. This will ‘set the stage’ for the problem you’re attempting to solve.” Painting this picture reminds your audience what it feels like to experience this problem. The imagery will engage them and get them prepped to hear your proposed solution.
2) Know Your Audience
When prepping your presentation, it’s important to research the specific person or company to whom you’ll be presenting. Your pitch should only briefly discuss what your invention actually does, and focus on specifically how it will benefit the company or person at hand. This requires you to do a lot of research on the company to whom you’re presenting. What’s their current product line? How does your invention fit within their current market? Prove to them that they’re lacking in an area to which your invention can help accommodate.
3) Know the Competition
Equally as important, you must prove to your audience that you have a thorough knowledge of your competition. Do your research to see if there’s a similar product or invention currently on the market. If there isn’t anything similar, prove this by giving them information about the closest thing to your invention and what yours does instead. If there are similar products, show them how yours is better. Will it cost less to make? Does it fix a problem that similar products commonly have? Does it have an additional function? If the answer to more than one of these questions is yes, include each in your presentation.
4) Prepare Some Cold Hard Facts
The most important aspect of pitching your product is making sure that your presentation comes across as incredibly well-researched. To start, you should know what materials you’ll need for your product and the quantity of those materials. Have a list of similar products and their prices. If your product is about better functionality, your sales price will likely be slightly higher than the rest. If yours is about beating out the competition with a more cost-effective model, then yours will be slightly lower. Do your research and come prepared with this information.
It’s also helpful to have (very) rough numbers on how much profit you anticipate making on the product.
5) Know Your Time Frame
Finally, make sure you know the allotted time frame for your pitch, and use every second wisely. The last thing you want to do is prepare a thirty-minute presentation, only to arrive and realize you’ll have to condense it into a ten-minute time frame. Cater the presentation tools and information you use to fit the window of time you’re allotted. If the window is short, make sure to include your most important selling points. Remember: Don’t focus on what your invention does, focus on what it can do for the company.
Though you should cater each presentation to fit the business or person to whom you’re presenting, you should also prepare an elevator pitch to always be ready. The world is a very serendipitous place, you never know who you’re going to meet and when. Make sure you have an abridged version of your presentation prepared to pitch at any given moment. For this, focus on your knowledge of the competition, the market overall, your product itself, and the potential profit margin. It wouldn’t hurt to get some business cards, too.
How do you feel after learning how to pitch your idea? Do you have a better idea on your next steps? Check out what kind of inventor you are by clicking our quiz below!