It’s trade show season! About 12+ years ago, a trade show changed my life and brought me rewarding results personally. I continue to present new products and meet new contacts at industry trade shows for my inventions and now, representing other inventor’s product ideas. The same can happen for you and your invention idea as well, by researching and attending the trade show related your invention industry.

Think about what an industry trade show is… this is an opportunity where manufacturers have a chance to show off their line of products as well as introduce new products, mostly to buyers they have relationships with or some may be meeting or presenting to for the first time trying to break through adding to their distribution.

Buyers from all types of retail channels walk the floor from booth to booth or have scheduled meetings looking for products to fill their boutique or mass retail store shelves, online stores or print catalogs, shopping channels, etc. It’s fun looking or hearing about the latest, greatest, hottest items to attract buyer’s attention and stir up the industry with new innovative products. Industry trade shows are hosted for housewares, hardware, automotive, environmental, golf, electronics, beauty, health and wellness, office supplies, medical devices and any other category of products available to consumers and business to business.

This is where our opportunity as an inventor comes in. The exhibitors attending are mostly manufacturers, that need our help to find the next best invention to add to their product line and impress their buyers…and maybe your invention can be their answer! These manufacturers with distribution can be a potential licensee. They would look to rent the rights to your intellectual property, handle the manufacturing, whether they have their own manufacturing or outsource and also be responsible for the distribution with their internal sales team or they may hire sales reps which represent several product lines. When they receive purchase orders from buyers, you earn royalties from your invention! For some, these royalties can be another stream of income and others may hit a home run and live off their royalties. There are also some inventors that prefer to go deeper into entrepreneurship and start their own business manufacturing and distributing their invention, now turned into a product for buyers to place orders for. Perhaps you may want to reserve a booth at an upcoming trade show. Many of the trade shows have inventor, new product introduction areas that may be discounted from the main floor exhibitors.

You have this great idea and what better way to show off your invention then with the players in that industry! Go to the stores online, offline, catalogs, etc. and think about where your idea would be sold. Find similar related items to yours and start flipping over the packages and jot down the companies you think could be a match. Do some research on them. Then find the industry trade show website and see if the companies you learned of will be attending and have an exhibitor booth. Call or email the company and find out if you can have a few minutes to present your idea at their booth, most likely they will direct you to someone from their product development team to start. Remember, the exhibitors attend the show to present their current products and may be very busy to speak with you while the trade show days are live. Perhaps you may want to hold on to your research and wait until after the show to connect. Sometimes, I just show up at a company booth I am targeting and take a chance to show off my products if I catch them between appointments or their booth is quiet at the time. Some companies are receptive to take a quick peek, some may give you their card to connect later or some may say they are not interested in your product or outside invention submissions.

If you are a future exhibitor or just want to walk the trade show floor, many are inventor friendly where we can purchase or obtain a free guest visitor pass to the trade show. Or perhaps you find an agent to represent your invention idea or product.

Here are some tips to prepare if you decide to attend a trade show:

·       Have some level of patent protection

·       Have a working prototype

·       A brief, pique their interest pitch

·       Short video of your invention in action if necessary

·       Your top benefits of product features

·       Look your best

·       Know your expectations of royalty rates for the specific industry and be ready to do a deal!

Brian Fried – The Inventor Coach

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