We suggested that the stranger come back the next day during regular hours and we would provide some advice and guidance, the contact info for our patent attorney, and wished him every success with his invention as he walked away thanking us profusely. We even offered him some of our chicken wings. We're not all bad, you see, we just don’t like being interrupted during the Bad Boys Bistro.
Now, this is not an uncommon story. We try to be helpful, but there are others out there that prey on the hopes and dreams of those with just one idea. I always say, “There is nothing more dangerous than a person with one idea.” It becomes an obsession, and they become fair game for those who might take advantage of them.
If you have invented a product, be very careful. Talk with an attorney about protection and be wary of paying anyone money for their assistance. There are people out there who will take your money in exchange for promises, but few who will get you the results you seek.
On occasion our front-yard gathering attracts passersby to stop. We are not generally very receptive to our private moment being interrupted, and this afternoon was no exception.
A square-jawed, brush cut, tatooed motorcyclist about 38 or so looked, pulled over, stopped, dismounted and with a folder and papers in hand came up the sidewalk and started to speak to us.
Before he could, I wanted to be sure he understood the ground rules here, “Make it quick!” (never one for niceties), I said and it set him back on his heels a bit, a bit put out. But the story took a positive turn. He had long wanted to come by and ask our advice about a game he had invented. Some ‘invention company’ was gladly taking his money, and he was beginning to think he was being had.
Millions of empty Star Wars action figure boxes were sold, and certificates redeemed for the toys. A work of genius and luck in equal measures.
Such innovation is rare, but I ran across another such example recently.
A smaller offshore company that we work with has had success running small TV campaigns for products that are not yet on the shelf, to build interest in the public for when the product does finally arrive in stores - in some cases not until the next year. This is crazy, unorthodox, ingenius, and it works.
Fresh new ideas, innovation, and invention are not just the province of tangible products. Facebook, Twitter, and the repackaged sub-prime mortgages that nearly sunk our economy are all examples of less tangible invention and innovation.
In the toy industry a number of examples of marketing innovation are worth noting. No doubt there are many more than I will lay out here.
The advent of TV advertising and the beginning of licensing with Daniel Boone long ago were huge toy marketing innovations.
Why do toy company executives, owners, and their staff go to China? Why is so much time spent there? Aside from, or in addition to time spent at their Hong Kong and China offices, many smaller toy company owners of my acquaintance spend six months a year in China and others simply choose to live there full time.
Why, as inventors, do we go to Hong Kong and China? What are the benefits of such an arduous trip?
For toy company owners it is to keep their fingers on the pulse, the flow of goods, and money, the attention and interest of the factories. I have heard owners complain of financial losses as a result of not being at the factories in person. Of course, that can happen many ways, as you might well imagine.