Fight the Label: Best-Kept Secrets
I often encounter brands that have labeled themselves a “best-kept secret.” As leaders, we must challenge ourselves and resist diminishing our brands or that identity will permeate within our company walls, ultimately constricting success.
Being a Best-Kept-Secret: Not a good thing to be unless, of course, you’re a spy.
A wonderful, inspiring Amish man who oversaw a luxury RV maker beamed with pride. “All of us here at the RV company are proud of our work. We like to think we’re the best-kept secret in the industry.” I gently challenged his point of view: “If your brand is a best-kept secret, that means you are doing things, spending money and focusing resources to build something amazing, yet are neglecting to share that good news.” He responded proudly, “Well, we don’t brag. It’s against our culture.”
Engineers have founded many iconic brands. However, while brilliant, they often dismiss the need to communicate the uniqueness of their inventions, because they assume everyone knows. The truth is that nobody knows or cares about a product unless you show them why they should.
Many of our favorite engineers feel that the sales team is almost unnecessary; the product should sell itself. But, if your sales team is trained to share your brand’s differentiation story with customers, it is priceless. Your product will command a premium and customer retention will be strong. Conversely, the sales team that sees little value or differentiation in your brand will be a detriment. They’re merely selling “stuff” at whatever price they can get, if they win the work at all.
Being a Best-Kept Secret is nothing to be proud of. Look at that moniker as a sign of passivity or lack of initiative to identify and clearly articulate what makes your brand and products valuable and unique. Doing that should also raise expectations in sales, market share and customer retention. After all, if you really have an outstanding offering, it deserves to see that success. It’s time to take the gloves off.
If you feel your product or service is a best-kept secret, identify your differentiation and just as importantly, communicate and celebrate it to the world. The founder of that RV company would address the dealers at the annual meeting and perform his version of an Amish stand-up comedy routine, entertaining the audience with funny quips, showing that our assumptions and labeling of people might be wrong.
Here’s one of his favorite jokes: Do you want to know how to make sure you have some beer left for yourself when you go fishing with an Amish man? Invite two Amish men.
Barry LaBov is founder and CEO of LABOV Marketing Communications and Training. He is a two-time Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year recipient and author of numerous business books, including the upcoming book The Power of Differentiation. Since 1981, LABOV has differentiated and launched products and brands around the world.