Innovators can be a huge asset in helping market their technologies to potential partners, licensees, and investors, as they bring unique knowledge and expertise to any discussion. However, successfully communicating the value of their inventions in a discussion, presentation, or networking event can be challenging for innovators precisely because of their knowledge and expertise.
We recommend training inventors to ask themselves the following key questions as they evaluate how their innovation might fit into a particular market:
- What do you offer?
- What are the benefits of your capability or technology?
- What problem does your work solve? Who has those same problems?
- How can your technology help solve this problem?
Notice none of these questions has anything to do with how they created the technology or the nitty-gritty of how it works. That’s on purpose. Once they start thinking about the “solution” they provide (rather than the technology), then help them develop a clear, concise message that focuses primarily on what the technology does. Although innovators can talk at length about their technology, help them understand that shorter is better at first. Three to five sentences is typically sufficient; they can elaborate as the person they’re speaking with asks questions.
Encourage inventors to focus on the innovative aspects of their invention (how is the technology safer? more accurate?). Then list some key potential benefits. This finely honed message can become a kind of “script” so that an innovator is prepared for any situation.
To help technology transfer offices with training their innovators on “pitching” their technologies, we’ve assembled a webinar designed to help innovators learn how (and why!) to talk to various audiences about their technologies. “Pitching for Innovators: Communicate at the Right Level for Any Audience” teaches innovators how to understand the varying paths to commercializing their technology, identify the key factors that affect commercial potential, and then craft a message that shows how their technology fits into the market.
The webinar is peppered with case studies that illustrate how to describe technology in compelling language (better, faster, cheaper) and work with the different types of people that innovators will encounter at conferences, networking events, and luncheons — anywhere they might run into commercialization decision-makers.
Does your TTO arm innovators with talking points before sending them to meetings? Or do you have a story to share of a time you wished an innovator had had some help? Post a comment below or send me a private message.