What is the difference between a cookbook of recipes and tips/secrets by a top chef, and the stuff you turn out at home using the book?
Usually a fair bit, surprising really when you have all the information necessary to create and present the dish to hand.
The difference is not the Intellectual Property reflected in the cookbook, the stuff that gets written down, it is the Intellectual Capital of the chef, what is between his ears that cannot be adequately reflected in just words and pictures, but just “happens”.
Same in business.
I have an occasional client that sells technical flavor and texture enhancing products to an industry niche. They are a successful and long lived business, increasingly struggling in a world that they seem not to understand despite the brainpower in the labs.
They have a fancy website that tells you nothing, not even the basis of the recipes to continue the metaphor. In their mind, the “recipes” of technical ingredients are their intellectual property, not to be given out to their customers and competitors under any circumstances.
However, their customers all have a pretty good idea of the “recipes”, they are trained in “recipe” generation, they just lack the nuanced understanding of the real detail, the stuff that is between the ears of a few of my occasional clients employees. Their competitors are unlikely to learn anything they do not already know, they have their own “chefs”, and their own Intellectual Capital that they set out to leverage with customers. The real competitive arena is not the recipes themselves, but the value they add to their customers operational processes, and the outcomes in their consumers mouths when they get to taste the finished products.
Net result of this Neanderthal view of the digital world is that nobody comes to them via their website, or other digital means. They wonder why and conclude that this digital marketing is just a stunt brought on by shysters who do not know anything about the technology they are so proud of, which they believe is so good that it must just sell itself.
Their products are now almost commoditised, at least to the recipe level.
To sell nowadays, you must demonstrate that not only do you know the recipe, but that when the dish comes together, it really is something special.