The Futureof Trademark Agencies: Winning business strategies in a changing market


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The increasing importance of trademarks is a fact. Worldwide, the number of registered trademarks is increasing rapidly, and on every business day an average of 11,000 trademarks is registered. However, the market of 'trademark services' appears to be strongly on the move. Requests from clients are changing, and trademark agencies must make choices on how to anticipate on this. Not only choices have to be made, but trademark agents will have to adjust their organisation and provision of services to that as well.

Many of the market developments can also be noticed in other professional service sectors. For instance, law firms, consultancy firms, training and education agencies, and architects and engineers are also confronted with a changing 'economic landscape'. Therefore, developments that apply to the whole sector of professional services are partially included in this report as well, in order to inspire.

With this study we want to show the trademark agencies how the demand for services with regard to trademarks is developing, and what those developments mean for their role in the coming decade.

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The Futureof Trademark Agencies: Winning business strategies in a changing market

  1. 1. The future of trademark agencies Winning business strategies in a changing market Prof. dr. Frank Kwakman Cris Zomerdijk MSc
  2. 2. THE FUTURE OF TRADEMARK AGENCIES Winning business strategies in a changing market Prof. dr. F.E. Kwakman C.J. Zomerdijk MSc
  3. 3. The future of trademark agencies isbn 978 90 5261 662 9 © 2008 F.E. Kwakman, C.J. Zomerdijk
  4. 4. Preface Nowadays, trademarks are a part of our economic life and it is impossible to imagine life without them. A trademark can be a word, a shape, a logo, even a sound, a scent or a combination thereof. Worldwide the number of registered trademarks is increasing rapidly, and every day an average of 11,000 trademarks is registered (source: Thomson CompuMark ISS database). The strongest growth is taking place in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) prompted by strong economic expansion in these ‘developing nations’. In Europe trademarks remain popular as well, with over 500,000 new registrations in EU countries in 2007. Registering a trademark in the official trademark registers is therefore an important, and in most countries necessary step to safeguard a trademark and prevent infringement. In most countries, a trademark right is established upon first registration in the trademark register, and not upon first use of the trademark. As partners of trademark specialists (lawyers specialised in trademark law) we have noticed that our clients’, trademark agents’ and attorneys’ market place has been subjected to significant changes. Thomson CompuMark wants to be a real partner for its clients and help them operate more efficiently, productively and with more market focus. Professor Kwakman of the Nyenrode Business University was asked to map this market and provide his insights into the future of independent trademark specialists. Clients of trademark agents and attorney’s offices have become more critical and less loyal, and increasingly compare offers from the various players in the market. A good example would be requests for quotations from organisations to various trademark agents to register trademarks and file them in the trademark register. Corporations regard this activity as a ‘commodity’ and therefore require sharp prices.
  5. 5. 4 THE FUTURE OF TRADEMARK AGENCIES We have noticed that the wishes and needs of the industry have changed, as a result of which trademark agents must make choices and invest in order to meet these needs. Not only do trademark agents have to make choices, they will have to make changes in their organisation and change the way they deliver their services as well. In this study we want to show trademark agencies how the demand for trademark services has been developing, and what that means for their role in the coming decade. Jan Broeckx Managing Director Thomson CompuMark
  6. 6. Introduction The increasing importance of trademarks is a fact. However, the market for ‘trademark services’ appears to be undergoing significant changes. Clients’ needs are changing, and trademark agencies need to decide how they want to meet these needs. Many of these market developments can also be found in other professional service sectors, both in research and in daily practice. For instance, law firms, consultancy firms, training and education agencies, architects and engineering firms also face a changing ‘economic landscape’. For that reason, and for inspirational purposes, some of the trends which apply to the entire professional services sector have been included in this report. We are very grateful to Thomson CompuMark for the opportunity to research the trademark sector, both from the clients’ and trademark agencies’ perspective, in more detail. The research results are unique for trademark agencies and are based on the response of approx. 230 clients and 180 trademark attorneys across Europe. Our research findings were presented on 2 October 2007 at a congress in Brussels organised by Thomson CompuMark. This report has impressions and pictures of that day. Apart from that, the research results were further elaborated and converted into strategic advice on how to develop a ‘winning business strategy’. We thank all our interviewees and participants in our research and hope the results and suggestions in this study may help you to shape a successful future! Nyenrode Business University, March 2008 Prof. dr. Frank Kwakman Cris Zomerdijk MSc
  7. 7. Management Summary brussels.– On Tuesday 2 October 2007 rather turn to medium and small offices Thomson CompuMark organized (1 – 10 attorneys). For large attorneys (11 an exclusive conference on winning and more but not full-service) there’s business strategies for trademark no difference in the client segments attorneys in collaboration with (50%/50%). the Nyenrode Business Universiteit (the Netherlands). The meeting was Top arguments for increase in attended by more than 60 participants registrations are different for clients from 10 different countries who and attorneys. Whereas attorneys in the had come to get acquainted with first place turn to financial value, clients the spectacular results of two recent want more increased innovation. On extensive market surveys which the second argument – differentiating had revealed important trends, from competitors – attorneys and clients opportunities and threats for the agree but not on the third: easily entering business. new markets versus more conscious and better understanding. In his opening speech Stefaan Dewulf, Vice-President Sales & Marketing, first In the field of client satisfaction and had to excuse managing director Jan loyalty attorneys tend to put their Broeckx, who was absent because of a reputation first but for clients it only minor road accident two days before. comes fifth. Only half of the clients in the Then he pointed at the importance of survey would recommend their attorney, keeping informed of the constantly the other half even skipped the question. changing business environment and Attorneys think their clients would competitive landscape of trademark give them an 8 as overall satisfaction agents and law firms. For the first time score and 75% would recommend them. professional trademark attorneys could So both parties are not on the same dispose of the results of a scientific wavelength and the approach to the approach by means of market research client has to change radically. Critical surveys responded to by over 100 statements: shopping for another trademark attorneys and more than attorney has never been easier and the 300 companies. They were presented by market transparency has to be turned Drs. Cris Zomerdijk, senior consultant from a threat into a challenge. within the Holland Consulting Group, who supports Prof. Dr. Frank Kwakman Although a decrease of 6% in trademark and Leo Kerklaan with research and registrations is to be expected, attorneys consultancy in the field of performance remain optimistic. Too optimistic management and marketing. because attorneys and clients only agree on an increase of online-services. Growth without making choices? In the overview of how the market These are only a few examples but a study was conducted already important future strategy can be built upon them. differences appeared in the client Most attorneys should be more realistic: portfolio: who works with who? Full- an increase in turnover can only be service law firms deal with 70% large realized by focusing on the clients’ needs, clients (more than 100 registrations). by investing in marketing and not only Small clients (less than 16 registrations) restricting to offering current services
  8. 8. 10 THE FUTURE OF TRADEMARK AGENCIES to new clients. The market is growing, On the other end labour markets tend getting more competitive and that to get more flexible with an increase implies a strategy to adapt to changing of self-employed people creating their needs. own networks, a growing demand for temporary staff and last but not least A ticking time bomb more and more offshore business units. As to Prof. Dr. Frank Kwakman, an expert The answer is providing services across in the management of professional borders and winning the war for top service firms, we must face five critical talent. factors which represent a ticking time bomb. To deal with these challenges the firm of the future should no longer sell hours There’s a growing gap between because clients want to buy results. We perception of trademark attorneys and have to take in account that the average their actual and future clients. Clients’ client does not exist and thus focus on the satisfaction and loyalty are low. New individual client, build up partnerships clients are attracted without paying with strategic clients: loyalty is highly attention to or investing in new services. effective to create stability for the future, The expected increase in turnover is more likely than reputation which is unrealistic. Half of the firms are unaware always the result of something else and of the need to invest in marketing can’t be built on itself. strategies. All these facts are based on recent research and long term personal Client orientation at all levels and experience. continuous innovation of all services can only be achieved by means of The marketplace for professional intelligent use of it. In this field we are service firms has changed dramatically: running behind on industry. Technology competition and pricing pressure have is available and we only have to make never been as tough as they are today and it work in a smart way. Easier made all branches in this market have to face communication and quick availability the same problems and challenges. of worldwide knowledge are but a few of the many it advantages. The changing client demands are based on three bases: strategic advice Winning business strategies are divisible for unique issues, solutions for highly into two groups: general strategies standardised services and functional and differentiated ones for solutions competencies to fill in temporary needs. firms, advisory firms and full service The main question is: will we be able to firms. All three are faced with the same combine all three? implications for the marketing function though: external communication and pr, Traditional monopolies and borders practice groups to stimulate marketing are fading: the market has become activities, sustain customer relationships more global, there are new players in and develop strategic positioning. the field, everybody competes with everybody, which causes an unseen new At the end of his lecture Prof. Dr. Frank competitive pressure. Clients become Kwakman invited his audience to take more critical buyers and that implies new part in two out of three workshops after professionalized purchasing functions. lunch. So we did…
  9. 9. MANAGEMENT SUMMARY 11 The stronger the brand, the bigger the recommendations, they all have to miracle swap attention for attraction: tell a The last ten years the percentage of the unique story, share fast, unexpected and world population using the internet involving ideas and captivate visitors by multiplied by ten from a fringe 1.7% in understanding their needs and motives. 1997 to 17.8% now. In 2007 half of the Belgian population uses the internet on a The emphasis is on audio-visuals, regular base, in the Netherlands the rate contents, interactivity, linguistic usage, is even higher (73.3%). The user growth in structure and objectives. Internet the European Union has reached 170.8% changed the world but how can we in the past eight years. The predictions for change the internet? The ideal website is 2020 are even more optimistic. We must a matter of screening. (S) Set your goal face the fact that the world has evolved and collect items to reach it. (C) Create to one big global village. This offers great a difference for the client. (R) Reach the opportunities but also includes risks. client. (E) Experience with sight, sound Whether we’ll be present on the internet and motion. (E) Enable the client to and perform online services or not is no regulate business instantly. (N) Neaten longer an issue. The question is: how will the website by taking care of a clear and we be able to turn the worldwide web logical structure and navigation. into a winning business strategy. Our guide was Frank Swolfs, owner-manager Customers should do your advertising of an independent design and advertising What’s the ultimate way to manage client agency and member of the board of the relationships for trademark attorneys? PanEuropean Design Association. A lot of questions to be answered by Drs. Jos Burgers, economist, registered First conclusion: the internet is a new marketeer with over ten years experience medium with its own rules but it doesn’t of practical business, teaching and offer any more guarantees about the consultancy. amount of prospects than the old media. Nevertheless it’s free and it can be fun To begin with we should ask ourselves a provided that we leave the actual general few questions rather than annoying our trends and use all available technology. clients with questionnaires. Customers don’t like them and strategic clients Websites are on the whole clear and are too valuable to offend them with clarifying but still too much focused questions. The only questions are: would on text so that they don’t exceed much you recommend us to others? And: are brochures on paper. new customers being referred to us by others? A website is not a sheet of paper though: it’s a full option television screen As to the lecturer marketing starts at including motion, sound, colour and the top, not at the bottom. Clients’ first interactivity. Audio-visual elements must experience is capital: nobody wants to focus on ratio, emotion and functionality: buy, everybody needs help and that’s not only words but feelings and structure exactly what we should offer them. How as well. can I help you? And is there anything we could do better? Just asking improves Although there’s a difference between the relationship with the customer. If full service law firms and trademark the customer leaves, keep helping him attorneys/companies concerning and do anything you can to get him trends, contents, evaluation and back. But that doesn’t go without further
  10. 10. 12 THE FUTURE OF TRADEMARK AGENCIES restrictions. First of all there are two ways The future is not what it used to be. of making profit. There’s good profit and bad profit. Good profit means you’ll be If you always stay with both feet on successful for years. Bad profit is a short the ground, you’ll never make a step term return achieved by working with forward. passives (score: 7-8) and criticasters (score: 1-6) at the cost of strategic Make your customers laugh: don’t sell, customers (score: 9-10), promotors, as just tell. they are usually called. As a measure of success the Net Promotion Score is the If everything is under control, you’re substraction of score 1-6 from score 9-10. not fast enough. Marketing is not always a question of If you’re certain, you’re lost. budget and our business is based on confidence since it doesn’t deal with You’re thinking about the quality of fast consumers’ goods. So No Budget your life? There’s still enough time to Marketing is nothing more than having think about that later. your clients doing your own advertising. By the way: the only professionals who You have to think ahead of things. don’t advertise for themselves are… Thinking is working too! advertising agencies. What does No Budget Marketing include? How to find Be a participant in life, not just a and keep customers? Building a strong spectator. reputation on a brand name, effective use of mailings, websites… but don’t overfeed This is a gap in the market. But is there your clients with information, the value a market for this gap? of having promotors, rewarding those promotors and using them in getting Loyal customers are made, not born. new clients. Totally different in fact from the usual account managers’ talk. Only 17% of the clients leave because the price is too high, 92% for lack of Starting a new approach to customer attention. relation management? Remember these: avoid ‘cattle behaviour’ – the You’re born with two ears but just average client doesn’t exist – and dare one mouth. Start listening instead of to make choices, identify your strategic talking. customers, formulate clear criteria, distinguish between satisfiers and Do what you love to do and quickly dissatisfiers, formulate your strategy in find a way of getting paid for it. account plans. Never sleep at the office in the Make your audience laugh morning. Otherwise you won’t know The final tune was played by court what to do in the afternoon. jester Bob Delbecque. The big chatterer managed to carry out one the most And just a few seconds before the difficult tasks in business: making his champagne sparkled, the complete audience laugh. Since nobody’s at the audience received a copy of Bob’s latest same level of sharpness we’ll restrict book Crisis Chance! Signed by the master to some of his remarkable statements. himself… Without any comment… Copywriter: Guy Goewie