Founder Brandcasters/Podetize.com – thousands of video/podcasts/blogs produced. Expert in monetizing content & consumer retail products generating $2 Billion+ for clients
This is not a DIY project. I strongly suggest you go straight to a product designer/industrial designer who has been there and done that before. Not only will they be able to get you what you need for prototyping and possibly 3d Printing if it is right, but you will insure that your product is engineered to be properly and efficiently manufactured so it can cost out as well.
Besides being trained in the best keyword ranking techniques, you need to have just the right product. Easy to manufacture but not too easy to knock off. Otherwise you will find yourself ranking and then immediately getting chased by others willing to go leaner on margins. Product sourcing and design/development can be the differentiator that allows you to stay in a product category for much longer and really get a good ROI.
This is the most common problem I deal with as in our Mentors 2 inventors group. Inventors are notorious for spending too much time and money on prototypes and product and not enough on business or marketing. In my experience launching over 250 products, zero budget is not going to get you anywhere. Small budgets don't work either. Speed to market is essential. My suggestion is partnership. Find partners who will market for you. Be prepared to give them a very large cut! Remember that a product is nothing if no one buys it. The power is not in PD and invention but in who has access to the market.
If you can't tell people what's special about you then you need to get some new services or products. Being in Me-Only territory makes sales and lead generation easy. We do this by studying those competitors, identifying their gaps and intentionally inventing into that sweet spot. This gives you the core of what to talk about and market about your business. An alternative method to hiring a consultant to help you through this is for you to talk to you customers. Why did they choose you? What do they think makes you special? Build on that.
This is a little hard to answer because it is so vague. It depends on the area, the market and the strength of innovation. I know that The App Guy has a terrific podcast at http://www.theappguy.co/ and is also trying to organize a community for App developers to sell their ideas. Let me know if I can be of further assistance to discuss patentability in terms of its value to getting a sale or license. What ever you do, don't spend money filing a full patent, just a provisional. Good luck.
You should have a proof metric - market traction, market proof, proof that they are not wasting their time on your site with half-baked ideas. You should also have some way to show that there has investigation and transparency into the crowdfunders. Try a group with vetting services like http://clearbusinessdirectory.com/vetting-services/ Lastly, you should have clear focused categories that are not overrun with misfits. Investors may want to focus only on a particular area of interest. Make that clear.