Should you worry about giving your secrets away?
In my invitation to join us in your adventures in products, I suggest that you package up all your know-how, expertise, your magic into your products. But does this involve giving your secrets away? And should you worry about this?
Nick Parker tells his story.
Nick Parker and Voicebox
Nick Parker invented Voicebox and runs language strategy agency That Explains Things. Nick explains what he tells people when they ask whether he worries that he’s giving all his secrets away to competitors by selling Voicebox.
What I learned from Nick
I love what Nick talks about here in many ways. I’ve spent years writing and creating content that gives away my “secrets”, and it’s that content that has brought so many people to come to work with me. I totally agree that giving away your expertise will ultimately pay dividends, because I’ve seen that for myself.
Nick makes the point that even though he offers Voicebox as a “do it yourself” option, he still has many people coming to him wanting to pay good money for him to do it for him. He still has his services business, which he doesn’t want to give up. In fact, because Nick made Voicebox which has made him the “tone of voice guy”, I think he’s probably had more people coming to him for his “done for you version”
The best bit of the video for me is where Nick talks about the process of making his product. I was working with Nick while he was developing Voicebox, and I know just how deep he went. He’d been working with tone of voice for many years, but in making the product, he was able to go into his magic so much more deeply and I know that he loved this.
What is Voicebox by the way?
Voicebox is a complete method for finding, defining and using a brand’s tone of voice. You can buy the box and use it to run workshops on tone of voice for your own brand or to develop your work as a copywriter. I’ve got one, it’s great.
Nick Parker on giving your secrets away
So I’ve been asked several times, aren’t you just giving away all your secrets? And I think there are a few different answers to that.
Firstly, I just have a general conviction that the more you give away, the more you get back, actually, when it comes to creative work. So the idea is that if I’m giving away my helpfulness and my expertise, that will ultimately pay dividends. I believe in that generally.
I also actually believe if you are good at what you do, and you package it all up, there will be enough people who’ll go, “That’s great that I could buy that in a box now, Nick, but I’d like to pay for you to come and do it because you’re the brain behind it.” So, that’s also good. There’s only one of me. I’ve only got a finite amount of time, also. So having other ways that people can buy my expertise is win-win. Financially, it works
I’m sort of lucky enough that I don’t feel like I’m … I sort of don’t mind that other people are doing it my way. Agencies and copywriters are happy to say they’re using Voicebox because it adds to their credibility. So it’s not something that people hide and pretend they made it. So I think there’s probably something in the design of the product that helps that. So I don’t ever really feel like I’m giving it to competitors.
And then also just the process of making it, because of the way it sharpened my own thinking and my own creative practice. Yes, in the one sense, I packaged everything up and gave it away, but also, in another sense, I learnt a load of new stuff while doing it. So again, fine. I’m sort of happy with that.
I think had I been at a different stage in my career, maybe I’d have felt differently. And definitely in the back of my mind, I was feeling like, “If this is it, if I’ve given away everything I know about tone of voice and nobody ever comes for tone of voice work ever again, they only buy Voicebox, that would also have been fine.”
And that was quite liberating to sort of feel like, “Well, if this is it now and I move on and do something else, I’m also fine with that.”
Obviously, what happened is completely the opposite. I gave it all away, packaged it all up, put it out in the world, and then more people wanted to talk to me about tone of voice, and I had more things to think about than ever before.