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The Practical Mind

INVENTOR'S MARKETING HANDBOOK A Complete Guide to Selling and Promoting Your Invention by Reece A. Franklin (AAJA Publishing (714/393-8525 ) : $19.95)

September 02, 1990|KAREN STABINER

Hold up that balloon; Reece Franklin has a straight pin handy. So you've come up with a necktie fabric that repels all stains and doesn't look like plastic. Or you've designed a doggy door that lets Rover out without letting robbers in. No matter how substantial the contribution you're prepared to make to Western civilization, it's how you market, not what you market, that's going to make the difference. To borrow an advertising adage, it's not the steak, it's the sizzle.

This is really a pamphlet blown up into a workbook; lots of headings and double-spacing make it look more substantial than it is. It's the same advice Franklin presents in the 100-plus seminars he holds each year. But his breezy love affair with the individual entrepreneur is irresistible, even if you have the sense that there's a tad less here than meets the eye. Who can resist a guy who fell in love with inventors when his mom (to whom the book is dedicated) introduced him to the guy who invented the Lava Lite?

And if you do happen to have a fabulously commercial idea--like the guy who saw "Star Wars" and made millions off a laser sword that was basically a flashlight stuck inside a golf tube--the handbook is an essential do-it-yourself tool. Franklin is hardly suggesting that the loner stereotype is the right way for the inventor to go; he thinks the "team" has to include family, friends, lawyer, accountant, ad agency, bankers, consultants, manufacturers' reps, and, of course, "Financial and Business Angels." But he wants the inventor to enter the real world armed, so he provides information about everything from patents to press releases, from advertising to distribution.

Franklin is more effusive than he is elegant, and the one person he ought to add to his team is a proofreader. (The invention process, he says, should not be "draught with fear." Perhaps Franklin prefers it straight up.) But he's well-meaning, informed and enthusiastic--just the kind of companion needed by an inventor who's been living inside his own head for too long.

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