Pitfalls of Pitching in Science
The Pitfalls of Pitching and Presenting
We hear and read a lot about how lousy scientists are at pitching. That is partly due to the fact that scientists are very factual in nature and are not marketing and sales oriented people and so they do not think it is important to market own expertise. However, today pitching and presenting your expertise in a convincing manner is extremely important for everybody. It gives context to how and where your products and services should be used and the benefits that they bring to the customer.
It is essential that researchers improve their understanding of the impact of the business world. The content of a presentation depends on who it is targeted to: a funding agency, a customer or an investor. In addition, one needs to consider if the target is a national or an international organisation since different things are considered important in different countries and cultures.
Often researchers tend to focus too much on technical details and stay within the area that is their comfort zone and their expertise. However, the presentation and/or pitch should have a balance between technology explanation and the market potential as well as showing that the team behind the idea are the best people for the job. Researchers need to be able to productise her/his expertise in a manner that its benefits are easily understood.
Pitching is especially important, probably the most important skill, for young companies. They need to be able to present the business proposition in a simple manner that is tailored to the audience.
SSC has excellent training courses on pitching and presentations tailored for customer’s needs. If you want to receive more information on our courses, please contact Dr. Anna-Marja Hoffrén, SSC Finland, email: [email protected] or phone: +358-45-2782595
Intellectual Property, beer and Kylie Minogue….
Intellectual Property (IP) in all its many and varied forms, is the foundation of successful business – but like all property it needs thoughtful maintenance from its creation right throughout its lifetime to develop, increase and protect its value. Depending on the type of product or service, it may have a number of complimentary aspects of IP, each requiring careful consideration as to how it should be protected managed and even disposed of to create and add value to the overall product/service.
A couple of recent news items illustrate this.
A trade secret can be an incredibly powerful property – unlike a patent, it has no finite lifespan but equally, there is no protection if somebody copies it or otherwise acquires it. Examples include the KFC secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, the formula for Coca-Cola, reportedly held in a secure vault in Atlanta and known only to two people who are forbidden to travel together, and closer to home, it’s a similar story for Irn-Bru, where the “secret ingredient” is passed down as a family secret. So why would the owner of such valuable IP willingly give it away?
Brewdog is a craft brewery that was started in Fraserburgh by literally two men and a dog in 2007. By the end of 2015, they’ve grown the business to a turnover of £45million, turning a profit of £5.5million. 580 staff produced 41million bottles of beer….and this week they published all their beer recipes and brewing instructions! So why might this be a smart move for Brewdog, when it would be commercial suicide for Coca-Cola? Well, Brewdog is currently crowdfunding investment from its enthusiastic followers. It thrives in its market by continually innovating (over 200 beers), rather than focussing narrowly on a single product range, and it will continue to do so all the time it brings out new brews. Giving away the recipes also fits well with Brewdog’s brand values, whereas Coca-Cola’s brand is inextricably intertwined with the mystique of being based on a secret formula. Finally, Brewdog have developed their brand to the point where it has a strong and loyal following, and complimentary IP protection in the form of the skills, knowledge and experience needed to turn the recipe into a product (as anyone who has ever bought a celebrity chef cookbook will be all too aware!) and a strong Trademark position.
Talking of Trademarks brings us to Kylie Minogue. For those of us of a certain age, the diminuitive aussie singer and actress has been entertaining us since the mid 1980’s, along the way achieving worldwide record sales of over 80 million. She has also been incredibly successful at developing the Kylie brand to cover a range of products from perfumes to tour memorabilia including mineral water. This branding is protected by a number of trademarks.
Global branding can be highly valuable, but it only retains its value if it can be successfully defended. This week her agents filed a notice of opposition to a US trademark application for the trademark “Kylie” by Kylie Jenner, “a secondary reality television personality” claiming approval will confuse audiences and dilute her brand. The case makes fascinating reading, and no doubt I’ll look at developments in future blogs.
Dr. Cait Murray
Time out for reflection in Aix
Early in the year it is traditional to hold a "kick-off" meeting to gather a company together to talk about how to execute the plan for the coming year, and a little to review the past performance.
SSC is no different, and the whole team headed off to Aix-les-Bains close to the French/Swiss border, to discuss and analyse how best to use 2016. For SSC this is a watershed moment. A "Gathering of the Clans" point in time. SSC has grown and developed, just like the companies we work with, and now we have reached a critical mass point where it makes sense to review our progress to see if we are still actually headed where we set out to reach, and if that destination is still correct for the team who are now involved and the skills we can offer.
The review was then used to inform the plan for the future. We have set ourselves goals, we have made decisions about how to fulfill the goals and outlined activities that we believe will take us there. We have ambition, we have strategy and now, 6 weeks later we can still look at the discussions and decisions and see that we are, indeed, still on track for what we have set out to do.
As CEO of this organisation I feel very pleased and relieved that I can say that we have a great team. We know where each of our own skills lie, and how that intertwines with the skills - technical and non-technical - of the rest of us. We are not all leaders, or ideas people, in fact, right now our team is in great harmony and balance with our aims and our ambitions. It's a feeling that fills me with great optimism for 2016.