Nov 03, 2021

Your Secret Sauce Shouldn’t Be So Secret

By: Josh Dougherty

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find that the term “secret sauce” originated when McDonald’s released the Big Mac to the world. They proudly trumpeted their use of a special sauce. Shortly after, Jack in the Box released their own version of a burger with secret sauce. And thus a legend was born. If you want, you can read more about that legend here.

Today, secret sauce is an overused catchphrase to describe what sets a business apart from its competition. For some it may be an algorithm, for others it may be a patient care philosophy, and for others it may be a unique take on a model that is different from anyone else.

But, regardless of what your “secret sauce” is, I want to make the case that no one benefits from keeping it hidden. And, for the sake of this post, I’m going to talk a lot about the healthcare industry since that is where we do a lot of our work.

Note: Before you get too concerned, I’m not talking about publishing the source code for your algorithm so that someone can take it or exposing your intellectual property for someone to use. I am saying that being radically open and unbiased about your area of expertise and sharing what makes your approach unique is going to be a winning strategy.


3 Reasons Your Secret Sauce Shouldn’t Be Secret

If I'm going to make a bold and provocative statement like that, I suppose I need to back it up. I think the case is pretty simple and can be explained in three points:

ABN - Your Secret Sauce Shouldn’t Be So Secret - graphic11. The ingredients aren’t what make you special: I’ve had many conversations with clients where they say that their model just isn’t that different. The difference is in how an organization mixes the ingredients together, the specific processes they use to do that, and the people that are on their team. By being open about the ingredients, and even your approach, you’re simply building engagement and buy-in.

2. Those in healthcare delivery have the exact same ingredients:ABN - Your Secret Sauce Shouldn’t Be So Secret - graphic2
Financial models and especially the advent of value-based care, along with medical best practices, make it all but certain that most organizations in healthcare delivery have substantially similar processes when compared to others in similar organizations. This is when sharing, to some depth, what makes you special is one of the best ways to differentiate from competition. Because you simply can’t stand far enough apart on the service level except through delivering the absolute best care, which we recommend as well.

ABN - Your Secret Sauce Shouldn’t Be So Secret - graphic33. Sharing more empowers your buyers and makes them more likely to purchase: If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, I know you’re familiar with this experience. You’re in need of a new SaaS solution so you begin with a quick Google search. This exposes two to three viable options.  But, after spending time on their sites, you can’t find any meaningful information that would allow you to discern which is the right option, much less preview their platform without clicking the annoying demo button and talking to a real person. Scary! Instead, you decide to head over to G2 Crowd and start whittling down your options. Each of these brands loses the chance to capture your attention, simply because they were too scared to put themselves out there.

The truth is, there are always going to be detractors. But when done right, sharing your secret sauce does way more good than it does evil. It just has to be done right.


ABN - Your Secret Sauce Shouldn’t Be So Secret - graphic4Sharing Your Secret Sauce Without Giving Away Your Competitive Advantage

Many marketers hesitate to share their secret sauce because they believe it will give away their competitive advantage. This isn’t necessarily the case. Let’s take a deeper look at how to share your secret sauce in a way that boosts your credibility and builds your differentiation in the marketplace.

1. Don’t share your IP: Quickly, let me tell you what I’m not recommending you do. If you have an algorithm, don’t publish the code. That would be careless.

2. Talk about what your IP does and how it does it: You can provide a lot of value by speaking about the specific things that your IP does and how it achieves results. By sharing openly how your product or service delivers value, you are establishing your bona fides.

3. Share about the unique way you do your work: If you’re a hospital that has thousands of front-line staff, there’s a good chance that your team is following the same general framework as other hospitals when it comes to caring for patients. What you can do to stand out is talk about the unique elements you’ve added to your approach that make your service different.

4. Talk about all the topics related to your unique approach: Many organizations don’t think they have much to talk about when it comes to marketing. More often than not, this is because they are thinking too small. A cancer research hospital may get stuck if they only create content about the therapies they are developing. If they extend their focus out to their patient, they can talk about topics like how to get the best treatment for cancer, how to find an oncologist you trust, and how to apply for a clinical trial. There are significantly more options for content creation, particularly when you place yourself in your audience’s shoes. When you infuse the content with your unique approach, you’ll be sharing your secret sauce.

5. Deliver your message everywhere: Once you’ve created a comfortable way to communicate about your unique value, it’s time to share it everywhere using a content strategy that helps you create pillar pages, blog posts, social posts, and more. Don’t be shy. Share and overshare. It will bear dividends.


What Happens If Someone Starts Copying Us?

If someone starts following a similar approach to you, I encourage you to remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Stop and take a moment to congratulate yourself, then double down and keep going. Regardless of when someone starts copying you, you have a head start, and they aren’t going to be able to fully replicate what you’re doing. Remember your secret sauce is more than the recipe.

Those who share authentically will be the most trusted. Share as much as your organization is comfortable sharing. You’ll reap the rewards, we’ve seen it again and again.

If you’d like to learn more about A Brave New’s approach to branding, read our The secret to an accelerated branding process guide today.

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