I MAY be a lousy cook, but I am a huge fan of good cooking shows.

Why? Because I can get many useful marketing lessons from world-class chefs.

In particular, chefs provide great tips on content marketing — a term that involves the creation and sharing of content to attract and engage with both current and potential customers.

Effective content marketing should provide valuable information that has a positive influence on the customer, without involving any direct sales pitch. 

Here are nine tips that chefs teach us about effective content marketing:

1. There is no secret recipe

Chefs share their recipes, write books, host TV shows and release tablet computer apps.

Being open does not take away any business from them. Rather, it increases their reputation and helps to establish them as thought leaders. This eventually grows their business.

If you want to engage better with present and prospective clients, share everything you know in the area that customers would find useful or entertaining.

This could include interesting trends or funny examples of how someone benefited from a product or service.

If your business depends on “hoarding” trade secrets, you do not have a sustainable business.

2. Create an audience, not just a client base

Most businesses tend to think of growing their client base. However, chefs create audiences — a group of targeted people who are always listening and tuning into their recommendations. 

3. Presentation matters

No matter how good the food tastes, few people would choose a poorly presented dish.

In business, presentation matters on every front, including the company website, PowerPoint presentations and even a simple name card.

If you do not have the required design skills to provide the right image for the company, hire a professional designer.

4. Repeat yourself

Good chefs repeat their ingredients and methods at least once, to ensure that their audience remembers what to do. This is useful when making presentations or pitches.

Your business or service solution might be the centre of your own universe, but not others’. A quick repetition by highlighting key points is a good habit.

5. Simplicity rules

Most chefs do not suggest a complex method that only experts can do or recommend a hard-to-find ingredient.

Likewise, in business, simplicity is a key success factor. Edit out jargon from your sales pitches and business processes and focus on what matters to your audience.

6. Assimilate and make it your own

At the end of their cooking shows or recipes, chefs often tell the viewers or readers what they can do to substitute certain ingredients.

After providing a basic template for cooking a dish, it is up to you to make it your own, by experimenting with different ingredients or changing proportions to suit your unique tastes.

In business as well, you should not simply copy what others have done before you. Let your own experience guide you.

Wrap your head around what you learn, assimilate it and synthesise it with your own domain expertise. This way, you not only enrich yourself — you also add to the knowledge base.

7. Try ‘new’ things

Many chefs run shows and write cookbooks over more than 10 or 15 years, and yet they manage to keep things fresh and interesting by inventing new dishes and methods.

For businesses, remaining relevant is a constant challenge, requiring you to keep re-inventing and re-imagining.

For example, if you produced an e-book that did not take off well, look hard at the content.

Is it what the audience wants? Can you redesign some of it into an interesting infographic?

8. Don’t miss the wood for the trees

Chefs first envision how the dish will turn out. And while they are meticulous about the intermediate steps, they do not fret over the intricacies.

Some things can be adjusted later and some “oops” moments could turn out to be that special touch that gourmands will love.

When creating content, do not put all your efforts in the perfect headline, paragraphing, fonts, design, images and the like.

Instead, be clear about the message you want your reader or viewer to have and begin from there.

9. Don’t waste your audience’s time

Good chefs are articulate and precise. When trying to communicate with your audience, be concise. This should occur across the various platforms, such as e-mail, websites, presentations and blog posts.

People do not have an eternity to listen to your stories. Tell them how you are going to make their life better and rest your case.