The Secret of Business Failure

Best-kept-secretIn the early stages of working with one of my former clients, the company’s managing director proudly declared to me ‘We are the best kept secret in our sector.’

To him the comment smacked of quality and exclusivity.  To me it demonstrated that there was a big job to be done!

This weekend, writing in the Mail on Sunday, the prime minister declared that we must all be less ‘bashful’ about being British and be proud to stand behind our values.

While his comments come in response to the controversy over the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ school governors scandal in Birmingham, his comments do have a relevance that stretches much further.

We are, as a nation, nothing if not modest. While many Brits look upon American style self-promotion as a little bit vulgar and over the top, we have a lot to learn from their approach to banging the drum for their achievements and approaching new challenges with confidence and conviction.

For many UK companies, there remains a kind of embarrassment to talk up successes and attack the marketplace with a belief that you’ll come home a winner. As a result, websites, case studies, PR campaigns and Twitter feeds often fail to mention some of the most compelling USPs or successful projects and those that do can often fail to express the true level of achievement involved.

So I too, implore you to be less bashful.  Certainly, highlight your Britishness if that’s something your customer base will value (and if you manufacture or assemble products in the UK you should definitely count Britishness amongst your USPs).  More importantly for most, however, it’s vital that you understand those USPs and articulate them consistently across everything you do – including both written and verbal communication platforms.

It’s also important that you leverage third party relationships: while few customers will take the time proactively to write in praise of your product or service, many will be happy to provide a testimonial if you ask!


Being a best kept secret is not a measure of business success; it’s a measure of marketing failure. The economic recovery appears to be gathering pace but competition is still fierce.  In times like these it pays to be bold rather than bashful.

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