Businesses have appropriated the phrase “secret sauce” to reference their differentiating or distinctive key to success—which for our clients, has nothing to do with food. But the idea that a business has a unique quality that sets them apart from their competitors—a secret sauce—opens a conversation about what exactly is differentiating and should it be kept a secret?
During our initial work with Titan Advisors, this phrase came up a lot. Like many hedge funds or specialized investment management firms, there was a resistance to sharing information for fear of giving away a competitive edge. In today’s content-driven world, it feels antithetical to find a company website with little more than a landing page, and yet, there are still many companies that employ such a guarded approach.
At Titan, it was refreshing to learn that transparency was core to their culture; clients are kept informed and engaged with leading-edge portfolio analytics and direct access to the firm’s portfolio teams. An institutional prospect on the other hand, would only be able to formulate a limited impression of the firm based on Titan’s external presence — typifying the “black box.” Separating what’s “secret” such as proprietary methodologies and holdings from “sauce” such as philosophy, thought leadership and investment capabilities would be the first step toward a new positioning and marketing strategy for the firm.
Titan was open to this new way of thinking and level of engagement. Clients and prospects expected to know more about investment managers and Titan recognized an opportunity to distinguish the firm from the typical secretive hedge fund. A “blue box” was our metaphor for this cultural shift and the concept that led to Carpenter Group’s positioning recommendation “Clearly Different.”