Forget about decking the halls, fighting the mall crowds, or even singing carols (at least in public); for me, the holiday season has always been about baking. This year, as I fired up my trusty red KitchenAid mixer on Black Friday, I was struck by the similarities between baking and good marketing.
1. Start with a Recipe
Sure, a little experimentation is great now and then, but make sure the basics are in place before you deviate from the core direction. A marketer’s impulsive cry of “We need to be on Twitter” or “Get me more Facebook likes” is the baking equivalent of “Let’s just toss in some peanut butter.” It might be great or it might just ruin the whole thing.
2. Use the Right Tools
Whether your favorite spatula, grandmother’s measuring spoons, or the perfectly shaped pan, the right tools are critical. For marketing, this might be a promotional offer, a blog, or a brand campaign – any of them might be effective, as long as they aid in the execution of the recipe (or for marketers, the strategy).
3. Measurement Is Key
If Google analytics, conversion metrics, social media mentions, and net promoter scores are the ounces, pounds, cups, and tablespoons of marketing, then your scorecard is the final taste test. Did you earn 5 stars or 3? Without measurement, you won’t know where you stand or if you have improved.
4. Don’t Overlook Simplicity
A single ingredient is rarely great on its own (I can’t be the only one who has fallen victim to the captivating smell of vanilla, only to recoil in horror after tasting it). And the layered flavors of multiple ingredients sure can be tasty, but simple is magical. Who would imagine that something as exquisite as a meringue could come from the combination of egg whites, sugar, and a touch of vanilla? Bakers and marketers alike would benefit from focusing less on the number of elements and more on the way in which they are combined.
5. Offer Only Your Best
No amount of presentation can cover up bad execution. Even if your guests don’t say anything, they will notice if you scrimped on the sugar, didn’t bake it long enough, or tried to cover the burned pieces with frosting. So don’t be afraid to start over or bring in the experts to ensure that you can confidently stand behind anything that you serve.
The annual strategic planning timeline for most companies aligns nicely with holiday baking season. Coincidence? Perhaps not . . .
–Pam Alvord, EVP Chief Brand Strategist