Execs spill the beans on their ‘secret sauce’
Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun…
McDonald’s ode to the Big Mac is a classic example of marketing through mystery. Referencing the ‘secret’ ingredient that makes your particular offering special. Colonel Harland Sanders engaged the ploy decades earlier with his finger lickin’ good Kentucky Fried Chicken. KFC’s Original Recipe of 11 herbs and spices became one of the most famous trade secrets in the catering industry.
Not that these formulas are a magical concoction of obscure wonder foods – all the ingredients are readily available on grocery store shelves – it’s the concept of secrecy that has the allure. Curiosity about what we don’t know… that’s what spearheads innovation and ultimately feeds success.
In today’s business lingo, the buzz phrase “secret sauce” has nothing to do with fast food, and everything to do with what sets your company apart from the rest. Forget the mystery, it turns out execs these days are more than willing to share their secrets – proud, in fact, of the stellar results they’re achieving across a variety of industries.
Here’s a taste of what they’re saying:
“It’s the team of people that make this place run; everyone from editorial to creative to IT to production. We have developed an amazing culture here, and every day I get to come to the office and be with these people is a good day.” Marcus VandenBrink, President Business View Publishing
“For success? I would say, it’s the amazing attention to detail that our staff puts into all areas affecting our readers and featured companies. From the extensive research done while vetting companies to be profiled in Business View publications, to insuring that all content is effectively delivered to our subscribed readership, and globally, through the SEO skills and proficiency of our IT team.” Andre Barefield, VP Publishing Business View Caribbean
Lead by example
“Our mantra at Danby is “we do the right thing”. This greatly simplifies decisions. How do we treat each other? How do we treat suppliers? How do we treat customers? Do we pay $10,000 to do something we can do for $2,000? Do we spend 40 hours doing something that can be done in 20 hours? Do we work hard to reduce our packaging waste?…
This is partly why I sponsored 50 Syrian refugee families, it is simply “do the right thing”. I would not be a very good leader if I didn’t practice what I preach. People are inspired to work for a company that thinks like this. I will say, it is not perfect. As you know, there are some challenges that are not black and white.” Jim Estill, CEO Danby Appliances, author of Zero to $2Billion: The Marketing and Branding Story Behind the Growth
Invest in the future
“New Haven is really moving forward. We led the state out of the Recession, and we have, what I would consider, the ‘secret sauce’ to help our region grow; a comprehensive $1.7 billion building and rehabilitation program for all of our schools.
We’re really very proud of these facilities and the new infrastructure they represent. It’s been transformative in terms of jobs, as well as an inspiration to the young people who attend our bright, new schools.” Mayor Toni Harp, New Haven, Connecticut
Put yourself out there
“Marketing is a big deal, especially in our business. With a product like steel, you need a good website to draw people and build sales. If your name is out there and they know you’re a substantial company, they tend to give you a chance to bid their work. The days of door-to-door sales are long gone.” Sharon Suggs, President & CEO Allstate Steel Company Inc., Jacksonville Florida
Humor in the workplace
“Our secret sauce is not taking ourselves too seriously. We joke a lot, no matter what we’re working on – whether our business or our books. When it comes to being co-authors, we count on the ability to make each other laugh. When one of us writes a line or a scene that makes the other one spit hot latte or snort like a feral pig, we know we’ve written something good.” – Michael Voss, former Communications Director; co-author with Jennifer Rock of fictional corporate tell-all, B. S. Incorporated.