Monday, August 20, 2007

Intellectual Asset Help a la Carte? Forget It!

Back when you didn't know the ins and outs of restaurants, do you ever remember watching plates full of good food being delivered to nearby patrons as you anxiously waited for your order? When it came, perhaps there was just a lonely pork chop on an otherwise empty plate. What, just a pork chop? That's my dinner? And the waiter answered: "I'm sorry. Our meals are a la carte." Order a chop - get a chop. Nothing more. Disappointing! For many of us, the dining experience is incomplete without all the extras. Leave them out and the sizzle is gone.

The side dishes are one reason why Korean restaurants are among my favorites. The meal inevitably includes a spread of numerous side dishes to sample with the main course. Even when I order something inexpensive, the sides are there to make the meal exciting.

I think the same concept applies to consulting firms serving clients, whether it involves intellectual assets, business plans, or any other field. A satisfying experience should include extras to create customer delight.

  • Someone wants help with a couple patents? Give them more! Help them consider the digital intellectual assets as well. Look at their portfolio and suggest some trademarks, domain names, even YouTube channels that could help them. In fact, if they like the suggestions, take five minutes during lunch and help them register the domain names on the spot. (Pet peeve: many people wait for months or even years before thinking about the marketing aspects of an invention, sometimes missing opportunities to obtain domain names and other low-cost assets that may have been available earlier. Don't put this off!)

  • Someone looking for help in getting a great invention to market? Don't just help with the marketing strategy -- show them how they can use this invention as the first in a series of related products that can lead to a robust pipeline.

  • Someone wants help with training their people on the basics of patents? Don't just help them with the training - show them how they can build a community of practice in their company to naturally grow expertise in intellectual assets across their company. A self-sustaining community of practice in intellectual assets is one of the most important things some companies can do for their IA systems - and was one of the most important things that I helped bring to Kimberly-Clark during my years there (with the assistance and support of our Chief Innovation Officer, Cheryl Perkins, who is now the owner of Innovation Edge, the exciting firm where I work now as Director of Solutions Development).

In one recent meeting with a client, we noted that their position potentially could be broader than the concept they were focused on. In fact, we offered a suggested trademark to cover a broader scope. It took five minutes to do the search and see that it might be available. It took another 60 seconds to see if the domain name was available - and it was. We even interrupted our meeting to guide them through the simple domain name registration process and secure the domain name for them on the spot. A nice side dish that added a lot of enjoyment for the client. A la carte services? Forget it! Make sure the side dishes are included.

No comments: