In Defense of Passive Marketing in Tech Transfer: Technology Listings

Updated September 2014

Earlier this month, I was invited to a university technology transfer office (TTO) to discuss ways to get the word out about licensing opportunities. The invitation was driven by recent changes in the tech transfer industry — specifically, the AUTM® Global Technology Portal (GTP), which allows free posting of tech listings by AUTM members and free searching by all. (Quick definition: A listing is a description of a technology and its possible commercial applications.)

With the launch of the GTP, TTOs have another important arrow in their marketing quiver. That’s because this type of passive marketing tool is as essential to TTOs as the active efforts of making phone calls, meeting with prospects at industry conferences, and the like. (Editor’s note: For information about a third option — targeted marketing — see “What to Do When a Patent Is a Couch Potato“)

This might be surprising to hear, given our tendency at Fuentek to talk about being proactive in managing intellectual property. But “proactive” is not synonymous with “active.” Rather, the definition of proactive concerns acting in anticipation of future needs, problems, or changes. It’s about making conscious choices about how to approach each and every tech transfer opportunity. (No cookie cutters here!) And yet I would say that 99.999% of the time it is worth creating an online listing for technologies that have market potential.

Why is the online technology listing de rigueur? Well, the first and most important reason is…

You’re Practically Done

You expended the bulk of the resources needed to write the listing when you did the screening or other triage process. During that process, you did the work needed to understand what the technology is and what it can do for the user and, by extension, why the market would be interested in it.

The cost to convert that information into a technology listing is incremental. If you wrote it down as part of the screening report, use that technology overview (removing any enabling information if the IP is not already protected). Even if your triage process doesn’t include a written report, the information is at least in your head as part of making the disposition decision. Take that extra step of committing it to paper. (Whoops! I’m dating myself. I mean “Type it into your computer.”)

But the technology listing isn’t merely a “because it’s there” marketing tool. There are other important reasons to post technology listings online as a form of passive marketing.

It’s Expected

In this day and age, your TTO must have a strong Web presence to be considered a credible source for technology or a partner for collaborative R&D. If you have no information on your Web site about your technologies (as well as your capabilities and expertise), then the likely conclusion will be that your organization has nothing to offer in that field. Conversely, the more hits you get for a search, the more likely there will be a match for a license or partnership. Technology listings are an effective way to populate your website, showing off the depth and breadth of your portfolio and your capabilities as an organization.

Sometimes Active Marketing Isn’t Warranted

It’s important to consider the expected return on investment in commercialization. Granted the ROI in a tech transfer effort is not always financial. Nevertheless, you don’t want to put way more into the marketing effort than you can hope to get out of it. In these cases, passive marketing helps you get the word out without breaking the bank.

It Complements Your Active Marketing Efforts

Technology listings are not just for passive marketing. An online technology posting gives you something to point to when reaching out to prospects. There are no printing costs, and it makes it easy to include multimedia and social media items in your online technology marketing.

It Captures the Serendipity

Regardless of whether your marketing effort is active or passive, an online tech listing creates the opportunity for a potential licensee to find you. We’ve had numerous cases where prospects have approached our clients (or us since we have many of these listings on our site too) after finding a technology listing through online searches. (Of course, this is highly dependent upon the effective use of appropriate keywords.)

What percentage of your commercializable technologies are listed on your Web site? How do you make decisions about whether to list a technology online or not? Send me a message via our Contact Us page.

Posted by Laura Schoppe

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