If you operate your business in the mode of keeping secrets, it may be time to reevaluate that policy. The information age has changed the way businesses can and should share their practices, and it’s important to be on the front end of this cultural shift.
Back when business was made with just a simple handshake and a lot less red tape, there were those who believed that having secrets about business was part of what brought success. Revealing the meat of your marketing initiatives or your inside processes was thought to mean certain death for your business. Consider the entire marketing campaign of Bush’s Baked Beans: Duke the dog has been trying to give away the secret recipe for decades, but Jay just won’t let him. In the modern world where information is available immediately and people are demanding that instantaneous response, it’s unreasonable to think that businesses can operate under the same old principles. It’s interesting to consider what might happen if Duke one day got away with his scheme. There’s reason to believe the demand for Bush’s Baked Beans would increase.
So, what does offering up your trade secrets do if it doesn’t ruin prospects and give your competition an edge in the market? For one, it lets people know you take your business seriously. If you are willingly making your processes public, it’s probably because you believe that your business is the only one that can provide the product or service in the way you do and at the quality you do. This confidence in your product will create an interest in your business. In addition, providing information before people have to search for it means convenience and control. If your potential clients or even your competitors are going to Google you anyway, why not give them as much information about your business as possible? This way, you have control over the information that’s shared, instead of potential clients getting it from a third party.
Allowing people into your business allows others in related industries to consider how they or their clients might benefit from partnering with you. Consider the recent move of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his decision to open the patent on his electric cars. The concept was unprecedented, but consider all the relationships he can build with other industries that are trying to edge into the electric car market. If those industries have an insider’s look into how Tesla makes their vehicles, there is a better chance of forging a business relationship that benefits all shareholders: Tesla, the initiating business, and the customer.
The other benefit of sharing your secrets is gaining feedback that could possibly improve your business model. Perhaps the way your business processes payroll isn’t the most efficient, but you haven’t taken the opportunity to have an outside evaluation. If you share your process, you have the potential to reach payroll managers or accountants who can offer solutions to an issue you may not realize you have. This can result in saving time and money.
The truth is, people value experience. If part of your secret is that you’ve been in your business for decades, or even generations, that has meaning for your potential clients. You will always hold the expertise card when you deal your trade secrets, and for the people who are actively searching for a quality product or service, that can be the trump.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog post where The YGS Group shares some of its own trade secrets!