Three Ingredients For Marketing Secret Sauce

the creative process


Your Marketing Secret Sauce: The Key Ingredient is You

The creative passions that drive us are also often what drive people to do business with us. They set us apart and can be an amazing marketing tool when we put them front and center. Simply put, they are our marketing secret sauce. And the key ingredient, the one that sets you apart from your competition, is you. How can you market your passion?

For Cade Nagy, chef and co-owner of Catering by Design in Denver, surprisingly, his secret marketing ingredient is not exactly in the kitchen. His passion is photography and while he often takes beautiful shots of food, they are just as often of travel and nature. In the event industry and among his friends and clients, he’s become as well known for his photography as he is for the award-winning company he co-owns with his wife Ingrid Nagy, CSEP.

marketing secret sauce
The 2016 calendar featured photos from a trip to Italy.

Surprisingly, it’s that time-worn marketing tool — an annual calendar – that Nagy has made fresh again; the perfect showcase for both his passion and the company’s cuisine. Each year he and his team explore a different theme or style of photos. Each year clients look forward to its arrival. And then every coming year, clients look at that calendar every day of every month. It’s a brilliant way to stay front and center.

Whatever your passion, there are three things to learn from this example that can help you turn your own passion into a marketing tool that is both personally satisfying and that others enjoy.

marketing secret sauce
In the 2017 calendar Cade experimented with moody food photography.


#1 Think like a Chef

Chefs are constantly reinventing recipes and menus based on what’s in season, what they recently tried at a new restaurant, or on new cooking methods and equipment. Follow that example when looking at your marketing for 2017.

CADE: “The format is always a calendar, but the mood changes based on the photos. This year’s inspiration was the new movement in moody lighting. I’m drawn to the feeling it gives me and I hope the images make others feel the same way. I wanted to focus on simple, raw food at its best, an appreciation of the beauty of it. But one thing that never changes about the calendar is the high quality of the printing. The viewer has to see and feel the quality and that it’s been done right.”

#2 Create Your Mise en Place

 Chefs plan. They might make it look like they whipped up something new, but they have planned it down to the teaspoon. Consider the French culinary term, mise en place, which means “everything in its place.”  Cooking up a great meal, or a marketing idea for that matter, goes so much better when you have thought it all out and have all your tools and ingredients at the ready.

mraketing secret sauce
The mise en place for the calendar.

CADE: “The creative process for our calendars is both fun and difficult. It begins with a meeting with our Graphic Designer, Kristi Duce, and Dan Smith, our Creative Director. We hash out ideas and themes for the upcoming year. It usually takes about five or six ideas to really get something tangible – weather, seasonality and topic all have to make sense. Then we address the logistics — is it going to be shot in the studio or remotely? How will time of year and weather affect the shots? What dimensions will the calendar be this year? Do we want it to just have the days of the month, or do we want people to be able to write in the day blocks? Will it be black-and-white or full color? We explore it all.”

marketing secret sauce
During the editing process.

#3 When it’s good, it’s good

When something tastes good, it just is. It doesn’t matter it was prepared with the most complicated of new equipment or on a Suzy Homemaker Easy Bake Oven. So while you might think your passion is simple, or the dish you are cooking up is not innovative enough, it will connect with others because of that secret ingredient – your passion and love in making it. The same is true when marketing your passion.

Because here’s the thing … yes, this is just a calendar, but while there are calendars, none have been made by you. So don’t worry that your idea is not the most original in the world or that it’s been done before – YOU bring the special factor to it. So if you have an idea for something that you think will work, just do it. Take the advice from the great filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining) gives to new filmmakers: “Get hold of a camera and some film and make any kind of movie at all.”

The secret sauce you need is right there. All you need to do is put it all together in whatever marketing vehicle you have – a calendar, a blog, an Instagram campaign, an exhibit booth. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering or the very latest cutting edge technology. It just has to be authentic. Because although there are three “ingredients” listed here, the secret ingredient is you.

The best marketing secret sauce contains one ingredient no one else has -- you! Click To Tweet
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