Archive for the ‘IP Marketing’ Category

Social Media Tools Can Be Valuable for Tech Transfer Offices: Blogs and Microblogging

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The task of developing a social media strategy for your organization may sound daunting. So much of the hype of social media tools appears to be focused on consumers or business-to-consumer (B2C) applications. After following this trend for the past several years, I am seeing many organizations beginning to analyze and even embrace social media tools for business-to-business applications (B2B).

There are an abundance of social media tools available today, but I am going to focus on two specific tools that can deliver real value to a Technology Transfer Office (TTO) – blogs and microblogging.

Blogs (or web logs) can be an effective vehicle for communications today in a time when information travels at the speed of the Internet. Blogs can be used by TTOs to:

  • Communicate valuable expertise and experiences with technology commercialization
  • Broadcast information on key intellectual property and licensing opportunities across your institution or enterprise
  • Share critical needs for collaboration and partnerships—an important component of Symbiotic Innovation
  • Improve overall awareness of your organization

While microblogging tools (dominated by Twitter today) have considerable limitations, they offer the potential to be an effective communications vehicle. Microblogging can be utilized to:

  • Announce new blog postings and other relevant announcements
  • Provide your organization with a communication tool to quickly and cost-effectively extend your reach to prospective licensees and partners
  • Expand and extend your current professional network of contacts

Since some TTOs are uncertain about whether they should be microblogging, I will elaborate on that particular social media tool in another post later this week. And next week, I will share my guidelines for effective blogging and microblogging.

What social media tools have you used to enhance your B2B communications?

–By Jack Spain

Effective Communications with Internal Stakeholders

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Maintaining effective communications with key stakeholders within your institution or enterprise (i.e. inventors, attorneys, administrators, financial, or public relations personnel, etc.) sounds easy, but quite often is considerably more challenging and resource intensive than we expect. Many of us are working with colleagues who have too many demands placed on them with too few resources and too little time. My tips for effective communications include following techniques.

 

1.     Empathy. View your role as a “service provider” and think of your internal colleagues and associates as “customers” and “suppliers”. With this perspective, it is important to invest time to understand your customer’s goals, objectives, issues, and challenges which can be accomplished by exercising effective listing skills during your interactions.

 

2.    Communication. It is almost impossible to over-communicate today with the amount of information transmitted continuously across your organization. Be proactive in your communications and attempt to speak in the language of your customer (i.e. beware of acronyms and internal office or industry vernacular). During your interactions pay close attention that your colleagues are actually listening to you and acknowledging your dialog. Far too often our colleagues may be paralyzed from information and assignment overload.

 

3.    Understanding. Invest adequate time to ensure that you fully understand the needs and expectations from your customers. Identify the specific criteria for success for both parties and seek multi-dimensional win-win-win agreements. Always keep in mind that last minute changes are considerably more expensive than getting it right the first time or making the necessary course corrections early in the process.

 

4.    Commitment. Prioritize your projects and your time on a continuous basis. Remain attentive to key milestones and events and keep in mind that “no” is an acceptable answer if your current priorities do not permit you change direction or commit to additional actions (of course, most things are negotiable). Bottom line is that results are generally commensurate with investments in both time and resources.

 

5.     Relationships. It is quite advantageous to build relationships proactively. Your network of professional contacts can often be leveraged to your advantage to connect with key influencers and decision-makers across your institution. It is also important to remember that initial impressions are very difficult to change so initiating any new relationships in a positive manner will often set you off on a trajectory for success.

 

Effective personal and professional relationships are a function of trust through consistent communications with integrity. Effective communicators are often associated with delivering positive results. Maintaining this type of reputation will position you and your organization for successful working relationships across your institution.

 

—By Jack Spain

Reflections from New Orleans at the AUTM 2010 Annual Meeting

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Laura Schoppe (Fuentek president and founder) and I staffed an exhibitor booth at the 2010 annual meeting of AUTM (Association of University Technology Managers) in New Orleans from March 18th to 20th. The meeting included 1,650 attendees and more than 70 exhibitors. We engaged with hundreds of technology transfer professionals across the globe over three very full days.

 

Fuentek Booth @ AUTM 2010 Annual Meeting

The exhibit floor remained quite busy throughout the conference and provided both of us with new insights into the current challenges and opportunities for university tech transfer offices across several continents. The feedback on the plenary sessions, presentations, and panel sessions overall was positive. We have already initiated our planning for participation in the 2011 annual meeting.

 —By Jack Spain

IP Marketing Iterative Process: Getting the Deal

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

In recent posts on Marketing Intellectual Property, I have conveyed the merits of implementing an iterative marketing process; validating your decision to invest your resources in commercializing a technology; developing your marketing plan; executing your plan; and proactively scheduling checkpoints to regularly validate your plan. The final and most critical step is to ensure that you are attentive to the remaining tasks to position you to successfully execute a licensing agreement.

There are several key points to consider throughout this stage of the process.

  1. Understand the perspective of your licensee. You must ask the right questions and invest time to ensure that you understand what is included in the agreement for the licensee to position this deal for a successful win-win-win outcome (institution, inventors, and licensee). Will your technology provide the licensee with a strategic competitive advantage? It your technology synergistic or complementary to their existing commercial offerings, or does it provide the licensee with new market opportunities. Is the licensee anticipating that they will be granted exclusivity to your patents, or are they specifically looking for field of use or geographic rights? The answers to these questions provide the framework for a mutually-beneficial licensing agreement.
  2. Communicate the licensing process. It is imperative to clearly define, document, and communicate your licensing process for prospective licensees to improve the cycle time and the productivity for negotiating agreements. Publishing your expectations, licensing steps, application and agreement templates, and key contact information on your tech transfer website benefit all parties.
  3. Manage the licensing process. Proactively managing expectations regarding the time investment, key milestones in the licensing and approval process, along with financial commitment expectations will result in fewer surprises, debates, and disputes throughout the negotiation process. This is important for all internal and external stakeholders involved to avoid unnecessary delays. For many technologies, time-to-market is critical and delays in the licensing process can result in deals that do not get executed due to lost market opportunities from other emerging innovations. It is also important to continue to stay focused and not get distracted by other initiatives competing for your attention this close to the “finish line” of getting the deal.

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Signing a licensing agreement is a very satisfying and rewarding experience and is often the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and planning over many months. Enjoy the moment and leverage your recent experiences as lessons learned for your next licensing deal. Remember that if your prospective licensee is not requesting exclusive access to your patents, you should also continue to support your marketing campaign in parallel with managing current deal opportunities.

—By Jack Spain

IP Marketing Iterative Process: Checkpoints for the Marketing Plan

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

In recent posts on Marketing Intellectual Property, I have described the merits of implementing an iterative marketing process; validating your decision to invest your resources in commercializing a technology; developing your marketing plan; and executing your plan. Another essential element of an effective iterative process is to incorporate timely checkpoints to test and validate your assumptions, reflect on the feedback that you have received, and communicate with your key stakeholders.

 

Pausing periodically to update your marketing plan based on the results you have achieved to-date positions you for greater success in commercializing your technologies and to proactively manage expectations with your management and the respective inventors. It is not uncommon for often unforeseen events to change the market landscape for a target innovation. For instance, consider the impact on:

 

  • the appeal of specific technologies after changes in political administrations (e.g. innovative green technology solutions)
  • the appeal of specific technologies after natural disasters (e.g. innovative geospatial solutions to assist relief efforts in Haiti and Chili)
  • the appeal of specific technologies after national security incidents (e.g. innovative airport security solutions)
  • the appeal of specific technologies after a major FDA product recall (e.g. innovative agricultural product screening solutions)

 

I recommend that you schedule a checkpoint every 30 to 90 days for each of the technologies that you are actively marketing to:

 

1.         Reevaluate the approach you are using to engage target licensees.

 

2.         Recalculate your anticipated return on investment from your marketing campaign.

 

3.         Reassess your target markets for commercializing subject technologies.

 

4.         Adjust your online marketing materials periodically to reflect frequently asked questions and additional insights you have gained.

 

4.         Proactively update key stakeholders on your progress and plans for the subject technologies.

 

Please share specific events that you have experienced that have had a remarkable impact on marketing innovations in your technology portfolio.

 

—By Jack Spain

IP Marketing Iterative Process: Executing the Marketing Plan

Monday, February 1st, 2010

An effective, iterative IP marketing process should include a well-conceived plan that focuses on delivering an acceptable return on your resource investments. Once your plan is in place, the fun begins with Executing the Marketing Plan. This essential phase includes contacting the target licensees that you identified through your market research, and managing the interactions between the licensees, inventor, attorneys, and other key technology transfer office personnel. Key steps in this phase to support marketing your intellectual property include:

 

1.         Contact prospective target licensees utilizing the best practices and methodologies that you have outlined in your marketing plan. Quite often this is a combination of telephone calls, email, conferences, and workshops.

 

2.         During each marketing campaign, you need to manage your schedule accordingly to ensure you are available to respond to questions and requests about the target technology on a timely basis.

 

3.         In order to efficiently vet prospective licensees and manage your time effectively, you should have a consistent process to capture and document your interactions. Ideally, you should utilize an IP management database system throughout the entire life cycle of the intellectual property asset. Depending on the anticipated commercial potential of the technology and the number of projects you are managing, it is extremely valuable to have a repository that provides you with the current status and state of each prospective licensee along with key metrics to measure the overall progress of your marketing campaign.

 

4.         Most Inventors are consumed with their research projects and do not have a lot of time available for a high volume of interactions with prospective licensees. It is important that you are conscious and mindful of the Inventor’s availability and effectively manage the quantity and quality of interactions with each Inventor.

 

5.         An effective marketing plan is iterative and periodically updated and realigned to reflect the questions and feedback from target licensees. You should update the marketing promotional materials representing your technology to capture the relevant feedback you receive throughout the execution phase.

 

6.         Obviously, the end goal of this phase of the marketing process is to facilitate development of licensing applications that have a reasonable likelihood of progressing into the Deal phase with the objective of executing a formal licensing agreement.

 

An essential skill to exercise throughout the execution phase is effective listening. You should be acutely listening to the responses and feedback from your target licensees and learning from how the Inventor responds to questions and challenges from interested parties. While your marketing plan should be an excellent roadmap to present your technologies to prospective licensees – it is also just as important to continuously refine your plan based on how the market responds to the novelty and potential commercial applications of your target technologies.

 

—By Jack Spain

IP Marketing Is an Iterative Process: Developing the Marketing Plan

Monday, January 25th, 2010

An effective, iterative IP marketing process should include a well-conceived plan that focuses on delivering an acceptable return on your resource investments. Your plan should be more of a “living,” outline-level guide than a voluminous document that you rarely revisit. An effective marketing plan can be developed with the following steps:

 

1.         Meet with the inventor to ensure that you have a solid understanding of the current state of the technology and to confirm the inventor’s willingness and availability to support the marketing effort.

 

2.         Write an “elevator pitch” or clear, concise, and compelling technology marketing description that will capture the attention and interest of your target audience.

 

3.         Determine the optimal approach to showcase your technology in a cost-effective manner.

 

4.         Develop a technical specifications sheet consistent with industry standards for the technology based on the market research in the technology assessment and when you validated your “go” decision.

 

5.         Identify the suitable promotional materials and methods to support your marketing plan. Refining your specific promotional plan to the norms of your target market can be considerably more effective than a “one size fits all” approach.

 

6.         Establish a method to package and distribute the technology to licensees. It is typically less resource intensive to define your approach early in the marketing process as opposed to being reactive after you have executed your first licensing agreement.

 

7.         Schedule checkpoints with the key stakeholders to confirm and validate your plans along with your resource and schedule estimates.

 

Developing a thoughtful marketing plan will save your organization considerable time and money and should produce a greater number of successful outcomes in the form of licenses per resources invested.

 

Are there additional steps you take in developing a marketing plan?

 

—By Jack Spain

IP Marketing Is an Iterative Process: Validating the “Go” Decision

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

An effective, iterative IP marketing process begins with revisiting the decision to proceed with marketing. This first step might seem odd, given that the “go” marketing decision was informed by an assessment. But in most cases, there is a lag between when you decide to market a technology and when you can market a technology (e.g., once a patent application has been filed). In the six months or more that usually have elapsed before marketing can start, the economic climate can change dramatically or the “shelf life” of the innovation may now be a factor. Pausing to confirm that the “go” decision is still valid helps ensure that your limited marketing resources are focused on the right commercialization opportunities.

A good starting point is to evaluate whether the information obtained during the assessment process still accurately represents the perspective of the target licensees:

  • Who the ideal target licensees for this particular technical innovation are
  • Why a prospective licensee would be interested in licensing this technology
  • What the specific features, functions, and attributes are that make this innovation compelling

Here are several steps that we recommend for validating the “go” decision without expending excessive resources:

  • Review the assessment and evaluation reports that have been generated by your Tech Transfer Office;
  • Review the invention disclosure and other more recent disclosures from the inventors—particularly those filed since the assessment was conducted;
  • Briefly review relevant papers, presentations and publications from the inventors, focusing on identification of potential commercialization opportunities;
  • Confirm the current IP protection status of the innovation;
  • Identify key milestones by which commercialization interest needs to be secured;
  • Research the requirements and expectations regarding any relevant industry technical standards that will impact or influence commercialization opportunities; and
  • Consult briefly with experts within your professional network for additional background and insights that will enhance your marketing plan.

Once this has been done, you can confidently begin to outline your marketing outreach and campaign strategy, scope and approach – a process that will be described in a future post.

Have you been in situations where this type of reevaluation has served you well – or where you wish you had done it?

–By Jack Spain

Marketing Intellectual Property is an Iterative Process

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

There is no one single recipe to market a diverse portfolio of technology-based intellectual property. Defining and institutionalizing an agile marketing process is important for delivering consistent, high-quality results from your technology transfer efforts. I recommend designing, developing and deploying an iterative marketing process that includes updating the marketing strategy on a regular basis with the feedback you receive from potential licensees. This includes frequent checkpoints to validate your assumptions, pausing to reflect on the market feedback you receive, and adjusting your plans and marketing materials accordingly.

A key overarching factor to incorporate into your marketing plan is the projected return on investment (ROI) of your marketing resources (i.e., do not plan to invest more resources than your projected licensing revenue stream). Technology IP marketing requirements are different than traditional commercial product marketing plans. I recommend that you invest “just enough” resources until you are able to substantiate the commercial licensing interest for the technology and then respond accordingly with the next step or iteration of your plan. Throughout the process it is important to validate assumptions, and capture and factor relevant market data into your marketing plan and level of commitment. Do not hesitate to bring the plan to a halt if feedback and market factors indicate a negative change in the licensing potential of the target technology.

The marketing plan should not be considered an open-ended project with an unlimited budget. Your key stakeholders should be engaged in a review of the next steps after each major milestone or key iteration. I recommend identifying and scheduling periodic checkpoints with key stakeholders throughout the marketing project. These checkpoints should be used to:

  • Reevaluate the marketing strategy and approach
  • Determine if additional market research is required
  • Reconsider target markets and prospective licensees
  • Recalculate the anticipated ROI of the marketing plan
  • Decide whether to continue or terminate the project

An iterative-based, agile marketing process with effective feedback loops should position you to identify and capitalize on high-quality prospective licensees from your marketing resource investments.

—By Jack Spain

December 8th, 2009

Best Practices for Marketing Intellectual Property

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Fuentek has had many years of hands-on experience in generating scores of licenses and successful partnership agreements for clients, and has identified the following collection of “Best Practices” to effectively and efficiently market intellectual property.

  1. Define, implement and institutionalize an agile marketing process as a guide for consistent quality results.
  2. Secure inventor commitment and availability before initiating a marketing campaign—their involvement is crucial to success.
  3. Prioritize your portfolio of technologies and allocate the appropriate level of resources by adhering to a proven filtering methodology.
  4. Focus on ROI to ensure maximum return on your investment of your limited human and financial resources.
  5. Employ the right promotional tools that are appropriate for the target technology and target audience.
  6. Make use of your Web resources as a cost-effective marketing tool.
  7. Qualify licensees effectively to ensure that you focus your limited resources on opportunities that have been property evaluated and scrutinized to position your team to achieve your licensing goals.
  8. Utilize an IP management database system to proactively monitor and manage all of your marketing interactions and initiatives.
  9. Engage IP marketing professionals with the right technical and business backgrounds to successfully commercialize technologies in your portfolio.
  10. Embrace your “lessons learned” from all of your technology assessments and marketing activities.

Licenses and agreements for your technology portfolio are the direct result of a consistent and disciplined adherence to your technology assessment and marketing processes along with thoughtfully formulated promotional strategy and tactics. Adopting these 10 best practices will position your organization for success in achieving your technology marketing goals and objectives.

—By Jack Spain

November 30th, 2009