Ramp Up to Tech Marketing Part 1: Proactive Research to Make an Impact
Once the technology transfer office (TTO) knows that a technology is fit for commercialization, it’s time to ramp up for actual marketing. This involves a variety of proactive research and planning activities that are critical for successful and cost-effective marketing.
1. Identify the Target Market
Developing a roadmap for successful technology marketing starts with identifying exactly who your prospective licensees are. The best practice is to start by considering the value chain. Because the value chain outlines the primary players in an industry, it is an essential tool to identify target markets and prospective licensees. It can also help ensure that you don’t waste time talking to companies who may be “interested” in your technology because they may want to use it but are not in the right value chain position to license it.
2. Get “Customer” Feedback
Reaching out to the industry is an essential part of the ramp-up for technology marketing. These conversations will:
- Help you understand how the technology’s value proposition is perceived
- Provide key information that will influence the marketing/licensing strategy
- Convert cold calls into warm leads and initiate marketing
Most importantly, this feedback will help you confirm that continued commercialization is warranted and understand exactly what type of investment (e.g., further testing) is likely to pay off.
3. Get the IP and Technology Ready
As a result of market feedback, additional technology development (e.g., proof of concept or specific test results) may have been identified that are prerequisites for potential licensees to consider commercialization. The funding needed for that development can come from a variety of sources:
- Some universities offer translational funding programs.
- Sometimes funding can come from the state level, such as in North Carolina where the Innovation-to-Jobs Working Group recommended the establishment of a University Innovation Commercialization Grant Program (not yet implemented).
- The federal Small Business Technology Transfer program (STTR) provides funding for innovative R&D for small business and university/research institutions collaborations.
- In some cases, a prospective licensee might jointly participate in and/or provide funding for the necessary technology development, as illustrated in example #3 in my post about making good use of market data.
Also, now is the time to identify additional actions and investments needed to secure appropriate IP protection. If a provisional patent application was filed earlier, consider whether claims can/should be modified in the non-provisional to optimally address the market. If foreign coverage is available, determine to what extent it can/should be pursued given the gathered market intelligence.
4. Develop the Licensing Strategy and Marketing Plan
Based on the information assembled and analyzed, the licensing strategy and the marketing plan can be developed.
As discussed in this post, the licensing strategy lays out your goals for the technology and the type of licenses and licensees you should seek to meet those goals. Should it be an exclusive, non-exclusive, or field-of-use license? Is it a startup opportunity? If so, should resources be spent de-risking it and seeking a competent management team? Thinking through these and other questions helps lead to more productive licensing efforts.
As similar consideration of options are considered for the marketing plan. Should it be a passive, targeted, or active marketing plan? The same principles and processes apply in each case. The difference is how much time and resources you put toward achieving your goal.
Consider Fuentek a Resource
An effective marketing effort requires both diligent research and careful planning to balance the resources and level of effort put into it against the expected return. To help TTOs, Fuentek offers our Readiness Assessment and Marketing Planning (RAMP) service. Fuentek’s RAMP includes:
- A list of companies and points of contact to target
- Direct market feedback with detailed insights into the market and how the technology might fit
- Warm leads who express validated interest in the technology, accelerating continued marketing efforts with those prospects
- A market-ready technology description that becomes the foundation for marketing collateral
- A list of next steps, providing a roadmap for moving marketing forward
For more information about how Fuentek’s RAMP service can add value and support your technology marketing efforts, contact us today.