The link between intellectual property and the marketing of your small business might not be readily apparent, but it exists, and it is vitally important. Your intellectual property, and protecting the rights surrounding it, can help you create an exclusive brand, and a unique place in the marketplace that none of your competitors can share.
What Is Intellectual Property?
First things first. A basic definition of intellectual property is required to help us understand the link between it and marketing. Simply put, intellectual property refers to intangible and non-physical goods - creations or ideas from your mind which could, in a business sense, include:
- a business name
- a logo
- symbols and designs
- product or service innovations
If you create of any of these things, they are said to be your intellectual property. But unlike something tangible like a house or a car, ownership of your ‘property’ is somewhat clouded, as you will discover.
Marketing Your X Factor
It is far easier to market your business if you have a unique selling point. Your all important point of difference, which is an X factor common to all of your marketing, can be protected and preserved by securing the rights to your intellectual property.
It could be an innovation to a product you manufacture, or to a service you provide. It’s unique, it’s exclusive, it makes you stand far above the competing pack…and it was thought of by you. Good work. Now your must protect it!
Protecting Your Point Of Difference
Marketing your small business by promoting your point of difference is nothing but good sense. It makes you unique, and gives you the ability to promote yourself in a way no other competitor can. To ensure you can continue to market yourself in a singular way, far from the madding crowd that is the pool of business you compete with, you need exclusive rights to your intellectual property. Just because you thought of it doesn’t mean you have automatic and exclusive rights to it.
There is nothing to stop a competitor swooping on your stroke of genius and taking what you may see as their unfair share. Whether its a product or service innovation, they can deliver something similar to the marketplace and steal your thunder. Suddenly, your point of difference is obliterated and you’re part of the crowd again.
To stop anyone else cashing in on what you have created, you can take steps to protect your intellectual property rights. Copyrights, patents and trademarks are the most common, while a variety of other rights exist which also give you protection and exclusivity. Securing your intellectual property rights where you live might not mean you have international protection. You may need to exploit treaties between countries to secure rights in more than one place….it doesn’t happen automatically all the time.
Timing Is Of the Essence
Understanding intellectual property, and how to secure your rights to it, is probably not the easiest thing to grasp. Seeking a legal opinion on protecting your intellectual property is always a good idea…and it’s an even better idea to seek that advice as soon as possible. Don’t wait until your innovation is fully developed and out in the marketplace. You should be affirming your rights to your intellectual property as soon as you start to develop it. By waiting too long to take action, you gift your competitors the one thing they need to copy what you have created…time! Don’t wait.
Making Marketing Easy
Promoting your small business, and maintaining a competitive advantage, is much easier when you do things no other business does. In many cases, your intellectual property is the genesis of that competitive advantage. It is the thing that makes you unique, and the platform for more effective marketing. Be a stand out figure in a crowded field by ensuring YOUR innovation remains yours.
Cynthia Lee is a marketing and advertising strategist working with Zoomstix branded USB sticks. When not dreaming up new promotional ideas, she loves keeping an eye on the latest technology and gadgets, good food and furry animals big and small. Especially pandas.