A lot of inventors are confused about what they’re selling, which is why they’ll do things like show me their patent or drawings when I ask, “What’s your idea?” What an innovation does is important. So are its features. But neither implores me to careabout the concept. They’re merely facts–details. Share them later on. When you have only a few moments to make an impression, you need to go for the gut. You need to stop people in their tracks and make them want to know more. And the best way to do that is with a short, finely crafted benefit statement.
People are self-interested. So are potential licensees. I, like everyone else, want to know: What’s in it for me? What are you really selling, then? Benefits. I cannot stress this enough. The big benefit of most product ideas is to the end user (for example, a consumer at retail). Sometimes, a product’s big benefit is to the potential licensee itself (for example, when an innovation saves a company time or money). A good benefit statement condenses the value of your innovation–its benefit–into a single impactful sentence.
The truth is that time will never be on your side. A potential licensee won’t want to hear about your invention for five minutes, let alone 15. You don’t need to oversell your idea. You simply need to pique potential licensees’ interest. To that end, your statement needs to be specific. A generic sentence such as “Make more money with the latest widget innovation everybody wants” isn’t effective. It doesn’t seem believable, for one. But more than that, it doesn’t tell the company anything concrete. Anyone who hears that is going to think, “Huh?” It doesn’t help your innovation stand out.
If the benefit of your idea isn’t clear or compelling, no one is going to want to hear more about your idea. It’s that simple. You want the person who reads or hears your statement to think, “I can see that benefit. My customer wants that. Tell me more.”
Effective one-sentence benefit statements tap into our emotions. If you aren’t able to summarize the benefit of your innovation into a concise statement, it might be because it doesn’t have one. If you’re having trouble identifying the big benefit of your idea, think about the one thing that is going to make people say, “Interesting. I want to know more.” It’s not about patenting and it’s not about the prototype.
A good one-sentence benefit statement will do the selling for you. Don’t feel like you have to cram in as much information as possible. It’s not supposed to be thorough. In fact, it allows you to get to the point quickly. Everyone appreciates that.
Like I always say, your job is to make it easy for potential licensees to say yes. So do that.
When I think of killer one-line benefit statements, I can’t help but think of Steve Jobs. He is the king of the one-line benefit statement. You can tell he really spent a lot of time thinking about what the true benefit of his products were. If you watch videos of his product launches, he usually relied on one memorable statement to impart an impact. For example, he described the iPod as “One thousand songs in your pocket.” Well, yeah, I wanted that! Who didn’t?
Originally published on Inc.com December 18th 2015.