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3 great marketing insights from a very surprising source

I admit it. I’m addicted to two reality TV shows: Top Chef and The Amazing Race. Before you roll your eyes, though, you may be surprised to learn you can get great marketing insights from these shows. Check out this example from Top Chef.

If you haven’t seen Top Chef before, here’s the premise:

  • 16 up-and-coming chefs have been selected to compete in a variety of cooking challenges.
  • Each week, a panel of judges eliminates the weakest chef until they get down to a winner.

In my opinion, the cooking challenges are where things get interesting.

In a recent episode, for example, the 12 remaining chefs were grouped into small teams.

Their challenge?

Each team had to create three dishes and write a menu describing their dishes for a restaurant of hungry diners.

The team that received the most menu orders from the diners would receive immunity. Meanwhile, the two chefs that cooked the worst dishes from the other teams would be sent packing.

Marketing insight #1: Even the most talented people need help with their marketing content.

So surely, the team with the best chefs wrote the best menu, right?


The team with the three best chefs barely got any menu orders.

Even though these chefs cooked exceptional food, the diners didn’t want to order their dishes.

Why? This team’s menu—aka, their marketing content—really missed the mark. The chefs used their own technical language to describe their dishes, rather than writing in terms the diners would understand. The team didn’t make their dishes sound appealing to people who weren’t culinary experts.

It doesn’t matter how talented your business is, if your marketing copy is written in your language (rather than your buyers’ language), you’re putting your business at a disadvantage.

Marketing insight #2: Great marketing content resonates with buyers.

The winning team of chefs got a ton of menu orders. What was their secret?

They did a great job of making their menu descriptions simple, easy to understand and very appealing for the diners.

For example, these chefs used descriptive words to appeal to the diners’ senses, from sight to smell.

The chefs understood their audience. In addition to creating dishes they knew these diners would like, this team also conveyed how good their dishes would taste.

It was a successful combination: Great product. Great marketing content.

Marketing insight #3: No matter how good your marketing content is, you still have to deliver on your experience.

The team that received the second highest amount of menu orders did a nice job of writing their menu descriptions too. But did they do a nice job with their cooking?

Not so much.

Two of these chefs faced elimination, and one was sent home.

Where did these chefs go awry?

They wrote menu descriptions that created high expectations… but they didn’t execute well in their cooking.

Great marketing content can get people in the door, but it’s the experience you deliver that will make or break whether they come back.

Who knew that a reality TV show could be the source of such great marketing insights?

Could your marketing content use some spice? Check out my brand writing services or let’s chat.

Until next time!