I have a nine year old son that likes to cook.
I find this very exciting as I’m a bit of a cook myself. I’ve been know to whip up something from nothing and blow away the boys when they come to the table. I have a list of “go-to” recipes that will bring a smile each and every time. And sometimes I just show up at the grocery store, throw some things that sound good into the basket, then head home to make a yummy something or other.
Don’t get me wrong. Not all of my creations are winners. Trust me. Don’t believe me? Ask about Tandoori Tofu over drinks some day. It’s actually worse than it sounds!
Not many people know this, but I actually attended culinary school for a while. I never had aspirations of becoming a world famous chef that owns a world famous restaurant. Actually, just the thought of that career path makes my stomach turn. Don’t get me wrong – I love good food and love when other people make it, and am so happy that other people went to school to become amazing chefs.
No, my reasons for going to culinary school were a little different. My desire was to learn what the different ingredients did. If you add an egg, what does it do? Do you need to add salt to all baked goods? When should I use oil vs. butter? How do different spices effect the flavors of different foods? When do you add this or that? For me, it was more about the science of the ingredients and being able to predict what happens to a recipe if I add/subtract/double this or that. And during my semester of culinary education, I learned how to craft, revise, embellish, and otherwise overhaul recipes in a whole new way.
So, back to my nine year old son that likes to cook. He also has the “taste” for wanting to know what different ingredients do, how the combine them to create different tastes and textures. From time to time I’ll go downstairs into the kitchen to find him making cookies or muffins. One day he even decided to make dinner for the whole family. He’s always so excited about what he is making! I absolutely love his enthusiasm.
Except he never follows a recipe.
Think about that for just a minute. He’s making cookies without a recipe. He’s making muffins without a recipe. He’s making a “dinner casserole” (his name for it) without a recipe. He carefully gets out all of the ingredients he would like to use. He throws some of this in a bowl along with a scoop of that. Adds a pinch of something and a dash of another. Sticks his finger in, tastes it, then decides if it needs more of one thing or another. Then he’ll get the baking pan or the muffin tin out, measure out his concoction, and asks me to put it in the oven for him.
Let’s just say there was one batch of muffins would could actually chew and swallow, although we felt the effects for a couple of days. There have been at least two batches of cookies that were completely inedible. I don’t know what they tasted like because they were so stuck to the pan that we couldn’t get any of them off. We had to soak the pan for two days before the “cookies” came off the pan. Dinner casserole was edible-ish, but very salty.
So why am I sharing this story?
Not to embarrass him, I promise. (Although this will be a good post to share with his fiance one day!) But while watching his enthusiasm in the kitchen, creating what he hoped were the best cookies and muffins ever made, putting in great efforts (and sometimes a licked spoon) to batters that looked and smelled perfect, it occurred to me that he’s using the same strategies for baking that some business owners use when creating their marketing plan. He’s throwing a bunch of ingredients together to see if it’s going to work.
After each of these cooking experiments, I explained to him that it is best to start with a recipe. Since man first discovered fire, people have been creating and documenting how to prepare certain dishes – what ingredients to use, how to combine them together, what temperature to cook them at and for how long. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, or in this case, the recipe, each time you step into the kitchen.
It’s the same thing when you are trying to market your business. You can throw some stuff together. It may look okay. And then you put it out to the world. But no one is biting (pun intended). Maybe your message was a little flat or left a bad taste in your ideal client’s mouth. You could keep mixing different marketing strategies together trying to get the right amounts of each ingredient. Or, you can use a “marketing recipe” by learning from what people have done in the past and emulating the best parts of it.
There are plenty of marketing strategies out there. You can think of these are your business’s marketing cookbook. You can thumb through the cookbook, pick out two or three recipes that you want to give a try. Be sure to take the time to read through the whole recipe to make sure you don’t leave out any key ingredients.
And, just as there are different recipes for different eating types (gluten free, vegetarian, nothing but bacon), different marketing types will gel with you and your business in different ways. Speaking engagements may give you indigestion, while networking events will send you into a marketing “food” coma. Learn to listen to yourself and figure out the marketing recipes that you are going to feel the best about. We call this marketing alignment.
What the best part of starting with a recipe? In both the kitchen and your marketing strategies, if you start with something you know works, THEN you can experiment. Add a pinch of nutmeg to your oatmeal cookies. Throw in a dash of live workshops to your marketing mix. If you don’t like how it turns out, you fall back to what you know already works.
Not sure what marketing strategies are in alignment with you and your business? Let’s chat. We can help you figure out what recipe is best for you and your business and help you design an marketing action plan.
My Favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
|1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup unsifted flour
|1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 cups uncooked oatmeal
12oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 375.
In large bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color (about 4 minutes). Add vanilla and egg, mix on low sped until incorporated. In seperate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts (optional).
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8-9 minutes for chewy cookies, 10-11 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool for 1 minute on baking sheet then remove to wire rack. Store in a tightly covered container.
Make it your own!
Add a pinch of cloves or a little more nutmeg. Leave out the walnuts. Use dark chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet. Swap out dried cherries for chocolate chips.
Now it’s your turn! Let us know what your favorite marketing mix is. Or just let us know if you liked the cookies. We’d love to hear from you!
You’ve heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and update this old adage for our modern times:
A visual is worth more clicks, shares and tweets.
I manage a few different Facebook groups. We recently asked our Facebook peeps over at Soulful Aligned Entrepreneur, “What is your favorite communication vehicle to use that you feel gives you more connection + engagement with your audience?”
Overwhelmingly, the answer was visuals: images, video, and the new kid on the block – Periscope.
People engage better with visual content. Period. It’s easier to understand. It tells a story. It evokes emotions. Our busy lives, our modern brains – for better or worse – like to skim over words and go right for the juicy stuff – the images.
So here are a few ways you can use visuals to engage your audience, increase engagement and ramp up social sharing.
#1: Use Videos
How many times have you stopped to watch that cat video just because it is already rolling as your scroll through your feed? Facebook peeps love video. Eight of the top 10 most shared posts in 2015 were videos. And Facebook (the company) loves videos, too. Their algorithms seem to favor them over text and link only posts. So if you haven’t considered using video to engage your audience, I encourage you to rethink your choice. There are several options out there to help you out. And they don’t have to be professional quality (remember those cat videos?). They just need to be engaging and informative.
#2: Create Quote or Testimonial Graphics
I love sharing inspiring quotes. And by turning them into an image they have the potential to reach a larger audience. And people are more likely to share your quote or testimonials if it is an image instead of just text or a link. Also, try to add your logo or website address to the graphic. If it blows up and is shared worldwide, you want to make sure people know where it came from originally.
#3: Use Personal Photos
Engage your audience with a personal photo of you, your employees, your office…. Whether you are attending an event or showing off your new, cute office space, let your followers know there is a real person behind everything that you do. Remember, people do business with people. Make sure you take the time to show the face, space, activities behind the magical work you do for the world.
#4: Create a Seasonal Post
Every day is a day to celebrate. Celebrate with your followers by posting a season post. Add a caption to share why you’re celebrating, too. But you don’t wait for the usual holidays. Don’t know what to celebrating today? Check here for a list of national holidays.
#5: Say Thank You to Your Followers
Never forget that your audience is taking time out of their busy day to engage with you, to provide feedback, to share what it is you’re sharing. My mama always said, “You catch more flies with honey.” A simple expression of gratitude when you hit milestones in your journey makes you and your brand more accessible. It will also encourage people to leave comments about their personal experiences.
These types of posts tend to attract high engagement, so be sure to add your logo and use your fonts to brand the image. Let make sure everyone knows who is saying Thank You.
How do you use visuals to engage your audience? Share in the comments below and let us know!