Monday, January 28, 2008

Is Marketing as Easy as It Looks? (With a Culinary Twist)

I confess to being a closet executive chef. I can never be asked enough to journey to the home of a friend or business associate to prepare the meal for their dinner party or gathering. I am as addicted to watching the Food Channel as others are to catching the latest episode of "24". What can I say? I love slicing, dicing, the smell of garlic searing in a hot pan, and the challenge of bringing together several recipes to create a culinary moment.

Over the years I have cooked for as few as four and as many as 60 -- so far the reviews have been great.

So what does this have to do with marketing you ask? Well, maybe, everything. It turns out that culinary skills are often perceived in the same light as marketing skills. Everyone thinks it looks easy and discount the efforts of professionals (or want-to-be professional chefs like me).

Several weeks ago I prepared a wonderful Chicken Cacciatore on a bed of Creamy Corn Polenta. After the meal, like so many times the host asked for the recipe, which I happily provided. A few weeks later she called to say that she had prepared the same meal but it just didn't come out nearly as good. She wondered what secret I'd withheld.

And here is the secret of being a good chef or a marketer of professional services -- experience. As a marketer or chef I feel confident in my skills to adjust a program or recipe as each experience develops. Every situation (or recipe) never develops the same way because the circumstances are always changing. And, I knew how to plate the food in such a way that even before the first bite everyone was expecting incredible taste.

My message today is that anyone can be a great marketer or chef, but it is not as easy as it looks. Unless you have invested a lot of time to be good at either your best move is hire one when your need is now.

For the record, there are so many chefs out there that leave me in their dust. While I do prepare (hopefully every time) great meals I am definitely in awe of the Emeril's and Tyler's of this world.