There are a lot of people who have been in business for a long time who are very, very protective of every aspect of their business. Whether that be secret recipes, ways of doing things, methods, policies or whatever a lot of business owners hold things close to the vest. But then there is another way of doing things that has proven to be very successful for some owners - that method is to simply give away all the secrets on a regular basis.
I bet there are some people out there who just about lost their minds at the mere thought of sharing their secrets with others. But there is a business model for this. In fact, one of those is Jumping Rocks Photography who regularly share tons of information about the very core of what they do. And it’s a great business model.
Jumping Rocks photography specializes in photography of small vacation properties. If you have an inn or vacation rental or something like that getting Matthew Lovette and Mark Smith to come take pictures of it will almost assuredly boost your sales. Their ability to make magic with your place is incredible from a photographic standpoint. But the business model of these former innkeepers is to simply tell the world how they do things such that, if you can’t hire Jumping Rocks they hope you get better pictures with the knowledge they share.
This worked very much to our advantage when we had the resort - getting Matthew and Mark to come do photos was not easy as their calendars remain very, very full. So we used their ideas and tips to create photos like these on this page which truly did boost sales.
Wait a minute. That paragraph just showed why some people are afraid of giving up their secrets. I just fully admitted that we didn’t hire Jumping Rocks because we used their ideas to basically get what we wanted. Which side of the argument am I advocating?
Well, the reason we didn’t use Jumping Rocks is that they’re so popular we couldn’t get them out in time for the reveal of this particular room. While I wanted to hire them, there was about a two year waiting list to get them out during the time of year that our room would show the best. That means that I had to use plan W (A,B,C and so on were already out of the question - we’re way down the alphabet here) and use my phone to take pictures.
I will admit the iPhone 7 Plus is the best camera I’ve ever had, bar none. I’ve had 35mm cameras and other formats as well but the magic this camera’s software works with images just continues to blow me away. However a phone in the hands of a guy who’s read a blog and a truly professional camera in the hands of a trained expert who spends their life taking beautiful pictures are two very different animals altogether.
So I got what I wanted, sort of. I learned a lot from their blog. And now you know of this company because they share their ideas and vision in their blog.
Funny thing - you’re reading my blog where I try to share the latest and greatest tips and secrets from my business as well. In fact, like Jumping Rocks, I also really love going to speak to groups to give away even more information.
And, like Jumping Rocks, my calendar is pretty full. It’s at least as full as I’d like it to be, how’s that? And that’s where giving away the farm comes in. Sharing ideas and secrets with people rarely puts you at a competitive disadvantage in most businesses. It’s probably a bad idea if you make classified weapons, but it’s not bad if you’re a photographer or a social media consultant. And it could be good for your business.
In fact, sharing behind-the-scenes tips and tricks might be a great way to further establish your expertise and credibility in a market. If you have all this wisdom to share you establish yourself as someone who knows what they’re doing and that could lend credibility. Which means your calendar, like Jumping Rocks’, might also be full for a year or several in advance.
When I was in SoCal in a very different business than I am now I would also share ideas and secrets with even the competition. What I’ve found is that few people who would actually hire you are not going to do so because you’ve shared your trade secrets and thus eliminated yourself from the market.
There’s also the fact that just telling people how to use a screwdriver, saw and hammer doesn’t mean they can build a house. Although I’ve lived in houses where someone who hadn’t quite read the instructions had certainly tried - but that’s another story. There’s also a measure of talent. We all know how to paint a picture, experts have studied the methods of Picasso but there aren’t any Tony Barthel paintings that are worth even the canvas they’re painted on.
And the photos I took aren’t up to the quality of what Jumping Rocks would do if we could get them out here. Don’t ever underestimate experience and talent - those, too, are tools of the trade and ones that might be among the most important.
So is it a wise idea for you to use your blog to share some of your best ideas and secrets? Perhaps it could be. In today’s sharing economy there very well could be an argument that sharing ideas could be a really good way to market your business.
Written by Anthony B. Barthel