How to Protect Intellectual Property When Engaging a Marketing Vendor

by Lucas Hamon on June 28, 2017
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Do you know how to protect intellectual property rights for your company?

It's one thing to understand who owns what under the letter of the law (by the way, this is NOT legal advice - for that, you should always consult somebody qualified to provide legal advice... which I am not); but we all know how ugly separations can get.

I think it's important to assume the worst case scenario is possible in every business transaction, and when you're the one sticking your neck out to bring in a vendor to perform a specific marketing function (like lead generation), you have to make sure that if it DOES blow up, that the explosion is contained and casualties minimized.

So, here are some tips for ensuring that the digital marketing agency you're bringing in to supplement your department's marketing efforts aren't putting you at risk.

After we talk about how to protect intellectual property for your company, learn more about the significance of Intellectual Property Rights.

1. Make sure the contract explicitly assigns IP rights to your company

This is important, because some people say a lot of great things on the phone, but don't put their money where their mouths are, and if it's not explicitly stated who own IP rights, they could make separating REALLY painful. I wouldn't necessarily say that if it's not there, they are leaving it out intentionally, but this is about avoiding worst-case scenarios before they become worst-case-scenarios.

Protecting your company's intellectual property starts with the contract, so just make sure it says what it needs to say, but don't stop there! You could go through litigation for months or years before something is settled, and your company needs their IP today.

2. Engage with everybody separately

If you're bringing in an inbound marketing agency, you're likely going to need to adopt a few tools that you don't already have. For example, a typical inbound engagement for us will include the following software subscriptions as requirements:

Each of these cost money and require contracts. If your company isn't engaging with them separately, you're at risk of losing immediate access to your materials if a separation occurs.

A scenario I see often is agencies rolling up Hubspot costs in their fee structure, then they end up being the ones to engage with Hubspot, not the companies paying for the services. This is a problem, because THEY own the account in this scenario, not you.

They can kick you out at a moment's notice, and you will have no recourse with Hubspot that won't feel like moving mountains.

Imagine losing access to your blogs and offers and analytics, or worse, your entire website in the blink of an eye!

YOU engage for your company. YOU maintain administrative control.

Google Drive:

This one deserves its own category because of how incredibly important it is. Most agencies will use Google Drive and its awesome live tools like Docs and Sheets because of how much easier it is to collaborate than with Microsoft's old suite (although, I did just see that they are finally coming around).

This drive is something that can live on YOUR drive or theirs, but just be sure you have a good back-up plan for it.

If it lives on the agency's drive, make sure you have access to every piece of it, then make a copy every 2 - 4 weeks on one of your company drives. This is good practice even if you own it, because with inbound, there are a lot of collaborators involved, and you want to minimize damages when somebody deletes or changes something they shouldn't be touching.

The safest way to do it is to have it live on your Google drive. I would still back it up, but there is no way for your agency to hold your investment hostage if it's on your drive. I suppose they could always go in and delete everything if you don't kick them out before firing them, but that's why you have back-ups!


CONCLUSION:

Set the stage for a relationship built on mutual benefits, not "stickiness" through manipulation. You're sticking your neck out enough already for these guys - they should have your back :)

If you're interested in learning about how Orange Pegs Media can help you develop awesome IP (through Inbound marketing) that your company owns outright and exclusively from the moment it is created, click HERE:

Looking for new and innovative ways to grow your tax or audit firm? Check out inbound marketing by Orange Pegs Media!

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Online Branding, B2B Marketing Strategies, marketing trends

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