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Marketing for IP Practitioners

In this series of short blog posts and videos I want to talk about the fundamentals of successful marketing for IP practitioners.

For those of us with no formal prior training in marketing or sales, the whole idea of business development can be stressful and intimidating, and this is made worse by all of the chatter about new web-based tools.  If you are like me, you were trained as a lawyer and need to practice law.  Taking on a whole other set of marketing issues “in your spare time” is not exactly a dream.  Being required to do more networking is troubling, but having to grapple with a whole slew of expensive web-based marketing tools is even worse. There is a lot of noise about marketing these days, tugging us in many different directions at once.  Much of this is self-interested blather from folks who want to get you to spend a lot of money on them.  They usually talk with a whole alphabet soup of acronyms and new names, like AdWords and PPC, SEO, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MailChimp and more, but very few of these marketing people really know what – if any – relevance these newfangled things have for a serious business like intellectual property.

I have spent a lot of time, money and grief trying to sort through what works for those of us in the IP business, and I want to share with you what I have learned. No hook, no catch – just my ideas.

6 years ago I bought a very small Canadian patent practice, and as I set out to grow the firm I was thrown into the deep end of marketing and business development. At the time I knew almost nothing about biz dev and certainly did not have any training or experience. Since then, however, through a combination of trial and error, hard knocks, training and education, I have gradually come to know a moderate amount about what does and does not work in our business.  And while we are still a small firm, we have been fairly successful.  Essentially all of our work now comes as a result of the various marketing initiatives we have implemented.  We cannot coast on legacy clients – we live and die by our ability to generate new work from new clients.

I do not expect to revolutionize your marketing, nor do I expect that if you follow my suggestions you will suddenly see a massive influx of new work.  My hope is simply that to give you some confidence and peace of mind that you are on the right track, so that you can tune out the noise and avoid wasting a lot of time and money and focus on what works.

Here are the key things I have learned:

  • There is no magic silver bullet.
  • Focus on the fundamentals.  The fundamentals of marketing do apply to IP.
  • Nothing will happen overnight.  Business development takes time (and effort, and money, and ideas, and repetition).
  • Of the many new online marketing techniques have appeared in recent years, a few of them can be very useful for IP practitioners, but many are neither useful or appropriate.  You can safely ignore almost all of the noise about new stuff.

Ultimately successful business development in IP is about getting a few more folks to entrust you with their IP matters.  In the next few posts I want to talk about the following topics:

  • To sell IP we need to sell trust.
  • You sell trust by providing indirect proof via content marketing and social proof.
  • Referrals are the best social proof, and the way to get more referrals is to recognize and address the trust concerns of your referral network.
  • A little tool like Intellectual Property Law For Dummies book can really help to build trust, and in particular, to support and assist your referral network with their needs.

That is what we will cover.  There is no hook, no catch, no hard sell.

Of course, I do think that Intellectual Property Law For Dummies, produced in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Owners Association Education Foundation and now available for you to buy, is one of the best marketing tools in our business (perhaps the best?), and I hope that it will help you grow your business very successfully, but as the author of course I am biased.  I have distributed 60,000 copies of the Canadian version and I really think that this new version will help you, but I promise, no hard sell.

I hope that these musing are useful for you and I look forward to your comments.


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