Features Industry Outlook

Design Edge: Video Killed the Sell Sheet Star

Design Edge President Matt Nuccio

When I entered the toy business many moons ago, the majority of inventors sold their concepts by garnering interest via the almighty sell sheet. Great sell sheets would be adorned with bullet points, call outs, insets, and of course, a great money shot of the product in action. While pitching a new concept with a prototype was always far better than with a sell sheet, you still had a fighting chance with a good sell sheet. But times have changed and these days a sell sheet sells sh-t…

Back when I was starting out, the New York Toy Fair was still held at the International Toy Center (aka the Toy Building), at 200 5th Ave, where it had been held for over a century. Toy Fair back then was much different than it is today. Toy companies still had year round offices and showrooms in the Toy Building and during Toy Fair inventors would show up in droves to pitch their concepts door to door. Towards the end of the 90s, you started to hear a sound that became more and more familiar in the Toy Building elevators. It was the sound of VHS cassettes rattling around in an inventor carry-on suitcase.  And it soon became apparent that those inventors were getting more deals than the sell sheet guys. By the turn of the millennium, digital video had become accessible and along with its filters, and effects, a lot of inventor features could be more easily highlighted and often time even faked.

Today, it is nearly impossible to sell a concept off of a sell sheet (although it can still be done). These days, I find myself speaking with outside inventors discussing how to make a proper video pitch. Everyone wants to know how a product pitch video should be set up. So, to ensure your greatest possible success for all my friends out there, I have gathered consensus from my fellow professional inventors. Below are a few suggestions for your video pitch consideration. Just note there is never a one-size-fits-all solution.

Product Video Pitch Outline

A good video is essentially making sure that your invention concept is clearly understood by the companies you are pitching to. Below is a list of key marks that you should consider hitting when creating your next video for your invention.


A toy company’s time is important to them. Videos should be short, concise, and visually appealing. The ideal video should run between 30 secs and 1.5 minutes.

• Focus on the Product 

Far too often we receive videos that spend too much time talking about the inventor themselves and/or the reason why they invented it. While this approach may be worth something in promoting the product at retail, it is of little appeal to a prospective licensor. Product is king. Above all, they want a great product above a great story. Your focus should be on the product.

• Video Outline Formula

If you’re not Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard or even Ben Stiller and don’t have a particularly strong sense of visuals or narrative, then here is a simple outline to follow to ensure you hit the key points.

-Opening page: Create a fun visual that shows the name of the product. This can be as simple as holding up a piece of paper or creating a digital transition page.

-Unboxing:  Show all the parts laid out on a non-distracting surface like a kitchen counter, grass, table… this can be a photo or a video.

-Setup: Show the product being set up. If this is a time-consuming process you can show it in a time-lapse format to save on the overall run time.

-Explanation: In type and/or voiceover (preferably both) explain the product benefits. What does it do? How does it do it? Who is it fun for?

-Fun, fun, fun: The most important thing is to make sure that your video looks fun. Showing happy people, laughter, bright colors and a fun looking prototype or rendering is a great way to achieve that without making it too campy. If you use demonstrators in your video make sure that they are wearing plain clothing; no logos or partners, as these can distract from the product.

-Music:  Having an upbeat song playing in the background is always a great way to emphasize the fun.

-Closing Page:  At the end of the video, show your name and contact information.


I hope this helps. Now go sell your inventions.


Matt Nuccio is president of Design Edge, a New York-based graphic design and research development studio. For more information, he can be reached at Matt@DesignEdge.net.