Mise En Place: 3 Inbound Marketing Lessons from the Culinary World

by Dustin J. Hall | MIN READ
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inbound-marketing-culinaryAs a fanatic of inbound marketing, I feel like I'm constantly finding things that relate to marketing everywhere. From general life lessons to drastically different professions.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a story on NPR about the organizational mantra of professional kitchens everywhere, "mise en place." It's a French phrase meaning "putting in place" though coined (and slightly modified) by the Culinary Institute of America to mean "everything in place." The story went on to demonstrate how the greatest kitchens live and die by this concept, steaming ahead like unstoppable people feeding turbines, operating at peak efficiency in all conditions. Genius.

Some chefs even claim that mise en place becomes a zen-like state of mind that has inexorably transformed the way they live their lives. How could something so beautiful and transcendent NOT apply to our inbound marketing efforts?

Here are a few key takeaways all inbound marketers and business owners can learn from the culinary world.

Organization as a Way of Life

mise en place marketingNo restaurant in the world can succeed without an impenetrable, streamlined set of organizational processes. From preparation to ongoing cleaning to delivery, all processes are done in one, well-orchestrated fashion. It's this steadfast dedication to organization that drive hungry customers to their doors day in and day out. And it's not just the great food that brings the masses, it's also the consistency of quality that organization delivers. For culinary professionals, mise en place is how this happens.

Tasty Marketing Lesson:
Even the most brilliant people in the world can fall victim to the negative results of poor organization (which is why most brilliant people hire others to fill in their strength gaps). Mise en place teaches us that without steadfast organization and the ability to tidy up as we go along, we will all end up NOT with successful marketing efforts but rather just a sink full of dirty dishes. Who likes tackling a sink full of dirty dishes? Nobody.

Related: 4 Mandatory Technologies for Inbound Marketing Success

The Power of Preparation

Some kitchen staff will spend almost half of their day preparing for a single fleeting moment of restaurant activity. Do guests eating at the restaurant know this (or even care)? Nope. Nor should they because they are paying for the meal and experience only. The mise en place principles mean that chefs will review recipes and anticipate the menu items they will create that day, preparing critical items accordingly -- such as prepping any cuts of meat, sauces, chopped veggies, even cleaning spatulas and other utensils. Their investment in time and attention means guests will almost always get the experience they pay for. A prepared kitchen = happy guests.

Tasty Marketing Lesson:
Much like a meal, your inbound marketing campaigns also have
a number of ingredients -- emails, blogs, landing pages, calls-to-action, etc. By spending time carefully preparing these items and anticipating various outcomes based on persona engagement, your marketing campaigns will become more agile and, ultimately, successful. Your boss, clients or business partners desire the experience only, not the stress behind it. So to throw a marketing campaign together without careful preparation is like a chef showing up 10 minutes before the hostess seats a party of 100 people.

That meal is almost guaranteed to suck.

Being in the Moment (Zen)

inbound-marketing-culinaryThere are TON of distractions out there and all of them are happy to get you caught" in the weeds." Professional chefs and kitchen staff can tell you that getting caught in these weeds is a real threat present for almost every minute of their day at work. The mise en place philosophy helps them stand tall above those weeds and see their objectives for what they really are. Are the orders accurate and on time? Most importantly, are the customers happy? 

Tasty Marketing Lesson:
Professional marketers and agencies must also stay out of the weeds, focusing on the bigger picture and ensuring their customers expectations are met (or exceeded). With the paralyzing amount of data and new tools available to marketers today, being in the moment can spare our minds the analysis paralysis and keep us on point for success. An easy way to do this is to follow 1 & 2 above...and maybe drink less coffee. (Did you know it can actually kill your performance? Nooooo!)

Related: How Company Culture Impacts Your Inbound Marketing Performance


The mise en place mantra that makes professional chefs successful can also lead to successful marketing efforts.

Organization, preparation and focus are really the keys to success with anything but the culinary world has made it something tangible and accessible. Something the world of marketing could stand to get a taste of (last pun, I promise).

Related Article: What Musicians Can Teach Businesses About Inbound Marketing

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Originally published September 29, 2014. Updated February 7, 2017.