What Can We Learn About Business From the Food Network?

What Can We Learn About Business From the Food Network?My wife is a huge fan of the Food Network. The great food that she makes, as well as my waistline, are proof of that. While I can’t say that I quite share her passion, I have learned more than I ever thought I would. I now impress my wife by knowing what both a compote and a chutney are, as well as using both in conversation. I also learned from Chopped that if you don’t know quite what to do with a mystery basket, odds are you can mix the ingredients with mascarpone and make something good out of it.

Most important, I learned the difference between cooking and baking can be applied to business. Specifically, I likened the two skills to the differences between business development and marketing. I’m told that cooking is much more forgiving than baking. If you’re cooking and you use a little too much sauce or not enough salt, you can compensate for that fairly easily. Similarly, in business development — or sales as some like to refer to the trade as if they were pure synonyms — professionals need to think on the fly. Sometimes strategies need to be changed at a moment’s notice, i.e. change approaches with clients, focus on a different market, prospect in a different manner, etc.

Baking, however, is much more precise. Just the slightest deviation from the recipe can make the difference between a masterpiece and a mess. Just an eighth of a cup more of flour or an extra splash of vanilla can turn what was meant to be an incredible dessert into an inedible disaster. This is not so different from developing the proper marketing mix. The proper ratio of advertising, PR, social media, direct mail, and online presence can produce a top-of-mind formula that results in increased sales. A little too much and your marketing becomes annoying, while not enough and your brand messaging isn’t cutting through the clutter.

I used this example — instead of one of my usual sports analogies — with a client the other day. Right after I said it, I was shocked in that I couldn’t believe it actually came out of my mouth. Regardless, the point I was making was the necessity to understand the differences between business development and marketing as well as the need for the two to work in harmony — much like proper cooking and baking techniques create a phenomenal three-course dinner.

Whether your business is a restaurant, a bank, or a sports memorabilia shop the need for an integrated business development and marketing strategy is critical to success. Now if you will excuse me I have two prospective clients with whom I obviously need to change my approach. Maybe I’ll bring some mascarpone to the meeting.

(And, yes, that is a picture of my wife’s key-lime pie.)

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