Thoughts and ideas from SHAKE Marketing Group
What Marketers Can Learn From Top Chefs
November 5, 2016 at 12:00 AM
by Stacey Danheiser

I’ve been obsessed with reality TV cooking competitions lately. One of the more entertaining shows is “Chopped”, which features talented chefs on the Food Network. Each episode, four chefs must compete against each other in the creation of three courses: Appetizer, Entrée and Dessert. They are given a ‘basket’ of food featuring 3-5 mystery ingredients that they must use in their recipes. In addition, they have access to the refrigerator and pantry – stocked with a variety of ingredients. After each course, the judges critique the dishes and eliminate one of the contestants. The final winner is selected based on the presentation, taste and creativity of their entire meal.

So what does this have to do with marketing? Like the chefs on the TV show, marketers all have access to the same “ingredients”– such as social media platforms, marketing automation solutions, webinar platforms, graphic design programs, etc. Yet, some companies create magic using these tools, while others produce generic, boring and ill-performing content and sales messages. So what’s the secret behind these successful companies?

Let’s look at top chefs for a little inspiration on how to be a better marketer:

  1. You have to know your audience. Restaurants are guaranteed a certain death if they aren’t staying timely and relevant with what their customers value. Consider how different the cuisines are in NYC, London, Paris and Los Angeles. Mexican-infused dishes may do well in Los Angeles, but they are way less popular in Beijing. Likewise, top marketers know that in order to generate more sales, it all starts by first putting yourself in the shoes of your customer. You need to understand what motivates your customers, what their preferences are, why and how they make decisions. (I’ve written about this extensively on the blog). Without this information, it’s impossible to create products, sales messages or marketing content that will truly resonate with your customers.
  2. Get creative. The world’s best chefs are constantly innovating on the same old ingredients (hello, chicken!?). They combine new flavor combinations, try new cooking techniques or use different ingredients from around the world. Equally, marketers must be willing to get outside of their comfort zone and try new approaches to reach prospects, connect with existing customers and create brand loyalty.
  3. Commit to quality. Some restaurants just want to get the food on your plate, as quick as possible, without any regard to quality. But not top chefs. They take pride in sourcing the best ingredients, cooking it to perfection and arranging it flawlessly on your plate. Similarly, some marketers produce content without any real purpose or depth. In this era of information overload, marketers must be mindful to produce high-quality, relevant and useful content for their audience. Otherwise – they shouldn’t be creating it in the first place. Follow the 3 C’s of Content Marketing.
  4. Be agile. Top chefs learn to operate on the fly. What happens if the arugula looks wilted? Or they run out of a certain type of mushroom? Being able to quickly make decisions in the kitchen ensures that customers stay well-fed and happy. Marketers can learn from this, as there is something to be said for those that can mine through data, analyze it and use it to make decisions quickly. On the flip side, marketers who collect endless amounts of data and waste weeks (or months) before they feel comfortable making a decision ultimately cost their organizations time and money.

Just as top chefs must stay on top of their game, so too, do marketers. Remember – not everything you try will work out (think – peanut butter & pickle sandwiches). But the fun part is getting outside of your comfort zone and testing new strategies to achieve results for your business.


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