Inventing Where the Marketable Benefit Lies
Updated: Aug 16
June 13, 2022
By Robert Cantrell - Registered Patent Agent
People do not buy products or services. They buy the benefits products and services deliver. For example, they do not buy a sports car. They buy the car's performance. Performance sells the car, even if the person buys the car for prestige more than driving.
A challenge for inventors is that their invention may be two steps back from the benefits people buy. Their invention enables a product or service. The product or service enables a benefit. People buy the benefit.
An inventor will raise the odds of selling an invention by understanding the entire product or service of which the invention is a part. This understanding will allow the inventor to frame the invention in context with the benefit delivered by that product or service. How, for example, does an invention to improve the engine of the sports car translate to a marketable benefit on the sales floor?
Inventors often examine technology and ask how they can improve the technology. Better is to ask how to improve the benefits customers buy and work back to the technology from there. Ask how to deliver a better, faster, or more cost-effective rendition of the sought benefit. Invent where that marketable benefit lies.
By Jose W. Jimenez, Esq – Former Chief Patent Counsel & Registered Patent Attorney
Robert’s theme-inventing where the marketable benefits lie—is exquisitely captured by Steve Jobs and the evolution of Apple, Inc and its technology. Jobs did not start out inventing just another portable music and content player when he launched the iPod®, nor just another new cellphone when he launched the iPhone®. It was his creativity, masterful understanding of the possibilities of his technology and knowing what benefits the consumer was looking for that sparked revolutionary shifts in such products at Apple and, ultimately, the marketplace. It was marketing that drove these changes in technology and not necessarily the engineers. Hence, as Robert posits, marketing and sales can lead in product development and invention as they should have the best understanding of what benefits will sell.
As to portability of music and content, the only options back then were the Sony Walkman® (played CDs), portable cassette tape players or portable radios with or without headphones or earphones. Just add a basic antenna and receiver and now can eliminate many of these products. The iPod ushered a number of these products out of existence.
When Motorola was king of the cellphone marketplace, it ruled over players such as Nokia, Ericsson, and even Samsung. Apple Inc was not even in anyone’s radar. Apple’s introduction of the iPhone was not initially perceived by these big players as a threat, but Apple’s knowledge of computing technology and the power of solid-state memory would soon do a better job of exceeding the benefits the consumer was looking for in portable communications technology. Apple and Samsung, two former computer players, now dominate the smartphone market.
Many of successful start-ups understand the concept of targeting consumer benefits in their product or service offering in attaining their success, but this creativity and tenacity is lost once these companies are successful. If you do not want to be the next Sony Walkman® or Motorola®, reach out to us so we can help you or your marketing department take its rightful place in leading the charge in inventing and product development.
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