From Potential to Pitch: How to Sell Your Great Idea (Part 4)
Selling your great idea also requires understanding your competition. And sometimes, the competition actually turns out to be a potential licensee.
This week, on our journey From Potential to Pitch, we’ll share how we helped a client create a list of potential licensees for his patented idea, the motorcycle bra.
Uncovering the Competition
It only makes sense to check out the competition when test-driving a new product. But when an innovation has no obvious competition, it takes a little digging to reveal similar products. This was the case when I investigated competitive intelligence surrounding Albert’s idea for a motorcycle bra.
To get started, I wanted to learn more about how the public would perceive the motorcycle bra and its potential, so we brought together a focus group to get their reactions.
(A focus group consists of carefully screened participants who have similar traits and consumer habits as our potential consumers. A trained facilitator leads a discussion and asks questions to test assumptions about potential products or ideas and how they are perceived without bias. Often an inventor or patent holder benefits from outside perspective not colored by guesses, assumptions and personal vision.)
The focus group I arranged had this to say about the motorcycle bra and how participants envisioned it in the marketplace.
- “It’s like clothing — chaps, helmets and jackets.”
- “It must be marketed through the dealerships. People don’t go down the aisle at Pep Boys to buy something like this!”
- “It’s regional. It depends on where you live – like Florida.”
Of course, no one ever said that focus groups have all the answers or that individual participants even agree with each other. But, if we decide that these impressions deserve merit, they provide reasons and possibly incentives for an interested party to buy a license for selling the new motorcycle bra.
The regional comment about Florida reinforced some of our earlier discussion about targeting states with the highest number of motorcycle sales (and perhaps flying bugs!). I found that Florida was one of the top three states for motorcycle sales in the U.S., but I’ll leave the number of bugs to your imagination.
Additionally, I showed Albert that targeted consumers in our focus group expected to buy the motorcycle bra where they buy accessories and from dealers. This knowledge helps us explore potential licensees for the new product.
Identifying Potential Licensees
U.S. dealers of sports bikes sell mainly Japanese models from Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha. In marketing jargon, these companies are known as OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and their existing distributors and sales channels for accessories represent the largest target licensees for Albert’s efforts.
A second target market was the independent aftermarket manufacturers and distributors of motorcycle accessories and parts.
A third group of potential licensees may not be so obvious, but it deserved consideration: current AUTOMOBILE bra manufacturers. These manufacturers already have access to distributors in automotive markets and know the production and delivery ropes.
And as a group, the car bra manufacturers and distributors operate in a synergy with the proposed motorcycle bra. A public market report that I accessed during our study included this information about the car bra market:
- Approximately 1.4 million vinyl car bras and 3.3 million plastic bug shields are sold ANNUALLY in the U.S. for a total of $401 million.
- Sales of vinyl car bras are expected to grow at 3.3 percent.
- Sales of plastic bug shields for cars are expected to grow at 6.7 percent.
- 90 percent of vehicle owners will spend an average of $1,500 within months of purchasing their vehicle.
- “Baby boomers” have increased ability to afford top end market items.
We found that these statistics are consistent with those of motorcycle buyers. And they validated the idea of bug protection. Also, the market uptake for auto protection items (29 percent) was consistent with our other findings and suggested a slight bump upwards for the market penetration of the motorcycle bra.
With these statistics to guide us, I researched and prepared an initial list of potential licensees that included five distributors and manufacturers of motorcycle parts and accessories plus a list of 10 distributors and manufacturers of automobile bras and fabrics. This was a great start for Albert’s sales efforts and I offered deeper research into additional potential licensees if he wanted more options.
Today’s lesson: With proper research, we can learn a lot from our competition and shape our approach to licensing and sales. Our assumed competition might turn out to be potential licensees.
Share your story
Do you know who and where your competition or potential competition is? What can you learn from their actions? Contact me here or leave comments below if I can help you uncover valuable competitive intelligence.