Episode 414: Owning Your Business’ Marketing Assets With Ryan Waterbury

Show Summary

Rob Cairns and Ryan Waterbury discuss why it is important to own your marketing material.

Show Highlights:

Business Owners need to own their digital assets.

  1. Why do you as a business owner need to own your domain?
  2. Do not forget about your print assets.

Show Notes

Today we have Mr. Ryan Waterbury, my monthly co-host. Hey, Ryan, how you doing, man?

Not too bad. It’s a beautiful day. Nice, sunny. Well, kind of no rain for once.

I should I should be recording this podcast on my back deck right now. Actually, it’s starting to overcast, but if we did it an hour ago, we would have had sunshine in the background. So there you go. It’s that Minnesota rain that I think is coming. East again.


Yes, you know how that goes, right? It never goes east or goes South or goes N choose your poison.


Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you know what the time of this record? I’m just glad I’m not a hockey coach in Toronto these days because I don’t know if you’ve seen the news, but or the trauma police coach got fired this morning. The biggest shock of the sports. Hope not. He should have been. And and this nation is about to have a nickname and I don’t like leaf Nation, so I’m saved and saved and saved. So there you go.

We’re we’re on the the other side of that with our NBA team. We’re having some good success in the postseason for the first time in about 20 years, so I’ll take it when I get it.

Yeah, it’s about time. I’m sure you. Will so today. We were kind of talking offline like you and I always do a couple times during the weekend we thought because of an issue I got into, let me preamble the podcast by saying. Explaining the issue without revealing the client or the IT company that caused me all the grief for like 2 weeks. So I had this coin I’ve taken over and is web hosting and it’s a real conversation I should tell you this that to my complication even more than you, you’re shaking.


Yeah, because we all know, we all know how bad this goes.

Ohh yeah.

And. This client. I was trying to do stuff on his back end and every time I hit a link. I hit a 503 error. And in WordPress it usually means a resource problem on the server and the IT guy is, oh, this hosting’s not bad. I think what he did was he took a pile of clients and threw a month some cheap *** shared hosts so we could charge him lots of money and make money and said screw my clients. And it was at the point where I’m where a backup buddy. Shop would take for a site that’s a MB long would take, believe it or not. 30 minutes to. Run that bad. OK. See, you know something’s going on. We we both do enough web work. We both do enough care plans. We both know. And updates were like 1520. So I approached the client and said I. Think you need better hosting? And this is what and Greiner, Greg with me. No problem. Let’s move it. There’s only one little problem at the time. The client did not own his domain name. His IT company registered. It for him. And the long and short of it was, I had to ask the question seven different ways in seven different days. On how to get to Dominion and it got and the client even wrote this IT guy as per his contract and said I assigned responsibility to me and he ignored me too. So we ended up having to do everything 3 way and it finally got to the point where I basically said to them you got 24 hours to give up the domain name and send me. What’s called the? EP or AUTH codes same thing so I can transfer them not unlock these domain for me or I will consult? Legal acts. Because to add to it even more, the clients initials are in the domain name, so it’s kind of hard to argue that the problem with this whole scenario is and it’s all fixed. I should tell you he finally had a come to census. Woman, I think somebody dropped a brick on his head and said it’s not worth fighting over a $20 domain. And the client certainly wasn’t going to go back to him for any other work. So what does it matter? At that point. Now the problem is what should have happened is a. The client should have registered the domain name himself or B the IT guy should have registered it. To a e-mail account set up for the website that the client has 100% control over. That. He could have got to go mean it and the reason I bring this up is what you and I wanted to talk about today. Is clients need to learn.


Own their marketing assets. So we’re not talking. We’ve had the rented land discussion in past and things like that. We’re not talking that we’re talking own the actual assets. So let’s jump in there. What are your what are your thoughts on this mess and how it? Should have pointed out that.

You know, with Google domains shutting down and you know I’ve having clients where I recommended to register there for years and you know and then now I come back to clients and said well we we should move your domain and several clients said hey, can you just do it? I mean, I said no, and here’s why. And I had laid out the ethical scenario that this is your asset. If anything happens between us and you choose to. You move. Somewhere else with another provider. Then you own this and and and I can’t hold it over your head. Not that I would, but I’ve seen that in other scenarios, just like you’re explaining where the old provider didn’t want to release the domain name. I’ve run into this a couple of times over the past year, not quite as bad as as. Your situation and worst case scenario, one client I’m working with right now. You know, they were able to get their domain name, but all their Google accounts, Analytics, search console, historical data gone and they had to completely rebuild their website from scratch on a new platform because the old provider wouldn’t release it. And that’s really frustrating and it gives ethical providers like us, you know, a bad name out in the industry. And I think that’s a lot of times why one of the reasons why people have a bad taste in their mouth when we talk about digital marketers out out in the wild.

No, no question with it, Ryan, I’m. I’m in that camp. So what I did when I moved this domain was I created a names cheap account for the client. I did. I created the account I attached it to his e-mail on purpose and then I basically locked him through the process on the phone as I did it. Now. When you do a domain transfer, we all know it requires extended registration by a year. So the client, because there’s a trust level between the client and I he had me put his credit card details in for him, so he got billed directly for his domain. So there’s proof of ownership and then once they transferred. I actually logged into the names cheap account after discussing it with the client and names sheep GoDaddy other domain registers. If you have an account on that register, don’t let your proxy the domains. So I basically proxy the domains to myself, give me full access to the domain. So I don’t own them. They’re in his own account. Uh. And then sent to the client. Do me one favor, change your password on your master domain registrar account and do it now. And he did that right away. And then I said to him also do me one more favor turn 2 step authentication on that domain register account now. And he did that too. So I want the client to totally protect himself from knowing his assets. So that’s how I handle this. Now I share with another scenario that’s really worse.


When I started in this business one. Of my oldest club. And I will name them. Shout out to the Burlington Conservative Association for the federal party. They had a I took over the website many, many years ago. I think we’re going on about 12 or 13 and they had a previous web developer. No matter what I said, they would not give up the domain. And they registered. And I knew it was gonna expire in the middle of us building the new website. Do you know I had to wait the whole 90 day grace period and watch it every day to make sure that domain did not get picked up and when the 90 day grace period expired had the client jump in and re registered old domain. Can you believe that?

I can and just seeing the the things out there, I’ve had two in office sessions with two different clients. The the few that I have locally to walk through transferring their own domains and making sure that they. Owned them because. Because I’ve seen those disputes and you got lucky that that person let it expire. I have, you know, several months and and weeks warnings on all the domains for my clients, all my own domains. So I can learn that, hey, you should probably renew. It. Most people do that. But there there are too many unethical people out there that. Whole domains and you know for a long time you see these small IT companies that would offer web design, marketing, hosting, domain registry all in one package. And these older companies where they. You know have reseller accounts for all that stuff. I haven’t seen that like 10-12 years, you know, doing those full service, but there are still some out there and those are the ones that I see more. Often. Than not having trouble releasing those domains.

Yeah, that’s true. And and there’s some other companies, even big registers are unethical. So one of the things while we’re talking about this, I would say is if you ever as a business owner get onto a packet. And I learned this the hard way when I was naive and new in this business and this going back 14 years ago. Yeah, 15 years now. Don’t ever take a free domain, no matter how much the company begs you to take it because they don’t have to let you transfer that so many, many years ago. Before I was. It’s not as smart as it was now. A naive about domains. I heard a website withcompanycalledoneandone.com. They’re still around. I think there is another name right now. But one and one would not release my family domain the other. Two, I didn’t care about. And that domain is kenslashclan.com just for just for argument sake. Anyway, what happened was I basically had to get on their ***, and they finally agreed that if I paid the year registration fee on my free domain. I use that. Word in quotes. They would release it so they could transfer. So the other thing is do yourself a favor and don’t even take a free domain, because then you’re not stuck with that web host.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, even even a few years ago, like some of the big boys. I. Know Blue host used to do that. They were a a Google reseller. That partnership is now gone. They do things through Network Solutions now. Unfortunately, at one of my most hated registrars out there.

No. How you doing? Mine too, by the way.

They they’re the only registrar that I have errors and problems with everyone else is Scott free and you know my preference. You know GoDaddy is fine like you mentioned for delegate. That says name cheap is probably my favorite one. That’s where all my domains are registered.

Like. Yep.

Yeah, really easy. To add delegate access and their support is great. Their their name servers are fast and they have cheap web mail too. You know for small clients.

Ohh incredibly cheap. I mean and often on sale we didn’t get a couple of months for $0.99 just to just to break it, but not not to derail your conversation, but if you really want cheap mail and this is enough, not an affiliate link, check out fast mail, but that’s another story for another conversation. So a plug in for my favorite e-mail company, but keep going, yeah.

Yeah. And you know, and I think having your hosting domain and mail separate and have making sure that you as a client own those accounts is important that you know no one’s holding any one piece over your head and that you have multiple. Extra layers to make sure that if there’s any failure in one spot, you still have access to you know your other. Tools not only domains, but the client. I’m I you know, I started talking about earlier. The one that had to rebuild their website from scratch. We just built them, you know, a new search console entry and Google Analytics. I’m doing SEO work with them. And of course I don’t have any.

I agree. Ah.

Historical data from analytics because the previous company wouldn’t release. So when we started us, we’re not exactly starting from scratch, but it would have, it would be great if we had, you know, the old account data. So we can, you know, benchmark. So you know, things like that when you don’t own your assets really hurt you when you want to do things and grow. The other, the other pieces, they were lucky that they had all their art on their own. Owning your logo and actually having those assets. That’s the other part of it. Where? I’ve seen, you know, graphic designers send out nothing but a PNG. You know, for for their client logo. Well, that’s not really owning the logo, that’s just, you know, an image. You really need the the factor file and that’s important, you know, and on top of that.

Yeah. OK.

Making sure that you register that trademark. That’s another big thing that truly shows.

And by the way, let’s talk about trademarks. I agree with you not only Jeff to register the trademark, you have to defend. It so I have. A good friend of mine out east in Nova Scotia right now who’s been in the teaching business for social media and courses for a long time online. And he’s now having to defend his trademark because somebody is imposing on it. So a French trademark law is concerned. You can own the trademark, but if you don’t defend it when there’s a violation, the courts will say.

We really don’t.

Carry on it. You haven’t done anything about it, so who cares? So you gotta defend that trigger.

Exactly. And yeah, having proof of ownership and usage within your marketing and and public materials is really important there too. Those are the big those are the big things. You know, your domain name is huge your. Analytics accounts are another thing. Your logo. Make sure you that you have the art there and you know even registering your business name, you know when a lot of a lot of people start out, you know their. Sole proprietors? They’re not registered with anything, you know and. Lo and behold, they come to incorporate later on, they’ve been using a name that they built some reputation with and find out that hey, they can’t use that name. Somebody else has already registered it.

I actually did mine as a numbered company. It’s a seizure, and then when I did the number company, I actually trademarked the name. So I have a trademark to the standing digital marketing and so good luck. So I it was easier to go that route after talking to an incorporation lawyer. When incorporated like 14 years ago. And the other reason incorporate is liability. If you have a sole proprietorship and something goes wrong, you can be sued. Personally, if you’re incorporating, you cannot be, so that is, that is a big reason to do that. At the site.

Ohh exactly and and I’ve I’ve been incorporated for since 2016, almost eight years now, and it’s been it’s been a nice journey, but I had some good guidance right off the bat and you know. That own this. Register your business name. Make sure that you know you have the rights to everything that you want to do from day one. And you know that’s that’s one thing that I see like, you know, like, we’re talking about too many clients that don’t own their assets because they didn’t really know when they started out. And when you’re you’re far along several years in your business and you find out, oops, I can’t, can’t use that name, or I have to change my domain because I don’t own it. That that costs a lot of time and money and authority.

And then the other thing is you mentioned print assets, which is really important we you and I both work in a digital world. You come from a print background and I also. Have dabbled enough for clients in the print background. I’d won a couple of years ago, shared the story. And his printer went out of business. And what did the printer have? The business card layout, the logo layout. The the the. Fortunately, in a side project I had asked the printer for all that information for something else, including what fonts. Everything else. So I had it all and he called me up one day and he said I’ve got a problem. My printer’s gone out of business and the guy on the business who knew well has gone. AOL and ghosting and I said Ohh no worries. I have all your assets. I have copies of them all but the business owner needs to make sure he’s got those copies too. Like he’s got to protect his business and his ability to market his business in the long term.

Exactly. But I I find so many clients that start out and you know some of my favorite clients are ones that have grown past the DIY stage and you know then.


You know, we get to this point where we find out all these things that they don’t have the logo and you know or they don’t have brand assets and. You know, so a lot of it’s education and some people just don’t know any better when they start out. So when I work with brands, making new clients, new entrepreneurs, you know, we go through this checklist and. Register your business name. Make sure you’re register your domain name, and I walk through all these things not just as a web designer or a web professional, but a business consultant, just to make sure that they’re protected and.

Yeah. Yeah. And make sure you have the right licensing for what you’re buying. So I’ll give you an example of that. If you’re being a regular listener of this podcast, I have a red voiceover that starts the podcast. So they had professionally done. Not only did I have to pay for the. So I had to pay for the proper commercial license to be able to use that on a podcast. Believe it or not, that was part of the deal, so you gotta make sure licensing tier is the same. That includes photos that includes any assets that use that includes, fonts, uses, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Audio video that you use I everything has a license attached to it and you you have to make sure that you are allowed to use what what you’ve created or have created for you.

Yeah. And and I think I just feel like we’re pound. A book rolls on this one sometimes. Every time I think we’ve educated 20 clients. We, you and I both run into one. That’s like I didn’t know. Ohh. I’m not technical. I’m not this. I’m not that. And then it’s then it turns into this whole hodgepodge of a disaster. Right.

Exactly. And I I enjoy helping out those clients. But you know, starting off with those projects, when you start seeing those red flags that they, you know, might not own what you need to get the project done. Correctly, that gets frustrating and clients get frustrated and they, you know, find out real quick that they, you know, like you said, they’re they’re not technical. They don’t do this every day and they don’t. They don’t know what they don’t know. And so. Just have to be patient. Educate them on why they need these things and you know move forward but. Yeah, it’s. It’s at least once or twice a year when I work with clients where we find these things out and have to jump through extra hoops to get stuff moved around.

They’re the kind of helps some clients, which is 3 takeaways on how they can protect themselves real quickly. And you know, I’m not saying don’t come to somebody like you or I for help. We’re that’s why we’re here in, in business. But how would you, how would you suggest to them right off the?

Right off the bat, if you’re a new business owner, I actually wrote a blog about that. Finding a business name, registering your business name, and then I did a follow up one with. Look for your domain name before you register your business name, because those kind of go hand in hand too that make sure that you register your your business and your domain name yourself. That’s step one and you know Step 2. Is not just the logo. You need full branding. I’m going to pitch that. A logo isn’t a brand, but make sure that you own your branding and that you have life. Sure to use your logo, make sure you get a trademark. Good graphic designers out there will always help you with that, and you know don’t don’t go to fiber. I know it’s cheap, but they’re they’re not going to help you trademark your logo, you know, using a A professional graphic designer. That’s ethical. They’re going to know and guide you, and that’s the other part of it. Work with people that you trust and that will help you, you know, like yourself, like myself, you know, and some of our other colleagues that we. Talk with on a daily basis that you know. Be ethical and work. Try and work with ethical people.

So true. Hey, Ryan. Thanks for this great conversation. I hope to see some people, some hard ache out there. I really appreciate you jumping on. I I hear your office management staff is sleeping again so well.

They are, thankfully.

Then we’ll get to another podcast and until next month, I hope everybody has a great day.

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