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McDonald’s Big Mac has 2 all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

The all-beef patties aren’t truly all beef, and the special sauce isn’t special at all. It’s pretty similar to Thousand Island dressing, actually.

Even McDonald’s can’t keep the secret of their secret sauce.

Do you think that you have a secret sauce in your business?

Here’s a better question: why keep it a secret?

When you reveal the secret, you have the most powerful marketing available to any business: true differentiation. If you can put a stake in the ground and show that you’re the originator of a “secret” or proprietary way of doing things, isn’t that much more powerful than keeping your cards close to your chest and charging market rates?

Things you might be thinking:

  • Won’t my clients just do it themselves? No. Your clients want you to do it for them. You can learn how to do any home improvement project on YouTube and buy parts nearly at cost at Home Depot, but contractors are still making a killing. There’s always a market for done-for-you services and professionals.
  • Won’t my competition steal my secret sauce? Probably not because they’ll have the urge to do things their own way, and institutional inertia to not change however they’ve been doing things to this point. Plus, the world is so damn big that you or your competition can’t serve everyone. These fears are unfounded.
  • Won’t I erode my value by showing everyone what’s under the hood? Well that depends: is it a good secret, or just a secret because no one knows? Ultimately you have to deliver more value to serve more people and make more money. That doesn’t change. But if you reveal the secret and promote it well, your influx of leads will help you raise prices and put increasing upwards pricing pressure on every client who comes to you. Supply and demand, ya know?

Here’s the bottom line: if you have a secret sauce, publish the recipe.

Notes