When It Comes to Content Marketing, ‘Don’t Change the Damn Recipe’

In Minneapolis we have a well-known restaurant called Hell’s Kitchen. One popular item on the menu is the Garlic Coleslaw. The restaurant sells a cookbook that features its recipes called Damn Good Food provides a background story from owner Mitch Omer giving credit to his dad for the coleslaw recipe. If done perfectly, the coleslaw is a huge success. But his crew was making the recipe in large batches and guessing at the ratios of the ingredients. It never tasted just right. Finally, in frustration, Omer hung a sign in the salad prep area of the restaurant: “The coleslaw recipe is my dad’s; follow the damn recipe.”

Great cooking is just like great content marketing.

You develop an angle or theme to promote your product, let it simmer so all the elements blend perfectly, and with a flourish, distribute your concoction for the public to devour. What you don’t do is substitute one ingredient for the other – or worse yet, blend together several recipes.

I’ve seen all sorts of ingredient substitutions in content marketing, and like the coleslaw with adjusted ingredients, the end result just doesn’t work. For example, a press release doesn’t work well for brand journalism. And a television campaign rarely translates into good website content or blogs.

In content marketing you need to keep in mind how specific distribution platforms work, and what audiences each platform caters to. A common theme for an initiative can be established, but specific content should be created for each platform.

For example, a travel company promoting a tour around the world could:

  • create a press release announcing the newest tour
  • a brand journalism article providing tips on how travelers could pack for a world tour,
  • several blog entries highlighting each of the destinations on the tour,
  • a pamphlet to download from the website, or for tour agencies to hand out to travelers
  • website content specifically identifying what the tour encompasses
  • Make social media posts for Facebook and Twitter giving short snippets and photos that encourage readers to visit your website to learn more.

Each one of these pieces of content is unique, and they all feature the tour in a different way. But the pamphlet won’t work for brand journalism articles, because it’s too promotional. And the website content won’t work for the press release because it probably is too detailed.

Just like in cooking, a content marketing element can fall flat on its face when substitutions occur. The lesson here? Always follow the recipe. You’ll come away with a content marketing campaign that will win you rave reviews.

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