When the IP is your Own

As IP strategy consultants, we spend the majority of our time advising clients on how to make the most of their IP.  What happens when the IP is our own?

I have had in the back of my mind the lessons of our recent Mieza books as I begin activities to sell a documentary that I produced and co-directed on oceanic whitetip sharks.  You can see the trailer here that will show what we did – first team to dive with the world’s most dangerous sharks outside shark cages at night.  The Mieza books show the ever increasing levels of depth that an IP strategy needs to include by showing the consequences of missing subtle points.  So step-by-step I have sought to anticipate what could go wrong with my IP strategy so that it doesn’t.

I have feedback even from a couple of prominent directors in Hollywood that we got this documentary right, and today, December 7, 2011, we begin that last critical step…selling the IP.  So here I am where so many of our clients find themselves, especially on the small business side, knowing full well from experience that there is no truth to the idea of “If you build it, they will come” for the lesser-known innovator.  IP has to be sold.

On the surface, it should be an easy sale.  We have taken all the risk to create this IP, and so in effect are selling money for less than it will cost the companies starving for good content.  However, there is another truth in sales that rarely gets taught in sales schools, let alone to most IP creators.  Once any product is good enough to provide a solution – in our case something that will attract an audience that will in turn attract advertisers – winning usually involves some factor other than being better.  We are, in most cases, calling as outsiders companies that, while they do buy outside content, also have their own dedicated production teams that they need to justify paying and who are perfectly capable of producing at least good-enough content on their own.  Comparably, many inventors learn about the many other factors that come up during IP sales the hard way.

As a consultant looking in at my own work, this is the question I am asking myself.  In order to break in to this competitive field of shark documentaries, I studied every angle of the current winners in order to make something demonstrably better than what is out there.  There was a clear opening – the proverbial white space.  No one had ever been willing to do an unprotected night dive with oceanic whitetip sharks in the 41 years since filmmaker Peter Gimbel, maker of the documentary Blue Water White Death in 1970, said such a night dive was the one thing in that documentary he had regretted not doing.

I have outside feedback from people in-the-know to give me ample 3rd party evidence that we succeeded in qualitative part of the documentary strategy.  We may have to take the long route and prove this at upcoming film festivals.  Or is there something I didn’t see just like my Mieza character that will appear obvious in hindsight?  The same week we were on cue but did not get called back for an interview at a prominent morning news channel, the channel aired a story about a dog at a beach chasing a harmless nurse shark…Is this the “piece of information that did not strike me at the time” as per the Mieza books that I need to account for with open eyes right now?

Stay tuned…

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