To come up with an idea, you will need to exercise your creativity. But that is not the only time you will need to be creative to bring a product to market, nor is it even the most important.
The way I see it, being creative is about looking at things differently. It’s about turning obstacles into opportunities.
So, when else should you be applying your creativity?
1. Right after you’ve conceived your idea
You’ve observed a problem and created a product that is a solution. How viable is your concept? It’s time to put it to the test.
Can you think of different variations of the same idea? In other words, how would you create a similar product that does the same thing? Intellectual property is only strong when it stops workarounds. When you file a provisional patent application (PPA) later on, having thought about these questions will be very useful.
You should also think creatively about how your idea will be designed. What’s the cheapest way of doing so? If your idea is too expensive to make, it will never see the light of day. We all have a tendency to over-design. Challenge yourself creatively to keep it simple.
2. Protecting your idea
I’m a big fan of PPAs. Are there any other tools provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that you can use to establish ownership over your idea? What about a design patent? They’re very affordable. What about a trademark? If you come up with a clever name, that could have value. You should also consider registering a domain name. Use your creativity to think outside the box about ownership.
3. How you’ll pitch your idea
How are you going to convey the benefit of your idea in a way that is engaging and resonates with the viewer? These days, I think making a sell sheet video is an excellent idea. There’s so much you can get across in just 30 seconds to a minute.
4. Getting your idea in front of people
For most ideas, the quickest route to market is licensing. To license an idea, you’ll need to convince a company to pay you for it. Your first step is landing your sell sheet in front of an employee who is going to get excited about it and want to champion it.
Getting in to some companies will be easy. But to get in to others, you will need to get creative. If you’re having trouble getting someone to call you back to discuss your sell sheet, for example, how can you get his or her attention? Can you reach out to someone directly via LinkedIn? Can you craft a creative email subject line?
5. Negotiating a contract
There is always more than one way to cut a great deal. Your attitude should be, “We can figure this out.” To make that happen, you may need to challenge your assumptions. You will definitely need to be able to look at the process from the other party’s perspective.
6. Marketing your product
How are you going to promote your idea? Is it newsworthy? How can you create buzz? More likely than not, you will need to get creative to capture the attention of the media. Always remember that your pitch needs to address their needs -- not yours. So you need to be able to see things from their vantage point.
As we all know, sometimes simply getting the right person to open your pitch can be an obstacle. One way I creatively reached out to the media in the past was by mailing a package that looked like a gift (the product I was advertising was included inside). It resulted in me getting asked to be on a show!
Your creativity doesn’t stop once you’re done inventing. In fact, I think it’s barely begun. Rely on it to tackle problems and set you and your idea apart throughout its entire lifespan.