What’s Your Competition?
So far in our Inventing 101 “Deconstructing the Submission Form” series, we’ve learned best practices around describing your invention idea, outlining what’s innovative about your idea, identifying the problem your idea solves and defining your target market.
In the fifth installment, we’re going to dive into the competition.
While we have talked about how to make your product concept stand out from a crowded market, answering the “Competition” section of the submission form takes this one step further.
In this section, it is not enough to say “there’s nothing out there like my product,” because chances are, there is, and that’s okay! The majority of ideas we see are improvements on existing concepts. This is YOUR opportunity to not only identify competitors, but tell us why your idea is better, and the sections you have already completed will provide building blocks to answering this question.
To get started, let’s dive into three types of competition:
These are the products you need to find out the most about because they are your fiercest competitors. These are the products that have the majority of the current market share. With this group, you’re fighting for the attention of the same target market you identified in the last section.
These are products that may not be exactly like your idea, but rather offer an alternative product to yours. While you do not need to be very concerned about indirect competitors, they should be identified because they have the ability to become direct competitors as they are in a similar space.
Substitutes or new entrants:
A substitute product is anything that delivers the same set of benefits to your potential audience as your product, but it is not a competing product. For example, a Redbox DVD rental is a substitute service to cable TV. An example of a new entrant is how satellite radio altered the radio industry.
Go back to the problem you defined for your product concept as a resource.
Now that you know the types of competitors out there, ask yourself the following question, “What is my target market buying now to solve this problem?”
As a reminder, here are some hints on how to research your competition:
- Start with a simple online search – try using Google or Bing to search for similar products.
- Don’t just seek out identical concepts, consider how your idea stands up against what’s currently out there or what could potentially break new ground.
- Other methods to explore can include other names, phrases and terms that might apply to your product. For example: a water gun – It can be called a squirt gun, super soaker, aqua blaster and more. Using a thesaurus, look for synonyms and other ways to describe your idea.
We ask you to identify three potential direct competitors, and provide a brief explanation as to why your idea is better. Completing this exercise will not only help you continue to refine your concept, but it will also help you highlight ways to make your product stand out from the competition.
Once again, it is not enough to identify a potential competitor, and then say “my product is better,” because our follow-up question will be “WHY?” We often speak about how ideas hit a wall at Stage 4. Citing competitors is probably the most common cause of ideas being declined at this stage.
So how can YOU avoid that red X? Evaluate the information you find about the competitor. Identify potential weaknesses with their product and highlight why YOUR product fills that gap.
The hard reality may be that after completing this exercise, you may find out that your product’s “better than” argument is not as strong as you initially thought. You may need to go back to the drawing board to modify the idea. The good news? Your final result will be stronger and have a higher chance of being licensed.
Remember, Edison Nation is looking to license the intellectual property associated with your idea. Whether you have already filed or not, we need to identify HOW your idea is different/better and able to be patented, thereby presenting a strong argument for licensing to our partners.
Innovate, don’t imitate.
You’ve had your BING! moment, this is your chance to tell us how you’ve solved your problem even better, adding more value.