Do restaurants fear sharing menus?

Let’s take a walk down your memory lane.

Take a moment to recall the last new restaurant you’ve walked past. Not went inside, not dined at, but the last time you walked by a restaurant you hadn’t been to before.

Was there a menu posted outside the restaurant?

Now open a browser or another tab in your current browser. Search for a local restaurant in Google or the location-based service of your choice. Click through to the restaurant website. Does it have a menu posted?


It would be ludicrous in this day and age of instant comparison shopping to have a restaurant without a menu posted. A restaurant that failed to post a menu would be at a significant disadvantage to its competitors; customers would rather see what they might be getting.

Can you imagine a restaurant chef saying, “No, I won’t post a menu. I don’t want customers taking photos of it and then going home to cook it themselves.” Do customers do that? I’m sure a few have, but chances are they’ve come in and paid to eat the food first so they know what they’re cooking.

Next, consider your own marketing. How much do you conceal about what your company does? This seems like a silly question, but so many companies hide more than they show. Do you post pricing on your website? Can a potential customer compare your menu with your nearest competitor? Or do they default to doing business with your competitors because your competitors have a menu and you don’t?

The menu isn’t the meal. The menu isn’t even the cookbook. Take a hard look at your marketing to see if you’re hiding too much from customers who want to buy from you.

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Does your strategy tell a story?

What is strategy?

Strategy is the plan to achieve your goals. 

The plan is a blueprint.
It’s a menu.
It’s a map. 

By extension, the blueprint is not the hammer.
The menu is not the cookbook.
The map is not the land. 


Here’s a simple trick to determine if your strategy is coherent. If you cannot tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end, you do not have a strategy. 

Think about the plans listed above. They’re stories.

A blueprint for a new building is a story of stories, of what the building will look like and how people will use it.
A menu is a story of a logical progression through a curated collection of tastes and experiences.
A map is a story of how you’ll traverse the land.

Suppose you want to make your Facebook page successful. If you just list out all of the tactics you’ll throw at it, that doesn’t make for a particularly good story. It’ll read like a list of things you want to buy at the grocery store, which isn’t a great story or any kind of story at all.

On the other hand, suppose you told a story of seeking to get to a promised goal. Maybe the goal was audience reach, or engagement, or conversion to a click. You told of who the audience was, what they liked, and what content you’d replicate in order to appeal to them, doing detecting work like Sherlock Holmes. You’d post your content, identify what worked best, refine it, and pay to promote it. In the end, you’d measure your results and begin the story anew.

That sort of plan has a clear, logical progression. You could probably, with a quick re-read, recite it yourself as a very short story.

Ask yourself any time you’re questioning your strategy: can I tell a story from this?

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Conveying authority and stacking heuristics

Suppose you wanted to represent yourself in the best possible truthful light?

How would you set yourself up so you could appear as credible as possible?

More than mere puffery, this task is eminently practical. If you’re applying for a job, representing yourself strongly but truthfully is essential. If you’re building up your public speaking career, conference organizers need to know why you deserve to be on the stage. If you’re responsible for marketing or selling anything, your name will be Googled by the purchaser for any large purchase as part of due diligence.

How do you build a representation that’s accurate but impactful? The answer lies in what are called heuristics. Heuristics are our mental shortcuts, our quick decisions that help us get through life without being bogged down by analyzing everything. We learn heuristics very quickly as part of life. A baby learns that certain colored foods taste better than others, and kids routinely reject foods that are green.

As adults, we have heuristics operating all the time, algorithms that help us to make sense of the world. When I go to an event with my Nikon D90 and speed flash, people more often than not assume I work for the event in some official capacity. A large camera with extra camera gear triggers that heuristic in their heads.

Beijing Security Guard

If you were to go to an Army surplus store and buy some dark blue fatigues, black boots, and sunglasses, you could stand in the middle of the street and credibly direct traffic. Drivers would assume based solely on your dress that you were somehow an official representative of the police. I advise not doing this, as impersonating a police officer in some places (most of the United States) is illegal.

Uniforms and equipment can create snap judgements in real life. What can you do to create snap judgements in your favor digitally? The answer is also to stack heuristics. How can you layer on credentials and indicators that showcase your actual skills and capabilities?

For example, I have a blog. That in itself is almost meaningless, except to say that I can write a fair bit. I have a Twitter account. Again, that seems largely meaningless by itself, though with 83,000 followers, that says at least some people find something of value. Combine the two and I’m a very small niche publisher. I’ve written 16 books, of which 3 are my own (not work for hire). I speak at roughly a dozen events a year, of which two or three are usually keynotes.

Do you see how the heuristics are starting to stack up to convince you that I have some level of authority? Each data point by itself is relatively unimportant, but combined, they paint a broader picture. A set of blue fatigues by itself might or might not imply authority. Add some black boots and you’re closer. Add some mirrored sunglasses and you’re closer still. Add a black nylon webbing belt with a black flashlight and perhaps a black mobile phone case to it and you look astonishingly official.

Look at your own history. What can you create that conveys authority? If you don’t have much, what things can you get? For example, having a social media presence by itself is relatively unimportant. What if you added to it a blog with a lot of daily readership? Suppose you then added on Google Analytics certification? What about adding in some white papers and webinars? How about a weekly email newsletter? Those are all things you can do for very low cost or no cost at all, and in aggregate would demonstrate that you have a broad perspective on your area of expertise.

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