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Is Your Content A Secret Recipe or An Open Secret?

I was reading the “Dear Abby” section of the Kansas City Star recently when I came across a heartfelt exchange concerning secret family recipes.

‘Craving the Cakes’  in Florida was upset that her sister-in-law would not reveal the secret ingredient in a late relative’s pancake recipe.

From Charleston, S.C. a reader responded. “As a cook who has many of my own kitchen secrets, I’d be upset if one of my family members were to reveal them to anyone I didn’t authorize…believe it or not recipes are intellectual property.”

But Lisa in Reno had a different perspective: “Sometimes it’s good to share something if only with one other person. That way treasures aren’t lost forever.”

Many businesses struggle with the question of how much to reveal in their content.

I recently attended a Content Strategy webinar hosted by Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 and Ann Handley of Marketingprofs. Both experts believe in creating content that freely shares knowledge. They maintain that it is one of the best methods to promote one’s expertise in a specific subject matter. In fact Joe’s advice during the webinar was:

“Give almost everything away.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of Martha Stewart’s recipes. I pay good money to buy her cookbooks, I follow her on Twitter and I’m a fervent fan on Facebook. This despite the fact that she gives everything away on her TV show (which I try to watch every Sunday).

My point is this. In our internet environment where public sharing of information is the ‘Standard Operating Procedure’, I think it’s safe to conclude that there are no ‘secret recipes’. Everything is out there. If you’re not sharing some of your secret recipes, how will I know to buy your cook book. I think Lisa in Reno is on to something…

What do you think – secret recipes or open secrets?


  1. I think the best way to answer this question is to think of yourself and how you respond to someone willing to give you free information. For myself, I am more likely to purchase from someone who gives me something free than someone who holds back.

    Bottom line is that if business owners or people in general could do everything themselves they would not need to outsource anything to other firms. If you cannot show that you are more competent and qualified than the next person, you are only hurting yourself. So what if someone improves their own business because of what you told them — just shows how great you are!

    Thought provoking post and I’ve seen increase in my business from implementing this strategy.

    • What awesome feedback Christian! You’re so right – businesses ARE looking to outsource but can only trust those who have demonstrated a proven track record. Sharing knowledge through content is the way to ‘SHOW’ rather than ‘TELL’ them that you’re the expert.

  2. Miguelzam34 says:

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