Kitchen device marketing

Ever notice that kitchen device makers of any kind – food processors, blenders, microwaves, etc. – seem to market their device as the be-all, end-all for every possible kitchen task? I have a blender that makes the claim that it can do everything: smoothies, peanut butter, ice cream, bread dough, soup (without additional heating), fresh juice, and cappuccino. My other devices make equally outlandish claims, too.

Pasta Dinner

The reality is a bit more disappointing. The blender, unsurprisingly, blends things really well. It doesn’t do the other stuff half as well as the marketing might indicate – a kitchen stand mixer does a heck of a lot better at making bread dough, for example. An espresso machine makes a much better cappuccino than a blender.

Can the blender do these things? Sort of, but the result is typically lackluster. In the hands of a really talented chef, I’m sure it would be barely noticeable. They would know how to compensate for the weaknesses of the tool with their superior skills, but in my hands as a rank amateur without those skills, using a less effective tool for the job drastically affects the outcome for the worse.

So here’s the insight: be very wary of any marketing tool or technology that claims to do it all, that claims to solve your problems. If you are a master marketer, then yes, you can probably make a Swiss Army marketing solution deliver results as good as best of breed individual tools. If you are not a master marketer, or you have mastery in only a couple of specializations, then chances are the one-size-fits-all solution isn’t going to solve as many problems as you want it to.

When you’re evaluating any kind of marketing tool, forget about what the brand reps are saying about it. Look at what it does really well, what its strengths are, what repeatable, quantifiable results it can generate for the average marketer. Look at the results it can generate for someone who is a subpar marketer, because a tool that can help generate good results in the hands of a mediocre professional is likely to be a tool that generates amazing results in the hands of a superior practitioner like you.

Oh, and if you like really soggy, bland, too-soft “ice cream”, have I got a blender recipe for you…


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Marketing Leftovers

In any given news topic, in any given industry that you’re trying to perform marketing in, there will be things that people are parroting mindlessly, and the reality is that you will not get the juice – the marketing results – you want if all you do is make reruns of other peoples’ reruns. For example, the topics of when is the best or worst time to tweet, post to Facebook, send email, etc. have been beaten to death, resurrected from death as undead topics, then beaten again.

So what can you do if you’re trying to find something new in a field full of sameness? Let me tell you a quick story about leftovers.

Growing up, my parents had a nearly legendary collection of Tupperware and Corningware containers for storing leftovers, something my brother and I were never especially thrilled with. Leftovers, especially in the early days of family homes having microwaves (and thus having people try to cook everything and anything in the microwave), tended not to fare so well. The worst were the infinite leftovers. Thanksgiving turkey would last a week, possibly two. The same for Christmas ham, New Year’s crown roast, etc. Reheated and reheated until they barely resembled the beautiful dishes they were the first time around.

Quiche with Potatoes, Leek, Bacon & Wine

Now, later in life, I’ve learned that all you really need to do with leftovers to make them more interesting is to just add a couple of new ingredients to turn leftovers into something new. Yes, the bulk of the dish is a rerun, but add either eggs, garlic, or cheese to something and it’s like a whole new meal. Mac and cheese leftovers? Add eggs, now you have quiche. Turkey? Chop it up, add garlic, fry quickly, and toss on just about anything.

The same is true of your ability to get creative with things other people have already talked about. That doesn’t mean you have to always be inventing something brand new. It does mean you need to adapt and transform a topic into something unique, something that’s yours, that’s got your brand’s unique flavor. What added flavor, what added spice can you contribute that will make something old into something new?


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Friday Fun: Chilean-style Ceviche Recipe

ETC2010

A bit of backstory about this particular recipe: I learned it thanks to the power of marketing years ago. Well, sort of. Once upon a time I worked for a student loan company. That company had sent me to a trade show called the Educational Travel Conference, or ETC, to present about international student health insurance. But times changed between the time I applied to speak and I actually got to the conference, and by that point I was working for a different company. Nonetheless, I carried on and presented about email marketing instead.

At the conference, the trade show floor could only be described as culinary magnificence. Many of the exhibitors were educational departments of embassies, and few things demonstrate a country’s cultural riches like native food. At the event, I grabbed what looked like a shot glass filled with… something… and I took a bite of the contents. It was magnificent – citrus, sour, salt, fresh herbs, and fish. I had no idea what it was so I asked the sous chef of the Chilean embassy who told me in halting English that it was called ceviche, a seafood dish popular in many South American countries. He said what made Chilean ceviche different was that only the Chileans used grapefruit juice, while other countries stuck to lemon or lime, and only Chilean ceviche used cilantro. I’ve no idea whether there’s any culinary truth to that particular origin story, but I don’t care, either: it’s delicious.

The recipe I found that day called for Chilean sea bass, a nice name for the Patagonian Toothfish (which is a marketing coup in its own right), but I find that tilapia makes for a better taste and texture. It’s entirely up to you which kind of white fish you use as long as it’s relatively mild in flavor. If you’re concerned about freshness and food safety, I recommend buying frozen tilapia filets. Here’s how you make it.

Hotel Ceviche

Finely dice/chop the following:

  • 2 pounds tilapia – aim for 1 cm cubes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro

Put the following in a blender and blend on high until no visible solids remain:

  • 2 cups white grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 jalapeño (add more if you like spicy)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Put the diced ingredients in a non-reactive container like a glass pitcher or high-sided bowl. Pour the blended juices over top until the fish is completely submerged. Refrigerate from 4 to 12 hours. During this time, the acid in the juices will “cook” the fish without hardening it, making it wonderfully tender to each. Serve in a glass, bowl, cup, or other non-reactive dish.

    This is a wonderful dish any time of year, but it’s especially refreshing during the hot summer months when you want something that isn’t going to make you feel any warmer.


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