Thinking about Bizdev

Some ideas to get you started:

  1. Who goes first? Most biz dev is supplicant driven. You need a license or traffic or cooperation and you are forced to figure out who to call and to make your pitch. The posture of the licensor is to work to avoid trouble (saying "no" is always safe) or to maximize the money on the table (which kills the best deals.) What happens if the licensor turns it around? What happens if they proactively seek out aggressive, smart, successful organizations to run with their brand or property?
  2. Who lays out the deal? Most licensors are hesitant to offer a deal first, because if it’s accepted, they have to say yes. As a result, there’s a lot of fencing back and forth (sometimes this lasts for years… I’ve seen it many times). The most successful deals are the ones that are simple and quick. The goal isn’t to have the biggest piece of pie, it’s to have the biggest pie.
  3. How easy is it? You’d be amazed how many people will do a deal because it’s easy. Because they feel respected. Because they trust the other person. When you get all lawyered up on both sides, little good can come of it. If I were a bizdev person, I’d try to close every deal, yes or no, within a week. Even acquisitions.
  4. Who’s responsible? Disney says that they don’t test the toys with their name on them. Shame on them. The value of the license/traffic whatever goes up if the customer is treated well, so both sides need to be clear about what the standards are and both sides need to be on the same side when it comes to controlling and patrolling those standards.
  5. Is a big advance proof of good intentions? In the toy and apparel and book businesses, licensees usually indicate their aggressiveness and dedication with big advances. Ironically, the hits usually come from the stuff where the advance wasn’t so big. That’s because small (or no) advances encourage organizations to experiment and to promote without being in a defensive posture.
  6. Is it a waste of time? At the risk of contradicting some of the above, most biz dev deals are a total waste of time. That’s because they are safe, because they are either risk-free and boring or because they do nothing but leverage the existing brand without adding anything new. The question is still the same: "Is it remarkable?"
  7. Are you measuring? Bizdev can be pretty glamorous. But does it work or just make press releases? If you measure, you’ll know.