7 Tips for Inventing the Perfect Product

Pitchman Anthony Sullivan offers his advice to potential inventors.

April 19, 2011— -- If phrases such as "no more rubbing and scrubbing" or "it slices and dices" sound eerily familiar, chances are it's because you've heard them dozens of times on TV.

Infomercials have exploded onto TV programming in recent years, in part because the economic recession hit advertisers and households where it hurts -- in the bank account -- making that "get your bang for your buck" mentality stronger than ever.

Anthony Sullivan, the pitchman king of those "as-seen-on-TV" products, told ABC News' Matt Gutman in a recent interview that the infomercial business is "recession proof." He said more people are developing their own ideas to make a living in this slumped economy.

"With the downturn, people losing their jobs or people thinking, right I have to get a second job, [then] I have an idea," he said. "An idea is a good idea, but you have to act on it. I really admire those people."

But wait, there's more… what makes a successful product? Sullivan went through the tips he uses himself when reviewing new inventions to judge not only if that product is sellable, but if it is "pitch-able?" We shared his advice with you here.

1. The Product Solves a Common Problem, Simply

Sullivan said his company throws away about 99 percent of the products people pitch to them.

"We're in an economy right now where everyone wants to make money," he said. "I think everyone has an inner inventor, but most people's inventions are terrible."

It's important that the item fills a purpose that's missing from the consumer product market. Sullivan said thousands of products have done this successfully but one example was the Gopher, which is a mechanic-type claw on the end of a long pole that can grip small items up high on a shelf or on the floor.

"Just squeeze and retrieve in one simple step. It's a great item," Sullivan said. "It's the simple solution to common problems."

2. It Has That Secret 'WOW' Factor

If a product doesn't have a "big reveal," Sullivan said, then he, and other buyers, are going to pass on it.

"It's good if products have a secret," Sullivan said. "There's always a secret. Here we have the Swivel Sweeper. Forwards, backwards, the secret is in the core brush technology."

More Tips from Anthony Sullivan

3. Can This Be Used Daily?

Sullivan said one of the key questions he asks himself when reviewing products will be, "is this something I will use every single day?"

4. Make Your Product 'One-Size Fits All'

Have your product appeal to the widest audience possible. Sullivan demonstrated how this worked with a new invention that helps kids tie their shoe laces.

"You can get a bunch of kids who have never tied their laces before and you have them come in," he said. "Moms will be delighted. Kids will be delighted. Daycares."

5. Is It Easy to Manufacture and Ship?

The simpler and more lightweight a product is, the better.

"A lot of inventions come through the door here and they're very complicated and complex," Sullivan said. "Sometimes they're over-engineered."

6. The Price Has to Be Reasonable

"You have to build value," Sullivan said. "You can't say [shoe] laces can cost you $30 or $40. They'd don't. You can probably buy a set of laces for $0.99. Why are people going to spend $10, $15 on a set of laces? That's where the pitch comes in. You have to make people say, 'I cannot live without that.'"

7. And Last But Not Least…Your Product Must Be 'Demonstrate-able'

To make a product sellable, or as Sullivan calls it, "demonstrate-able," he said it has to be easy to explain.

"You don't want to overcomplicate," he said. "Once I have to go into some massive explanation of why this is great, it's 'ah ha!' moment. I get it. Why didn't I think of that? That's one question I ask myself. That's such a simple idea. We're not trying to split an atom here."