Sharing your trade secrets can win you more business

ONE OF MY CLIENTS RECENTLY ASKED ME why I share my specialist know-how on my website. Here’s why…

Many people worry that if they share their know-how for free, they’ll let others into their trade secrets and thereby be deprived of potential income. I don’t agree. Sharing what you know as free content is what the internet is all about. And it may even be good for your business.

One of the pioneers of providing not just free online content, but free entire books, is the author Cory Doctorow. What he has to say is valid for many types of communication:

For me — for pretty much every writer — the big problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity (thanks to Tim O’Reilly for this great aphorism). Of all the people who failed to buy this book today, the majority did so because they never heard of it, not because someone gave them a free copy.

The more information we have in a digital world, the more individual voices are drowned out. Authors (and creators of TV shows and films, etc.) who complain about piracy should instead be glad that so many people use their products who otherwise would probably not have used them. They are competing for people’s attention in a world where there is unlimited free entertainment and information.

The same goes for many businesses. Most of the know-how we have is not unique. Many companies realize that information that was previously held as confidential is now increasingly available to those who search for it. If you don’t provide it, someone else will. It’s better to be transparent from the start.

It doesn’t mean others will replicate what you do. Copying a recipe from a Youtube video won’t turn anyone into Jamie Oliver.

Showcase your expertise. The payback can be tremendous, ranging from better visibility and brand awareness, to improved brand perception, to crowdsourcing new ideas for your business.

And even if you gain nothing, you’ll have contributed something useful. What would the internet be without the give and take of free content?

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