What's In Your Golden Cookbook for Marketing Strategy?

People familiar with sales and marketing know of the Golden Rolodex, the list of high-level contacts that truly successful salespeople bring with them to each new position. They have a treasure trove of contacts who they call on to drum up business and make a huge impact from the day they’re hired.

Salespeople who are in later stages of their career succeed or fail largely on the power and reach of their Golden Rolodex; indeed, by the time any executive reaches the C-Suite, they’re expected to have a variation of the Golden Rolodex. Public relations people have their portfolio of journalists. CEOs have their political and executive contacts. CFOs have their personal accounting SWAT team.

What I’ve seen very rarely in sales and especially marketing, except in the consulting world, is the Golden Cookbook.

What is the Golden Cookbook?

The Golden Cookbook is a compendium of the strategies, tactics, frameworks, blueprints, and plans that have delivered great success in our work in the past, or that we’ve invented. Instead of needing to reinvent the wheel every time we change careers, we bring our Golden Cookbook with us.

From the first day on the job, we identify which recipes in the Golden Cookbook best fit the organization and help re-align the organization’s strategies and tactics to our known, best practice recipes.

Why is the Golden Cookbook Important?

A major part of succeeding, especially in more strategic roles, is assuring key stakeholders that we have experience, that we’ve done things before that have succeeded.

Part of the reason people trust major consulting brands like McKinsey, BCG, Accenture, and others is that they have well-defined cookbooks. These consulting shops develop frameworks, models, and strategies which they test and prove, then roll into a cookbook that consultants use for all kinds of businesses. Many of the frameworks are generic enough to apply to lots of different industries, but specific enough to show where a company is inside or outside the guardrails of best practices.

I’ve experienced this in my work in consulting. Few things reassure clients, especially new clients, like opening up a Golden Cookbook in front of them, scrolling through hundreds of pages, and finding the strategy, map, model, or framework which addresses their problem. The magic words, “Oh, we’ve seen this problem before, and here’s how we solved it” along with the appropriate page from your cookbook are instantly reassuring. They see the years of practice and research in front of them, and they feel reassured that they’ve made a smart choice, hired someone who has extensive experience.

What Goes Inside Your Golden Cookbook?

Think of the Golden Cookbook as an almost literal cookbook. What goes in a recipe?

  • Topic/theme (i.e. main course, dessert, etc.)
  • Ingredients
  • Directions
  • Expected Outcome

Our Golden Cookbooks should be similar.

What strategy, map, model, or framework helps us succeed in…

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Native advertising
  • Content marketing
  • etc.

In my personal Golden Cookbook, I also add in other recipes I find in my research, reading, and work. My Golden Cookbook is a mix of my own material plus reputable third-party materials. What are some of the third-party materials? Many are classic strategic models:

  • SWOT
  • Porter’s 5 Forces
  • Agile Development Cycle
  • etc.

How Do You Start Building a Golden Cookbook?

Start by firing up the document management system of your choice – Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, PowerPoint, whatever works for you.

Go through your work experience to date, whether that be a year or a lifetime, and write down:

  • Every framework you remember using at work
  • Every strategic model you remember learning in business school or on the job
  • Every story or solution of success you’ve built or been a part of

Then start making documents. They could be hand drawings, written narratives, bullet-point recipes, slides, whatever you work with best.

Save this document (and make a backup copy!) and add to it as you remember more things or as you read and discover new strategies.

While it won’t be immediate (unless you’ve already got a couple of decades under your belt), if you maintain your Golden Cookbook actively, you’ll wake up one day in the future and realize you have a treasure trove at your fingertips.

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