Secrets No One Cares About
Image by val.pearl
Image by val.pearl

No one wants their company to become the best kept secret. Yet so many unknown companies today hold trade secrets to their chest like they were gold.

If a technology is not found, it’s worthless. If a process is not used, it’s meaningless.

Value is determined by the customer, and without customers companies have no value.

Yes, you could make a powerful argument that technologies or processes in their own right are valuable.

But when tech companies buy each other the value is almost always inherently tied to existing sales or uses, including whether or not a patent is necessary for an existing product group. So unknown unused tech fails again. The same goes for consultancies and traditional businesses with logisitics and customer service processes.

So many start-ups work in denial of this reality. It’s as if they assume success before it happens.

You need customers. You need distribution. Without customers — which means telling people about your product — you will not succeed.

I’m not saying publish your patents for public download on DropBox. Or maybe if you’re Red Hat or pushing a software protocol that is a good idea.

What I am saying is that without business you have nothing to protect. The potential for gains far outweigh the risk of losses.

Protecting technologies and trade secrets from competitors is the luxury of leaders.

Especially when you have a secret that no one cares about.

What do you think about trade secrets and unknown ventures?


  • I think there’s a bunch of business and ventures which are only started to be sold as soon as they can turn a profit, not necessarily in business, but in some value the company holds.., be that patents, real estate or people. That is a nasty business.

    It was in Wikinomics (I think) where I read about a mining company, it crowd sourced the question on where to dig. All other companies called them mental, it was an industry etiquette never to reveal any knowledge at all.
    The company made a killing of the information it so openly shared.

    Beyond that.., I don’t like sneaky. That’s why I love this SoMe Marketing/Business community.., we share everything, we spread the knowledge and we encourage others to use it.

    • It’s funny I was looking at a book online called the Mongoliad which was crowdsourced and then edited by folks like Neal Stephenson. It has sold a ton! I think people need to become know.

      Secrecy is the luxury of market position. When everyone is trying to take what you have that’s when you need to watch your step. But even companies like Apple and Samsung seem to do a good job of leaking their secrets, so to speak.

      • I guess it also depends on how well established your company is to begin with. Also, if it is something more innovative, then how soon should you let that information be public?

  • I think that the
    concept of a patent is a great idea, it is the application of that idea that
    has failed. Ideas should not be unprotected and quickly copied. This entirely
    discourages entrepreneurship, a concept that our nation was founded on.

    • Agreed, you need to protect the idea so that when you do market, you can do so with confidence.

  • You just “nailed” one of our stuggles as a professional services company, Geoff. I do think that companies like us are late-adopters to the concepts of social and content marketing. For that very reason, I hope to start posting more content from our thought leaders…to get a jumpstart on identifying OUR thought leaders as the best in the business.

    But that does mean giving a little away for free, and that is really tough for a B2B services company.
    – If we take the time to write stuff for free, then we are taking away billable hours.
    – If we give our knowledge away for free, clients will not feel the need to hire us.

    The key is to give teasers, that are still workable solutions, but that convince the audience you can walk the walk. In our world, there are so many variables when doing a software development project, or data warehousing initiative, that clients will ALWAYS need professional services help. Our content can be one more gate-buster as we prove we can do what we say we can do.

    I’ll keep you posted on how well we adopt this approach. But I definitely do not want to be the best kept secret that under-performs in regards to year-to-year growth of our company…simply because the world and Google do not know we exist.

    • True. I also feel that 90% of clients won’t be able to implement the knowledge even with it published publicly. They don’t have the experience to succeed… So they fail.

      I am very interested to see how your teasers work out. Whatever you do, doing something is better than nothing. Thanks for the great coment!

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