What are your thoughts, ideas and homegrown processes worth to your business? It very well may be that you can give your firm a distinct competitive advantage by monetizing your ideas and building an intellectual property portfolio.
**This post was originally published on Iconic Woman.**
It is no secret that small businesses drive the economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses account for 99.7% of all employer firms and employ over half of the U.S. workforce. We’re talking 40% of our scientists, engineers, and tech talent. But there is an underlying reason for small businesses being able to employ technical and creative talent – intellectual property (IP).
What is Intellectual Property?
Let’s start with the basics here. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has this to say:
Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
We’re talking about ideas. Thoughts. And more than just fueling your daily actions, your ideas – some of them, at least – have market value.
Why IP is important for Woman-Owned and Minority-Owned Businesses
IP can boost the value of your company. Intellectual property presents a huge opportunity for minority business owners who may be cash-strapped but idea-rich. Women entrepreneurs actually seek outside funding far less than their male counterparts. Adding intellectual property to your portfolio can not only help you build multiple streams of income but a collection of copyrights, trademarks and patents boost the value of your company.
IP can give you a fast and firm market advantage. Intellectual property can also help your firm gain the advantage over your competitors by bringing new innovations to market. What business owner wouldn’t want to be responsible for an invention that helps her dominate her market and have a patent in place to ensure her competitors cannot duplicate her processes?
Inventions and patents aside, the Internet is built on intellectual property. If you want to remain competitive in tomorrow’s market, minority-owned businesses should start adopting the practice of creating content – videos, books, articles, social posts, podcasts, courses, and other intellectual property – today. In our web-driven, search-engine-fueled economy, a business will have a hard time surviving without it in the coming years.
IP can help you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Intellectual property also strengthens your ability to differentiate yourself in the market. As a consumer, whom would you rather patronize: A professional who works a 9 to 5 and does the occasional lecture at a nearby college campus, or the expert who has invested so much time and effort into mastering their profession that they have produced half dozen books and training courses to present and sell at the occasional lecture?
If you miss the live event, you already know you can buy the recording on her website in a matter of days or weeks. IP makes the difference by allowing you to meet your targets right where they are.
The U.S. Economy Thrives on Intellectual Property
Small businesses may be paying everybody, but intellectual property is creating the jobs. A report released by The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and The Economic and Statistics Administration offers insight on just how valuable intellectual property is:
“The entire U.S. economy relies on some form of IP, because virtually every industry either produces or uses it.” – Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus
The United States is not exclusive in its mission to perpetuate innovation by offering creators protections for their ideas. These protections – delivered in the form of copyrights, patents and trademarks – encourage creators to market and monetize their ideas. The more great ideas we are able to turn into profitable businesses, the more economic stability the country can enjoy.
Look, I grabbed this report published by the World Intellectual Property Organization called Intellectual Property for Business. It contains very valuable information, insight and strategies for how small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) can get ahead by using intellectual property.
If you’ve thought at all about formalizing a process or creating and selling multimedia content, I urge you to download Intellectual Property for Business by clicking here.
You’ve written a book and published it. So, why aren’t you at least web famous? We’re going to talk about what you may be missing and why becoming an author just isn’t enough anymore.
Paulo Coelho is a cultural icon. His book, The Alchemist has gone down in history as the most translated book by a living author, available in five dozen languages around the world. What most people don’t know is The Alchemist is author Paulo Coelho’s sixth published work.
A small publishing house in Brazil first published The Alchemist in the mid-1980s. Legend has it, the initial print run was for 900 books and the publisher had no intention of running a second print. With a firm belief in his own book, Coelho says he took his book and literally went door to door in search of another publisher. The publisher he found agreed to take a chance on a book that had already been in the market and not done well. And that’s how the “legend” of Paulo Coelho started.
Of course, today, Paulo Coelho is Paulo Coelho, but had he not taken his book and knocked on doors with it, we may still not know anything about a seemingly random book written in Portuguese about a boy in search of a buried treasure. I’ve read The Alchemist. I read it after I heard Will Smith mention it in an interview with Tavis Smiley. But think about that: From obscurity to Will Smith’s mouth to my house. My, what a little foot work can do for a book.
It’s okay to use authorship as a cool side hustle
We are living in the fast and furious age of information. You and I both know that you can Google just about anything these days and generally learn more theory about a topic than the guy next to you.
By reading a few well-chosen web articles then writing a few well-placed ones, anyone can feign expertise in anything and write a book about it. Heck, I earn my living doing just that for folks. Ask me anything about Joe Biden, pomegranates, the paleo diet, nursing informatics, digital marketing… the list goes on and on and on.
The Internet has changed how we consume, and therefore value, written content. The more content we have access to for free, the smaller paychecks get for writers.
Having never been in the world of traditional publishing, I wouldn’t dare attempt to recommend best-practices for getting published and staying relevant in that space. But I will say it’s a hard mountain to climb if you’re writing books, publishing them and banking on the quality of your work to be your only marketing tool. For goodness sake folks, we’re pushing out more than 4,000 books a day in the U.S. And a recent article in The Guardian entitled “Authors’ incomes collapse to ‘abject’ levels” lets me know authoring and publishing are no money machine in the UK either.
Books have been demoted to being just another medium by which we share content. That said, if you’re still thinking of book publishing in the old-fashioned way, I urge you to catch up.
Digital publishing, on the other hand, is the next phase of writing and authoring books. With a smart marketing plan supporting your efforts, writing a book really is a great way to build your brand, get traffic to your site, boost your profile and create residual income from one-and-done efforts.
Digital publishing is more my terrain and comes with opportunities that will help you make money faster and gain more traction as you build your brand. There are those who write trade books and want to see them sell. Then there are those who write trade books they want to see sell them. I am in the latter category.
Here are two proven ways to help any book perform better, assuming you have the time to do them (or the budget to get someone in there to do it for you)
Whether you pursue traditional publishing or you self-publish, you will need to implement a marketing plan that will set you apart from the other authors crowding the virtual bookshelves. There are two strategies you can employ that will keep you from being just another nameless author with a book on the shelf.
First, build your tribe. Marketing expert, Seth Godin talks about this notion extensively in his book, Tribes. Even before you release your book, your team should be working to locate your target audience, figure out what your audience wants and how they engage online. This happens long before your book ever goes to market.
Effectively building your tribe is going to require the three things people are most stingy with: time, energy and attention. Still, this one important practice is the single most important thing that separates the experts from the book authors. They are no longer one in the same these days.
Second, build your brand. As important as finding those who are interested in what you have to say is making sure you’re actually out there saying something. In addition to your book, you need to have other digital marketing collateral. These are the elements I like to call “moving parts” and they are a big part of your brand identity. They also play a key role in supporting and validating your book. These include:
- Your website
- Your social media platforms
- Your videos and podcasts
- Your membership site
- Your opt-in products (books, reports, templates, videos, training)
- Your subscriber list
- Your training program(s)
On the surface it may seem like a jumble of marketing tactics where one has nothing to do with the other, but the truth is, without even consciously being aware, these are the elements or moving parts your audience expects to see from you. It helps them feel good about trusting you.
So, write that book. Get the forward done and vie for the endorsements… and while you’re doing that, have your creative team handling the other important things on the list. For this is how you build a brand and building a brand often makes becoming an author worth the effort.
One of the challenges many micro businesses face is finding the most effective ways to market so they get found online. If you’re not an Internet marketer it can be difficult to find the time to make DIY online marketing efforts worth your while.
For all it’s simplicity, Internet marketing ain’t all that easy. It’s time-consuming enough just to learn the jargon – content, backlinks, SEO, keywords, long tails, CTR, PPC, PPM, on and on… Let alone the fact that tomorrow (if the Google gods see fit) the entire landscape of online marketing could change.
I’m going to let you in on one of the easiest strategies you can use to get found online. And you won’t have you to attend several days of YouTube University for it to work.
It is this: Add a Product and Services section on your site, not just a single page where you list your products and services.
Why You Need to Create a Page for Each Product or Service You Offer
The Services / Products section of your site is made up of a series of pages. Those pages should quickly answer a single question for your customers: How can you help me?
As awesome as your products may be, your customers don’t care about your products. Your customers care about their own problems. If you position your products and services as solutions to their problems, you can close the distance between your customer’s first visit to your website and an actual sale.
Search engines rank individual pages, not entire websites. So, make sure each product or service you offer has its own page that search engines can rank.
Think about the last time you searched for something online. You probably asked Google (or your search engine of choice) a specific question: “What time does Fung Lim’s close tonight?”
Maybe you didn’t ask an actual question; maybe you searched just by saying keywords: “Chinese restaurants near me” or “Chines restaurants 48220”
If this is the way you search, you’re not an anomaly. That’s how most people search now – few words, no filler, very specific.
Search Engines Rank Individual Pages, Not Entire Websites
With that in mind, if your customer conducted a search using just the name of your city and the service they were looking for, would your website come up in Google search results? Would your customer be able to find you online?
Check out the screen shot below. As I was writing this article, I conducted a search for the term “avocado nutrition benefits.”
In the screen shot above, you can see “avocado nutrition benefits” in the search bar, and the featured result comes from AuthorityNutrition.com.
Authority Nutrition is not a website about avocados, Authority Nutrition”provides daily articles about nutrition, weight loss and health,” according to its About page.
But Authority Nutrition has at least one page on its website about the health benefits of eating avocados. Authority Nutrition isn’t the only health website that does.
In the screen shot above, you can see results from WebMD, Medical News Today, Well-Being Secrets, and Organic Facts. Each of the websites showing up in the search results for “avocado nutrition benefits” contain at least one page on their site that is about the nutrition benefits of avocados. None of the sites are websites specifically about avocados.
That’s what you want to happen when people search Google for answers to problems you can solve.
You want specific pages on your site to be so well-written and so succinct that search engines know what your page is about and can recommend it to people when they are searching for the service you provide.
Your Products and Services Are Your Keywords
Think of each product or service you offer as a keyword – that is, an actual search term – that your customers are using to find you and your competitors online.
Make sure search engines can find you, not only by your industry (as in “plumbers in Decatur, GA”), but also by the specific products and services your company provides (as in “how to fix a busted pipe”).
You exponentially increase your chances of getting found online by creating one page for each product you sell offer.
Describe your product – the features and benefits, how it works, how it helps. Include any testimonials you’ve received or case studies you’ve conducted in support of the products.
Your product pages are basically sales pages. And they are key digital real estate on your website. Include images of the product and a description of what you have to offer. Also list specs, prices and what the user can expect to receive by using your product or service.
Use Geo-Locational Keywords to Get Found Online
If you target customers who live or work in a specific area, they will probably search for products and services in that region. For instance, someone who is looking for lawn services will search for local landscapers.
“Landscapers in Atlanta” or “Denver snow removal”
If you offer a product or service that is specific to one geographic location, add location to the products and services you offer. A Denver-based landscaping company may have the following pages on its website:
- Denver Topiary
- Snow removal in Denver
- Lawn services in Denver
- Denver Hardscape design company
Help your customers find you. Once they find you, use your smarts and good web design to help make the buying process easy.