Advice for DoD (and Other Federal) Tech Transfer Professionals
Last week I returned to the annual workshop of the Technology Transfer Integrated Planning Team of the Department of Defense (DoD) to give two presentations that I think our readers will find of interest. One session focused on the Global Technology Portal (GTP) launched earlier this year by AUTM®, while in the other I discussed using social media to enhance tech transfer. Yes, we’ve blogged quite a bit about AUTM’s GTP and Fuentek’s social media advice in the past, but stick with me because the info and insights I’m sharing today definitely caught the attention of the DoD tech transfer professionals.
AUTM’s Global Technology Portal Is Open for (Government) Business
As the GTP’s launch was receiving a very positive reaction at the 2012 annual meeting, the AUTM team was already working on ways to increase participation by another key recipient of federal R&D dollars: Government agencies. Last week, my presentation (as VP of strategic alliances on the AUTM board) was the first official announcement directly to government agencies that federal labs and other nonprofits can list their technologies and research needs on the GTP via a special subscription of only $200 per year. AUTM membership is not required, which is good since most government rules preclude agencies from paying for organizational memberships.
This relatively new addition to the GTP structure was welcome news to the DoD tech transfer personnel at last week’s meeting. They recognized that GTP is an excellent, low-cost means for posting information about technologies available for licensing, which fits well into highly active as well as more passive technology marketing strategies. The DoD tech transfer folks also appreciated the GTP’s “Needs” module, where they can list their various R&D challenges and thereby make it easier for universities, corporations, and others to propose matching solutions or ideas.
So whether you’re with DoD or another federal agency, take a little time to learn more about AUTM’s Global Technology Portal and then apply for a government subscription.
Putting Social Media to Work for a Government Lab
Although some federal technology transfer offices (TTOs) are beginning to venture out into social media, quite a few are still just sticking their toes in the water… or hanging back on the pool deck. So here is some of the advice I shared with the DoD folks that really pricked up their ears.
Blogging: A blog is one of the best ways to increase traffic to your TTO’s Web site without having to make a significant investment in resources. Simply leverage the content of your marketing materials to blog briefly about the technologies available for licensing and point to the relevant page on the TTO site for more information. (Here’s more advice on blogging about technology licensing opportunities.) A blog also gives you a chance to tout the TTO’s successes.
Tweeting: The number of followers your TTO has on Twitter® is not as important as who they are. So start by figuring out who you want to follow you and follow them. Retweet their content, augmenting with your own valuable information. Eventually, they will see that you are worth listening to and they’ll start to follow you. Still feeling unsure of how to get going? Start by “lurking” to see how others in the industry do it and how often. Also, check out Fuentek’s tweeting advice.
LinkedIn’ing: Some of the key decision makers you’re wanting to target might not be on Twitter but are active on LinkedIn®. So meet people where they are and build a following via a company profile page. Again, this doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. Simply repurpose other social media content in the profile updates, pointing to the TTO Web site as appropriate. BTW, this effort complements using discussion groups to market technologies.
No matter where or what you are posting, include a URL that points back to content on your page for further information. (Better yet, use a bit.ly to link to your site.) All of these social media efforts drive traffic to your Web site, which in turn improves your Alexa ranking — a measure of how your site compares in terms of visitors relative to all other Web sites. The Alexa ranking is important because it gives you an indication of how well you will do in online search results. The goal is to show up “above the fold” (i.e., high enough on the page so scrolling isn’t necessary) or at least on the first page. Otherwise, you are less likely to be found by your targets.
Remember: It’s not about a single blog post, tweet, or profile update. All of the social media efforts are part of the larger strategy of rising above the din to connect with your target audience. And the core of that strategy is the TTO’s Web site. I can’t stress it enough: Having a robust Web site is absolutely essential.