The Way is now The Hidden Path, and here’s why

First things first:

  • Yes, it’s still me, Alex from Basic Arts
  • And yes, this is still The Way, the strategy newsletter you subscribe to


…but a few things have changed.

Not only is the The Way now called The Hidden Path, but this is part of a wider set of changes I’ve made to Basic Arts, culminating in a rebrand you can check out here.

Essentially, I’ve taken my own medicine, and tried to take the next step in the strategic evolution of my own business.

What does this mean for you?

Quite possibly nothing at all.  The product is the same, and this newsletter will continue to be the same, so you can stop reading here if you like.

However if you’d like to get a bit of an insight into why I’ve made these changes, and the strategic challenges I’ve been grappling with myself, then read on.

(I’ve never quite understood why people are interested in seeing under the hood of Basic Arts, but the last newsletter I wrote about it had my highest open rate ever, so what do I know?)

To begin, it’s important to flag that it’s near impossible to do this sort of exercise to yourself – even if the exercise is your specialism.

It’s slow.
And nothing like the process on a normal project.

But still, I did manage to dig out three key thoughts which informed the work, and I’m hoping will push BA to the next level.


I. From B2B to P2P

My prior assumption was that my work involved one business (Basic Arts) providing a service to another business (the client brand).  Obviously this was true, and continues to be so, and yet I’ve come to see that this may not be the most fundamental relationship at play here.

You see, deeper than that, is the service being provided by me (Alex Smith) to the individual client (the founder or CEO).

Of course, it is their business which is the ultimate beneficiary of the work – through growth, standout, enhanced profit, etc. – but these results come via the enhanced clarity and confidence of the founder.  These are the primary fruits of strategy development; the business results are secondary.

For that reason I have shifted my focus from “what my business can do for your business”, and towards “what I can do for you”.  From business-to-business towards person-to-person.  The product is identical, the goals are identical, but the shift acknowledges the fact that this is deeply human work.

The practical consequences of this are:

  • A greater focus on the founder / CEO needs of clarity, confidence, and bravery
  • Bringing more of myself into the business, and ceasing to hide so much behind the “wall” of Basic Arts


II. Sweetening the strategy “pill”

As you know, I sell something (strategy) which most of my buyers don’t quite understand.

It is that lack of understanding that creates the opportunity of course, and opens up the need for it – but it still creates a great communication challenge.

The need is acute, but also unconscious.

For this reason I have shifted idea for this newsletter away from “strategic thinking”, and instead towards the idea of “competitive advantage by seeing things others don’t” (hence The Hidden Path).

Understand, these are exactly the same thing.

Strategy is, by definition, the act of gaining competitive advantage by seeing things others don’t – but as a piece of language it doesn’t have quite the same hook to it.  So I am now going to try to ease people into the subject of strategy via various more graspable entry points.

Whether or not that works, we shall see by the gross subscriber and follower metrics…


III. People like nice things

Look, this one is hardly complicated but I think it’s often neglected.  There are all sorts of “clever” reasons why someone would be interested in something or buy something, but part of it is simply a question of:

  • Is it pleasurable to buy this thing?


Is it fun to buy it?  Is it something I want rather than something I merely need?

The driving force for this is, largely, taste.  It’s not subjective, it’s objective, and is a hidden and deeply underrated factor within business success, and one where I felt I was falling short.

Of course you can judge for yourself whether I have improved my “shelf appeal”, but I think considering the fact that I’m ultimately selling “consultancy” (bleaugh) it’s in pretty good shape.


Anyway, I hope you were able to take something from that little bit of self indulgence.

Thanks a lot for your continued support, back to our normal programming next week.

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