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Chris Brogan posted an interesting commentary on offering recipes to your buyers, on the premise that people would be happier to buy from you if you offered serving suggestions rather than just a pile of ingredients. Go read it.

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

It’s a good start, but imagine this was the menu being served for dinner:

  • Strawberry shortcake with garlic butter sauce
  • Aged cheddar and crab dip
  • Nilla wafer truffle
  • Sashimi bi bim bab with chocolate fondue

Even if each recipe was cooked by a master chef, even if each recipe was an award-winning masterpiece, there’s a good chance you’re going to be really unhappy at the end of the meal, if you even last that long.

Absolutely, your guests will be happier if you give them recipes and dishes rather than piles of ingredients (unless you’re at a do-it-yourself hibachi restaurant). They’ll be even happier if they’re paired and matched well, set in a context of courses of a meal – in other words, have a strategy to what you serve them.

One of the biggest problems in social media and marketing right now is an abundance of recipes with no context, no strategy at all. Take a look at any blog, any Twitter feed, any personality’s list of recent content and there’s a good chance you’ll see piles of recipes:

  • 5 tips for doing stuff with Twitter
  • 8 great ways to do other stuff with Facebook
  • 22 things you’re doing wrong with Foursquare
  • 971 ways to promote yourself on LinkedIn
  • 16,451 lists to blog about just like this one

These recipes are entirely without context, without a menu, without a strategy or structure that will help them blend with each other and make a coherent meal. Just like the culinary world, mixing and matching with no greater sense of what fits with what in your marketing and social media will likely give you a stomachache.

How do you remedy this? Learn to use a cookbook. Learn what recipes go with which courses, and then appropriately plan your meals so that you’re not randomly stacking recipes with each other. Have a framework. Have a map. Have a playbook. Your customers will be far more satisfied and you’ll have a much easier time planning your marketing meals.

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


3 responses to “Beyond Recipes”

  1. “These recipes are entirely without context, without a menu, without a strategy or structure that will help them blend with each other and make a coherent meal.”

    If I were to continue the analogy here, I would say it’s like walking in to a restaurant where you can’t tell what type of food they serve.

    Is it Indian? American? BBQ? Mexican? Thai? New Orleans Cajun? Italian? What is it?

    People and businesses usually have an idea as to what “type” of recipe they’re looking for (Social Media and online lead generation for Wedding Planners) but end up on sites for marketing agencies, consultants, and the like where it’s a mash of whatever they think you’d want… thus, you don’t want anything since you can’t tell if it’s really something you would like or is even for you!

    Maybe a suggestion would be to pick your top 5 niches and develop a menu for each niche, tweaking the description of the recipe based upon the audience targeted. Now your recipe is presented with complementary recipes and are grouped under a common “type” (for Wedding Planners.)

    Sometimes we don’t want to hyper-target because we feel we’re not casting our net wide enough, but we’ve got to realize we’re not casting a net, we’re throwing up a billboard and hoping that everyone sees it, when in fact the only ones who do are the ones who feel it’s for them.

    Combine Chris Brogan’s post about “Recipes” with his post about “Which Crowd” would be good here.

  2. commoncents Avatar


    The restaurant analogy is perfect. I was included in the process of setting up a restaurant from buying the building to fitting the kitchen to buying the furniture and setting the menu, hiring, linen service, decorating, and all on a very tight budget.

    I was startled to learn that setting the menu is the most important part of the process. Testing the menu is so important also, to get rid of the non-productive items and ones that might be slow to move. The food HAS to be of consistant quality, quanity, flavor, so that each customer receives exactly the same quality the previous one did..

  3. I find that most people (companies) want the quick fix. They want to know the easy, simple things they can do to get their email marketing (or social media or SEO) working better today, right now. I’d certainly agree that we need to be thinking more about overall strategy (recipe and menu) vs. the quick fix (recipe), but that’s not always reality. The more I think about it, there is a huge delta between what clients say they want and what they really need. Isn’t part of our job to reduce that gap? To move clients from recipe to recipe+menu?

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