Do recipes work for highly complex sales?

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Oz wrote in the comments on my post about cookie recipes:

Here’s a question: what about businesses or services that involve technical expertise or specialized equipment? Does is still work if I can say I have 5 recipes but they won’t do the general public any good (and is actually quite boring)? Examples:

– almost anything that has to do with writing code;
– installing a swimming pool; or,
– designing a 3,000sqft carpet for a floor with a strange shape.

I’m just trying to dig deeper into your point. My service is one that my clients tend to not know what I do, and don’t want to know.

Oz’s point is excellent. Sometimes your customers don’t need to know the individual makings of the recipe, or the recipe simply isn’t interesting, although I’d certainly argue that example #2 has some great “recipe-like” examples such as this:

Grand Vista Pools Time Lapse Video

In cases where a recipe isn’t appropriate, you want to look to the Steve Jobs formula: less about what the product is and more about what it can do for you in your life. When the iPad was first debuted, the marketing around it was simple: here are all the ways this magical little device will make your life better. Share photos. Watch movies. Be social.

Compare that to the way Microsoft did its press around its Surface tablet, which was essentially a recipe, as pointed out by Rex Hammock. In this case, Microsoft wrote a recipe for its device that the consumer can’t make, so publishing a recipe was the wrong way to go.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if the customer can or should make it, publish a recipe. If the customer can only use it, publish examples of how they can use it in their lives. In Oz’s examples above, writing code isn’t a wonderful recipe, but showing how a piece of software will positively impact your life is a good use case. Installing a pool isn’t the compelling part – splashing in it on a hot summer day is.

Thanks for the great comment, Oz!

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2 responses to “Do recipes work for highly complex sales?”

  1. abelniak Avatar

    Chris, your last point drives home the age-old adage of “selling benefits, not features”.

  2. Chris, this is great. Thanks for the reply.
    Your point is taken regarding the swimming pool install. That is a great way of peeling back the curtain and showing “the recipe.” In cases like that, it’s beautiful to show the process in high speed.

    For other things, I get what you’re saying and I hear 2 things:
    First: The benefit
    Second: For those who want the recipe, it can be made available.

    I parse lots of data and clients have been intrigued, but they’re happy to have clean data so that they can move forward.

    Thanks again!

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