Cheryl Pickett Author, freelance writer and founder of The Nonfiction Zone, Cheryl Pickett, emailed this week’s suggestion. Here’s what she had to say:

I can’t say this is a really a “favorite” dish because I have what I refer to as “new recipe night or new recipe lunch etc.” at least once a week. [This] recipe…is one I just made a couple of weeks ago. Who knows when I found it. It’s not always new recipe night, sometimes I do want to make something I know was good before, and I’ve put this one on the would-make-again list. I call those keeper recipes.

Cheryl helps people who are looking for advice and support for their nonfiction book projects — she offers both encouragement and grounded-in-reality advice. Learn more at her website.

This week’s Marketing Dish is about Experimentation

At first glance, it might seem hard to talk about marketing via Maple Pecan Chicken. But consider these two pieces of trivia (courtesy of Wikipedia):

“Pecan” is from an Algonquian word, meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack.


Because of food rationing during the Second World War, people in the northeastern United States were encouraged to stretch their sugar rations by sweetening foods with maple syrup and maple sugar, and recipe books were printed to help housewives employ this alternative source.

Does your marketing ever feel like it’s a “hard nut to crack?”

Like if you smashed it with a big, heavy rock, you’d feel (at least temporarily) a lot better about what you were doing? If you don’t happen to have a marketing background (and sometimes, even if you do) finding the right marketing strategy can feel insurmountable. Which is why — from my observations — 9 out of 10 biz owners would prefer to have someone hand them a step-by-step recipe or blueprint to follow. But a recipe is really just a starting point. If your recipe calls for sugar, and you don’t have any, do you a) make a quick trip to the grocery store; or b) look in your cupboards for a suitable substitute? Call me lazy, but I’d rather work with what I have on hand. And I’m not the only one. Someone somewhere decided they weren’t going to give up eating sweets just because they couldn’t find sugar. So they looked around for something else that might do the trick. And — aha! — maple syrup. Even Cheryl told me she makes her maple pecan chicken sometimes with walnuts — because that’s what she has on hand. What if you don’t have maple syrup? Maybe you’ve got some honey. Or some molasses. Or jelly….I’ve even (in a pinch) made some sweetner by boiling some raisins for a few minutes and then blending the mixture up and reducing it down. The point is: you can get creative with this stuff. (Ever watch “Chopped?” That’s a great show for teaching the principles of experimentation and working with what you’ve got.) Will using different ingredients change the flavor of your dish? Absolutely. And to be honest, sometimes your experiments might not work. But sometimes they’ll work really well. And when that happens, you’ll end up with something wonderfully new and exciting. (I promise, the more you experiment, the more likely you’ll be to hit on a better way to do a particular thing.) Marketing strategies (and the tactics and tools we use to accomplish them) are a lot like cooking (if you’ve ever been to this website before, you already know that). When we create our strategies based on someone else’s recipe, we might be able to reproduce their results to some extent…but more likely, what happens is that our efforts fall a bit flat. Better to go into the planning proactively looking for the best substitutions based on your circumstances. What resources, talents, skills and channels do you have on hand? If someone tells you that public speaking should be part of your marketing plan, but you’re a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, then maybe you’ll do better with podcasts. (It’s a thought.) All of our businesses are strange and unique little creatures…which means the ingredients in our “kitchen” will also be different. When was the last time you made a conscious effort to experiment with “tried-and-true” marketing recipes? Share your experience in a comment and let’s see what we can learn.

Each week, I write a post that connects your favorite foods with marketing…no matter how bizarre or outlandish. The dishes are all submitted by Word Chef fans from around the world. If you’ve got a favorite meal, send me an email and tell me what it is and why. I’ll dedicate that post to you! Every month, we’ll recap the Marketing Dishes and ask you to vote for your favorite. Whoever submits the winning dish that month will receive an Amazon gift card, compliments of The Chef. Make sure you’re on the PB&J mailing list so you’ll know when we’re ready to vote on this month’s dishes.