Just because you think of a stellar idea doesn't mean potential customers will embrace it. Inventors face many hurdles bringing their products to market, especially when it's already flooded with similar ideas. If you want to succeed, you've got to convince buyers that your bright idea is better than the products your customers already know and use.
Linda May, 44, faced this situation when she and her partner, Bob Kloczkowski, 50, introduced the "Save My Face!" Pillow. Because so many other pillows had hit the shelves during the past decade, the market first viewed May's creation as just another therapeutic pillow. "[It's] actually a beauty product," she says, "but people weren't seeing that at all." Instead of providing neck comfort, the "Save My Face!" Pillow promises to minimize facial creases. Now that she's communicated that message to buyers, May's garnered business from a profitable market segment: middle-aged men and women nationwide who yearn to hold on to their youth as long as possible.
The Studio City, California, former massage therapist initially met with resistance. Sales were only $40,000 in the first six months of 2000. By the end of that year, however, sales rose to more than $200,000. Part of that success resulted from getting the "Save My Face!" Pillow into numerous catalogs, including SelfCare, Solutions and Home Recovery. May has also been able to position her product as an innovative new item by selling through specialty outlets.