Inventors trying to market their creations should start by answering one question, said Wyn Lydecker, a marketing communications expert from Darien.

"What are your invention's main benefits?" she said Tuesday during a talk on entrepreneurial marketing at the monthly meeting of the Inventor's Association of Connecticut, held at Fairfield University. "You have to focus on that."

Lydecker, a former co-director of the Small Business Resource Center at Norwalk Community College, owns Upstart Business Planning in Darien and is on the board of advisers of Charter Private, a startup firm in New Jersey. She also was the managing director of Business Plans International in New York.

Lydecker, who has a master's in business administration from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and has lectured at the University of Bridgeport, also teaches business planning for Darien Continuing Education.

Other queries need to be addressed once the perks ­-- such as safety, convenience or cost saving -- are identified, Lydecker said.

"How are you going to sell it, and where?" she said to about 15 inventors and marketers in attendance. "You also have to work out how much people will eventually pay for it."

Inventors may consider using e-mail or YouTube or creating a Web site to market their new idea. They also may go the more traditional route of networking, selling it through a catalog or crafting a sell sheet, Lydecker said.


sell sheet, a one-page form designed to help promote the invention, should begin with the product's name and a catchy description of its main benefit. It also should list other benefits and its features and show a photograph of the invention, Lydecker said.

"You want to attract attention," she said. "And don't forget your contact information."

It also is important to let manufacturers know where the invention will sell, said Mary Ellroy, the association's president emeritus and a toy inventor from Norwalk.

"When I go to companies with an idea, I tell them why Wal-Mart's going to like it," she said. "You may want to think about what stores want."

Inventors, facing increased scrutiny from angel investors because of the slowed economy, must be specific in describing their product's purpose when seeking grant money, said Merrie London, manager of Small Business Innovation Research with the Hartford-based Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology.

"The biggest mistake people make is they tell an agency what a great idea they have, and then try to shove it down their throats," she said.