The global economic crisis following the health crisis will most probably have a long-term impact on all businesses including all actors of the IP industry.
The first reflex in such uncertain times is to freeze all new projects and investments to preserve the company and its workers. While this is perfectly understandable and commendable in the short run, this approach will be counterproductive in the long run as it does not prepare processes and staff to the new paradigm. As Saul Alinsky puts it “Never let a good crisis go to waste” (wrongfully attributed to Sir Winston Churchill), or in other terms: Now is the time to take the necessary steps and review how law firms manage their business and eventually implement new processes or tools to be in a better shape to face future challenges, to navigate through the crisis and be stronger than before when getting out of it.
Before thinking about the actions, it is crucial to define the parameters of the new paradigm. Even if we are still in the early stages, we already know that social distancing and travel restrictions will be the new norms for quite some time.
For an industry like the IP industry for which Business Development is revolving around interpersonal relationships, international conferences, international prospection trips, these new norms will induce a need for a drastic change.
Fortunately, in recent years, Big Data and analytics tools have come online to help streamline the targeting of market segment, the preparation, planning and execution of (web) meetings helping IP firms to maximize the value of their time. They are making businesses more efficient under the new circumstances.
It is therefore more important than ever to be strategic and make informed decisions to bolster the success of marketing effort and achieve a drastic difference in the overall value of financial investments and time investments.
Creating a strategic business plan should be treated like any other project, and the most important step for any project is to define the measures of success. Typical objectives for such a plan could be the number of new contacts made, meetings (with prospects, customers or partners), the number of new customers or clients, the number of filings exchanged, or the revenue achieved through new business.
Identifying the market segments to target
The process starts with defining the target segment, based on an IP firm’s objectives and on the kind of profiles that are the most interesting for the firm. A common method is to look at your best customers’ profiles and look for prospects with similar profiles on the market. Another method consists of identifying a “customer wish list” and looking at entities with similar characteristics.
Typical criteria are the (foreign) filing volume, the technical areas covered, the avoidance of conflicts of interest on portfolio level, or identifying the countries with a current exchange surplus in the law firm’s own portfolio.
There is no ultimate list of criteria. It will depend on the strategic goals of the firm. However, it is important to be specific without being too restrictive.
Marketing science has taught us that implementing a targeted approach while being relevant for the audience is key and can drastically increase your response rate. This is exactly where big data tools like Patent-Pilot can have a powerful impact on the planning, as such tools allow to understand the business of clients and partners ahead of meetings.
While the segment selection is about the firm’s own expectations or goals, the meeting preparation needs to focus on the counterparts. What are their expectations and challenges? Patent data can help irrespective of whether the firm has a history with the prospects or not.
Here is a list of information to analyze: Trends in filing volumes, the current client and partner base including new clients and partners, the most important jurisdictions, the current case exchange ratio with certain countries (for partners only), the freedom in decision making regarding the exchange of cases and currently pending filings that will soon reach their nationalization deadlines.
Once the firm has gathered such information, it’s time for the interpretation. In other words: Coming up with arguments that speak in the firm’s favor. These can be, for instance, overlaps in technical expertise, mutual clients (for law firms) or mutual partners (for clients), or an overview about areas with no conflicts of interest.
One of the pitfalls the firm should avoid is “assuming” the meeting partner’s objectives. Those need to be discovered and addressed directly to take the guessing out of the equation.
The approach will be different depending on either the existence or absence of a prior relationship and based on whether it is with a law firm team or with a corporate client or target.
In any case, arguing based on data objectifies the discussion and shows that the firm has done its homework. This can be done by pulling out a “data report” of internal and external information and analyzing it together.
Demonstrating a deep level of knowledge about the meeting partner’s activities as well as an understanding of business opportunities will raise credibility as a trustworthy partner and might justify the call to action.
As we saw here above, Big Data analytics tools can greatly improve the efficiency in Business Development activities, which will be key in the post-COVID19 world, by:
- Making sure the firm is talking to the right companies and people.
- Making sure the firm understands the counterpart’s business.
- Making sure the counterpart knows that the firm understands their business.
In essence, it will lead to more efficient preparation and more effective meetings. Both is worth quite some time and money.
Here at Patent-Pilot we have built a market intelligence software for law firms specifically around this. If you want to learn more what we can do for you, please get in touch.