Are you sitting on a goldmine? Are you relying on your “years of work”? Get intellectual property out of your head and onto your bottom line.
You need to be competitive in today’s landscape. There are more agencies out there offering services than ever before.
But you have an unfair advantage…
You have experience you can draw upon to create your processes.
The thing is, you probably take this advantage for granted. Instead of leveraging it to delight your clients, you’re just using it without thinking about it.
It’s time to change that.
It’s time to take all those amazing processes you’ve created and turn them into defensible intellectual property.
The processes you use are actually your property. And you need to establish that to the world, so you can show your clients the value you offer that nobody else can.
That’s what we’re going to look at in this article. But before we do, let’s confront some of the problems you might be dealing with right now.
The key problem here is that X years of experience is not enough to sell your services to a client in the current landscape.
Saying that you have 15 years of experience doesn’t have the effect you want it to have. In fact, I think that a lot of people just don’t care about how many years you’ve been working. They care about all the stuff that’s in your head, and how you’re going to use it to help them solve their pain points.
That brings us to another problem…
You have all this great stuff in your head. But you might struggle to get it down on paper so you can explain it to clients in a way that they’ll understand.
That’s why you go for the easiest explanation.
You tell your clients that you build websites, for example. But that doesn’t make you any different from the dozens of other agencies out there doing the same thing. How’s a potential client supposed to decide to choose you when they have so little information?
They’re not going to. Instead, they’re going to pick the agency that offers the lowest price, if they think every agency offers the same thing.
Beyond this, you might also struggle to get predictable results. Because you haven’t unpacked your IP, you’re not leveraging a framework that you know will work every time.
And this inconsistency can ultimately cost you clients, as some of them simply won’t get results. And that means your agency loses out on revenue…and could even develop a negative reputation.
You have a number of opportunities open to you when you unpack your IP.
The biggest is that you get the chance to build assets. Instead of relying solely on your experience and intuition, you’ll have proven processes to follow.
You get to turn your knowledge into something tangible that will delight your clients. Whether it’s a process, model, or framework, you’ll have something you can use to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
You’ll turn your experience into something defensible. Because you’ve defined it, nobody else can claim it. Nobody can claim to offer what you offer, because it’s unmistakably yours.
And finally, you can create a consistent outcome. With your IP in place, you’ll have the frameworks you need to deliver every time. You can think of your IP as your cookie cutter. Every time you use it, you get the same outcome.
Best of all, defining your IP will give you an even better idea of what you’re doing to help your clients.
That’s what unpacking your IP is all about. And here are the Five Hot Principles that will help you to improve sales and your process.
Principle #1 – IP Your Steps
You already have three to five stages that you take clients through in order to get results. For instance, you probably have a discovery process, a strategy process, and so on.
Within each of those stages, you have steps that you undertake. In the discovery process, you may have a stakeholder interview step that you take with every client, for example.
It’s these steps that we’re looking to turn into your unique IPs.
Sticking with the stakeholder interview example, you have your own way of handling them. You probably have the questions you ask and the process you follow mapped out. All that stuff is completely unique to your agency. Nobody else does their stakeholder interviews the same way you do.
You need to take some time to unpack that step. Get it out of your brain and into some tangible form. Define it and give it a name that’s unique to your business. Figure out what tools you need and what actions you take to complete each step.
Now you have a model you can turn into an IP. And then you can leverage that model to show your clients how you do these types of interviews differently.
Do this for every single step within each of your core business processes.
Principle #2 – Focus Your Outcomes Like a Laser
You’re looking to turn each of your steps into a proven methodology.
To do that, you need to get laser-focused on your intended outcome. You have to know exactly what you want to achieve with each step for it to be worthwhile.
The key here is how this translates to your client. You need to be able to tell your potential clients exactly what they’ll get from each process. And this needs to be completely different from what they’d get with any other agency.
The challenge comes from making that outcome understandable. And that brings me to…
Principle #3 – Add Shape for Depth and Understanding
Anyone who’s familiar with how I work has probably seen that I use a lot of shape-based models.
For example, let’s say that I’m looking to build an effective website for a client. There are three things I need to do that:
- An amazing design to make the website usable
- Great code to make the site fast and functional
- World-class content to ensure the website serves its purpose when it’s launched
Those three things combine to create a defined outcome – an effective website.
I can represent this as a triangle model. With the outcome placed in the middle of the triangle, these three things form the corners. Without one of them, the triangle breaks apart and we don’t achieve the outcome.
A well-coded and attractive website doesn’t mean anything without great content.
Amazing content and a good design mean nothing if the website is slow and clunky.
By using a shape-based model, you add depth and understanding to the outcome. You show your client what you need to achieve with each step and what goes into making the outcome a reality.
The upside of this technique is that shape-based models are really simple. Clients can look at them and instantly understand what goes into creating the outcome. And of course, you can turn that model into an IP that’s unique to your agency.
Principle #4 – Tell Your Stories
It’s not just about showing off a model or firing off a bunch of trademarked terms. That’s not going to stick for your client. If anything, you could end up confusing them. You need to add context.
Specifically, you need to show them what this piece of IP achieves. In other words, you’re telling the story of what this thing does for their business.
That means telling stories about how this IP helped other clients create a better experience or generate revenue.
These stories showcase the transformation your process creates. It’s like a caterpillar creating a cocoon. The outcome is the beautiful butterfly – and that’s what your client wants to see. They’re not particularly interested in what goes into building the cocoon.
Principle #5 – Pitch the IP with Your Value
When you’re presenting to clients, you want to make sure that you’re calling attention to your branded terms. These are unique to the IP you’ve created. They can’t make up the whole presentation, but they have to be there.
Apple is absolutely amazing at this. Take the iPhone. It has a little motor inside that vibrates when the phone rings. They call it the “haptic engine”.
Android phones have these little motors inside them too. But I couldn’t even guess what they’re called, because they don’t brand the IP.
Apple trademarks every major feature that goes into making their products.
You need to do the same for your IP. Consider the outcome as your product and brand everything that goes into creating that outcome.
It’s Time to Unpack
Now you know how to leverage your experience in the best way possible.
Most agency owners don’t, which is why they struggle with the problems I’ve mentioned. When you unpack your IP, you define your outcomes and make it easier to explain them to your clients and potential clients.
Thus improving sales and your client process.
I dig into this in a lot more detail in UACADEMY.
Are you curious to learn more about what’s holding you back from success?
Find out if we can help by applying for your FREE strategy session.