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Lesson #12 Can You Spot Any Problems With This Letter?

rogerbrown's Avatargold

How you approach a company is very important and your attitude plays a large part in your success or failure. Below is a compilation letter I made up from excerpts from letters Inventors have shown me they sent to companies. They were wanting to know what they were doing wrong because they were either getting no response back or getting told No Thank You. Can you find any issues with this letter? Is this how your letters look? How would you approach a company for the first time?

To Whom It May Concern

I have decided to give your company the privilege of being the first to carry my product. I choose your company because you have the largest market, and therefore can afford to pay me a higher royalty on the sales .I have shown this product to all of my family and friends and they said they would buy it. They said my product will destroy the others on the market and do away with all of your competition. They said your competition will be out of business within the first 6 months because everyone will be buying my product and not theirs. Once they are out of business it will make you the only game in town. Since your competition will be gone my idea will make your company millions, so I don’t see any issue with you paying an advance of $100,000 at the signing of my contract.
Attached you will find my licensing agreement and my advance contract. My divorce attorney said you should have no problem signing either of these agreements. He should have the patent search done soon. Which is really a waste of his time, since I know there is nothing else like it on the market. Today is Monday. I will be out of town Friday, so I need you to sign and get the agreements to me before then. You can FEDEX them to me.
Your company is only an hour away from my home which is great. That means I will be able to oversee the progress of my product and make sure you do it right. I will call you tomorrow at 2pm so be sure you are in your office. I hate calling and leaving messages.
Your company should be happy I found you and was willing to submit my idea to you. It is going to make us all millions!!.

http://www.rogerbrown.net

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sleepyhead's Avatar

Roger! I never gave you permission to post my letter!

Seriously, I can’t find anything RIGHT with this letter.

:>)

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bobf's Avatargold

Everything. Very presumptuous.

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imajane's Avatarname search

Put it to music… could be a comedic opera called “The Inventor”

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crandle1234's Avatar

Roger, this letter is so presumptuous that if I were reading it, I would look at your product just to prove you wrong. This is genius because once I look at it, I realize that I have to have it and now you got me! lol Great work!

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inventingjoy's Avatar

There is nothing professional abt it. Friends & family is not a market study. divorce atty? Its extremely demanding & amateurish. Living near my business & having the nut job near me would be the clincher if I read past the 1s5t 3 lines. Now pls post a sample of a good letter. thx Puppy love from Inventing Joy & the furry folk

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penster's Avatar

;>)

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Julie, I told you not to write it. LOL
Robert, I agree, but these are examples of real letters. Which is why Inventors get a bad rap.
Crandle1234, this could be called reverse psychology except it is bad no matter how you look at it. The chances of you losing any creditability with the company is nill.

How do you approach a company for the first time and why do you use that approach?

http://www.rogerbrown.net

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funfam4's Avatar

I think that maybe the only line of work that you can get away with this cocky “holier than thou” sort of approach would be politics where we already expect this kind of flagrant self-promotion! Salespeople have to tread this line very carefully too, because many are turned off by such tactics.

Do your homework and make sure the company is the right fit for your product idea but don’t fall in love with it (not too much, anyway!). Be businesslike and professional. Maybe even serious and firm. Don’t be a demanding, pushy, pain in the arse, though! Let your product idea speak for itself and if it doesn’t or can’t…back to the ol’ drawing board.

Practice more patience..good things can come to those who wait!

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Sherri, you better stop right now! You are starting to sound like a real Inventor and everyone knows we don’t want that to happen. LOL

http://www.rogerbrown.net

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crandle1234's Avatar

Well to be honest I would appeal to the possible problem I was trying to fix first ie., low sales, lack of innovation, or a saturation of the market with the same boring product. Example, " After doing some research regarding product x, I’ve found that sales have declined with your company over the last year from x amount of dollars to y amount. (Now Roger this statment should be a fact and not fiction because if sales are increasing why tinker with something that’s not broken. Thus why we should do research on trends and product areas we plan to invent.) Next I would remind them that a successful company continues to look for ways to increase sales and reach untapped markets. (Another true statment) Next the Introduction of what I feel is a solution to this problem…… and so on and so forth…

I personally would choose this approach because it’s less demanding and provides the company with valid information that they have probably been talking about in recent meetings already.

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mredsasyshi1's Avatargold

So Chris what you are effectively telling them is that their pooh stinks and they are not yet successful. Hmmm and that has worked for you? Just wondering?

I don’t think any company wants to hear from anyone how their sales have dropped and how to run their business. They know they want to be a success but I think to say such things might leave a sour taste in their mouth.

P.S. You look like the spitting image of a guy I went to bootcamp with in the early 90’s. Freaky

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sleepyhead's Avatar

Chris, You wouldn’t be approaching them if they weren’t successful (or WERE successful) so why would you tell them they are failing?

What about turning it around to something like “as successful as your company is, what if my ____ could increase revenues?”

I’m not sure that is good either – will wait to hear Roger’s opinion.

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sleepyhead's Avatar

Mr. Ed – I think I recognize that little face from a JibJab…….

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

This is getting interesting and hopefully informative. I have to agree that telling a company their company is tanking and you are coming in to save the day is not a good approach. You have to think how many people approach them saying “My product is worth millions” or “My product is the first of its kind”. These are buzz phrases that companies look at as a red flag you do not know what you are doing.
As I have told others about their pitch it also applies to any letter you send. Keep it short, factual, concise. They don’t care how long you have been working on it or how you had the idea while you were cutting your grass. They want to know it will make them money.

Being demanding is funny when you are contacting them for their help, not them contacting you. You have to remember who owns the company.

http://www.rogerbrown.net

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crandle1234's Avatar

I was in bootcamp in the early 90’s Ft. Sill baby!!! Now Mr. Ed and Julie I don’t see the need to sugar coat the obvious, telling someone that their sales are down in a tactful way shouldn’t cause any problems. Remember, the truth is what’s discussed in the board room. Julie, a company can be succesful, even with products that have declining sales and usually this is done by acquiring new and innovating ideas from us. Also when I said, “Next I would remind them that a successful company continues to look for ways to increase sales and reach untapped markets. (Another true statment)” This is not word for word, it would sound more like, " As you and I both know, for a company to have continued success they must continue to increase sales and reach untapped markets."

I do however receive both of your comments and find them to be valid and right on. I agree that we should never point out mistakes or bad decisions made by our future buyers.

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mredsasyshi1's Avatargold

Sorry Chief I was in the Marine Corps and not the Army… I thought you guys called it Basic and not Bootcamp… Hmmm

I am still under the school of thought that you never say anything relating to the prospective companies past earnings (good or bad) and letting them know that they need to look into the future to better their bottom line because that is something that they as a company know already.

Why not instead simply say… “I feel that the addition of my product to (insert company name here)’s already proven line is a perfect fit to increase your annual sales and give your company a leading advantage over your competition.”

But that’s my opinion… ;)

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crandle1234's Avatar

sounds good to me

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Mr, Ed, you wrote : “I feel that the addition of my product to (insert company name here)’s already proven line is a perfect fit to increase your annual sales and give your company a leading advantage over your competition.”

Nicely done. That is more like it.

http://www.rogerbrown.net

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sleepyhead's Avatar

Chris, After dealing with so many EN’ers who offer an opinion/ask a question and then argue with the responses, your response is so very welcome, and gracious.

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bobk's Avatar

A definite shortcoming in the letter – it fails to include a veiled threat.

Other than that it does the job of insuring failure.

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crandle1234's Avatar

Julie, ;)

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Bob, I have seen it in the first letter and when they get rejected it is in the follow up letter normally stating that the company will be sorry for letting this million dollar idea slip past them. That Inventor also assumes that everyone in that company is a moron for not recognizing their pure genius.
I saw an example one time for the word “Conceit” It said “Conceit is when you are fired from your job and come back two weeks later to see if they are still in business”.

http://www.rogerbrown.net

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Another interesting pitch an Inventor told me they tried was telling the CEO of the company he should fire his sales staff because they obviously weren’t doing a very good job of getting their product out on the market since he just saw their product the week before. Then he followed it up by saying if they would pick his product up it could help turn the company around.
I admire confidence in your product, but that is not going to buy you any traction with the company.

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perrytheinventor's Avatar

The Problem with the letter??? It’s NOT a phone call.

Building a relationship with a person at a company is far better than blind mailing. But you already knew that.

The sad truth is the letter above was most likely made from parts of REAL letters we get sent all the time. I get stuff like this almost weekly. But I never get mad because I know the people sending them are well meaning but just not aware or trained. Their intentions are good but their approach is poor. Many great inventions die in people’s garages because of this lack of sophistication.

Keep posting the bad examples so people can see what NOT to do. It is a great way to learn BECAUSE it lets inventors see what companies get everyday.

Cheers,
PerryTheInventor.com

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dawnh44's Avatar

If I were reading this letter, I would have stopped after the first 3 sentences and thought, what an irrogant ass. I’m no pro, but the approach is just unappealing . My letter would start like this – Dear (name) recently I have developed a new product that i believe is compatible with your product line. The device is the subject of a patent pending application. It is my desire to license or otherwise arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement regarding my right’s for the manufacture and sale of the device. If interested, please provide me with a copy of your submission policy. Thank You for your kind consideration Sincerely (name) Now I believe this is much more appealing.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Here is a combination of excerpts from new letters I have gotten from Inventors and how they approach companies. Do you think these will get interest from the companies approached? What do you see wrong with their statements and how could they have been made more acceptable?

To Whom it may concern:

My product will make your company billions and I know you are smart enough to see that from my presentation.

I don't have a lot of money to put into this product which is why I came to you.

Once you have done a patent search on my idea I am sure you will see it is worth millions.

I know you have products similar to mine, but mine is better.

I don't live near your company and would like to talk to you face to face. If you buy me an airplane ticket I would be happy to meet with you.

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williamj's Avatargold

I've not had any experience in contacting companies about any ideas that I have had but...

To Whom it may concern:

To me this indicates that the sender made no effort to find out if the company accepts outside ideas or not, and if they do... where to or to whom inquiries/submissions should be made.

My product will make your company billions and I know you are smart enough to see that from my presentation.

If the company doesn't see what the inventor sees the it's the company that is to dumb to understand what the inventor is trying to relate. It's an insult.

I don't have a lot of money to put into this product which is why I came to you.

Once you have done a patent search on my idea I am sure you will see it is worth millions.

I know you have products similar to mine, but mine is better.

I don't live near your company and would like to talk to you face to face. If you buy me an airplane ticket I would be happy to meet with you.

All of the above places the responsibility of effort (to make YOU a success) on their shoulders.

Do your own 'due diligence', make your own investment in "your idea" both in time, effort and resources.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Great response William. Be interesting to see if anyone else has anything to add.

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let-them-fly's Avatar

To Whom it may concern:

Agree with what William said, and as a result of the anonymous addressee, the correspondence ends up in the hands of a "screener", who's received training on efficiently doing away with them.

-------

My product will make your company billions and I know you are smart enough to see that from my presentation.

Once you have done a patent search on my idea I am sure you will see it is worth millions.

I know you have products similar to mine, but mine is better.

As unique and appealing as the inventors think any of that is, to those familiar with the processes and "public", can see the red flag flopping vigorously in the gale, and do away with it just as fast!

--------

I don't have a lot of money to put into this product which is why I came to you.

I don't live near your company and would like to talk to you face to face. If you buy me an airplane ticket I would be happy to meet with you

This is very akin to the old saying: "If someone starts off by going on & on about the weather, you better hold on to you wallet!!"      These are the "TAKERS" in the crowd, who are primarily interested in a hand-out; then if it doesn't work out, it's no skin off their knee!    They go away feeling they out smarted you... but as before, someone familiar with the processes and "public" can smell it coming a mile away and does what?     That's right, efficiently does away it! <:-)

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Good observation and comments Frank.

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Got another letter that I thought would be a good learning curve for others. When you read this understand that I have never spoken with this person before and don't know them.

"Roger,

I have been trying for 5 months to get three companies to look at my products. Two of them have told me they do not look at outside ideas. The other one just does not answer me back. I have read articles you wrote for Inventor's Digest and know you contact companies. Can I tell them I know you so they will look at my ideas? Can I have your phone number in case they want to ask you about me? I'm smart and my ideas will make us all money. Please do this quickly I want to get started soon."

How would you respond to this email? What impression do you think the companies he has contacted has of him and how he has probably approached them? What impression do you think the companies have of Inventors in general?

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Here is a portion of an email I got from an Inventor that is mad at the companies that rejected his email and product.

Roger,

Can you help me get past the idiots at company X and company Y? I have sent them numerous emails explaining how my product is better than the product they each currently sell and mine would make them millions. Instead of being happy I contacted them they sent me a rejection letter and company Y has told me they will no longer accept emails from me. So, I sent company Y a snail mail letter. They have not answered back yet and it has been two weeks so I know they got it. 

And it goes on from there asking for suggestions on how to get them to respond. Do you think any company is going to want to work with this individual? Would you? I pointed out the issues I saw with their attitude and approach. I also told them I would not consider them someone to work with.They have not gotten back to me.

Robert Pontius
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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Reluctantly talked with an Inventor I have cautioned in the past about their approach to companies and inventing in general. Now she is on the verge of severe legal issues and she does not seem to understand the seriousness of her actions. She contacted company X about her invention, which is an electronic device.

She got a No/rejection from the company's submission department. Determined she went over their head and contacted the CEO of the company wanting him to take another look at her idea because she feels the person in the submission department is stupid and doesn't recognize how unique her product is. The CEO told her he relies on the submissions department and feels they did their job correctly and stands by their decision.

Undeterred she took it to a new level and researched the CEO's address and sent her electronic device to the CEO's home. What do you think his reaction was? What would your reaction be? 

Robert Pontius
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sjane722's Avatargold

Only in the movies would a move like this work!

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

I see restraining order, a fine and community service in her near future.

Sarah Mann
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sjane722's Avatargold

Lol!!! Exactly!

Narcissism taken to the next level!!!

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Update: The Inventor above stated she had a message on her answering machine from company X's legal department saying due to her behavior they were considering their legal options and would be in touch soon. 

She is panicking now and wanted to know what I would do in her position? I told her to seek legal advice quickly so hopefully she can stop it before it gets any worse.

Because she lives 4 states away from the CEO where she sent the package to his house. I am assuming if they press charges she may have to go to his state to face the charges, which can get expensive just for the traveling and a place to stay. Not counting how this could affect her current job missing work. Not counting if she gets charged and found guilty.

This is why I caution Inventors there is a fine line between being aggressive and passionate for your ideas and being a pest. This can end up being a severe life lesson for her that affects the rest of her life. 

Sarah Mann
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speedbump's Avatar

Well unless the electronics this inventor sent was found to be a bomb or by mistake she stuffed he electronic device with illegal drugs or it was covered with anthrax then I think she'll be OK. Once again I'm not a lawyer but have watched "Law and Order" several times, so I think company X might have to file some sort of restraining order before they would be able to take any legal action. It's not illegal to mail a package to someone. If it was done repeatedly or something was found to present a danger then I can see a possibility. They might get her on a lithium battery charge ..... lol

Thom C
Sarah Mann
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crystaldiane's Avatargold

Oh wow. Well now I dont feel quite as bad about my emails i just sent out - I got one no, thanked them and presented a slightly different set of facts and kindly asked them reconsider but no I wont go over the persons head - I think this is suicide!  - and the other no word yet. But we shall see.  Its tough - I can't send the real information without a NDA but sending the info I have seems to confuse things - need to take a step back and reevaluate the whole thing....

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rogerbrown's Avatargold

Crystal-Diane, you are taking the common sense approach, which normally gives you better results in the long run. You took the no in stride and looked for a way to improve the idea. Your relationship with the company is intact and they are still open to seeing more from you. Can't say the same for the Inventor above. 

If the company has to file a restraining order against the Inventor could that affect how they see other Inventors and their policy for looking at outside ideas from Inventors?

Having had my share of stalker and crazy Inventors over the years it does make you consider various legal options.

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